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Most locomotives booked on a service train in the UK

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Western 52

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Looking back through some old photographs, I found a few shots of trains headed by more than two locomotives. This set me thinking - what is/was the maximum number of locomotives to have been booked on a service train, passenger or freight, in the UK? By "service train" I mean one that was in the working timetable, so no special trains or multiple headers caused by locos going to rescue failed trains. Some examples I know of are the former iron ore trains which ran between Port Talbot and Llanwern (see attached image of one at Cardiff with the then booked 3 class 37s) and the use of 3 class 03 locos on the former Burry Port & Gwendraeth Valley line until the early 1980s. Were any double headed freight trains ever booked for the Lickey bankers, giving 4 on one train for example?3 37s on ore at Cardiff.jpg?
 
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Rob F

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I think you could get 4x76 on Worsborough bank on the electrified line to Wath. Two hauling and two banking.
 

steamybrian

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The Folkestone Harbour branch passenger trains in steam days were worked by three sometimes four locos.
 

randyrippley

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Pre-Pendolino weekend closures on the WCML north of Lancaster sometimes resulted in a mk3+DVT set "wrong way round" heading north on a Sunday afternoon with the 87/90 attached to the DVT and the whole lot dragged by two, sometimes three, diesels.
One I can remember was (from the front) 37-20-20-90-DVT. Must have caused positioning problems at platforms

Never saw them myself, but some of the midlands coal MGR trains had 3x class 20, two leading, one mid-train.
An article in Modern Railways described the middle one as "radio controlled" but never clarified whether they meant real remote control, or that the drivers had walkie-talkies...........
,

Another one to remember is that before the 37's took on the Lickey banking, Hymeks did it in triplicate. And weren't three bankers used in steam days?
 
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Whistler40145

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There was a Summer Fridays Only Plymouth to Manchester Piccadilly relief service in the 80s that was booked to reverse at Gloucester and usually produced a pair of 20s forward and was booked to be banked up the Lickey Incline by the statutory pair of 37s
 

DelW

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Another one to remember is that before the 37's took on the Lickey banking, Hymeks did it in triplicate. And weren't three bankers used in steam days?
I have childhood memories of visiting Blackwell (at the top of the bank) in the late 1950s or early 60s, at a time when pannier tanks were in use as bankers, and I'm sure I remember seeing three used on some trains. I think they dropped off separately, ran back through a crossover, then coupled up again before heading back down to Bromsgrove. My other memory of the time is the unfitted freights ("goods trains" then) stopping at the top to have the wagon brakes pinned down ready to descend.
 

47271

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Long before my time, but in the 1960s and 1970s the heavier Highland Main Line services like the sleeper would regularly get three Class 24s on them.
 

AlbertBeale

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The Folkestone Harbour branch passenger trains in steam days were worked by three sometimes four locos.

I remember seeing them with one or two tank engines in the middle, in addition to one or more at each end. I'd be surprised if there weren't sometimes more than four in total, taking a fully loaded boat train up from the harbour station.
 

Western 52

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Long before my time, but in the 1960s and 1970s the heavier Highland Main Line services like the sleeper would regularly get three Class 24s on them.
This also happened on the far north line to Wick, with 2 or 3 class 26 on 5 coaches. I think the reason was related to loco positioning for the Thurso branch engine but I'm unsure why there could be 3 locos on the train. I took a photo of one of these trains in 1982 at Brora. The photo shows 26024/32/38 on 13/3/82 working the 1145 Wick / 1148 Thurso - Inverness. From memory all 3 locos were working.26024 at Brora.jpg
 
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pdeaves

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The consensus appears to be around four locomotives. Does the answer ever exceed four if you take into account locomotive changes en route? That is, every loco swap adds another to the count.
 

Western 52

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The consensus appears to be around four locomotives. Does the answer ever exceed four if you take into account locomotive changes en route? That is, every loco swap adds another to the count.
Yes I think so, especially where trains had portions and were re-engined several times en-route. The old Bristol to Glasgow/Edinburgh sleeper was a heavy train, and would have 5 locos sometimes, but not all at the same time of course. A type 4 took the train to Birmingham, often with the two bankers up Lickey. An electric was used from Birmingham to Glasgow and another diesel for the Edinburgh portion from Carstairs. There must be many similar examples - how many locos were involved in the multi-portioned Atlantic Coast Express?
 

CW2

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Yes I think so, especially where trains had portions and were re-engined several times en-route. The old Bristol to Glasgow/Edinburgh sleeper was a heavy train, and would have 5 locos sometimes, but not all at the same time of course. A type 4 took the train to Birmingham, often with the two bankers up Lickey. An electric was used from Birmingham to Glasgow and another diesel for the Edinburgh portion from Carstairs. There must be many similar examples - how many locos were involved in the multi-portioned Atlantic Coast Express?
The Bristol - Glasgow / Edinburgh also ran on a Saturday night and was therefore subjected to diversions due to engineering work. If the diversion was between Birmingham and Preston then an extra diesel loco was often involved, hauling the electric loco dead. However if the diversion was over the S&C then the electric would work to Farington Junction, diesel loco forward to Carlisle, and a fresh electric forward from there. So that might give you:
1 diesel Bristol - Birmingham
2 diesels Lickey Bankers
1 electric Birmingham - Farington Jn
1 diesel Farington Jn - Carlisle via S&C
1 electric Carlisle - Carstairs (- Glasgow)
1 diesel Carstairs - Edinburgh
Total 5 diesel + 2 electric = 7 locos.
 

