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West Coast Railways, also known as West Coast Railway Company, is a railway spot-hire company and charter train operator, based at Carnforth MPD in Lancashire, using buildings and other facilities previously owned by the old Steamtown heritage depot. In 1998, the company became the first privately-owned company to be given a licence as a train operating company.
West Coast Railway Company is a spot hire company which provides locomotives, stock and crews to other companies within the rail industry. The company operates charter trains throughout the year, many of which are hauled by steam locomotive and has grown to become the UK's leading special trains operator. The company now provide most of the stock and crews for steam workings on the national network plus a large amount for diesel tours as well. The headquarters and large engineering base and depot at Carnforth are where locomotives and stock are stored and maintained and contract work is also undertaken for other operators.
West Coast are also famed for their operation of steam locomotive 5972 "Olton Hall" under the guise of "Hogwarts Castle" for the Harry Potter film series, with the "Hogwarts Express" train being featured in each of the films.
West Coast Railways operate three main services during the year; they are "The Cambrian", "The Scarborough Spa Express" and "The Jacobite".
The most famous of these trains is The Jacobite (named for the historic Jacobite political movement). It runs along the West Highland Line from Fort William to Mallaig, crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct. It runs Monday to Fridays from the middle of May until the end of October and also runs at weekends from the end of June until the end of August. For 2011 WCRC have added a second "Jacobite" service leaving Fort William in the afternoons from the start of June until the end of August running on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
The Scarborough Spa Express operates from York to Scarborough from July until September on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Using a variety of motive power including Black 5's, Royal Scots and Britannia's.
In 2007 West Coast took over operations of the Cambrian Coast Express running over the Cambrian Coast Line from Machynlleth to Porthmadog and Pwllheli and renamed it "The Cambrian. The service runs from the last week of July until the end of August. Before the 2011 season West Coast issued a statement on their website, "Network Rail are carrying out modernisation and extensive EU compliance work on both the Cambrian line and our engines, it was anticipated that work would be complete in time for this years (2012) season. Unfortunately this will not be the case and our Cambrian route will not run this year. It is unknown if the cambrian will run again in 2013 or a few years later, we apologise for this inconvenience and disappointment but look forward to welcome all passengers back once the cambrian is running again".
As a Train Operating Company West Coast provides locomotives, stock and crews for many railtour organisers across the country. It also provides crews to some such as SPRS and Vintage trains who own their own stock. run by West Coast.
West Coast act as TOC to the following companies:
Routes commonly operated over by WCR include the nearby Cumbrian Coast Line and Furness Line, Little North Western Line, the Settle and Carlisle Railway and the West Highland Line. The company utilises several sidings at Hellifield railway station, south of Settle Junction, where the lines to Carlisle and Carnforth diverge, allowing easy access to the WCR home base.
West Coast have two operational bases. The headquarters and main depot for the company is at Carnforth MPD. The former London Midland and Scottish Railway 10A depot has workshops for steam and diesel locomotives, and also carriage and wagon facilities to maintain the companies fleet of Mark 1 & 2 carriages. The site includes extensive sidings plus a paint shop.
The company's second base is the former Great Western depot at Southall Railway Centre in West London. "The Green Train" is based here and is used on "The Cathedrals Express" workings for Steam Dreams. Steam locomotive 34067 "Tangmere" is often based here along with other locomotives plus some of the companies fleet of diesels.
The company owns and operates a fleet of diesel locomotives, which are primarily used to haul charter trains, but have also been hired to other railway operators. The fleet is mainly composed of Class 37 and Class 47 locomotives, but also includes Class 57 locomotives including the prototype passenger Class 57, no. 57601.
Several Class 37 locomotives were purchased from Ian Riley Engineering, which ceased its spot-hire operations in mid-2004, however these locomotives have now been sold on to Direct Rail Services, in exchange for four Class 33s.
In 2005, WCR won the contract to haul The Royal Scotsman luxury train. As a result, its two operational Class 37 locomotives and a Class 47 were repainted into a revised maroon livery, officially known as Royal Scotsman Claret, based on that of the Royal Scotsman carriages. The contract sees the West Coast locomotives in use all over Scotland.
