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News Stories

The following articles are contemporary reports from the railway press and provide an interesting insight into new developments and old practices. It may be noted that many of the facts or assumptions have proved to be incorrect, while others have proven to be prophetic.


The problems of operating Main Line diesel locomotives

From Trains Illustrated Vol VII/6 (June, 1954). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

THE cases for and against diesel locomotives have been argued many times. lt is not proposed to discuss the relative merits of diesel and steam here, but to give some idea only of the operating problems when one or two diesel units are run experimentally on a steam system.

ln the first place, the diesel locomotive requires a quite different approach so far as maintenance requirements are concerned. The steam locomotive is essentially a simple machine. It is inherently dirty and in general ruggedly built, and as a result the staff required to maintain these machines are used to working under dirty conditions and dealing with pieces of equipment of large dimensions. The diesel locomotive, on the other hand, has a prime mover which by comparison is more sensitive to dirt but which, if handled in the right conditions, is no less reliable, despite the apparently greater complication of the multi-cylinder engines running at medium and high speeds, that are found today. ln brief, the diesel engine will not give of its best unless it is maintained by a trained staff under clean conditions, but this does not mean that large sums of money must first be spent on complicated equipment and special repair shops. It does mean that in whatever depot they are maintained the diesels must be kept quite apart from the grit and dirt normally associated with motive power depots, and that facilities must be provided to cater for their special needs, such as filter cleaning. lt is usually considered that a small number of diesel locomotives on an otherwise steam system does not warrant the special care which should be taken, but this is a false economy, since the locomotives cannot give of their best under poor conditions of maintenance.

So much for maintenance. Another problem is the provision and training of driving staff. Here again the apparent complication of the diesel locomotive is the trouble. lf a whole system is to be dieselised, then special training facilities must be provided, usually in classrooms and instruction trains at first and finally on the road. With only a handful of locomotives the problem is vastly different and there are two ways in which it may be approached. The first is to limit the number of crews to the absolute minimum and in effect form a diesel link ; then the men may be properly trained and become familiar with their new charges, so that they will get the best from them. The second method is to put the locomotives into " pool " service where their crews also take turns on steam locomotives. This is the course of least resistance and should be strongly opposed since conditions arise when a man will have a diesel for perhaps one day out of fourteen. lt involves a vast number of men, running into three figures for four locomotives, and means that to train them adequately would take a fantastic time. The result is half-trained men who find themselves often completely confused when failures occur.

The diesel locomotive has a high first cost, but one of its advantages is a high potential utilisation. Services must therefore be devised in which this factor is fully exploited. lt is generally considered that runs of many hundreds of miles must be found to realise this to the full, but this is not necessarily the case, since lines with a heavy traffic on runs of fairly short length can also fully employ large diesels. Since a diesel can run throughout 24 hours without a visit to shed, except to refuel, turn-round times can be cut to a minimum. Here again, a small number of diesel locomotives is a disadvantage, for schedules must be worked which are capable of being taken over by alternative forms of motive power, if, for example, failures make it necessary. You cannot budget for spare diesel locomotives with a stock of less than about 10 units. It follows that diesels working under these conditions must take over steam schedules ; it has been found that one diesel can in general do the work of two steam locomotives in such cases.

lt speaks well for the four British main-line diesel electric locomotives that they are doing work of Class " 8 " steam locomotives, when they were, in fact, originally designed for much lighter work. Conversely it shows that the steam locomotives usually employed under normal circumstances never develop the power that they are alleged to be able to produce. This is largely due to the fact that the continuous output from the diesel electric locomotive has no human physical limitations, whereas the fireman of a steam locomotive has.

Now a word or two about the four British diesel-electric main-line locomotives. The two 1,600 h.p. locomotives built by the then L.M.S. were designed with a view to doing singly the same type of work as the Class " 5 " 4-6-0 locomotives. Such was the over-estimation of the Class ‘“ 5’s " capabilities that the diesels showed themselves far superior, rising, in fact, into the light main-line power category. However, one unit was found lacking when it came to the heaviest duties on which a pair could not fully be justified. The two locomotives designed by the Southern Railway, on the other hand, were designed primarily for the haulage of a high-speed service which never materialised, and their characteristics were chosen accordingly. By the time they were built the original 16-cylinder engine had undergone further development and its output was increased to 1,750 b.h.p., with no increase in crankshaft rotational speed. Since the locomotive characteristics were designed to give a high maximum track speed, the traction motors were geared accordingly, which meant that the normally heavier, slower trains on which they finally came to be used put a certain strain on the electrical equipment. Again, it speaks well for the equipment that the locomotives were able to take their turns on the heaviest trains on the Western Section of the Southern Region with no great difliculty.

Apparently it has since been decided that all four locomotives should be concentrated on the Southern Region, where suitable work could be found and where they could be all maintained at the one depot, Nine Elms, which would ease the spares and maintenance situation generally.

Performances in service have been published by Mr. Cecil J. Allen in the pages of Trains Illustrated, and it should be noted that no special load limitations have been laid down other than any which may apply to steam locomotives on the same services. There have, of course, been failures, many of which have been due to unfamiliarity with the equipment, though others have been genuine defects. With any experimental job one is always learning ; but this costs money, and lessons learned from failures are applied within the limits of the money available.

After a period of running during which engineers were carried (on the L.M.R. this was quite extensive) the locomotives have all been handed over to the normal crew of driver and fireman. The latter, of course, has little physical exertion normally but is utilised to some extent as an observer, and during the period from September to May looks after the train heating equipment, which takes the form of oil-fired boilers. Troubles with this equipment have been many (one or two firemen lost their eyebrows in the early days) but after some perseverance they have been more or less eliminated. It will be remembered that the L.M. locomotives spent at least three seasons working freight trains only, due to the shortcomings of their boilers, but this has since been rectified and larger boilers have been installed. The Southern diesels of course, were built to run through to Plymouth but to date none has ever penetrated west of Exeter, though No. 10201 did reach St. Davids in the early hours of one morning when a brake failure on the 1 in 37 incline set it off by accident.

The diesel engine has a place in rail traction, even in this country. lt has revolutionised road transport to the extent that it is a serious competitor to the railways for both passengers and freight. Supplies of high-grade coal required for the steam locomotive are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, while the calorific value falls. It is not suggested that complete dieselisation is the answer in Britain. but there is a case for partial dieselisation. The diesel shunter is well established and there is a big field for railcars. A locomotive in the 1,000-1,200 h.p. range would be extremely useful, but before we consider large numbers of big main line locomotives, electrification could do for us what it has done in France, Italy and Holland, and regain for the railways a great deal of the traffic they have lost.


Who builds the diesels?

From Trains Illustrated, Vol VIII/10 (October, 1955). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

One of the burning questions aroused by the British Railways Modernisation Plan is whether the hundreds of diesel locomotives it requires will be built in British Railways workshops or by private manufacturers. At the moment the latter must export or die, for since the concentration of virtually all new locomotive construction for British Railways in the latter’s own workshops, home demand has been negligible, at least by comparison with the support received by competitors in their own countries. Principals among these rivals are Germany and Japan, which, because of their home market backing, are able usually to undersell British firms. Not only does Japanese industry have the benefit of a constant demand from its country’s railways, which is adjusted by mutual consent to balance the changing levels of export orders, but it is state- subsidised as well. Another important rival these days is the U.S.A., which is able to make the most attractive proposals, thanks to the provisions of the U.S. foreign aid programmes. All these manufacturers have the added advantage of being able to invite prospective clients to visit their countries and see their products in action on a large scale, unlike British firms.

Our modernisation plan, therefore, is of vital importance to an industry which has already worked wonders to maintain its markets in the highly competitive post-war world, for it offers them the opportunity to support their exports with a home market that will enable them to compete with rivals on much fairer terms. Providing the locomotive firms are given a full share in the new construction, the capital expenditure will reap dividends in the national export drive, as well as in the increased efficiency of our own railways. Moreover, many of these companies already possess the knowhow of diesel manufacture, whereas British Railways do not, and can point to products giving excellent service in Australasia and elsewhere. As for the fear of unemployment in the big railway works if so much new construction were taken away, the private manufacturers argue that approximately 90 per cent of the men in B.R. shops are employed on locomotive repair and only 10 per cent on new construction; since the annual labour turnover in these shops is about 10 per cent, this problem could be solved by restricting the number of new staff taken on.

The diesels are coming!

From Trains Illustrated, Vol VIII/10 (October, 1955). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd


At the present time fifteen 350 h.p. diesel electric shunting locomotives are employed in the Scottish Region. Five are based in the Carlisle District, five in the Ayr District and five in the Glasgow North District and all have proved very efficient and able to work much longer hours than steam power. As an example, they require refuelling only at fortnightly intervals, and therefore are able to shunt continuously for 14 days.

Five 200 h.p. diesel hydraulic shunting engines are being built by the North British Locomotive Company, Glasgow, and should be delivered within the next few weeks. Three of them will be allocated to the Edinburgh District and two to the Thornton District, where they will displace J88 and Y9 class engines. These new locomotives are the first of their type to be employed permanently in Scotland and are fitted with Paxman engines and Voith hydraulic transmissions. They will perform shunting of a lighter nature than that undertaken by the larger 350 h.p. engine.

Also due for service this year are twenty 350 h.p. diesel electric shunters for use in the Glasgow North and Glasgow South Districts. These engines, ten of which are being allocated to each district, will be stationed at Eastfield, Parkhead, St. Rollox, Polmadie, Motherwell and Hamilton depots, but will be serviced and fuelled at Eastfield and Polmadie. They will replace steam engines of Classes Q1, J69 and J88.

