THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO
‘Thunderbird’ has long been an unofficial railway term for a locomotive used to rescue another, and owes its origins to International Rescue, the organization that starred in the hit TV show Thunderbirds. Virgin made the term official. All ‘Voyagers’, ‘Super Voyagers and ‘Pendolinos’ were fitted with Dellner couplers, so they could be hauled by a locomotive in the event of a breakdown. Virgin acquired 16 Class 57/3s locomotives (later fitted with Dellner couplers) and gave them names from Thunderbirds, complete with the Thunderbirds and International Rescue nameplates. The ‘57/3s’ were also used to haul ‘Pendolinos’ on non-electrified lines between Crewe and Holyhead from 2005, until Class 221s took over in 2012. Work for the ‘57/3s’ diminished from 2008, and the last was returned to Porterbrook in 2012. 57301-57312 are now used by DRS, and 57313-57316 are part of West Coast Railway Company’s fleet.
57309 Brains drags ‘Pendolino’ 390047 past Birkett Common on the Settle & Carlisle with the diverted 1517 Carlisle-euston, on April 30 2006. ROB FRANCE