Hornby R3656 Virgin Trains Class 87 Bo-Bo 87019 'Sir Winston Churchill' - Era 9
Designed from the outset to work in pairs, as well as in parallel with the Class 86 fleet, the Class 87 was broadly similar to the Class 86 in terms of layout and styling, but mechanically it was a very different. Immediately identifiable by its new twin windscreen cab, multiple-unit control cables and a redesigned BP9 bogie with Flexicoil suspension, the new locomotives were assembled during 1973-74 and were geared for 110mph running on the WCML, being able to haul 450 ton passenger trains, or 750 ton freight trains single handed. With a power rating of 5000hp, they were to be the most powerful locomotives to run under British Rail until the late 1980s.
The first locomotive, 87001, entered traffic in June 1973, the remainder of the fleet being deployed in the general West Coast pool as they entered service, operating Euston to Preston services as the WCML’s electrification spread north. On April 22, 1974 the new West Coast ‘Electric Scot’ service was introduced, marking a major launch for the class and journey times from London-Glasgow were cut to just five hours. When British Railways reversed its locomotive naming policy in 1977, the class were given the generic title of ‘Royal Scot’ and named from a selection of famous steam hauled predecessors.
Sectorisation of the railways in the late 1980s/early 1990s meant rail freight operations were wound down and the fleet were engaged solely on passenger services. Following complete privatisation in the mid-1990s, Porterbrook leasing took over ownership of the fleet, but the introduction of the Pendolino trains led to the Class 87s being withdrawn from the core InterCity routes and complete withdrawal began in 2003, with 87016 being the first to be dismantled in November 2004. The last mainstream locomotive hauled service took place on June 10, 2005 and Porterbrook began to look at how best to employ the locomotives, spells with DRS, Cotswold Rail and First GBRf ensuing.