During 1956 it is anticipated that thirteen diesel electric locomotives of the 350 h.p. type will be brought into use, seven in the Glasgow North District and six in the Glasgow South District. ln addition, twelve 200 h.p. diesel shunters will be introduced, four in the Glasgow North District, three in the Glasgow South District and five in the Thornton District. It is anticipated that the 350 h.p. engines will release 15 steam locomotives and a similar number will be displaced by the 200 h.p. type diesel.

Delivery of six six-car sets and two four- car sets with additional spare vehicles for the multiple-unit diesel trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow is expected to commence towards the end of the year. These cars, which are being built at Swindon works, will include power units each having two 150 h.p. A.E.C. engines and mechanical transmissions. The six-car sets will comprise four power cars and two trailer units, and the four-car sets three power cars and a trailer unit.

To house, service and fuel these cars, intensive modification to Leith Central Station is being undertaken. As the engines in the power vehicles are placed under the carriage body, special facilities for examina- tion are being provided in the servicing roads, including pits between and at the side of the running rails to enable statT to reach the engines and other fittings more easily. When completed, Leith Central will be the first diesel depot of this type in the country.


As part of the modernisation plan, two main works in the Eastern Region have been scheduled for diesel locomotive maintenance. Doncaster is to be the maintaining works for the North Midlands and the North-East and Stratford for the London area, the South-East and East Anglia. On completion of the current diesel shunting locomotive plan, 204 of these locomotives will be based on Doncaster for works maintenance and 213 on Stratford.

At Doncaster provision of the new maintenance facilities will involve re-organisation in the tender bay of the new erecting shop and in the main boiler shop, The tender bay will be cleared of existing plant, some of which will be re-sited else- where in the erecting shop and some transferred to the boiler shop, and the bay will then be re-equipped for the complete overhaul of diesel locomotives. Separate buildings are being provided to house the fuel injector repair equipment and the diesel locomotive load test tank and associated test equipment. A second entry road is being built to improve access to the shop and alterations to the pits and lighting will also be carried out. The alterations at Doncaster will also involve the provision of a new 12-ton electric overhead travelling crane.

At Stratford, accommodation has been made available for diesel repair work and the first diesel locomotive was brought into Stratford works during the first week in February, 1955, to undergo an intermediate repair. Part of the Engine Repair Shop has been adapted to deal with intermediate and heavy repairs to both diesel electric and diesel mechanical locomotives. Provision has also been made for the servicing of fuel injectors in a portion of the lnspection Shop.

A contract has been let for the building of a new depot at Norwich for the maintenance of diesel lightweight trains and shunt- ers close to the existing steam depot. A steel- framed shed of standard design will be built over three roads, all equipped with pits for work on the underlloor engines and transmissions of the lightweight units ; the two outer roads in addition will have short platforms to enable work to be carried out on diesel shunting locomotives. There will be handling equipment for the removal and replacement of engines and transmissions, a small workshop for the examination and testing of diesel fuel injectors and other special work, a store and a 5,000 gallons capacity fuel oil storage tank.

To minimise movement across the passenger and freight lines outside Norwich Thorpe station it is proposed to stable, clean and examine diesel trains which do not require attention in the diesel shed at one of the carriage sidings at the passenger station. These units will be refuelled at an installation to be provided on a spur at Clarence Road.

Further progress with the introduction of diesel trains in East Anglia was made with the commencement of the winter train services on Monday, September 19. On that day diesel units were brought into service between : King’s Lynn and Dereham ; Wells, Dereham and Norwich Thorpe; Norwich Thorpe and Ipswich;


During the currency of the 1955-6 winter timetables it is hoped to introduce lightweight diesel trains between Bury and Bacup (L.M.R.); Birmingham and Lichfield (L.M.R.); Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog (L.M.R.) ; Gaerwen and Amlwch (L.M.R.); and Newcastle and Middlesbrough (N.E.R.).


At an August meeting of the Swindon Works Negotiating Committee with Mr. K. W. C. Grand, General Manager of the Western Region, and Mr. R. A. Smeddle, Chief Mechanical & Electrical Engineer, Mr. Grand announced that the B.T.C. had agreed that assembly of twenty- five 200 h.p. diesel shunting engines will be allocated to Swindon. The work, which will be commenced next year, will embrace the construction of all mechanical parts, and the complete erection, including the diesel engines and transmissions supplied by contiactors, will be carried out in the locomotive works.


The new diesel numbers

From Trains Illustrated No 106 (July, 1957). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

A recent British Railways announcement confirms our forecast of last September concerning the new diesel numbering scheme. The present system of numbering, it says, leaves insufficient scope for allocating consecutive block numbers to all the main line diesel locomotives planned under the modernisation programme. To have continued with this series would have meant using six-figure numbers commencing at 100,000 which would have been cumbersome, costly, and liable to misquotation. To overcome this difficulty it has been decided to adopt a scheme of numbering using the letter "D" as a prefix and starting with D.1. Under this system block numbers are being allocated to the various diesel locomotive power groupings so that a locomotive’s number, in addition to identifying it, will also indicate its power range. For example, 1,000-1,250 h.p. locomotives are to be numbered in the D.5000-6000 series, and the 800-1,000 h.p. locomotives in the D.8000 series. The first locomotives to be numbered under this new scheme are the 174 main line diesel locomotives now being built under the contracts announced in 1955. The numbers allocated to these locomotives are as follows :

Type of LocoNo. to be builtLocomotive Nos.Builders and ContractorsOperating Region
2300 h.p.10D.1 -D.10B.R. (Derby) SulzerL.M.
2000 h.p.10D.200-D.209English ElectricE.
2000 h.p.5D.600-D.604North BritishW.
2000 h.p.3D.800-D.802B.R. (Swindon). MaybachW.
1160 h.p.20D.5000-D.5019B.R. (Derby), B.T.H.L.M.
1160 h.p.20D.5300-D.5319Birmingham C. & W.E.
1250 h.p.20D.5500-D.5519Brush BagnallE.
1200 h.p.20D.5700-D.5719Metro-VickersL.M.
1100 h.p.10D.5900-D.5909English ElectricE.
1000 h.p.10D.6100-D.6109North BritishE.
1000 h.p.6D.6300-D.6305North BritishW.
1000 h.p.20D.8000-D.8019English ElectricL.M.
800 h.p.10D.8200-D.8209B.T.H.L.M.
800 h.p.10D.8400-D.8409North BritishE.

The B.R. Standard 350 h.p. diesel shunting locomotives at present included in the 13000 series are being re-numbered in the D.3000 group and the 200 h.p. diesel shunting locomotives at present numbered in the 11000 series will eventually be renumbered in the D.2000 group. lt is not intended to renumber the existing eight main line diesel and gas turbine locomotives.

The "Deltic" shows off

From Trains Illustrated No 106 (July, 1957). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

An extraordinary demonstration of the English Electric "Deltic" diesel locomotive’s powers of acceleration was put on on June 3, when all records for smart exits from London termini were shattered. The occasion was the handing over of British Railways’ first modernisation plan main line diesel at Vulcan Foundry (D.8000), for which a special train, powered by the "Deltic," was run from Euston to Vulcan Halt, near Earlestown. lt was a pity that the load was no more than six bogies of 201 tons tare, but even so a time of 16 1/4 min. for the 17 miles from Euston to Watford, start to pass, inclusive of a signal cheek to 10 m.p.h. at Camden, should make habitués of the West Coast main line blink. On the rising gradient through the suburbs the "Deltic" surged up to a maximum of 95 m.p.h. through Hatch End and covered the six miles from Willesden to Harrow in four minutes flat at an average of precisely 90 m.p.h.! As a result of this firework display the special was eleven minutes early at Tring, and thereafter the running had to come down to a comparative saunter, for the train had been easily timed, although 92 m.p.h. was put up at Madeley on the descent to Crewe. English Electric are wisely making sure that all "bugs" are eradicated from the "Deltic" before official accounts of its performance, which now includes dynamometer car tests, are published, but we understand that they are likely to be released later this year. It is to be hoped that we shall then have a chance to sample the capabilities of what is obviously a remarkable machine. On the day after this run the "Deltic" commenced working an exacting roster which will afford an excellent test of its availability. lt involves the 12.37 a.m. Crewe-Euston, 7.55 (SX) 8.30 (SO) a.m. Euston-Liverpool, 2.10 p.m. Liverpool-Euston, and the 7.20 (SX) 7.30 (SO) p.m. Euston-Crewe on Tuesdays to Saturdays.

New S.R. electric locos

From Trains Illustrated No 106 (July, 1957). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

Impressions prevalent that when the Kent Coast electrification scheme of the Southern Region was complete even the boat train services would be provided by multiple-unit stock are falsified by the news that 13 2,500 h.p. locomotives are to be constructed at Doncaster, with electrical equipment mainly furnished by English Electric, for the first stage of this scheme ; another eleven locomotives of the same type will be delivered for the second stage of the conversion. These locomotives will have a similar motor generator arrangement to that of the three existing S.R. electric locomotives, to enable them to cover gaps in the live rail, and will also be equipped with pantographs, as we understand that overhead current collection methods will be adopted in the Folkestone and Dover quay areas and on the incline from Folkestone Junction to Folkestone Harbour. Boat train work is likely to be the principal task of these electric locomotives, but they will also be used for freight haulage after dark. In addition, it is reported that 98 1,500 h.p. diesel-electric locomotives are to be provided for the Kent Coast lines, 45 for the first stage of the scheme and 53 for the second ; they will be used mainly for freight but also for certain jobs that will require working into non-electrified areas.

