Should we own or should we hire our locos

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'Bye bye Mr Engine Driver' - 44806 leaves Grosmont 21st June 2014
I’m afraid I’m a bit late with this weeks post - an upsurge in my consultancy work has been demanding my attention and as that helps to pay the bills my voluntary efforts have had to take a back seat. My apologies for that and here goes...

Owned versus Hired Locomotives debate

This last week on the Unofficial Forum has seen some debate on this subject. The question posed is whether it is better to rely on our own locomotives and face the high cost of maintenance and overhaul or to hire in locomotives, pay the owners a set fee per mile, and be free of the maintenance responsibility. Clearly there are Pros and Cons. As we have been finding for the last few years if the aim is to run a fleet of predominantly owned locomotives then the need to maintain extensive (and expensive) overhaul facilities is implicit and these facilities need to be fully staffed and well managed. Out of ticket 10-year overhauls need to be put in hand with alacrity so the locomotive is returned to traffic in the minimum time thereby reducing the need for additional spare locomotives.

This doesn’t seem to have happened on our Railway over the last 10 years, hence the large backlog of work in progress or waiting to be done. 76079, 30926, 80135, 34101, 3742 are all in the queue. The line needs to have at least six operational steam locomotives in the peak season and more and more of these need to be passed to operate over the national network to Whitby. It would seem that only two of these locos are currently being worked on, 76079 and 80135. They are expected to be finished in August 2014 and April 2015 respectively. 30926 is to be put out to contract and is unlikely to be available for traffic before 2016. 34101 will take 76079’s place in the Autumn and should also be available sometime in 2016. 3742 seems to be awaiting a successful appeal for funding.

Currently in traffic are three owned locos 75029, 44806 and 45428 the balance of loco need being met by hired locos 61264, 60007, 29 and a fleet of diesels. On the face of it the need for hired-in locos should diminish when 76079, 80135, 30926 and 34101 are all back in traffic giving us up to seven owned locos capable of hauling the longest trains.

However we have demonstrated that we have to rely heavily on hired-in locomotives when we fall down on our overhaul programme as we are at the moment. So any move to reduce the annual mileage (and therefore fee income) on the hired-in locos will not be popular with their owners.

In the end it is not a ‘black and white’ situation and we will no doubt continue with a mix of hired and owned locos as we have now. We do however need to strike a balance between the high cost of maintaining our own overhaul facilities and the need to keep private loco owners in funds and happy to be ‘on hire’ to the NYMR.


Continuing on the theme of loco overhauls I understand that this loco has now passed its out of frame hydraulic and steam tests and will be reunited with its frames this week.

Whitby Platform 2

The project is very much on the ‘home straight’ now. All the signaling equipment was installed by the end of last week and testing is taking place this week. The whole job is expected to be signed off by Network Rail on 21st July. Linked with this is the Grosmont North End re-signaling project which is also almost complete and moves into the testing and commissioning phase this week.

Hired-in Class 101 DMU

The two-car set is reported to be coming from the Llangollen Railway sometime this week.

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