Rail Express

Colas Rail ‘70s’ far and wide

THE new year had just begun when Nos. 70803 and 70805 were unloaded from the Atlantic Concert at Seaforth Docks, Merseyside, on January 4, 2014, following their month-long journey from the General Electric factory in Erie, Pennsylvania. So began the story of the Colas Rail Class 70 fleet, which has gone on to be a vital component of the company’s motive power roster.

The official announcement of an order for an initial 10 locos had only been made two months earlier, by when it was pretty much an open secret. This included nine new build locos from America, Nos. 70802-10, along with the Turkish-built European demonstrator No. 70099, which would become No. 70801.

The latter dark green machine had been in the UK since October 2012, when it arrived at Newport Docks. Over the next 12 months, it had stints at Brush Traction, Eastleigh TMD and Cardiff Canton undergoing investigations and modifications in an effort to solve the overheating and engine issues plaguing the Freightliner Class 70s. November 2013 saw the loco, now identified as No. 70801, move to Landore to receive the revised bodyside air intakes before returning to Canton for a repaint into Colas colours in January 2014.

A paperwork dispute initially delayed the introduction of the Class 70s into service, Nos. 70803 and 70805 not leaving Seaforth until mid-February 2014, by when No. 70804 had also journeyed across the Atlantic to join them

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