New multiple units for B.R. - 1) L.M. London Area electric stock

From Trains Illustrated No 106 (July, 1957). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The first of 57 new three-car electric multiple units built at Eastleigh with G.E.C. electrical equipment for the Euston-Watford and Broad Street-Richmond services of the L.M.R. went into operation on May 27th last. The centre car is of the compartment type, while the leading and rear cars are open saloons with compartment-type doors. Each three-car unit will seat 256 passengers - 74 in each saloon and 108 in compartments. The motorcoach is powered by four traction motors with a total one-hour rating of 740 h.p. controlled by electro-pneumatic contactors and resistances carried in cases on the underframe. The unit, which has a tare weight of 103 tons, balances at 63 m.p.h. on level track. All the new units, which have G.E.C. electrical equipment, are expected to be in service by September, 1957.

Both motor and trailer bogies incorporate the principal design features of that adopted as standard for B.R. main line steam stock, but have a single centre bolster suspended from inside the bogie frame. The motor coach is fitted with two motor bogies mounted on 3 ft. 4 in. diameter wheels, and one motor is fitted to each motor axle, with the motor nose secured by rubber-spring bolts through an intermediate rubber cushion to a bracket welded to the bogie transom. The trailer and driving trailer bogies are fitted with B.R. standard 3 ft. 6in. diameter wheels. All bogie axleboxes are equipped with Hoffman roller bearings. Westinghouse electro-pneumatic brakes are fitted.

The general construction of the body and roof framing is similar to that of the B.R. standard main line steam stock coaches, and many standard fittings are used also in the interiors. The saloon seat ends are inclined from the fioor towards the body sides, to form a centre gangway with maximum possible width at shoulder height and the widest possible seating room ; the latter is arranged for two and three passengers either side of the gangway, with seating for six passengers at each transverse partition, while six-a-side seats are provided in the compartments of the trailers. Thermostatically-controlled electric heaters are fitted under all seats. The underframes are the B.R. standard all-welded type with deep main longitudinal centre girder and cantilever transoms to the solebars. The use of this type of underframe, without side truss angles, provides much easier access to the electrical equipment carried underneath the coach and enables the frames to be built in existing jigs used for the construction of B.R. standard steam stock underframes.

Positive and negative pick-up shoe gear is provided on both bogies of the motor coach and on the bogie at the cab end of the driving trailer. On seven motor coaches a new design of shoegear has been fitted; this has been developed to improve current collection, reduce wear and eliminate the noise emitted by normal types of gravity shoegear when not in contact with the conductor rail, and rubber is used both as a noise-damping and springing medium.

The two motors in each motor coach bogie are connected permanently in parallel, thus permitting control with a single equip- ment per coach, as compared with the two equipments required with individual series/ parallel control of two pairs of motors. The first master controller notch provides for shunting movements, the motor groups being in series and all resistances in circuit ; on the second notch automatic acceleration to full series is effected. Bridge transition and automatic acceleration to full parallel under the control of a current limit relay takes place on the third notch, the resistance sections in each group being short-circuited in pairs. Further increase in speed is obtained by moving the controller to the weakfield position, on which, under the control of a separate weak-field relay, a portion of each field is tirst shunted by a resistance and the fields are then finally weakened by tapping.

There are two forward positions of the reverser handle, the first giving a rate of acceleration of 0.92 m.p.h.p.s. and the second, by energising the shunt coil of the current limit relay through a resistance, giving the normal rate of 1.25 m.p.h.p.s. A third rate is available for emergency use when starting on the 1 in 35 gradient of the Primrose Hill fly-under if a pair of motors has been cut out. lt is obtained by placing the reverser handle in the normal rate position and operating a pushbutton to short-circuit part of the resistance in series with the current limit relay shunt coil.

In fifteen of the units the driving trailers are equipped with a de-icing fluid reservoir, from which the fluid can be fed to the conductor rails via the shoegear. The supply of fluid is controlled by electromagnetic valves which can be energised by the operation of de-icing pushbuttons at each driving position when the reverser is in either of its "forward" positions.

New multiple units for B.R. - 2) Birmingham R.C. & W. three-car diesels

From Trains Illustrated No 106 (July, 1957). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The first of a new series of all-steel three-car diesel m.u. sets built by The Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. Ltd. has been delivered to the L.M.R. These are made up of one motor car of “‘A3" type, one trailer car of "D"’ type, and one motor car of "B1" type and the complete unit seats 24 first class and 160 second class passengers. Power is provided by the B.U.T. engine transmission sets standardised by B.R. ; each comprises two Leyland 150 b.h.p. six-cylinder horizontal engines per motor car, each driving the inner axle of the adjacent bogie through a hydraulic coupling, a free wheel, Wilson four-speed epicyclic gearbox, cardan shaft, and a spur-and-bevel final drive on the axle. The weight of the unit is 86 tons, made up as follows : "A3" motor car, 31 tons ; ‘“D" trailer car, 24 tons, and "B1" motor car, 31 tons. The power-weight ratio is thus about 7 h.p. per ton tare and 6 h.p. per ton empty.

The layout ofthe "A3" motor car provides seating accommodation for 52 second class passengers, together with a guard’s and luggage compartment. ln the "D" trailer there are seats for 12 first class and 54 second class passengers, and a toilet is provided, while the "B1" motor car seats 12 first class and 54 second class passengers, and also has a toilet. The cars each have two oil-burning heaters from which warmed air is distributed at floor level.

The controls in the driving cab incorporate many improvements found necessary after experience with the first B.R. railcar sets and are of the electro-pneumatic relay type for multiple-unit operation. The windows of the cab are of 1/4 in.-thick armoured glass and the driver’s window has demisting and defrosting apparatus and pneumatic windscreen wiper ; a Trico- Folberth windscreen-washer is being provided for this window in the future.

New multiple units for B.R. - 3) Diesel-electric units for Hastings and Hants

From Trains Illustrated No 106 (July, 1957). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The first stage of diesel-electrification of the London-Tunbridge Wells- Hastings services was completed on June 17th last with the introduction of four diesel-electric units on schedules reported in last month’s account of the S.R. summer timetables. These units provide 2,000 seats as against 1,550 in the comparable steam trains (but at some expense of standing room, as mentioned later). In all, the new timetables show 12 diesel-electric workings in each direction on weekdays, 17 on Saturdays, and 11 on Sundays ; one up and one down rush-hour service is timed between Hastings and Cannon Street in 90 min. A convenient shuttle service between Bexhill West and Crowhurst connects with the new trains. Next summer will see the completion of the scheme with the total elimination of all steam trains, including the Bexhill West-Crowhurst shuttle service, by diesel-electric services. Another business train will be given a 90- minute schedule in both directions, and there will be an hourly service of fast trains throughout the day.

Ten six-coach units are being provided for the first stage of the Hastings scheme, each comprising two motor coaches and four trailers, semi-permanently coupled together ; two units may be coupled together to form a 12-coach train, when all power units are under the control of one driver. The coaches have been constructed at Ashford and Eastleigh, the underframes and bogies being built at Ashford and the coach bodies and interiors being finished at Eastleigh. To complete the Hastings stock, 23 more six-coach and four two-coach units will be built, and 18 two-coach units will be provided for the Hampshire scheme centred on Southampton.

The underframes are of the British Railways standard welded construction, 56 ft. 11 in. over headstocks in the case of the first seven units and 63 ft. 5 in. over headstocks in all subsequent units. Trailer coach bogies are of the British Railways single bolster type with inside swing hangers and are fitted with Hoffman roller bearings and 3 ft. 6 in. diameter wheels. The motor coaches are carried on two of the latest pattern motor bogies with Hoffman roller bearings and 3 ft. 4 in. diameter wheels. The traction motors are in the trailing bogie of the motor coach.

The coach bodies are of the all-welded steel pattern. They are constructed on similar principles to B.R. standard coaches, but owing to the restricted loading gauge of the Hastings line between Tunbridge Wells and Crowhurst it has been necessary to use straight-sided bodies with a width of 8 ft. 0 3/4 in. over the panels. Both motor coaches are identical, and are divided into driver’s cab, engine room, guard’s and luggage van and second class saloon seating 22 (30 in the longer cars) with vestibules at each end ; of the four trailers three are second class open coaches seating 52 (60 in the longer cars) and the fourth is a first class side-corridor coach seating 42 (48 in the longer cars). Each trailer has two lavatories. An innovation in the first class compartments is the provision of adjustable seats. Insulating material in the cavities of roof, sides and floor minimises noise and provides heat insulation.

The driver`s controls consist of a master controller and brake controller, the latter for the electro-pneumatic and Westinghouse automatic brake equipment, which is identical with that on the latest S.R. multiple-unit electric stock, and auxiliary electrical apparatus. The layout is similar to that in the latest Southern Region electric multiple-unit stock and access to the cab is normally through a centre door in the rear partition ; however, in this case it has been thought necessary to provide an emergency door on the offside of the cab, which can be opened only from the inside.