In late 2005, WCR sold its two operational Class 37 locomotives (nos. 37197 and 37261) to Direct Rail Services (DRS), and received four Class 33 locomotives in exchange. WCRC later sold non-operational locomotive no. 37423 to DRS as well. In 2006, WCRC hired two preserved locomotives, nos. 37214 and 37248. 37214 is now owned by WCR, however, 37248 was owned by three Growler Group members under the venture 'Type Three Traction'. The hire period for the locomotive ended in 2009 and the engine was moved back into preservation at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre in May 2009. 37214 is currently undergoing repairs and has been out of action for around two years, as of May 2009.
In early 2007, WCR purchased five Class 47/7 locos from EWS. These were nos. 47760, 47776, 47786, 47787 and 47792. These locos had been stored at Healey Mills, near Wakefield, after being deemed surplus to requirements. Of these, 47792 was the first to be returned to service and returned to its former number, 47804. This was followed by the return of 47787 in September 2007, 47760 in April 2008 and 47786 in October 2008. These were supplemented by the purchase of 47772 from EWS at Margam, South Wales, in June 2008. 47772 and 47776 are currently under repair and expected to return to traffic at some point in the near future.
Later in 2007, WCR again added to its fleet by purchasing a number of Class 37s from EWS. 37676 was the first to be purchased in October, followed by nos. 37517, 37668, 37685, 37706, 37710, 37712 and 37717 in December. These were transferred across the Pennines to Carnforth in January 2008 in several batches. Of these locomotives, 37712 returned to traffic in July 2008, with 37676 following in November 2008 and 37706 working again in December. 37712 suffered a serious fire in November 2008 at Crewe while working an empty stock movement to Southall and has since returned to Carnforth for major repairs. 37717 was sent for scrap at Booths, Rotherham, and 37516 was bought from DB Schenker (formerly EWS) as a replacement. This locomotive arrived at Carnforth in February 2009 and returned to traffic in May 2009.
Its coaching stock consists of vacuum and air plus dual braked Mark 1 and Mark 2 coaches, mostly painted in the British Railways maroon livery, albeit with West Coast Railways branding on the bodyside.
|Key:||In service||Under repair||Under Overhaul or Restoration|
|Number||Name||Class||Livery||Owner||Status||Air Brakes||Mainline Ticket Expires||Boiler Ticket Expires||Current Location||Notes|
|4936||Kinlet Hall||GWR "Hall" 4-6-0||BR Brunswick Green, Late BR Crest.||Kinlet Hall Locomotive Company||Operational||No||2018||2021||Bishops Lydeard|
|4965||Rood Ashton Hall||GWR "Hall" 4-6-0||GWR Brunswick Green||Vintage Trains||Operational||No||2016||2019||Tyseley|
|5029||Nunney Castle||GWR "Castle" 4-6-0||BR Brunswick Green, British Railways Lettering.||Jeremy Hosking||Undergoing bottom end overhaul||Yes||2014||2017||Tyseley||To have British Railways lettering replaced with BR Logo & Smokebox numberplate|
|5043||Earl of Mount Edgcumbe||GWR "Castle" 4-6-0||BR Brunswick Green, Early BR Crest.||Vintage Trains||Operational||No||2014||2017||Tyseley|
|5972||Olton Hall||GWR "Hall" 4-6-0||Hogwarts Railways Maroon||David Smith||Awaiting Work||No||2014||2017||York|
|30777||Sir Lamiel||SR "King Arthur" 4-6-0||BR Brunswick Green, Late BR Crest.||National Collection||Operational||No||2013||2014/15||?|
|34067||Tangmere||SR "Battle of Britain" 4-6-2||BR Brunswick Green, Late BR Crest.||Private individual||Operational||Yes||2018||2021||Southall|
