Class 86

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The British Rail Class 86 is an electric locomotive built during the 1960s. One hundred of these locomotives were built by English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows, or British Rail (BR) at their Doncaster works. The class 86s were built primarily to haul trains on the new West Coast Main Line between London Euston, Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool and later Preston and Glasgow.

The last operators to regularly use class 86s in Scotland were Freightliner & Caledonian Sleeper.

Virgin Cross Country had used Class 86s on services from Glasgow Central and Edinburgh to Birmingham until September 2002.


86609 & 86621 head South with a intermodal train, seen approaching Coatbridge Central. Photo by sa56009

They operated pairs of class 86/6s on their intermodal trains between Ipswich and Crewe and between Crewe and Coatbridge.

By 2020, the Class 86/6s had only one regular diagram into Scotland. And this went over to pairs of class 90s towards the end of the year.

86607 and 86608 performed final run from Scotland on 05/01/2021, this being the 4L89 2133 Coatbridge FLT to Felixstowe North FLT as far as Crewe Basford Hall.

The last operational Class 86s in the Freightliner fleet were taken out of service in February 2021.

Caledonian Sleeper (GBRF)

86401 at Glasgow Central » BR Class 86/4 No. 86401 Mons Meg on Caledonian Sleeper, 15 December 2016 Photo by mckenz

In 2015 Electric Traction Ltd hired a number of AC electric locomotives to GB Railfreight to move empty coaching stock to and from London Euston on behalf of Serco Caledonian Sleeper Limited. Among these were 86101 "Sir William A Stanier FRS" & 86401 "Mons Meg", the latter being named so upon entering service for CS.

As well as occasional appearances hauling the revenue earning sleeper, both locos have seen use working the empty sleeper stock to and from Glasgow & Polmadie Depot since 2016.

Caledonian Sleeper use of Class 86s came to an end with the introduction of MK5 coaching stock in October 2019.


Privately owned 86259/E3137 Named 'Les Ross'/ 'Peter Pan' has made a few visits north of the border. In August 2013 and again in August 2014.
86259 » 86259 on 1Z86 07.18 Edinburgh Waverley to London Kings Cross private charter passing Redhouse Castle on 03/08/2013 Photo by PIERSHILL2001

86401 featured on the SRPS 'Overnight Routes and Branches' railtour in June 2018, visiting Glasgow Queen Street, Ayr, Largs, Larkhall, Balloch, Helensburgh Central, Bathgate and North Berwick.
1Z93 » 86401 on 1Z93 08.10 Edinburgh to Millerhill via North Berwick passing through Drem on 02/06/2018 Photo by PIERSHILL2001

Network Rail

Two locomotives (numbered 86901/902) were converted into mobile load-banks to test the electricity supply at selected locations around Britain. The locos can still move under their own power and are also used to clear ice off the overhead lines.

The pair visited Scotland for the first time on 14 July 2005, and were used later in the month on the reinstated Larkhall branch. As of 2013, they are currently stored at Derby RTC and were scrapped in late 2016/early 2017.

Freightliner 86638 and 86627 were involved in testing the newly electrified Holytown - Shotts - Midcalder route 24 February 2019.

See Also

External links