The power equipment in each motor coach consists of an English Electric 4SRKT/II pressure-charged four-cylinder diesel engine set to give 500 b.h.p. at 850 r.p.m., direct-coupled to an English Electric six-pole generator with an output of 330 kW. and an overhung six-pole auxiliary generator of 13.2 kW. Two underframe fuel tanks per motor coach have a total capacity of 340 gallons, or sufficient to power the diesel engine for 800 miles' running. The main generator supplies two four-pole nose-suspended, axle-hung traction motors connected in permanent parallel and carried on the rear bogie of the motor coach; these are identical to and interchangeable with those used on the latest Southern Region electric stock. The coach electric heating systems, which involve a combination of convectors and radiators, are also fed with current from the main generator. The auxiliary generator supplies low tension circuits at 90 volts for lighting, control gear and battery charging. An automatic fire extinguishing device is installed in the engine room which is arranged to shut down the diesel engine if an outbreak of fire occurs and at the same time gives audible and visual warning to the driver, even if he is in a remote driving position. Discharge of carbon dioxide gas is automatic.

The main generator has a continuous rating of 600 amps at 550 volts and its output is controlled by an English Electric auto-load-regulator; this regulator also controls the traction motor field weakening. There are four engine speeds - 450, 620, 750, 850 r.p.m.—and the auto-load- regulator controls the engine output on all except 450 r.p.m., to 330, 420 and 500 b.h.p.

The driver`s master controller has two handles : the master switch handle controlling movement and direction ; and the main power handle. The former has four positions : "off," "forward," “‘engine only" and "reverse," while the latter has eight positions; "off" and seven power notches. There is a deadman`s handle.

One night in May we joined businessmen travelling down by the 5.18 p.m. diesel from Cannon Street and found that, on the whole, their reactions to the new trains were favourable, and not quite so cool as some early reports from Kent and Sussex had suggested. The main objection appeared to be the lack of means of support for standing passengers in the centre-gangway second class coaches ; in these vehicles the backs of the seats are carried up to half height, as in later Southern electric stock, but without luggage racks, which, instead, run parallel to the sides of the coach. We tried the adjustable seats in the hrst class and found they could be pulled out a few inches ; it is possible that few but regular passengers will be aware of the fact, as the only notice of this facility is displayed quite inconspicuously on the front of the seat cushion. The riding of the new units was good - superior, we felt, to that of most main line multiple-unit stock in which we have travelled ; their rapid acceleration is a notable feature and showed up to great advantage on the climb out of Tonbridge. The noise in the motor coach when the train is running is by no means as bad as we feared, though a persistent whine except when the train is coasting can be trying. But the din when all four engines are opened up in a confined station like Tunbridge Wells Central is considerable, and left us a bit apprehensive of the coming days when termini will echo to fleets of trains like this.

The first of the B.R. "pilot scheme" diesels

From Trains Illustrated No 106 (July, 1957). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The first of British Railways "pilot scheme" main line diesel-electric locomotives was handed over to the B.T.C. at a ceremony at Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows, on June 2. Numbered D8000, it introduces 20 type "A" 1,000 h.p. locomotives to be built by English Electric and their associates, Vulcan Foundry, which are to be allocated to the L.M.R. The locomotives are described by the makers as mixed traffic, but they are primarily freight power. They are not equipped with coach-heating boilers, but they have train pipes to transmit the heat from a boiler-fitted locomotive of one of the “B" or "C" type diesels to come if they are required to work multiple-unit with one on a passenger train ; and they are, of course, suitable to work passenger trains in summer when train heating is not required. They can work multiple unit with other locomotives of the same class, with the "B" and "C" types English Electric are building for B.R. (the first of the latter is expected out in late September) and with the "A," "B" and "C" types of many other manufacturers. No. D8000 is finished in unlined green, with light grey-green on top of the bonnet "hood," and white numerals.

No. D8000 was to undergo trials from Derby in the latter part of June, and thereafter it was to be allocated to Devons Road, Bow, for cross-London freight working. The succeeding locomotives of the class will also go to Devons Road, which is being transformed into the first all-diesel motive power depot in Britain. A total of 31 diesel units will take over the jobs formerly requiring a stud of 41 steam locomotives.

The diesel power plant is an English Electric 8 SVT Mk. II rated at 1,000 h.p. at 850 r.p.m. ; it is an eight-cylinder "V"- form engine operating on the four stroke cycle and supercharged by two Napier exhaust-gas driven turbo-superchargers. The main generator for the traction motors, a d.c., self-ventilated, single-bearing machine with a continuous rating of 1,070 amps. at 600 volts, is bolted up solidly to the diesel engine and forms an easily removable integral unit with an overhung auxiliary generator ; the latter is provided for battery-charging, to drive the air compressor for the locomotive’s air brakes, sanding gear, air horns and electro-pneumatic control gear, to power the train vacuum brake exhauster and the traction motor ventilation blowers.

Four axle-hung, nose-suspended traction motors drive the road wheels through single reduction spur gearing. They are series-wound d.c. machines, and in order to extend the range of locomotive speeds over which full engine power is available, provision is made for weakening their field strength by field divert resistances. The motors have a continuous rating of 600 amps. at a nominal 300 volts, and are connected in two parallel groups of two in series across the main generator. Wheel slip protection circuits are included ; these reduce slipping tendency, but if it does occur the tractive effort is automatically reduced and a warning light on his control desk advises the driver. Additional warning lights indicate that the diesel engine has shut down or the presence of a fault, such as high water temperature or a failed traction motor blower ; in the event of low lubricating oil pressure or low cooling water level, the diesel engine is automatically shut down.

There are two master controllers, one at each driving position. The speed of the diesel engine may be continuously varied from 450 r.p.m. to 850 r.p.m. and its loading is automatically adjusted so that it will deliver the maximum available power output corresponding to the selected engine speed. The advantage of this system is that for a given load demand, the diesel engine runs at the lowest possible speed at which that demand can be met. Fuel consumption is therefore reduced, and in addition the wear and tear on the engine is minimised. Timken roller bearings are fitted on all axles.

The brake gear is the Oerlikon type manufactured by Davis & Metcalfe. At each driving position there are two brake handles, one controlling the straight air locomotive brake, the other the vacuum train brake. A vacuum/air proportional valve on the locomotive ensures that when a vacuum brake application is made on the train, there is an automatic proportional application of the locomotive air brake.

The driver’s controls have been very neatly built into duplicate pre-fabricated desks, one at the left-hand forward, the other at the left-hand reverse driving position. A deadman’s pedal is provided, and an additional pedal operates the sanding gear. Every consideration has been given to the comfort of the locomotive crew. ln addition to the well-upholstered seats, up to 4/kW. of cab heating is available and special heater has been built into each control desk to supply warm air to the driver’s feet. There is even the refinement of a cooker.

"The Royal Highlander" & "The Waverley"

From Trains Illustrated No 106 (July, 1957). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The title "The Royal Highlander” was restored to the 7.20 p.m. from Euston and 5.15 p.m. from Inverness on June 17th. From the same date the title of "The Waverley" was bestowed on the 9.15 a.m. St. Pancras-Edinburgh and the 10.5 a.m. back ; this service was the pre-war "Thames-Forth Express."


New 800 h.p. diesel locomotive for B.R.

From Trains Illustrated No 112 (January, 1958). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The first of ten British Thomson-Houston 800 h.p. diesel-electric locomotives, No. D8200, was formally delivered to British Railways at a ceremony at Euston station on November 18. These locomotives are classified as Type "1" (formerly known as Type "A”) in the British Railways’ diesel range, and ten will be allocated to Devons Road motive power depot, in the London area of the L.M.R., to work freight trains between Poplar, Temple Mills, Acton and Willesden.

The new locomotive is rated at 800 h.p. and is to be used primarily for freight duty. It has a maximum designed speed of 60 m.p.h., a maximum tractive effort of 37,500 lb. at starting, and is capable of exerting a continuous tractive effort of 20,000 lb. at 10.5 m.p.h.

The locomotive has been designed under the overall direction of Messrs. R. C. Bond and S. B. Warder (respectively Chief Mechanical Engineer and Chief Electrical Engineer, British Railways Central Staff, B.T.C.), and Mr. John Barnes, F.S.I.A., of Allen-Bowden Ltd., Leamington Spa, acted as design consultant on behalf of the B.T.C. Design Panel. A piece of evidence of sorne attention to outline is that originally the ventilating louvres were to be located in the access doors, but in the final design the doors were made flush and the louvres arranged above in one continuous panel. At the same time other louvres and filter panels were rearranged to harmonise with the general design and the necessary grab rail above the access doors was made in aluminium to form an unpainted trim line.

The British Thomson-Houston Co. Ltd., in addition to acting as main contractor for the whole locomotive, provided all the electrical equipment of No. D8200. The mechanical structure was designed by the Clayton Equipment Co. Ltd., in close collaboration with B.T.H. and the bogies and the superstructure were built by the Clayton Equipment Co. at their Tutbury works. The underframe was built by the Yorkshire Engine Co. Ltd., Sheffield and the final assembly and painting of the complete locomotive were carried out by them.

The locomotive is of generally conventional "hood-unit" design and mounted on two four-wheeled swing bolster bogies fitted with SKF roller-bearing axleboxes. There is a nose-suspended traction motor mounted on each axle, driving through single reduction gearing with a resilient gearwheel. The body comprises a power unit and radiator compartment, a driver’s cab, and a short rear compartment behind the driver’s cab housing the electrical control equipment and certain auxiliaries. The main power plant consists of a Paxman 16-cylinder YHXL “V"-type diesel engine, pressure-charged by two Napier exhaust gas-driven turbo-chargers rated 800 b.h.p. at 1,250 r.p.m., and coupled to a BTH 6-pole, 500-kW. generator rated 690/337 volts, 720/1,320 amps.

In the cab there are driving positions for either direction of travel. At each driving position there is a swivelling seat, master controller, airbrake valve, vacuum brake valve, sanding valve, deadman’s pedal, two-tone horn control and an illuminated instrument panel; a food cupboard and cooker are also provided, and for further driving comfort there are two "Clayton" heaters (one at each driving position) and four demisters for front and rear windows.