|35018||British India Line||SR "Merchant Navy" 4-6-2||N/A||N/A||Under Restoration||N/A||N/A||N/A||Carnforth||Under restoration from Scrapyard condition|
|44871||-||LMS "Black Five" 4-6-0||BR Blackberry Black, Early BR Crest.||Ian Riley||Operational||Yes||2017||2020||Fort William|
|44932||-||LMS "Black Five" 4-6-0||BR Blackberry Black, Late BR Crest.||David Smith||Operational||No||2017||2020||York|
|45231||The Sherwood Forester||LMS "Black Five" 4-6-0||BR Blackberry Black, Late BR Crest.||Bert Hitchen||Under Overhaul||N/A||N/A||N/A||Carnforth|
|45305||Alderman A E Draper||LMS "Black Five" 4-6-0||BR Blackberry Black, Late BR Crest.||Draper family||Operational||No||2017||2020||York|
|45407||The Lancashire Fusilier||LMS "Black Five" 4-6-0||BR Blackberry Black, Early BR Crest.||Ian Riley||Operational||Yes||2017||2020||Fort William|
|5690||Leander||LMS "Jubilee" 4-6-0||N/A||Beet family||Under overhaul||N/A||N/A||N/A||Carnforth|
|45699||Galatea||LMS "Jubilee" 4-6-0||N/A||David Smith||Under restoration||N/A||N/A||N/A||Carnforth||Restoration nearing completion|
|46115||Scots Guardsman||LMS "Royal Scot" 4-6-0||BR Brunswick Green, Late BR Crest.||David Smith||Operational||No||2015||2018||Carnforth|
|6201||Princess Elizabeth||LMS "Princess Royal" 4-6-2||LMS Crimson Lake||Locomotive 6201 Princess Elizabeth Society||Operational||Yes||Dec 2012||Dec 2012||Tyseley||Due out for overhaul after final trip on 17th Nov|
|46233||Duchess of Sutherland||LMS "Princess Coronation" 4-6-2||BR Brunswick Green, Early BR Crest.||Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust||Operational||Yes||2018/19||2021||Butterley||Due to be repained at end of 2012|
|48151||Gauge O Guild||LMS Stanier 8F 2-8-0||BR Blackberry Black, Late BR Crest.||David Smith||Operational||No||2017||2020||Carnforth||Currently running without nameplates|
|60007||Sir Nigel Gresley||LNER A4 4-6-2||BR Garter Blue, Early BR Crest.||Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Preservation Trust||Operational||Yes||2015||2017||Grosmont|
|60009||Union of South Africa||LNER A4 4-6-2||BR Brunswick Green, Late BR Crest.||John Cameron||Operational||Yes||2019||2022||York|
|60019||Bittern||LNER A4 4-6-2||LNER Garter Blue||Jeremy Hosking||Operational||Yes||2012||2015||Didcot|
|61994||The Great Marquess||LNER K4 2-6-0||BR Blackberry Black, Early BR Crest.||John Cameron||Operational||No||2014/15||2018||York|
|62005||Lord of the Isles||LNER K1 2-6-0||BR Blackberry Black||North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group||Operational||No||2019||2022||Fort William|
|70000||Britannia||BR Standard Class 7 4-6-2||BR Brunswick Green, Early BR Crest.||Royal Scot Locomotive and General Trust||Operational||Yes||2017||2020||Eastleigh|
|70013||Oliver Cromwell||BR Standard Class 7 4-6-2||BR Brunswick Green, Late Crest.||National Collection||Undergoing Minor Overhaul||No||2014||2017||Southall||Undergoing minor overhaul after last trip on 11/10/12|
|Key:||In service||Under repair||Stored||Spares|
|Number||Class||Name||Livery||Date Acquired||Into Traffic||Previous Operator||Status||Location|
|08418||08||-||EWS Red||August 2010||November 2010||ex-DB Schenker||Depot shunter||Carnforth|
|08485||08||-||BR Blue||August 2010||September 2010||ex-DB Schenker||Depot shunter||Carnforth|
|33025||33||Glen Falloch||WCR Maroon||September 2005||November 2005||ex-Direct Rail Services||Operational||Southall|
|33029||33||Glen Loy||WCR Maroon||September 2005||March 2006||ex-Direct Rail Services||Operational||Southall|
|33207||33||Jim Martin||WCR Maroon||September 2005||November 2005||ex-Direct Rail Services||Operational||Carnforth|
|37516||37||-||WCR Maroon||February 2009||June 2009||ex-EWS||Operational||Inverness|
