DRS 68001 heads a freight train at Stenson Junction on May 26, 2016. Picture by Ian Kinear.
Leased from Beacon Rail, Direct Rail Services currently operates a fleet of 25 Class 68 locomotives. The first 15 locomotives were ordered by the British operator in 2012, followed by a further 10 in 2014. Being a mixed-duty diesel locomotive, the locomotives see use in both passenger service (e.g. AbellioScotrail, Chiltern Railways) and freight service.
In mid-2015, DRS opted to order seven additional locos, to be numbered 68026-032 in line with the locomotives delivered earlier, for use with CAF-built push-pull sets on TransPennine Express passenger services. These services are set to commence in spring 2018, initially running on the Liverpool-Newcastle route. Later that year, services to and from Scarborough are to be added. The first locomotives of this batch are currently nearing completion. Meanwhile, it has been indicated that a further two Class 68 locomotives have been registered, carrying the numbers 68033 and 034. This means that another two locomotives have been ordered from Stadler Rail Valencia.
Chiltern Railways liveried 68014 has just crossed Culloden Viaduct with the 4D47 Inverness Freight Sidings to Mossend Up Yard intermodal on September 24, 2014. Picture by Keith Long.
Direct Rail Services also still has 10 Class 88 electro-diesels on order, also known under the type name UK DUAL. Production of these locomotives in Valencia is currently in its final stages and the first locomotive has already been shipped to the UK for testing, familiarization and certification purposes in anticipation of further deliveries in mid-spring. This commissioning programme is to take between six and eight weeks, and will be performed jointly with Stadler Rail Valencia. On January 22, locomotive 88002 was the first to touch down on British soil after arriving on board of Ro-Ro ship Autostar.
Loco 88001 was named 'Revolution' as the first of the class, in a similar fashion to the first Class 68 named 'Evolution'. However, more mythic names have been chosen for at least the four subsequent locomotives. Some are a revival of names applied to British Railways Class 76 and 77 electrics. The following names are currently known:
88001 - Revolution
88002 - Prometheus
88003 - Genesis
88004 - Pandora
88005 - Minerva
88006 - Juno
88007 - ?
88008 - Ariadne
88009 - ?
88010 - ?