The locomotive is fitted with compressed- air brakes, and with vacuum exhausters and control equipment for application of vacuum train brakes. It is arranged for operation in multiple with certain locomotives of similar or of greater rating in groups of up to three locomotives.

Collision at Chapel-en-le-Frith

From Trains Illustrated No 112 (January, 1958). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

CHAPEL-EN-LE-FRITH (South) station was the scene of a most unfortunate disaster on February 9th last, as the result of a most unusual failure. Descending the seven-mile bank at 1 in 58 to 1 in 70 from Bibbington’s Sidings to Whaley Bridge with the 33 wagon 11.5 a.m. Buxton-Warrington (Arpley) freight, Stanier 2-8-0 No. 48188 of Warrington shed got out of control. It overtook the preceding 8.45 a.m. Rowsley- Stockport (Edgeley) freight and ran into the rear of it at some 55 m.p.h. in Chapel-en-le-Frith station. The guard of the latter train and Driver Axon of No. 48188, who bravely remained on the footplate to warn signalmen his train was running away, and in the hope of regaining control on a more favourable gradient, were killed. Driver Axon was posthumously awarded the George Medal for his great courage. The report by the Inspecting Officer of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation on this accident, in which high tribute is paid to Driver Axon, has now been published. lt describes how, owing primarily to a brazing defect, a joint in the pipe leading to the driver’s steam brake valve on No. 48188 blew out on the 1 in 66 climb from Buxton to Bibbington’s Sidings, putting the engine’s power brake out of action and filling the cab with scalding steam. The enginemen were driven back from the controls and could neither shut the steam stop valve nor reach the whistle to give warning of their predicament, although they did manage partially to close the regulator after repeated ventures into an inferno of steam and, of course, to apply the tender brake, The train was being assisted in rear, but the driver of the banking engine could not know of the trouble on the train engine footplate and kept steam on to the top of the incline, where there are stop boards at which freights must halt to pin down brakes. It was then, when he saw the train drawing away instead of slowing, and its guard feverishly working his van brake, that the banker’s driver first knew there was trouble, but since, in accordance with normal freight working practice, he was not coupled to the train, there was nothing he could do. At the summit Driver Axon told his fireman to jump off and apply as many wagon brakes as he could; the fireman made most plucky eliforts, but the freight was moving too fast for him to drop more than six or seven handles. lt was not enough to impede the runaway. The train was routed into the Dove Holes loop, but the signal- man there, seeing it approaching at a fast pace with the driver waving and steam pouring from the cab, decided at the last minute to reset the points for the main line. The Report says the signalman cannot be criticised for he had only seconds to resolve his dilemma; if the runaway had gone into the loop it would obviously have piled up in the trap siding at the speed it was travelling, but the signalman was not to know there had been a complete brake failure and although he knew the section ahead was not yet cleared by the preceding Rowsley freight he therefore had justification for allowing the runaway’s driver a chance to regain control. He at once telephoned the signalmen at Chapel-en-le-Frith, where prompt action by the staff cleared most passengers from a Manchester-Buxton train in the up platform before it was hit by the derailed runaway 2-8-0 after the collision, which blocked the station with a tangled mass of debris 25 ft. high. Unfortunately there was not time for the fireman of the Rowsley freight to catch the full impact of the station staff’s shouts and waves from the platform before the collision occurred. In its conclusions, the Report notes that prompt action had been taken by the C.M. & E.E. of the L.M.R. to ensure that similar unusual steam brake pipe failures of the type which initiated this disaster will not recur, by modifying the joint involved from a butted to a coned type, so that the bearing surfaces will be improved and leaks more easily detected; until all engines with steam brakes have been altered in this way a special instruction has been issued that their existing joints must be taken down at the next "X"-Day examination and thereafter every 40,000-48,000 miles so that any incipient fault is readily detected. It has also been stipulated that if a leakage is observed at any time at this joint, if it is the butted type, the pipe must be removed at once, thoroughly examined and repaired.

Diesel Numbering

From Trains Illustrated No 112 (January, 1958). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

In May last, British Railways adopted a new numbering system for all diesel locomotives, involving the use of the prefix "D", followed by a number which would not only identify the locomotive, but would also indicate its power range. It has now been decided to develop this system of numbering in order to cover additional types of main line diesels and the planned increase in the numbers of 200 h.p. diesel shunting locomotives. The provisional system of indicating the power range of main line diesel locomotives by type-letters "A", "B" or "C" is being superseded by Type designations l to 5, in ascending order of power, as follows:

Type of Locomotives H.P. Range Previous Types Old Nos. New Nos.
Type 4 2000-2500 C D1-D2499 D1-D999
Type 5 3000 - - D1000-D1999
Shunting 150/300 - D2500-D2999 D2000-D2999
" 350 - D3000-D4999 D3000-D4999
Type 2 1000-1250 B D5000-D7999 D5000-D6499
Type 3 1500-1750 - - D6500-D7999
Type 1 750-1000 A D8000-D8999 D8000-D8999
Miscellaneous - - - D9000-D9999

lt will be seen that the revised numbers do not affect in any way the numbers already announced for the main line locomotives currently on order, nor do they involve the re-numbering of the 350 h.p. diesel-electric shunting locomotives. Diesel shunting locomotives in the 150/300 h.p. range are, however, to be re-numbered, and the table on this page shows how it will be done. Blocks of numbers have been allocated to the various manufacturers’ locomotives so that the individual numbers will provide closer identification than hitherto. Existing locomotives will be re-numbered as they enter the works for repairs.

Diesels on the Midland

From Trains Illustrated No. 112 (January, 1958). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

More light has now been thrown on a note in our November issue that the Midland Division was to have at least some of the 20 Metrovick C-B (sic) type diesels with 1,200 h.p. Crossley power plants on order for the L.M.R., by the remarks of Sir Brian Robertson to the City Livery Club on November 20 last. The B.T.C. chairman told his listeners that "steam trains from St. Albans to Moorgate will be worked by diesel locomotives as part of a general transfer from steam to diesel traction of the Midland Division services south of Kettering, planned for 1959." This is the first public pronouncement that the Midland Division is due for early dieselisation by areas, and we understand that this first stage will cover all the principal motive power depots between London and Kettering. Kettering will not be a changeover point from one form of traction to another; diesel locomotives will work through between St. Pancras and the limits of present train operations on the division.

New diesel loco. orders

From Trains Illustrated No 112 (January, 1958). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

B.T.C. approval has been given to Western Region requests for 130 diesel locomotives to complete dieselisation between Newton Abbot and Penzance, and to replace about 200 steam locomotives. It has now been announced that an order has been placed for 52 1,000 h.p. units with M.A.N. high- speed engines and North British/Voith hydraulic transmission, which are to be built by the North British Locomotive Co. making a total of 66, with the 14 2,000 h.p. diesel·hydraulic units under construction. Of the remaining 64 units needed to complete the scheme some will be built at Swindon, and will employ Maybach engines and the Mek-hydro transmission that is being installed on the 2,000 h.p. machines Swindon is now finishing; the others will have M.A.N. engines and the North British/Voith hydraulic transmission, so that hydraulic or hydro- mechanical transmission will be standardised on all the main line locomotives in the area. The main line locomotives will work through to and from London via both Westbury and Bristol, and we understand that Bristol will be the centre of the next area dieselisation scheme on the Region; for the programme covered by the latter it is estimated that about 200 locomotives will be needed.

Other diesel locomotive news is that an order for at least 23 English Electric "Deltic" locomotives for the Eastern Region, to work principal trains between London, Newcastle and Edinburgh now seems certain, with 1959 the probable delivery date, and that No. D600, first of the 2,000 h.p. diesel-hydraulic locomotives for the W.R., was completed on November 25. On that date the locomotive emerged from the North British Locomotive Co’s. Queens Park works for running-in trials on the Glasgow- Kilmarnock-Carlisle route and it was expected to have a run on the "Mid-day Scot" between Glasgow and Crewe before returning to the works for a final check-up and painting.

East Anglian Diesel Depot

From Trains Illustrated No 112 (January, 1958). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

Twenty years ago the suggestion that a mechanical floor-scrubber should be listed in the inventory of a British motive power depot’s essential stores would have seemed far-fetched, even if desirable. In the diesel age it is a different matter. lf you’re dealing with diesels, "cleanliness" must be written on your heart, for dirt is death to the diesel engine. Hence a diesel depot is an immaculate place compared with the average steam depot, as we found on a visit the other day to the installation at Norwich. Light streamed through the big roof windows on to floors and fluorescently-lit inspection pits as well scrubbed as your front step, and the airy shed looked more like a trim exhibition hall than a workaday motive power establishment.

With the exception of` the Stratford-based cars on the Romford-Upminster service, the whole East Anglian diesel railcar network so far set up is based on the Norwich depot. It has a fleet of 38 twin-units, in which both Metropolitan-Cammell and Derby-built cars are represented, all with the hitherto standard British Railways power equipment of two B.U.T. 150 h.p. engines per motor car and mechanical transmission.

