British Rail Motive Power in the 1980s
15th February 2023
The 1980s were years of momentous change on Britain’s railways. At the dawn of the decade it was still possible to travel on a Sundays-only St Pancras to Manchester Piccadilly service that traversed the Woodhead route, or catch a Deltic-hauled express from York to London King’s Cross. The 1980 edition of Ian Allan’s Motive Power Combined Volume listed more than 3,700 diesel and electric locomotives. Slowly but surely over the following ten years, these familiar sights would begin to disappear. The Woodhead route and its twenty-seven-year-old fluorescent-lit tunnel was closed, the Deltics withdrawn, and hundreds of other diesel and electric locomotives taken out of service – most to be scrapped, with a precious few preserved. The first generation diesel multiple units began to be phased out and a new breed, the ‘Sprinter’, began to appear.
This book presents a collection of photographs of the motive power that characterised this decade of change, many featuring locations and infrastructure that, like the machines themselves, have gone forever.