Since 10th June 2005, the 87s retired from Class One passenger duties were left with no booked work and nothing on the horizon (at the time). Prior to this date, 87013 and 87014 had been taken as standby locos by GB Railfreight for mail traffic which had just returned to the rails. These two were rather long in the tooth so, once released by Virgin Trains, 87002 87012 and 87019 transferred to GBRf and were put straight to work hauling dead Class 325 mail units about (this was around the time they were having problems with the motor coaches).
Above: One of the first passenger duties after the ‘end’ on the West Coast was for the ACORP weekend at Norwich. Two special trains (London-Norwich and Norwich-London) were booked for 87 haulage along with the associated return legs which ran as service trains. Originally planned to be a single 87 working with a DBSO (think this would have been a first), it changed to 2 locos due to concerns over the TDM. 87019 and 87007 were the chosen locos and worked top and tailed with a full Mk2 rake. 87019 seen above at Liverpool Street waiting to head for Norwich with the last train of the day, 24th September 2005.
Above: A couple of weeks later on 19th October 2005, there was a special train from London Euston to Birmingham New Street in the morning and a return in the evening which were being operated by Cotswold Rail. Problems which meant GB Railfreight had to step in and provide 87012 and 87019. The latter brought the ECS into Euston in the morning and then spent the rest of the day dead in tow, on the back to Birmingham and behind 12 on the return to Euston. 87012 Birmingham New Street 19/10/05.
Above: Cotswold Rail had a number of locos on lease, two of which saw semi-regular use (despite regular rumours of new freight flows for them). 87007 was repainted into their silver livery, followed by 87008 although that never saw use and languished at Wembley until storage at Long Marston in early 2008. 87007 stands at Rugby with a stock move between Wembley and Oxley on 17th February 2006.
Above: Use on mail traffic continued throughout 2006 with the 87s getting continuous use. At one stage, the motor coaches were all removed, making the 325s 3 car units and necessitating loco haulage. 87002 (along with 87006 and 87026) was a late addition to the GBRf fleet, never working again after 10th June 2005, it was moved to Oxley for repairs in February 2006 and emerging again in late March under its own power. It worked with GBRf until (again with 87006 and 87026) Virgin started its loco hauled training in June 2006. Seen here at Carlisle passing through with 1M44 Shieldmuir-Warrington. 11 April 2006.
Above: Over the Easter weekend 2006, the mail traffic was diverted via the East Coast. At the time, this gave the (then) unusual sight of an 87 working in daylight on the ECML. 87002 worked Northbound and 87026 worked Southbound. The former is held for a signal check at Peterborough on 18 April 2006.
Above: Whilst they were using 87002, 87006 and 87026 as mileage accumulation before going over to Virgin, the two original GB locos 87012 and 87019 also saw use. 87019 seen here at Rugeley Trent Valley heading 1S96 to Shieldmuir on 25 April 2006.
Above: As thoughts turned to handing 002, 006 and 026 over to Virgin, the time came to replace them in the GB fleet. 87022 and 87028 which had been stored at Oxley since DRS finished with them, were brought back to Wembley and underwent reactivation work as replacements. 87022, on one of its initial runs hence the inclusion of 87002 dead in tow, passes Rugeley Trent Valley on 1A97 Warrington to Wembley PRDC on 25 April 2006.
87028 at Stafford working 1S96 Willesden PRDC-Shieldmuir gets looped at Stafford for a late running Pendolino on 31/05/06.
Above: Fast forward a few months to July, the 325s were getting back on their feet and 22 and 28 were settled down, and the first few days of the month were 87012’s last runs in the UK. Up on 30th June on 1S96 to Shieldmuir, stable at Polmadie over the weekend and back to Wembley on 3rd July with a demic 325. Suitably spruced up to mark the occasion, it was back to Wembley where it sat until December 2006 when it went to Dollands Moor and onwards to Bulgaria.