The Norwich units range far and wide over East Anglia, reaching as far south as Chelmsford and the Brightlingsea branch and to King’s Lynn in the west. There are 30 diagrams for the 38 units to work, 24 of them covering actual train workings and the remaining six strengthening jobs on peak services. These 30 diagrams are based on a day’s working, but they are grouped in cycles to fit in with the maintenance schedule for each set. Apart from a daily routine examination, the needs of the carriage and wagon department and the motive power men for more extensive servicing coincide after 1,250-1,500 miles running, and since the Norwich daily diesel diagrams run out at between 300 and 400 miles’ travel, 24 of the diagrams are grouped into four-day cycles that bring each unit back to Norwich for attention on the fifth day. On other nights of the cycle the unit may be stabled at one of the sub-depots - for example, at Dereham, Ipswich or Yarmouth.

In the timetable current when we visited Norwich, a typical four-day cycle for an all- second class twin-unit began with Diagram 4. On this the unit left Norwich Thorpe at 6.33 a.m. for Dereham and was quickly away from there on a trip to Wells and back before returning to Norwich, where it stood from 9.38 to 12.57 p.m. The latter was the time of departure for Ipswich, where it was coupled to a unit on Diagram 13 to form the 2.22 p.m. back to Norwich. Its evening duties took it to Dereham, thence twice to King’s Lynn, and finally from King’s Lynn to Swaliham and, coupled to a twin-unit on Diagram No. 10, from Swaffham back to Dereham by 10.23 p.m. for the night after a day’s work of 243 miles.

Diagram 9 formed the second day’s duty. Coupled to two sister units on Diagrams 10 (MX) and 11, our pair of cars left Dereham at 6.47 a.m. for Swaffham, where its companions were shed, then moved on to King’s Lynn and spent the remainder of the day shuttling tive times between there and Dereham, where it ended a tour of 324 miles at 9.18 p.m. On the third day came Diagram 10, again beginning as one of three units on the 6.47 a.m. Dereham—Swaff`ham, but then proceeding to a five-stage shuttle service between Swaffham and Thetford with one midday run from Swali ham to Dereham and back thrown in until, coupled to the unit on Diagram 4, it regained Dereham as the 9.59 p.m. from Swaffham, due 10.23 p.m., having totted up 292 miles in the day. The cycle ended with the 298-mile Diagram 12. First the unit worked the 6.50 a.m. Dereham- Norwich, then a parcels trip to Wymondham, and after that it was employed for the rest of the day between Norwich, Dereham, Fakenham and Wells, finishing as the 7.23p.m. Wells-Norwich.

It does not follow by any means that the unit is out of service for maintenance on the fifth day. If no major attention is required, the work can be completed by the night shift at Norwich depot so that the unit is ready for action again first thing the next morning. One Norwich unit, in fact, was working for 30 of last July’s 31 days and running up not far short of 10,000 miles for the month.

The maintenance schedule for the cars, as observed earlier, is based on multiples of 1,500 miles running. At 3,000 miles there is a thorough inspection of the whole railcar, including its grease and oil points; at 6,000 miles, amongst other tasks the filters on all systems are renewed, the engine oil is changed and engine speeds and tappet clear- ances are checked; at 12,000 miles the work includes testing of the injection equipment and examination of the final drives; and between 30,000 and 36,000 miles there is a major overhaul, involving a thorough exam- ination of the engine, regrinding of the valves. inspection of the transmission and drive and removal of the electrical equipment for checking. Engines are changed for major overhaul between 100,000 and 120,000 miles.

We understand that British Railways` policy is to restrict the amount of repair work on major assemblies at the outlying diesel depots, and to encourage what is known as repair by replacement, so far as major spares are available, so that cars can be speedily returned to traffic after stoppage for defects. In other words, a sizeable railcar depot will be supplied with, say, two spare engines and gearboxes, so that it can repair a car with major trouble in these components by fitting a new engine or re-conditioned assembly, the defective one being dispatched to the Region’s principal diesel works - Stratford or Derby, for example - for attention. A diesel power plant, of course, lends itself to an economical repair system of this kind far more readily than a steam engine.


Memories of the Great Eastern "1500" class 4-6-0s

From Trains Illustrated No 130 (August, 1959). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

In 1913 A. P. Turner, the District Locomotive Carriage & Wagon Superintendent at Ipswich, sent for his top-ranking "Claud" 4-4-0 driver, Arthur Cage, "Well, Cage," he said, "you are my best man and you’re going to take charge of the new six-coupled express engine when it comes to Ipswich. See you do as well with it as you have with 1809."

These few words heralded the arrival at Ipswich of the new and mighty "1500s", which were to be universally admired and respected by the enginemen and - ultimately, if not at first - by the mechanical staff; moreover, they were to be regarded as beautiful machines years afterwards by the people who now run and look after the survivors. The "1500s" on the G.E. Section have been manned by regular crews (and still are at some depots) for the greater proportion of their career; and when engines are treated thus they develop a personality in the eyes of the Running Shed staff who run and maintain them. In their later years, some of these engines found their way on to the G.N. Line, where they were neither appreciated nor thoroughly understood. I have no practical knowledge of their activities in Scotland and therefore cannot speak with any degree of authority, so that most of this article is devoted to incidents connected with the "1500s" on the G.E. Line.

When Arthur Cage - well-known for his pointed beard and the block of wood on which he stood when in action, because he was small and wanted to see where he was going when standing up - was experimenting with his first "1500", the mechanical staff, some of whom are at Ipswich to this day and are the backbone of the place, were in doubts as to how the locomotive would react in everyday service. Their misgivings were soon realised.

Originally, the piston valve rings were of the Schmitt block pattern. Carbon deposit would form quickly, partial seizure would take place and the piston valve sleeves or liners and the rings would be ripped to pieces. This was also the cause of another frequent failure in the early days. The spectacle framings or motion plates showed a tendency to flaw near the point where the guide bar bolts held the guide bars to the spectacle framing, and it was thought that the seizures in the steam chest, due to the trouble with the Schmitt valve rings, threw a strain on the rocking shaft brackets, which were bolted to the spectacle framing. I think it was in 1917 that No. 1504 was fitted with the narrow valve rings as we know them today, and with the ultimate introduction of anti-carbonisers, all their troubles disappeared completely.

The original engines were built with the Schmidt superheaters and considerable difficulty was experienced with the superheater element ring joints. Between each element and the header was a serrated asbestos and copper washer. The copper tended to deteriorate quickly and burnt away, causing a steam blow in the smokebox with consequent loss of vacuum and shortage of steam when the engine was working heavily. Furthermore, the anti-vacuum valves on the top of the smokebox were connected to the superheater header by means of an extension piece jointed to the header and to the underside of the anti-vacuum valve. The bottom joint, i.e., the one on the top of the header, had a habit of blowing out and the job of remaking one of these joints was best left to the imagination. The joint was held by 5⅝ in. studs and 2⅝ in. set screws, the latter being at the back of the header. The only way to get at these was through the small aperture on the top of the smokebox made available by the breakage of the top joint and the removal of the snifting or anti- vacuum valve from its extension. The set screws would frequently turn off and the remains of the set screw or stud would then have to be drilled out by hand in an almost inaccessible position. By the time the chimney cowl had been taken down, the appropriate main steampipe removed, the studs and set screws inevitably drilled out, the joint refaced and remade and the whole re-assembled, six or seven days might well have slipped by.

Nevertheless, the engines soon became universally admired and their appearance was magnificent. The enginemen liked them immensely, for many and diverse reasons. The firebox front in the cab was simple and lent itself to cleanliness and tidiness, the engines steamed freely as a rule, and the compressed air from the Westinghouse donkey pump was used to good effect for reversing, lifting water and sanding. Moreover, the engines could be "driven", as very fine adjustment to valve travel was possible by the use of the fine thread reversing screw.

It is well known that specially long shovels were provided for the fireman’s use on the original "1500s"; it was necessary also to move the left foot when firing, but this was little or no hardship. The firegrate did not slope over much, so that each shovelful had to be placed and plenty had to go to the front. The objectionable modern habit of closing the front damper was not allowed in those days, and with the aid of both dampers a bright even fire was maintained quite easily. A level grate has one advantage, in that a fireman who uses his head knows exactly how his fire is behaving; a sloping grate can always “take control" when the engine is being worked heavily, but this is virtually unknown with a level grate. The steaming of the "l500s" was free and they presented no difficulty to the firemen. When the coal in the tender was getting low, the front plate of the G.E. tender could be lifted out and a fireman could take a walk inside at his convenience, without any mountaineering, to pull coal forward with his pick.

The L.N.E.R. days were perhaps the time of the "1500s’" greatness and between the wars the G.E. drivers, particularly at Ipswich and Parkeston, made themselves and their engines famous. They identified themselves with their charges, which were as much personalities as they were themselves. Cecil J. Allen has written on many occasions of "Rocky" Chapman, whose son is a driver at Parkeston today. Not long ago one of Chapman’s old firemen retired and on his last day of service said of his old driver: "Mr. Chapman was a masterpiece. He would never allow talking on the road, but when we got to the end of the journey, we would discuss the trip, any mistakes made, and what we could do to manage better still next time". Some of the greatest Ipswich drivers did their main line work on the "1500s" - such men as George Pinkney, Jack Packe, Dick Bannock and Bob Coleman. They were craftsmen in the true sense of the word and worshipped their engines; their firemen not only had to do likewise, but they were enjoined not to waste one ounce of coal, and to avoid all blowing off and smoke. Later these firemen developed into enginemen as good in every way as their predecessors.

