Virgin Trains charity to benefit from Thunderbird nameplate sale

Virgin Trains charity to benefit from Thunderbird nameplate sale

Virgin Trains supported charity CLIC Sargent will benefit from the sale of 12 sets of ‘Thunderbird’-themed nameplates following its withdrawal of six Class 57 locomotives from service..

CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, is Virgin Trains’ supported charity. The partnership has raised more than £310,000 since 2009 and Virgin Trains is continuing to support CLIC Sargent until 2012.

The nameplates will be sold at a specialist railwayana auction in Derby on 10 December 2011 by Sheffield Railwayana Auctions Limited.

The locomotives involved are:
57301 Scott Tracy
57303 Alan Tracy
57305 John Tracy
57306 Jeff Tracy
57310 Kyrano
57312 The Hood

Network Rail is looking to take over the six Class 57 locomotives for specialist seasonal duties south of the River Thames. The locomotives have previously been part of Virgin Trains’ 16-Stong Class 57/3 fleet, but are no longer required by the West Coast train operator.

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The six locomotives were specially lined up for inspection by Simon Whitehorn, Network Rail’s LNW South Area General Manager and Virgin Trains’ Production Director Phil Bearpark at Alstom’s Wembley depot on 22 August 2011. Their main role at Network Rail will be to provide traction for six new carriages which are being specially built to clear snow and ice from the tracks in the south east, however, they will also undertake a range of other duties as required.

The Class 57s were required when the Pendolino trains entered service with Virgin Trains in 2002. Their primary role was as a strategic rescue fleet, hence the ‘Thunderbird’, ‘International Rescue’ naming theme. The first locomotive was officially named by Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson at London’s Euston station on 17 June 2002.

At the unveiling of the first locomotive, 57301 named after Thunderbird 1 pilot Scott Tracy in June 2002, Gerry Anderson said: “The Tracy boys are delighted to hear that the Virgin Trains rescue vehicles are to be named after them. They said that it is a great honour. Brains, who has had a great deal of experience in maintaining rescue vehicles, has offered to help the Virgin engineers and crews in any way he can. I consider it to be a great honour too and I wish them good luck with their rescues. F A B.”

Following the transfer of more Super Voyager trains to the West Coast route in 2007 eliminating daily haulage of Pendolino trains into North Wales, Virgin Trains reduced its requirement for rescue locomotives and placed a number of its Class 57 locomotives into store.

Virgin Trains Production Director Phil Bearpark said: “We are delighted to be able to support Network Rail’s plans to improve its contingency planning this Winter. We no longer need these locomotives, but recognise the role that they will be able to play elsewhere on the railway network. I would also like to thank staff at Alstom, who have maintained these locomotives and also the depot staff at Wembley depot for their support in staging the handover of the locomotives.”

Simon Whitehorn, Area General Manager, Network Rail said: In the last three years, Britain has experienced particularly harsh winter weather causing significant disruption, particularly in the south east. As performance has improved on the West Coast Main Line, we intend to take on these vital resources to be used elsewhere on the network. We anticipate the six locomotives will become a vital part of our winter weather plans which we hope will add much needed resilience to the third-rail powered network and allow passengers to make their journeys with minimal disruption.”

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