Electric Traction Ltd announced on 17th February that it was to hire a number of AC electric locomotives to GB Railfreight. The selected locomotives were 86101, 87002 and 86401. The locomotives would be used to move trains to and from London's Euston station on behalf of Serco Caledonian Sleeper Limited. However preparatory work started before that date, with the need for drivers to train on the traction and also on the route between Euston station and Wembley Inter City Depot (ICD). 86101 was used for trips between Willesden and Euston on 23rd and 30th January.
86101 hauled 86401 from Willesden TMD to Peterborough on 5th February; 86101 was then dead hauled by 66736 to the Wabtec (Brush) works at Loughborough for repainting into the new Caledonian Sleeper colour scheme. Three days later 86401 was taken on to the UK Rail Leasing site at the former Leicester TMD for restoration to full main line working order. 86401 would receive the now mandatory Vacuum Circuit Breaker, Data Recorder and GSM-R radio, plus bodywork corrosion repairs and other work.
On completion of repainting, 86101 was moved on 19th February to Doncaster by 66736, then next day under its own power to Mossend Yard to take over the icebreaker duties from 87002. 86101 was used for a route learning special via diversionary routes around Glasgow and Motherwell on 24th February. 86101 returned south to Willesden TMD on 2nd March, then did more driver traction and route learning trips.
87002 worked the icebreaker duties until 18th February when the locomotive moved to Loughborough for repainting. This was complete by 5th March when 87002 was moved to Doncaster in the company of 92018 and 92033. Next day 87002 hauled 92018 and 92033 dead from Doncaster to Willesden TMD. Later in March 87002 was involved in further driver traction and route learning trips.
On completion of work at Leicester 86401 was moved by 66730 to Loughborough on 12th May for repainting. At this point it was clear that 86401 had new name plates to replace the "Northampton Town" plates fitted in 2005, but the new plates were covered up. During the move to Willesden TMD by 66748 on 29th May it was revealed that the new name was "Mons Meg" after the bombard (cannon) on display at Edinburgh Castle. 86401 then paid a visit to the wheel lathe at Wembley ICD.
The Caledonian Sleeper work started in earnest on the evening of 31st March: 87002 hauling the empty coaches for the Highland Sleeper into Euston, then 86101 doing the same for the Lowland Sleeper.
It is not practicable to list all the Sleeper workings, but a summary of the more interesting workings will be given here.
After test runs to Watford Junction and to Bletchley in early August, 86401 entered commercial main line service on 8th August, working 5M16 from London Euston to Wembley ICD, the empty coaches from the Up Lowland Caledonian Sleeper.
Both 86101 and 87002 spent periods in Scotland later in 2015, working empty stock trains between Polmadie and Glasgow Central, and also the Edinburgh/Carstairs/Edinburgh portions of the Lowland Caledonian Sleeper.
Bad weather in north west England caused the diversion of the Caledonian Sleepers via the East Coast Main Line on the evening of 6th December 2015. 86401 worked the Lowland Sleeper from Euston as far Wembley Yard, this being its first passenger train in preservation and the first since withdrawal by English Welsh & Scottish Railway in 2002. This diversion lasted for two nights, 86401 working a total of four passenger service trains between Euston and Wembley Yard. The were similar diversions later in December 2015.
At Barrow Hill 82008's battery box has received some attention.
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