In 1927, before the Ipswich-Manchester lodging job became a reality, No. 8561 worked through from Ipswich to Liverpool with 13 heavily loaded G.E. bogies conveying 340 Canadian Pacific emigrants and their baggage. The driver, J. Packe, had not then learned the road to Manchester, so he took a pilotman from Lincoln but kept control of the regulator throughout. The fireman, Frank Cocksedge, who in later years tended with loving care No. 61569 and Class "B1" No. 61059, set down a few notes on the performance of the engine. He had, of course, never been beyond Lincoln himself and so the road was strange. This is what he recorded:

"Belpaire firebox, no drop grate, 180 lb. per sq. inch boiler pressure. Engine went through on one fire, pricker only being used at Lincoln over the firebars. Big ends filled up there also. Engine completed trip quietly with no blowing off, but time was kept correctly. Engine took 13 bogies up from Shellield to Dunford unassisted. I must say here she was beginning to feel the effects of miles covered and I had to ease the injector a time or two to give the driver the maximum boiler pressure on the bank. At no time was I in any difficulty, but strict attention was paid to the amount in the firebox at any one time. With a bright minimum fire, one could make a stop with the engine perfectly quiet or continue with a speedy application of a dozen or so shovelsful of coal. My opinion of 8561 and the Driver - superb!"

I have never seen mention of this trip in print at any time, but it is very typical of the pride and precise working of the Ipswich men of those days, to whom the "1500s" were the centre of life itself. A year later came the regular Manchester jobs, worked by Pinkney and Packe, and later on by Cross and Arthur Kemp.

By then there were some fine performances on the Norwich, Cromer, Yarmouth and London services. In the late 1920s, some of the then un-rebuilt "1500s" were fitted with the Lentz poppet valve gear. Quite a few Lentz engines, including the Beyer Peacock engine No. 8577, built with Lentz gear, were stationed at Ipswich. It always seems a pity that this particular type of gear was not pursued. I have never had personal contact with it, but I know there was difficulty in satisfactorily setting the valves at some of the running sheds. Nevertheless, the Lentz engines showed a marked economy and ran with a lovely rhythm; when worked heavily, they did not set up any pounding in their axleboxes, nor did they pull the boiler water down against the exhaust injector in the same way as a piston valve engine would do. No. 8577 was said by some of the men that used her to be the fastest "l500" on the road. Certainly, she is still talked about and I believe I am right in saying that the Ipswich fitter who was the Lentz specialist in those days was for some reason particularly interested in this locomotive.

Many coal trials between the Lentz and the original engines were held from time to time and in the hands of the Ipswich men 27-29 lb. per mile was quite a normal figure. Driver English, known throughout Ipswich and responsible for much fine running with the original locomotives, is reputed to have got down to 25 lb. per mile with Lentz valve engines on express trains in the early 1930s. This seems incredible, but knowing his methods it is possible. English, sometime Mayor of Ipswich, was a very fiery little man who brooked no interference from anybody and little advice on how to run locomotives economically. He was a “f1rst port” man and therefore directly and immediately at war with anybody in authority who wanted the regulator wide open. His fireman for a long while was Alf Alderton, by hobby an all-in wrestler and consequently a man of strength who had from time to time to be sharply curbed by the old gentleman over his expenditure of coal. Alderton ran No. 61564 with tremendous success during my time at Ipswich.

Now we have only the surviving Gresley rebuilds of Class "Bl2/3". Perhaps some of the glamour has been left behind but the engine is still essentially Great Eastern. The first time I rode on a "B12" was on No. 8522 from Liverpool Street to Cambridge in 1942 with a Westinghouse-fitted train of suburban stock. She was in the hands of the regular crew and the inside of the cab was very clean. Ultimately there came the period when I was at Ipswich and had intimate experience of the eight engines stationed there at the time. Mechanically, I am convinced the rebuild was the better engine and for the engineman it was every bit as good - comfortable, clean, economical and fast. It was always found advisable to attend to the valves at 15,000-18,000 miles to avoid any blowing through and it was absolutely essential to take the big ends down at 10,000 miles to deal with any knock or wear that might be developing. One had to watch constantly, too, for knock or wear at the small ends, but apart from that, and frequent scrutiny of oil pipe lines to the coupled axleboxes, the maintenance required was very straightforward.

Up to and even during the war the "B12" rebuilds were doing work on the G.E. main lines that was of the very finest order. Right through the war, the Stratford men kept their "regular" engines and managed to ensure that there was a reasonable standard of maintenance. To this day, in fact, the No. 11 link at Stratford is known as the “1500 gang", although it must be 10 years since any of these engines was rostered to its crews. In the 1930s most Stratford firemen had as much as eight years on the same engine, possibly with the same driver the whole time.

Cecil J. Allen has immortalised Fred Mattin’s run with No. 8535 on the 1.30 p.m. Liverpool Street to Norwich, when 90 m.p.h. was touched before Diss. Fred Mattin told me all about this run before he retired in 1951. He had been put on his mettle earlier in the day, before he left Ipswich on the up journey, by some remark uncomplimentary to the engine and as a result he went like the wind. There is no doubt that 90 m.p.h. could be achieved very easily with a rebuild and it must have been done many times.

Another extremely heavy turn worked by the rebuilt locomotives, I believe prior to, but certainly after the war, was the down "Mail” to Ipswich, leaving London soon after 9 p.m. and calling at Stratford, Ilford, Romford, Brentwood and then all stations. The load was never less than 350 tons and with this Brentwood, Hatfield Peverel and Bentley were difficult places from which to restart. I have ridden with the Ipswich men on this train and learned how time could be saved. I can still see Frank Cocksedge fully applying his vacuum brake on No. 1569 as he approached Hatfield Peverel, putting the handle in the running position halfway down the platform and stopping against the platform slope. That was art in driving, particularly when one remembers it was dark, the locomotive was a "right-hander" and the up platform at Hatfield is staggered from the down. Most of the men could do this - and better with the Westinghouse trains before the war, when brakes on both train and engine were beautifully adjusted.

During the war the "1500s" worked ambulance trains, mainly in the West of England. The enginemen were all volunteers from the G.E. Section, whose knowledge of the locomotives and particularly of their Westinghouse brake was invaluable. The men worked 12-hour shifts and they and their engines were based on such places as Newbury, Westbury and Templecombe; they had to be ready to work at a moment’s notice.

The ambulance trains were all Westinghouse-fitted and not an easy proposition, either in weight or to stop steadily. I believe that most of the trains were manned by American servicemen - certainly most of the officers were American - and in most cases a close bond developed between the enginemen, the locomotive fitter who travelled with the train and the Army personnel, although it became tenuous when there was any rough braking. This used to happen rather frequently on the G.W.R. because, much to the disgust of the G.E. men, that system deemed it necessary to provide an assistant engine on some of the banks and the helper, being a G.W. engine, was vacuum brake-fitted and worked at 25 in. of vacuum. All went well if the G.W. man could be prevailed upon to leave his brake alone; but as the G.W. engine was always attached in front, its driver should by rights be in charge of the brake and he could only be prevailed upon to forget his duty if he were made sufficiently nervous of a Westinghouse engine and train behind him. Any rash passes with the vacuum handle on the leading engine resulted through the medium of the proportional valve in something like the upending of the “B12" and its train, as the sharp-acting Westinghouse brakes took effect. The reactions of the ambulance staff when this occurred are best left to the imagination.

Otherwise, the "B12s" were admired and respected wherever they went in the West Country; their performance on the banks was first rate and many a G.W. man has spared a word of praise for them.

In 1951, the Chief Officer (Design) of the Railway Executive decided to take a ride on the then brand new Pacific Britannia from Liverpool Street to Ipswich at the head of the down "Norfolkman", retuming with the 1.55 p.m. from Ipswich to Liverpool Street, a 10-bogie train. He was accompanied by Inspector Theobald and was to be met on arrival at Liverpool Street by the Motive Power Superintendent, L. P. Parker, himself very much an old G.E. man. We were required to turn out a "1500" for the up train and it so happened that the rostered engine for the train was No. 61535, with Driver Jim Calver. This engine was a beauty and, like most of her breed, rode beautifully. She was always kept clean, with polished brass beading to the splashers and polished buffers, but the interior of the cab was the show-piece, for about a year previously we had painted the roof cream, and it was cleaned and tallowed daily. All the brasses were perfection; the regulator handle was polished steel and you could eat your lunch off the footboard.

This was indeed the "1500” on which the Oflicer for Design was to ride. One essential point was not missed in our plans - essential perhaps more to a "1500" than to most classes of engine; the perfection of No. 61535’s riding rested on the setting and adjustment of the axlebox wedges. I remember saying to Jack Percy: "Let’s have a real G.E. job made of those wedges - do them yourself". And so he did. The engine ran up to London with a beautiful, smooth, noiseless rhythm. When she left Ipswich at 1.55 p.m. she shone like a jewel and there was not a wisp of steam from any packing, joint, or gland on that engine.

The other driver on No. 61535 at that time was Charlie Parr. When he was on the 10.30 p.m. Mail from Liverpool Street (12 corridors) on a Sunday evening, he would come down just before lunch-time to make sure his engine was booked to him on the up train leaving Ipswich about 5.25 p.m. He wouldn’t be able to enjoy his lunch until he was sure that "35" was on her proper job and it was as much as our lives were worth if he was robbed of his engine for any reason. Living just outside the Gate, he kept a close watch on activities when off duty and we would soon hear: "Where’s mv engine?" if he seemed likely to lose her.