|37676||37||Loch Rannoch||WCR Maroon||November 2007||November 2008||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|37685||37||-||WCR Maroon||December 2007||May 2010||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|37706||37||-||WCR Maroon||December 2007||December 2008||ex-EWS||Operational||Southall|
|47237||47||WCR Maroon||January 2011||July 2011||ex-Advenza Freight||Operational||Carnforth|
|47270||47||Swift||BR Blue||May 2010||May 2010||ex-Boden Rail||Operational||Crewe|
|47500||47||-||WCR Maroon||December 2009||July 2010||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|47580||47||County of Essex||BR Blue, Large Logo||April 2007||June 2008||ex-EWS||Operational||York|
|47760||47||-||WCR Maroon||February 2007||April 2008||ex-EWS||Operational||Tyseley|
|47786||47||Roy Castle OBE||WCR Maroon||February 2007||October 2008||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|47804||47||-||WCR Maroon||February 2007||June 2007||ex-EWS||Operational||Carnforth|
|47826||47||-||WCR Maroon||April 2005||June 2005||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Carnforth|
|47851||47||WCR Maroon||April 2005||June 2005||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Carnforth|
|47854||47||-||WCR Maroon||June 2003||February 2004||ex-Virgin Trains||Operational||Carnforth|
|57001||57||WCR Maroon||January 2011||March 2011||ex-Freightliner||Operational||Carnforth|
|57006||57||-||WCR Maroon||April 2011||ex-Advenza Freight||Operational||Carnforth||-|
|57601||57||WCR Maroon with Black Stripe||November 2003||February 2004||ex-Porterbrook Spot Hire||Operational||Carnforth|
|Number||Class||Name||Livery||Year Acquired||Previous Operator||Status||Location||Notes|
|03196||03||-||BR Blue||July 2002||ex-British Rail||Under repair||Carnforth|
|D2381||03||-||BR Green||March 1976||ex-British Rail||Under repair||Carnforth|
|08678||08||Artila||Glaxo Blue and Black||November 1994||ex-Glaxo, Ulverston||Under repair||Carnforth|
|33030||33||-||DRS Blue||September 2005||ex-Direct Rail Services||Spares donor||Carnforth||Planned to be sold|
|37214||37||Loch Laidon||WCR Maroon||May 2006||ex-Preservation||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|37668||37||-||EWS||December 2007||ex-EWS||Under repair||Carnforth|
|37710||37||-||Loadhaul||December 2007||ex-EWS||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|37712||37||-||WCR Maroon||December 2007||ex-EWS||Under repair (fire damage)||Carnforth|
|47194||47||-||Railfreight||September 2005||ex-Fragonset||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|47236||47||-||RfD||December 2006||ex-Fragonset||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|47245||47||-||WCR Maroon||April 2004||ex-HNRC||Under repair||Carnforth|
|47355||47||-||Fragonset||May 2010||ex-European Metal Recycling||Under Repair||Carnforth|
|47368||47||-||Railfreight||December 2006||ex-Fragonset||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|47492||47||-||Rail Express Systems||March 2010||ex-preserved||Spares donor||Carnforth|
|47526||47||-||BR Large Logo||December 2006||ex-Fragonset||Spares donor||Carnforth||Due to be sent for scrap|
|47746||47||-||Rail Express Systems||March 2011||ex-preservation||Under Repair||Carnforth|
|47768||47||-||Undercoat||March 2011||ex-preservation||Under Repair||Carnforth|
|47772||47||-||Rail Express Systems||June 2008||ex-EWS||Under Repair||Carnforth|
|47776||47||-||Rail Express Systems||February 2007||ex-EWS||Stored||Carnforth|
|47787||47||Windsor Castle||WCR Maroon||February 2007||ex-EWS||Under repair (engine overhaul)||Carnforth|
|57005||57||-||Advenza Freight Blue||January 2011||ex-Advenza Freight||Under repair||Carnforth|
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