Class: Class 90
Type: Electric - 25 kV AC
Designer: British Rail
Weight: 84.5 tons
Purpose: Passenger & Freight
Information: The West Coast Mainline was converted to overhead electric power in stages during the 1960ís and early 1970ís. After experimentation with early AC electric classes, BR settled on producing a large fleet of Class 86 and 87ís to meet motive power demands. With motive power requirements being fulfilled by the mid 1970ís, further production of locomotives ceased until the arrival of Class 90ís in 1987
Details: Although the earlier classes of AC electrics were in many cases experimental, by the mid 1960ís BR had settled on the design of the AL6, later Class 86 and 100 were produced. In the early 1970ís completion of electrification beyond Glasgow necessitated further motive power. In response 36 up-dated versions, classified Class 87 were built. Along with the original prototype classes, over 200 locomotives were sufficient to meet operational requirements for the fore-seeable future.
By the mid 1980ís it was apparent that the early prototype classes were not up to the job. Their AC rectifiers were a common source of problems and subject to fire damage causing withdrawal of many class members. This led to the need for new locomotives by the late 1980ís. Between 1987 and 1990, 50 locomotives were produced at BRís Crewe Locomotive Works. The locomotives were among the last mixed traffic designs built in Britain. With a top speed of 110-MPH for passenger service operations the class was also equipped from new with the ability to work push-pull services comprising of a locomotive at one end and a Driving Van Trailer (DVT) at the other end, eliminating the need to run around the train in terminus stations.
As built the Class 90ís received Inter-City Swallow livery primarily white and grey with a red, and yellow cab ends. By the early 1990ís several were converted to freight only operation and repainted Rail Freight or Parcel Sector liveries as appropriate. After 1996 the entire class was split amongst several Private operators, each using their own unique colour schemes.
As of 2010 most are still in operation, although several are now stored for future use or have been scrapped due to damage.