Above: FM Rail started a new luxury train operation called the Blue Pullman in January 2006. Predominantly hauled by a pair of similarly liveried 47s, there were times when an electric loco was called for and a number of 86s were leased with this intention. Until they were ready, GBRf stepped in and provided an 87 (plus driver) whenever this was required. The 86s never made it into traffic and 87s kept going until the operation was wound up in late 2006. 87028 seen above accelerating away from the 50mph speed restriction at Morpeth with an outing to Edinburgh on 12th August 2006.
Ab0ve: Another outing on the East Coast with the Blue Pullman but this time from London to Darlington for the ACORP festival being held there. This trip was 87028’s first outing sporting its new ‘Lord President’ nameplates. The train went back South top and tailed and the day after they worked a GBRf staff trip from London to York and returned to Barking! 87022 and 87028 seen here at Newcastle with the ECS from Darlington to Heaton TMD on 23 September 2006.
Above: 87028 sits spare at Wembley with 87006, 86213, 87007 and 87008 for company, 11th May 2007.
Above: Another outing for an 87 to the Northern part of the ECML with 87022 working London Kings Cross to Berwick upon Tweed. The eagle-eyed observer will notice that the stock is no longer the Blue Pullman set. FM Rail collapsed at the end of 2006 which saw the entire rake of coaches sold off to Cotswold Rail. Hertfordshire Railtours (which had been part of FM Rail) remained solvent and continued trading with the luxury tours using Riviera stock. 87022 brings the empties into Berwick upon Tweed ready to head back to London 23 June 2007.
Alongside the mail traffic with the occasional poshex, another unusual working took place during 2007. A brand new rake of coal hoppers needed transferring from London to Doncaster and it would have been rude not to use something unusual to haul them. Cue 87022 and 87028. The pair hauled the train, in multiple, before returning light engine to London. Seen above at Newark Northgate on 1st July 2007.
This may well have been the final ‘Blue Pullman’ hauled by an 87. A London Kings Cross-Prestonpans and return weekend trip (for guests to visit the Edinburgh Military Tattoo) saw 87028 decked out with 18 WB stickers and gold buffers (that had become synonymous with the class in the final days). Lord President seen above under the trainshed at York on 4 August 2007.
Above: The final curtain call for the class came at the end of 2007 with OTMR being made mandatory for all vehicles operating on the main line after 31st December. With the overhaul of the 325s having been completed and the fleet restored to full health, it wasn’t deemed cost effective to fit such a small number of locos with the kit (GB only had 2 in their fleet by this time). The news came that Porterbrook had sold the remaining members to a company called Romic Ace who then sold a number to the Bulgarian Railway Company (a private open access operator). A final railtour was organised on the 29th December 2007 which would have run from Birmingham International to Glasgow Central (and return). I say “would” because that was the intention – if it wasn’t for West Coast Railway Company! A problem with the stock (lighting and heat) and then a guards door falling off its hinges meant it was cancelled, everyone went home and a day or two later the loco was hauled dead to Wembley, never to work on the mainline again.
Above: Thankfully, in addition to the non-runners 87001 in the NRM and 87035 at Crewe Heritage Centre, 87002 also escaped oblivion (or being sent half way across the world). Officially ‘preserved’ in early 2008, it returned to the main line in July of the same year working occasional railtours, stock moves and more notably being hired to GB Railfreight for their mail train standby and winter ice breaking work amongst other things. Having failed at operating the ‘final’ railtour, a comeback railtour was run by Spitfire Railtours (remember them?!) between Birmingham International and Glasgow in October 2008 – seen on arrival at Glasgow Central.
Above: One further high profile railtour job was for the 2010 ‘Three Peaks Challenge’ which it hauled from London Euston to Crewe on the 24th June 2010 – seen here on arrival. It handed over to a silver Class 67 for the run to Bangor (for Snowdon) and then on to Ravenglass (for Scafell) and finally Fort William (for Ben Nevis).