The AC Locomotive Group

Railfest 2004Railfest 2004

Newly purchased 86401Newly purchased 86401

'1979' Gala'1979' Gala


2004 started in a particularly DC frame of mind, with the restoration of two Class 73 Electro-Diesels, 73119 and 73138. Both these locos had been purchased by two members of our group and arrived at Barrow Hill the previous spring. 73119 was later sold to the Keith and Dufftown Railway after restoration, however 73138 was made available for use as the group's shunting loco at Barrow Hill - something we had been in need of for years!

The National Railway Museum hosted a nine-day event in May / June, "Railfest 2004", celebrating two-hundred since Trevithick's first steam locomotive. For the event they requested 84001 back for display at York. The continuing paint problem meant a frantic effort to strip the affected bodyside back to bare metal and repaint a second time in as many years! Fortunately the job was completed in time and we were able to exhibit the 84 at York for the whole show.

Barrow Hill's diesel gala swapped places with the steam gala in 2004 and was thus held in July. The theme was "1979", attempting to recreate the atmosphere of the BR Open Day held at the shed in 1979. The two 73s proved to be very valuable assets, both being restored to operational order in time to form the mainstay of motive power on the shuttles throughout the weekend. In terms of restoration, the timing of the galas proved something of a problem, as the AC locos were shunted out of the shed ahead of the July gala, but didn't return to position until after the October steam event. Whilst little AC restoration was thus able to proceed, a lot of effort was going on away from Barrow Hill!

Our major success of the year was the purchase in June of 86401 from EWS, thanks to our Class 86/87 Project share issue. This loco was in full working order and plans were immediately put into action to try to return the loco to the main line for charter use. A deal was struck to keep the loco at Crewe and under the wires whilst TPWS and new fire equipment could be acquired for the loco.

In October, One Anglia ran a Class 86 Farewell tour to mark the virtual end of the type's use on passenger trains. We were able to set up our stand on the train and enjoyed a record-breaking run from Norwich to London on the last leg of the tour!

Not content with acquiring an 86 and a 73 during the year, and with plans to acquire an 87 moving forward, we rounded off 2004 in spectacular (and unexpected) style by taking delivery of 89001 on 17th December for storage on behalf of GNER. This unplanned addition meant that we had to make room at Barrow Hill, and consequently our Equipment Car was removed from site. The 89 was to be stored until the announcement of the new East Coast franchise in May 2005, with the group keeping it secure and presentable in the meantime.