LSWR Cavalier

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The ACE had something like ten coaches for nine destinations, so that would make about nine engines
On summer Saturdays reliefs were run, counted together there must have been even more engines, even if some destinations got several carriages, not just one
Has the LSWR won?
 

Gloster

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The ACE had something like ten coaches for nine destinations, so that would make about nine engines
On summer Saturdays reliefs were run, counted together there must have been even more engines, even if some destinations got several carriages, not just one
Has the LSWR won?

Did the ACE serve all the destinations from the one working: were some only served on peak Saturdays from one of the dated services? I think the main train had a loco change at Wilton at times. Unfortunately, some of my books are inaccessible at the moment.
 

xotGD

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The Bristol - Glasgow / Edinburgh also ran on a Saturday night and was therefore subjected to diversions due to engineering work. If the diversion was between Birmingham and Preston then an extra diesel loco was often involved, hauling the electric loco dead. However if the diversion was over the S&C then the electric would work to Farington Junction, diesel loco forward to Carlisle, and a fresh electric forward from there. So that might give you:
1 diesel Bristol - Birmingham
2 diesels Lickey Bankers
1 electric Birmingham - Farington Jn
1 diesel Farington Jn - Carlisle via S&C
1 electric Carlisle - Carstairs (- Glasgow)
1 diesel Carstairs - Edinburgh
Total 5 diesel + 2 electric = 7 locos.
When I did it up the Lickey on a Saturday night there was only ever a single banker rather than the pair you'd get during the week. This was mid to late 80s. Also on a Saturday it would sometimes get diverted and get a 37 as pilot loco from Worcester to New St.

The Euston - Fort William was also a loco fest. Electric to Mossend, diesel #1 to Cowlairs, diesel #2 into Queen St, diesel #3 to shunt the stock onto the day coaches, diesel #4&5 to work the train forward (possibly diesel #6 acting as banker?).
 

GRALISTAIR

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Looking back through some old photographs, I found a few shots of trains headed by more than two locomotives. This set me thinking - what is/was the maximum number of locomotives to have been booked on a service train, passenger or freight, in the UK? By "service train" I mean one that was in the working timetable, so no special trains or multiple headers caused by locos going to rescue failed trains. Some examples I know of are the former iron ore trains which ran between Port Talbot and Llanwern (see attached image of one at Cardiff with the then booked 3 class 37s) and the use of 3 class 03 locos on the former Burry Port & Gwendraeth Valley line until the early 1980s. Were any double headed freight trains ever booked for the Lickey bankers, giving 4 on one train for example?View attachment 85003?
I have a few photos of these bad boys. Triple headed 37s.
 

CW2

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When I did it up the Lickey on a Saturday night there was only ever a single banker rather than the pair you'd get during the week. This was mid to late 80s. Also on a Saturday it would sometimes get diverted and get a 37 as pilot loco from Worcester to New St.

The Euston - Fort William was also a loco fest. Electric to Mossend, diesel #1 to Cowlairs, diesel #2 into Queen St, diesel #3 to shunt the stock onto the day coaches, diesel #4&5 to work the train forward (possibly diesel #6 acting as banker?).
I think the shunt at Queen Street was done by the loco(s) working forward, and the banker would be the same loco that worked down the hill from Cowlairs. So 4 diesel locos rather than 6, assuming a pair out of Queen Street. The 21:00 ex Euston was another candidate for S&C diversion on occasion, in which case you could add +1 Electric and +1 Diesel.
 

etr221

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If we're talking about locos in succession, rather than simultaneously, then one wonders about the WW1 Naval specials: both freight (coal) and passenger (leave, etc., traffic). Coal for the Grand Fleet from South Wales - block trains from Pontypool Road to Grangemouth via various routes, taking about 48 hours. 'Passenger' trains included Euston-Thurso (daily) and Devonport-Invergordon, both about 720 miles in about 24 hours (including stops fo meals). Probably all into double figures, from one end to another.
 

xotGD

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I think the shunt at Queen Street was done by the loco(s) working forward, and the banker would be the same loco that worked down the hill from Cowlairs. So 4 diesel locos rather than 6, assuming a pair out of Queen Street. The 21:00 ex Euston was another candidate for S&C diversion on occasion, in which case you could add +1 Electric and +1 Diesel.
First time I did it we had a 27 do the shunt and then this departed to be replaced by a pair of 37s. Also, the loco that came down from Cowlairs could not act as banker as it was no longer on the back - the loco that brought in the day coaches would have to be the banker (unless I'm misremembering which portion got shunted).

All good fun back then.
 

AlbertBeale

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The consensus appears to be around four locomotives. Does the answer ever exceed four if you take into account locomotive changes en route? That is, every loco swap adds another to the count.

