Thunderbird rescue locomotive on Birmingham New Street platform, via Network Rail

‘Thunderbirds are go’ for the Commonwealth Games

Two locomotives that have been branded for the Commonwealth Games are prepped and ready to help broken down passenger and freight trains in the West Midlands. These locos, nicknamed the Thunderbirds after the cult science-fiction TV series, will play a key role in rescuing and removing stranded trains to stop railway traffic jams causing long delays.

These Thunderbirds are being provided by Rail Operations Group, where they have been relocated from Derby to Soho railway in Birmingham, to ensure they are prepared to rescue and give aid to situations that may arise during the Games.

Their history of railway maintenance and support can be seen through the recent historic heatwave that swept the UK, aiding in the process of moving stranded trains when overhead lines were damaged across Birmingham.

Denise Wetton, Network Rail’s Central route director, said: “

“We hope they’re not needed during the Commonwealth Games but having these locos based in Birmingham means we will able to remove stranded trains much more quickly and get passengers moving again.

“As an industry, years of planning has gone into being Games ready and we will continue to monitor the railway 24 hours a day throughout the major event to react and resolve any issues. As always, if you are planning on travelling during the Games please plan your journey, check before you travel and allow extra time.”

Dave Burley, chief operating officer for Rail Operations Group, said:

“We are proud to play a part in the preparation and support for the Commonwealth Games. These locos play a key role in the national railway and it’s fitting they are branded and ready to be called into action if needed during one of the biggest sporting events in the world.” 

In the months leading up to the Commonwealth Games, extensive works have been undertaken to ensure that the Midlands rail routes are in the best condition possible to support the projected extra million journeys for those wanting to attend the games. This influx of rail travel is great for the sectors post pandemic recovery, so ensuring the journeys are smooth and reliable will aid in garnering the general publics support for rail travel.

The preparation work has seen major station upgrades in Coventry and Perry Barr, the removal of graffiti and overgrown plants and trees beside the tracks, training of hundreds of station volunteers, and upgrading railway lines and equipment. These upgrade and maintenance works should ensure reliability for the increased traffic; however, the Thunderbirds are sat in that wings, waiting to be called into action if any disruptions are to arise.

Birmingham New Street, Birmingham Moor Street, Birmingham International, Coventry, Leamington Spa, Perry Barr, and Warwick are all expected to be among the busiest stations during this period. 

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