Model Rail (UK)
Factfile: Class 92
As construction of the Channel Tunnel progressed, a need was identified for a common user locomotive for
British Rail and its French counterpart SNCF. It would need to be able to haul freight and passenger traffic not only through the tunnel but on both national networks. The fact that an electric locomotive was essential added further complexity to the project. The Class 92 was designed to work on either 25kv AC from overhead lines, or from BR’S archaic 750V DC third-rail system, providing maximum power outputs of 6,700hp or 5,360hp respectively. Assembled at Brush’s Loughborough works, the bodyshells were erected at Procor’s Wakefield workshops and were similar to those recently created for the Class 60 diesels.
Introduced between 1994-96, the 46-strong fleet was initially split between BR’S Railfreight Distribution sector, SNCF and European Passenger Services, the latter intended for use on ‘Nightstar’ sleeper services from UK regional destinations.
The Class 92s are highly complex locomotives, with many key systems duplicated to guard against a failure within the Channel Tunnel. Delays in commissioning of the new locomotives meant that, by the time the fleet was ready for deployment, freight traffic levels through the tunnel were far less than expected. Furthermore, the ‘Nightstar’ programme had been abandoned.
Many ‘92s’ were stood down in the early 2000s, some never to work again, and EWS became the sole operator of the fleet, hauling a mix of intermodal and other freight services between Dollands Moor, Wembley and Glasgow via the West Coast Main Line. Hauling coal and timber between Glasgow and Warrington was something of a comedown for these sophisticated machines, although some international duties continued. By the late 2000s, GBRF began acquiring Class 92s, as did Eurotunnel’s Europorte subsidiary. The contract to haul Anglo-scottish sleeper services was won by GBRF in 2015 and a fleet of ‘92s’ was refurbished and assigned to this work. Meanwhile, EWS’ successor DB Schenker (later DB Cargo) exported over a dozen ‘92s’ to work in Eastern Europe, with just a handful of operational DB examples still in use in the UK, albeit restricted to the HS1 route.