Road showed the way forward for rail on Friday when Boris Johnson’s modern take on the classic Routemaster bus arrived in London.
Its pleasing aesthetics that pay homage to the original iconic Routemaster design that served London until 2005, is something that RailwaysToday thinks the railways industry could learn from.
Today’s railway lines are full of generic rolling stock, while modern locomotives such as Classes 66,67 and especially the Class 70 – the newest of the lot – are functional beasts not blessed with good looks.
Therefore RailwaysToday has decided to give the rail industry a push in the right direction and examine what classic rail designs could be resurrected and given a modern twist in the same way as the Boris Routemaster.
A new Deltic for the East Coast Mainline
Fewer locomotives are as iconic as the Deltic. As synonymous with the East Coast Mainline as the Routemaster was with London, a modern twist on the Class 55 could prove to be a massive hit.
With the Class 91s suffering poor reliability and East Coast understood to be considering whether to refurbish or replace – Bombardier Traxx locomotives have been touted in the railway press – RailwaysToday instead suggests a new-build electric locomotive – well, it would have to be electric unfortunately – that takes its style lead from the Deltic.
An Electric Western
Another iconic locomotive class that could get the Routemaster treatment is the Class 52 Western. With electrification out of Paddington imminent, the Western Region is about to undergo one of the most significant change since it was built by Brunel. And what better way to pay respects to that master of design than marking electrification with a specially commissioned locomotive where style and panache are to the fore.
Scrap, in its current guise, the Intercity Express Project currently earmarked to replace the High Speed Train – itself something of an icon – and replace it or incorporate into it an electric locomotive (yes the downside is that it would again have to be electric) that takes its style lead from the Class 52.
A new Class 40 for freight
With a power output of 2,750KW the Class 70 is clearly a strapping example of a locomotive. It’s thus all the more unfortunate that is such a let down in the looks department.
Its body shape suggests all the power of someone with a size six waist. That the mid-section resembles a Class 58, a loco with the nickname Bones, tells you all you need to know.
Contrast this with a Class 40 or Class 45, locos so burly they needed an extra set of wheels at each end just to keep them upright. You would never know looking at the locos side-by-side that the 70 is nigh on twice as powerful as the 40.
So, RailwaysToday urges Freightliner to reconsider further orders of the 70 in its current guise and take a leaf out of British design from the 50s and 60s and build a loco whose looks match its undoubted haulage qualities.
And another thing, the Boris Routemaster is being built by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland. A UK design AND a UK build, now there’s a novel concept in the 21st century.
Which class locomotive designs do you think could be resurrected and given a modern twist in the 21st century? RailwaysToday would love to hear your ideas.