GB Railfreight Make History with Class 66 to Oban Station
GB Railfreight made history on Thursday 12 September, when for the first time ever a Class 66 locomotive ran along the Oban branch in Scotland right to its terminus.
The achievement was two years in the making. GBRf worked with Network Rail to approve the use of Class 66s on the line, as previously they had not been permitted with only lighter locomotives, such as Class 37s, allowed.
Locomotive 66 746 successfully headed the Royal Scotsman into Oban Station, and a limited number of charter Class 66 locomotives a year will be able to run on the single track Crianlarich to Oban line in the West Highlands for rail excursions.
The use of Class 66s on the line was specifically designed to facilitate the Royal Scotsman excursions along one of the most scenic railway lines in the world, taking in the remote mountainous west coast of Scotland, on board an overnight luxury train.
The journey itself sweeps along the edge of Loch Awe, past Ben Cruachan (the highest point in Argyll and Bute) where travellers can take in the ruins of Kilchurn Castle, before heading to Loch Etive and then to Oban. From Oban, travellers can then take ferries on to Mull, Iona and the Outer Hebrides.
John Smith, Managing Director GB Railfreight, said:
“This is an historic achievement and a lot of hard work has gone into making Class 66s on the Oban branch a reality. The first journey was a resounding success and just goes to show the expertise of the GBRf team in meeting and exceeding challenges to deliver innovative services for our clients across the whole of the UK. The whole team is very excited to see further Class 66s arrive at Oban station.”
Andy Saunders, Freight Delivery Director, said:
“Network Rail were delighted to support this important charter service through the Oban line and being able to permit a limited number of Class 66 movements a year for the operation of the Royal Scotsman”.