I still reckon there were sometimes five on the boat trains up the hill in Folkestone. Though I admit I could be misremembering, since my holidays with my parents at a B&B on a road from where you could see that line were a very long time ago...
 

30907

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The ACE had something like ten coaches for nine destinations, so that would make about nine engines
On summer Saturdays reliefs were run, counted together there must have been even more engines, even if some destinations got several carriages, not just one
Has the LSWR won?
Think you are stretching the meaning of "a train" somewhat, but I had got to 5 for a Waterloo-Padstow portion around 1950, changing engines at Salisbury, Exeter, Okehampton and Wadebridge (yes, they really did). The 1pm Padstow-Waterloo through coach, and the 11.15am SO down I think.
That's probably matched by Kings X-Aberdeen or Perth, changing engines at Grantham, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh around the same era.
(The Salisbury/Grantham changes were AFAIK a short-lived post-war expedient, though the Salisbury one was normal pre war too I believe.)
 

delt1c

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Ok not the most but what about the Kings Cross to Leeds sleeper in the 70’s. This was a portion of ( I believe) the Newcastle sleeper. Usually a 47 from Kings Cross the Leeds portion was detatched at Doncaster by an 08 then it could be anything on the front to Leeds. A service train booked for an 08 rare.
 
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6Gman

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I remember seeing them with one or two tank engines in the middle, in addition to one or more at each end. I'd be surprised if there weren't sometimes more than four in total, taking a fully loaded boat train up from the harbour station.

Wouldn't locos in the middle of the train be a bit of a nuisance when it reversed at Folkestone Junction?
 

30907

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Wouldn't locos in the middle of the train be a bit of a nuisance when it reversed at Folkestone Junction?
Just too young to remember, but all the photos I've seen show top-and-tail working - 3 front 1 rear uphill when it was R1s.
 

GusB

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This also happened on the far north line to Wick, with 2 or 3 class 26 on 5 coaches. I think the reason was related to loco positioning for the Thurso branch engine but I'm unsure why there could be 3 locos on the train. I took a photo of one of these trains in 1982 at Brora. The photo shows 26024/32/38 on 13/3/82 working the 1145 Wick / 1148 Thurso - Inverness. From memory all 3 locos were working.View attachment 85022
I'm about to do the Highland Wibble... Superb photo :)

I've no idea why there would be three on this particular train. Two would be overkill for a 5-coach train, surely?

Long before my time, but in the 1960s and 1970s the heavier Highland Main Line services like the sleeper would regularly get three Class 24s on them.
Not just 24s - I think it depended on whatever combination of Type 2s was available. I have seen one photo of a 24/26 combination climbing out of Inverness with sixteen coaches behind - that must have been fairly demanding for a pair.
 

341o2

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Think you are stretching the meaning of "a train" somewhat, but I had got to 5 for a Waterloo-Padstow portion around 1950, changing engines at Salisbury, Exeter, Okehampton and Wadebridge (yes, they really did). The 1pm Padstow-Waterloo through coach, and the 11.15am SO down I think.
That's probably matched by Kings X-Aberdeen or Perth, changing engines at Grantham, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh around the same era.
(The Salisbury/Grantham changes were AFAIK a short-lived post-war expedient, though the Salisbury one was normal pre war too I believe.)
Most posts are regarding triple and quadruple heading/banking, the ACE dropped off portions to be worked by another loco.
In the final years, the single train service would be

MN Waterloo - Exeter, with portion detatched at Sidmouth Jcn (now Feniton) for Exmouth, with a second portion for Sidmouth
At Exeter, the MN would come off, to be replaced by 2 WC/BB, the first to Ilfracombe, detatching the Bideford portion at Barnstaple.
The second to Padstow, detatching the Plymouth portion at Okehampton, and the Bude portion at Halwill.

I make that 8, but the only time locos worked together would be the 2 WC/BB running light engine from Exmouth Jcn shed to Exeter
 

Taunton

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My recollection of the Southern is they generally changed locos at Salisbury, due in part to not having any water troughs on the line so there would need to be an extended stop to rewater the tender anyway, as well as change crews. This accounted for the considerable number of Pacifics allocated to the shed there. Furthermore in the complex break-up of the train at Exeter Central one of the 0-6-0 tanks which did both station pilot and banking up from St Davids was needed to get the restaurant car out of the middle of the formation, as that was as far as it went. That's maybe marginal for being counted.
 

Cheshire Scot

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Long before my time, but in the 1960s and 1970s the heavier Highland Main Line services like the sleeper would regularly get three Class 24s on them.
I never actually saw three locos on a Highland Main Line train but am aware it happened from time to time.
I saw and sometimes travelled behind 2 x 24/26 on the 15/16 coach loads of the overnights many times, and were quite capable of keeping the (admittedly very slow) booked timings. The Highlander had the added weights of a restaurant car and up to eight sleepers each circa 5 tons heavier than a standard coach.
The Sectional Appendix rule throughout Scotland was not more than two locomotives to be coupled together unless specially authorised so I suspect the occasions when three were used would have been the exception rather than the rule.
 
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