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Network Rail is upgrading its 25kV installations and whilst it does not affect the electrification voltage it does something else that I do not particularly understand. Suffice to say that the upgraded system could cause arcing between track-side equipment and electric locomotives of the 86/6 and 86/2 classes unless these vehicles are fitted with a particular type of vacuum circuit breaker. The necessary, and pretty expensive, equipment is made in Switzerland although Network Rail has a budget from the government to deal with the costs involved.

All of the Freightliner 86/6s have now been fitted with VCBs by Carl Holt working at the LNWR (now Arriva) site. 86259 was therefore the last loco to be modified, inevitably with modifications to the device's fittings due to the slight difference between 86/6s and 86/2s. Carl was willing to do the fitting but his current state of health made Willesden impracticable for him as a venue at which to do the job.

Accordingly 86259 went under its own power up to Crewe and from there was dragged by 57315 through Manchester Victoria (a 'first' for 259!) on to Bury and thence on to the East Lancs Railway. The VCB hardware was taken by truck from Willesden, where it originally had been delivered, to the East Lancs site. Carl then spent about 10 days doing the installation and when the work was complete I found that 259's presence would coincide with an East Lancs Diesel Gala weekend so I was pleased to agree with the organisers that 259 join in, albeit not under power, on runs up to Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall. The presence of a Class 86 locomotive generated quite a lot of interest amongst the attending enthusiasts.

For its eventual return to Willesden, 86259 was first dragged by 47425 to Bury where the new installation was given an electrical test and 'signed off' by Interfleet Design. It was then dragged to Preston under the wires of the WCML, and Carl Holt accompanied the driver far as Crewe to ensure that all was well and then left it for its run light engine to Willesden TMD.

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Stabled for the moment in Bury Bolton Street. Photo: © Lee Kendrick on Flickr.

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D335 & 86259 'Les Ross' on the tail of 2F62 Ramsbottom to Heywood about to get dragged over the ski-jump by 345. Photo: © DM47744 on Flickr.

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D335 & 86259 tail the 2J70 11:46 Rawtenstall to Heywood service past Burrs Country Park. 27th September 2014. Photo: © DM47744 on Flickr.

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86259 LES ROSS passing Wigan North Western on 29th September 2014 running as 0Z86 Preston - Willesden TMD. The loco had been hauled by 47245 from Bury (East Lancashire Railway) to Preston, from where it continued under its own power to Willesden. Carl Holt can be seen in the #2 seat. Photo: © Halo-thewynd on Flickr.

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86259 parting company with 47245 at Preston after the drag from Bury. First from this angle. Photo: © James Roche on Flickr.

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86259 parting company with 47245 at Preston after the drag from Bury. And now from this angle. Photo: © James Roche on Flickr.