Virgin Thunderbirds are Go
Following a contract award and successful service handover, December 2012 saw the start of the DRS contract to provide Thunderbird rescue locomotives to the Virgin rail fleet.
Thunderbird locomotives are located in the key strategic locations of Polmadie, Crewe, Stafford, Preston and Euston. This means wherever there is an incident a DRS Thunderbird can be quickly dispatched to perform rescue duties.
“The transition to DRSL has gone as smoothly as hoped. Transfer of a contract of this size is not the easiest of things at the best of times, we had logistical issues to sort with the transfer, change of stabled location, new relationships to build between Virgin Trains and DRS, as well as legacy hand back issues…. The time and consideration that DRS showed helped smooth the way and make the transition as painless as possible. A positive start to the contract” Gary Hambling, Head of Fleet & Engineering, Virgin Trains
In addition to rescue operations, Thunderbird locos are also used to manoeuvre Pendolino trains into position ahead of operation or during maintenance works. The Thunderbird locomotives are specially equipped with an electric train supply to provide power to operate air-conditioning and other services to a failed locomotive during moves.
As part of the contract DRS has made a £5,000 charitable donation to The Railway Children to maintain the use of the Lady Penelope name plate.
The Virgin contract will see DRS providing a fleet of 6 fully maintained Thunderbird locomotives delivering support across the network. Keeping the network running also involves more than just supporting Virgin directly, a very early call out was to clear the line of a failed freight train on the West Coast Mainline near Crewe, where John Humphries, DRS’s Regional Operational Delivery Manager was delighted to don his drivers uniform and personally perform the rescue, this is typical of the enthusiasm for the industry seen throughout DRS employees.