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Designed from the outset to work in pairs, as well as in parallel with the Class 86 fleet, the Class 87 was broadly similar to the Class 86 in terms of layout and styling, but mechanically it was a very different. Immediately identifiable by its new twin windscreen cab, multiple-unit control cables and a redesigned BP9 bogie with Flexicoil suspension, the new locomotives were assembled during 1973-74 and were geared for 110mph running on the WCML, being able to haul 450 ton passenger trains, or 750 ton freight trains single handed. With a power rating of 5000hp, they were to be the most powerful locomotives to run under British Rail until the late 1980s.
The first locomotive, 87001, entered traffic in June 1973, the remainder of the fleet being deployed in the general West Coast pool as they entered service, operating Euston to Preston services as the WCMLs electrification spread north. On April 22, 1974 the new West Coast Electric Scot service was introduced, marking a major launch for the class and journey times from London-Glasgow were cut to just five hours. When British Railways reversed its locomotive naming policy in 1977, the class were given the generic title of Royal Scot and named from a selection of famous steam hauled predecessors.
The fleet, not being fitted with On Train Monitoring and Recording (OTMR) could not operate beyond January 1, 2008 and were finally withdrawn from service, some going to Bulgaria between 2008 and 2012.87019 Sir Winston Churchill was built at Crewe, entering traffic in March 1974 allocated to Willesden depot. Named as Sir Winston Churchill in May 1978, the name was removed when the locomotive was repainted into an L&NWR lined black livery during March 2005 and renamed as ACoRP Association of Community Rail, a name it carried until July 2006 when the locomotive was withdrawn from service.
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