British Rail Class 91

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A class 91 at Peterborough in the late 1980s wearing original InterCity Swallow livery.

The British Rail Class 91 is a class of 140 mph, 6,300 hp electric locomotives ordered specifically for the East Coast Main Line modernisation and electrification programme of the late 1980s. The Class 91 locomotives were to replace the previous British Rail Class 43 (HST) in addition to other InterCity locomotives. The Class 43s were better known as InterCity 125 trains and the Class 91s were given the auxiliary name of InterCity 225 trains to indicate their status as a new version of the 125. The other end of the InterCity 225 is formed of a Driving Van Trailer. The fleet was built in two batches, the first 10, then the remaining 21, between 1988 and 1991 at BREL, Crewe under subcontract from GEC to work with Mark 4 coaches. At the time the Class 91s were branded by British Rail as the 'Electra'. Heavily derived from power cars of the ill-fated Advanced Passenger Train, internally there was very little to distinguish the two classes, apart from the omission of a tilting mechanism in the power car, a power supply to allow the Mark 4 Coaches to tilt was provided but was removed during their recent rebuild.

One initial idea was to use these locomotives on fast passenger services in the day, and on intermodal trains at night. These plans were dropped and freight workings left to the Class 90s.

In the early 1990's, after the Treasury failed to support funding for the IC250 British Rail examined the option of ordering a further set of Class 91s to operate on the West Coast Main Line. Limited funding meant that the procurement of the Class 465 EMU Networker stock was taken forward instead of these.

The asymmetric body style is streamlined at one end to allow high speed operation with the fixed sets of Mark 4 coaches in push-pull operation. An additional requirement of the design was that they could operate as normal locomotives. This led to a second cab being incorporated into the 'flat end'.[1]

The fleet is now operated under lease from HSBC Rail by GNER, owners of the ECML franchise post privatisation and underwent a refit between 2000 and 2003 to improve reliability. This has resulted in the renumbering of the fleet from 910XX to 911XX, with the exception of locomotive 91023, which had been involved in the rail crashes at Hatfield and Selby. The locomotive escaped with minor damage on both occasions, but it was renumbered to 91132 (instead of the expected 91123) to avoid suggestions that it had "bad luck". [citation needed]

The trainsets have earned the nicknames Stealth Bombers due to the deep blue colour of the livery.

Fleet Details

Current Number Old Number Name(s)
Most recent first**
Dates Livery Operator Status Safety Test/ Lifted Notes

Class 91/1

Class 91/0

91101 91001 City of London
Swallow
2002-present
1991-1994
GNER Blue GNER Operational May 2006
91102 91002 Durham Cathedral 2002-present GNER Blue GNER Operational Jan 2006
91103 91003 County of Lincolnshire
The Scotsman
2001-present
1994-2000
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91104 91004 Grantham
The Red Arrows
1999-present
1996-1999
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91105 91005 County Durham 2001-present GNER Blue GNER Operational June 2006
91106 91006 East Lothian 2001-present GNER Blue GNER Operational December 2005
91107 91007 Newark on Trent
Ian Allen
2001-present
1992-1994
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91108 91008 City of Leeds
Thomas Cook
2001-present
1997-2000
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91109 91009 Samaritans
The Samaritans
Saint Nicholas
2001-present
1998-2001
1993-1998
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91110 91010 David Livingstone
Northern Rock
2001-present
1994-1998
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91111 91011 Terence Cuneo 2000-present GNER Blue GNER Operational
91112 91012 County of Cambridgeshire 2002-present
2000-2001
GNER Blue GNER Operational August 2006
91113 91013 County of North Yorkshire

Sir Michael Faraday
2002-present
2000-2002
1993-1998
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91114 91014 St Mungo Cathedral 2000-present GNER Blue GNER Operational
91115 91015 Holyrood 1999-present GNER Blue GNER Operational
91116 91016 Strathclyde 2001-present GNER Blue GNER Operational
91117 91017 Cancer Research UK
Commonwealth Institute
2002-present
1990-1997
GNER Blue GNER Operational April 2006
91118 91018 Bradford Film Festival
Robert Louis Stevenson
2000-present
1993-1996
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91119 91019 County of Tyne and Wear
Scottish Enterprise
2002-present
1992-1998
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91120 91020 Royal Armouries 2001-present (Vinyl)
1990-1996 (Cast)
GNER Blue GNER Operational August 2006
91121 91021 Archbishop Thomas Cranmer 2000-present GNER Blue GNER Operational August 2006
91122 91022 Tam the Gun
Double Trigger
Robert Adley
2005-present
2002-2005
1993-1996
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91124 91024 Reverend W Awdry 2000-present GNER Blue GNER Operational
91125 91025 Berwick upon Tweed
BBC Radio 1 FM
2000-present
1990-1994
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91126 91026 York Minster 1999-present GNER Blue GNER Operational
91127 91027 Edinburgh Castle
Great North Run
2001-present
1990-1998
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91128 91028 Peterborough Cathedral
Guide Dog
1999-present
1990-1993
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91129 91029 Queen Elizabeth II 1999-present (vinyl)
1990-1995 (Cast)
GNER Blue GNER Operational December 2006 Recently underwent a safety inspection (December 2006)
91130 91030 City of Newcastle
Palace of Holyroodhouse
2001-present
1994-1999
GNER Blue GNER Operational May 2006
91131 91031 County of Northumberland
Sir Henry Royce
2000-present
1990-1994
GNER Blue GNER Operational
91132 91023 City of Durham 2002-present GNER Blue GNER Operational Feb 2006 Involved in both Hatfield and Selby Rail Accidents. Renumbered 91132 (rather than 91123) after 2001 refurbishment.

**Not taking account of the period immediately after repainting into GNER colours in the late 1990s, when all locomotives were briefly nameless

See also

GNER Class 91 at York railway station
It has become unusual to see the flat end cab of the Class 91. This example is at Crewe Works

External links

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