Every Loco tells a story, 85038.

 85038 was just another rareish 80 mph “roarer” to me until Wednesday November 11th 1987 when various events unfurled that will stay in the memory for ever.  Armed with my “top roarer piece” a M.Keynes-Euston weekly season! I joined Jock at Leighton station around 5am awaiting the “milk empties” to Bletchley.

Jock had just finished a “quiet” nightshift at Leighton station the only excitement he advised of was the local fox trotting along the US as booked for his 3am snack outside the leading Railman’s office. 85038 emerged with much roaring from the gloom and in the warmth of the compo we enjoyed the brief run back to Bletchley. The 310 cart took us forward with the booked “stop” at Denbigh Hall made for Jock to get home!

I stayed onto Northampton as the milk empties loco normally went light to Northampton, and was relieved to see 038 follow us into Northampton. A good run to Euston on the “Cobbler” behind 85038 then the usual fester here for more “roarer” action. 85018 and 85008 had arrived on overnights but were banished to Wembley on emcars. 85011 was hovering but this backed onto a short pullman rake with various VIP’s joining on platform 16. This was announced as a private charter to Peterborough…I assumed 011 would come off at Wembley for some EH 47.   (she didn’t, working the Pullmans plus a small freight consist all the way to Peterborough!)

Later gen was to advise that this Railfreight organised special didn’t want an Inter City liveried loco so good old blue/yellow 85011 stood in. Back at Euston I broke up the fester by doing a fill in 310 move to Watford before joining 85038 on the 1100 Euston-Northampton daytime Cobbler. These lightweight 6 coach Mk 1 half formations often saw lively running but 038 put in a steady but atmospherically noisy performance to Northampton and back.

Back at Euston the weather had turned from grey to total yuk with wind and rain making a 10 minute wait seem like an hour. If 85038 was to stick to diagram she would next do the 1540 Aberystwyth. In a classic case of “I know better” I thought there was no way control would allocate an 80mph loco to such a key 100-mph train and 038 would do a later Cobbler. So as 038 roared off light engine I joined a 310 for another Watford fill in move, though on passing 038 now waiting on Camden bank I was a bit worried I had done the wrong move.

At Watford half an hour later I was gutted as 038 screamed through on the 1540, bowled!!! as the wind continued to blow. Announcements were now being made re the severe weather; an 80mph maximum speed limit (to prevent wire damage) had been imposed so that’s why 038 had worked! 

Back at Euston the timetable soon degenerated as news of a landslip in the Leighton Buzzard area blocking the DF filtered through.  No sign of any roarers at Euston and with Steve Wolverton advising that only B10 (1945 Euston-Northampton) was allocated a proper engine I leapt onto the 1650 Euston-Liverpool. This at least got 87028 which was a lot better than a “mouldy can”. Progress North of Leighton was slow and in the darkness I could view little of the slip which was just North of the farm bridge beyond the famous Old Linslade footbridge (bridge 139) itself. At the Keynes the gen was received that it was that 038 had hit a “bad landslip” and was replaced at Bletchley by an 86.

For me a “can” back to Euston and 85013 home on B10 as booked. The next morning I did a 310 past the slip and was staggered to see a huge mound of earth and big bushes covering the DF to a considerable depth and slightly fouling the UF as well. At Bletchley 85038 was parked up near the parcels bay the cab door bogie ladders had been bent back by the impact and thick mud covered much of the underside. The driver must have gone through sheer hell on coming round the tight Linslade curves to see that landslip ahead of him. Fate (Control) decreed he was only doing 80mph rather than the booked 90mph and the “roarer” took the impact and stayed on the rails…For me I was to meet up with 85038 a few more times and always winced when we approached Old Linslade curves behind her. 

85038 was withdrawn on 020190 with the final cut coming 2 years later….Gone but not forgotten.. 

 Today lightweight “Pendo’s” tilt round Old Linslade at full line speed of 125 mph and we can only hope that lightning doesn’t strike twice……  

Sample E3093/85038 workings from over the years…


E3093 1620 Euston – Manchester  (Nuneaton – Crewe) 270864  

E3093  1335 Euston –Perth (Rugby – Crewe) 300765  

E3093 Crewe-Northampton leg of RCTS Eight Counties RT 260366  

E3093 1830 Euston – Liverpool 031166  

E3093 1530 Manchester – Euston 040967  

E3093 1415 Euston – Manchester 220268  

E3093 Rtn Folkestone H-Northampton weekend RT ex MBJ  260971

E3093 6M91 L Buzzard 300773

E3093 1J28 L. Buzzard 040873

85038 Liverpool-Birmingham vans – 230976

85038 1023 Manchester-Plymouth 180480  

85038 U Widnes rugex 010582

85038        0746 Northampton-Euston        181082

85038 0823 Glas/0806Edin-Nottingham 090283

85038 0805 Portsmouth –Manchester 180284  

85038 1V62 2350(11/07) Glasgow – Bristol 120784  

85038        2200 (18/04) Stranraer-Euston 190486

85038 6S97 0857 Warrington-Mossend

85038        1540 Euston-Aberystwyth, hit landslip at Old Linslade 111187

85038        1535 Wolverhampton-Euston 100289

85038        0850 Glasgow-Penzance 070689

85038  1550 Liverpool –Poole 050889

85038  1135 Glasgow - Euston Relief - last known working,


85038 phot spot


20058985038r.jpg In her last few months of service, 85038 heads North past pre by-pass Soulbury Rd with a return footex on 200589


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