Today in Transportation History – 1968: A Last Run Before The Steam Ban

The last mainline passenger train hauled by a steam locomotive made its run on British Rail before the implementation of a steam ban the next day.

The so-called Fifteen Guinea Special (15 guineas was the equivalent of 15 pounds, 15 shillings in the pre-decimal British currency, or £15.75 today – a very high price for a train trip!) started at Liverpool’s Lime Street Station hauled by locomotive 45110, made its way to Manchester’s Victoria Station where the locomotive Oliver Cromwell took over, and was then on its way to Carlisle. On the return trip, two other locomotives, 44781 and 44871 double-headed the train back to Manchester, where 45110 took back over for the final leg to Liverpool.

The steam ban on British passenger railways was brought about by the increasing use of diesel and electric locomotives, which proved to be faster, safer and more reliable than the older technology. Just three years later, however, steam trains were back on the rails, with engines refitted for the new infrastructure of the railway (coal and water stops being less readily available than before).

Today, heritage specials are run regularly on certain lines and have proved very profitable to the modern network, bringing in at least £30 million annually.

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