One bitterly cold winter’s night, on January 27, 1952, No. 61535 was on the Mail again. This was after Jim Calver’s place had been taken by Bob Riches, who well remembers the trip. We had a load of about 400 tons and it was soon obvious that all was not well; in fact, we had defective elements and then only 130 lb. of steam at Chadwell Heath. Bob maintained the very reasonable belief that the harder you climb a hill, the sooner you get to the top, and, as always, put it into practice. By Romford I had to get down to work myself. Between us we got No. 61535 and train to Ipswich, with one stop at Colchester, inside the sharp booked timing, with never more than a third of a glass of water and 150 lb. of steam. I was soaked to the skin and pretty well used up by the time we got to Ipswich, but the job had been done; the right-hand injector was frozen, the water handle could not be moved, to cap it all my car at Ipswich was frozen to the road and shifted only after a struggle, and although my shirt was far from frozen it too would only move after a struggle when I got home. No. 61535 had done what many of the class have when things are going wrong-she got through her work with a low steam pressure and kept time; you cannot always do the same with the smaller-cylindered, high pressure engines that do such fine work over the G.E. roads nowadays.

I mentioned previously that the cab hood of No. 61535 had been painted cream. Of course, it is rather unusual these days and it came about one evening when, before going home, I was talking to one of the running foremen in Ipswich shed. He was telling me how, when he fired for George Pinkney many years ago, the inside of the cab of their "1500" had been painted cream. He said that nothing like that would ever be considered nowadays; but I thought otherwise. A week or two later I found myself on No. 61535. Driver Calver was working the train and, of course, the "1500" was in perfect condition. "How would you like this cab done out in cream?" I asked him. Calver was delighted with the idea and the next day the engine was stopped and the work carried out by the painter. The cream paint was varnished and maintained in per- fect condition for over two years. Soon after that other enginemen asked for their cabs to be decorated and we readily agreed, because it created a keenness and pride in the job that was a joy.

The last days of the "l500s" in the Stratford District were spent at Southend before electrification. They took their turn on most of the London trains but there is no doubt that the packed 10-coach trains took it out of them, particularly when starting. Piston packings were continually being renewed, wear on large and small ends was heavy but, nevertheless, the locomotives were still liked and today’s Southend motormen who manned No. 61575 are delighted that their “1500”, which they reckoned was the best engine at Southend, is still running as fast and as freely as ever.

The few surviving "1500s" cannot last long. There is no doubt at all that one of these engines in first-class order and in first class hands could still keep time on all but the very hardest "Britannia” duties. Before they go finally, I should dearly love to see one deputise in emergency for a "Britannia" and be present on it. I know what could be done.

I will close with one fairly recent experience. On the Saturday prior to the changeover to electrified working on the Southend branch on the Sunday evening, I came up on "B12" No. 61576 with the last evening train. We had a load of eight bogies and only a few passengers, but we satisfied at least one by leaving Wickford and stopping at Billericav in 7 minutes, reaching 50 m.p.h. on the 1 in 100 gradient. This was "electric” running indeed, but the old engine, with about 45-50 per cent cut off, kept her water up in the glass and her steam right on the mark, and as David L. Smith once wrote, "some of the sparks are no doon yet". I shall never forget that 7-minute run for all the harm such treatment did the boiler, the engine or the fireman. It is not often that yard-long flames can be induced up a chimney these days, but I had the Southend shedmaster on the engine with me and he can be my witness. Neither he, nor I, nor the driver, Ron Meeson, is likely to forget it in a hurry.


The N.B. Loco. Co. diesel-hydraulic Type "2" locomotive

From Trains Illustrated No 141 (June, 1960). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

Technical details have at length been released of the North British Locomotive Co. Type "2" 1,100 h.p. B-B diesel-hydraulic locomotives being delivered to the Westem Region. The first six, Nos. D6300-5, are now described as prototypes, the production series comprising Nos. D6306-57. The N.B.L.- M.A.N. engine and Voith hydraulic trans- mission are based on those of which two are used on the N.B. Loco. Co. "Warship" class 2,000 h.p. locomotive.

Although the production version Type "2" follows the prototype in general construction, it features enhanced performance, thanks to a reduction in weight from 68 to 65 tons and an increase in power output from 1,000 h.p. to 1,100 h.p. Apart from some re-arrangement of auxiliary equipment, the principal difference noted is in the radiator fan operation: the electric fan drive and Drayton regulator temperature control employed on the prototypes have been superseded on the production version by Serck-Behr hydrostatic drive from an engine-driven pump with thermostatically controlled fan speed regulation.

The L12V18/21BS diesel engine drives through a Voith·N.B.L. LT306r hydraulic transmission and Hardy-Spicer cardan shafts to David Brown primary gearboxes on the inner axles of the bogies, from which a further cardan-shaft drive is taken to secondary gearboxes on the outer axles. Reversing gears are incorporated in the main hydraulic transmission unit and are operated by means of electro- pneumatic valves with a device to prevent reversal while the locomotive is moving. The transmission oil is cooled in a heat exchanger through which the cooling water is circulated, to assist rapid warming of the engine system and to bring engine and transmission into their true interdependence. Engines and hydraulic transmissions have been built in Glasgow under licence by the N.B. Loco. Co. The four-stroke 12-cylinder V-type engine of 180 mm. bore and 210 mm. stroke has a Napier exhaust-gas turbo-blower; maximum engine speed is 1,800 r.p.m. and the rated engine output is 1,100 b.h.p. at 1,530 r.p.m.

ln general the layout of the equipment is arranged around the hydraulic transmission, the output flanges of which need to be positioned symmetrically about the locomotive centre. The diesel engine is mounted forward of the transmission with the dynostarter coupled to an auxiliary drive at the rear of the transmission. The 450·gallon fuel tank is positioned high in the roof to give a gravity feed to the engine and is off-centre to allow a passageway on the left-hand side of the locomotive. The train-heating boiler is located at the rear of the fuel tank: Messrs. Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn are supplying Clayton steam generators for the first 20 locomotives and Messrs. Stone the boilers for the remaining 32 locomotives. A 500-gallon water tank for train-heating supply is suspended between the bogies.

The weight of the underframe, super- structure and equipment is borne on four side bearers, two per bogie, which have spherical contact surfaces to provide for changing track conditions. This weight is transferred through the bogie bolster to laminated springs suspended from the bogie frame by means of swing links and planks. No weight is taken through the bogie pivot, which deals only with pivoting, traction, braking and transverse forces. From the bogie frame the weight is transferred to the roller bearing axleboxes by compensating beams and coil springs; 26 of these locomotives have Timken axleboxes and 26 have S.K.F. axleboxes. Manganese steel liners are fitted on all axleboxes and horn guide faces.

Simplicity is the keynote of the control desk layout in the driving cabs, which are heated and provided with food lockers and cooking hotplates. The gauges on the driver`s desk are confined to a Smiths-Stone speedometer, Smiths vacuum gauge, brake pressure gauge and main reservoir pressure gauge. There is only one warning light to signal any fault on any of the three engines which may be operating, i.e., with three 1,100 h.p. locomotives in multiple or with one 1,100 h.p. locomotive in multiple with a 2,200 h.p. locomotive. On the left of the driver’s desk is the control for the train vacuum braking and in the centre the straight air brake for the locomotive only. The master controller governing power and the forward/reverse selector are at the driver’s right hand. The deadman’s control is a pedal on the driver’s side of the cab and a push-button on the opposite side; there is an alternative method of control by press-down handle on the driver’s side. The cab shell is fabricated by bolting together aluminium castings, whilst the side structure and roof are formed from Kynal sections, supplied by I.C.I., and aluminium sheeting.


Dr. Beeching's first bow

From Trains Illustrated No 155 (August, 1961). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

Eleven days after assuming office on June 1st as Chairman of the British Transport Commission, Dr. Richard Beeching expressed preliminary views on the problems and future of the railways. Those who feared some announcement of drastic mutilation of British Railways in the foreseeable future may be heartened by his belief that they are an asset of such potential importance and high replacement value that a continuing life of many years seems to be assured for most of the system, even if ultimate replacement is planned in the meantime. In other words, Dr. Beeching is not setting out to eliminate railways in favour of roads. He admitted also that the London suburban lines and a large part of the predominantly passenger-carrying Southern Region, besides other cities` suburban services, would be needed "as far ahead as it is possible to see" and claimed that most unremunerative suburban services could be made to pay. He did not, as he could not, answer the question whether the railways are to be primarily a public utility or a profitable undertaking: only the Government can decide that, and no Government is likely to commit itself on so thorny a question. Nor, he said, are public service and profitability incompatible. He did declare himself opposed to subsidies and even to the designation of certain lines (one thinks of some in the Highlands) as special hopelessly uneconomic sections which might be subsidised as utilities.

It would be idle to expect Dr. Beeching’s views to have crystallised at once, though he cautiously stated that after a week the situation did not seem so bad as it might have done. His emphasis on the difficulty of British Railways ever paying their way, even after modernisation, no doubt is based on what he learned as a member of the Stedeford Committee, whose report has never been published. Whether the opinions he expressed at his first press conference of June 12th concur with those of the other members of the committee is problematical. Although, no doubt, holding views with which the Minister of Transport, Mr. Ernest Marples, agrees in fundamentals, Dr. Beeching gives the impression of a man with a mind of his own; but one may wonder how he can remain only primus inter pares as Chairman of the Commission. At his conference he faced his audience alone, without the suite of officials to supply detailed information - and perhaps moral support - customary at such gatherings. Two assertions caused no surprise: that modernisation alone will not enable B.R. to pay their way, and that the key to the problem is the possibility of radical modification of available merchandise services and the attraction of much more such traffic. It was disconcerting to hear that five more studies must be made as soon as possible:

  1. more detailed examination of the costs of handling existing traffics by existing methods;
  2. determination of the forms of traffic which railways now handle, or could handle, better and more cheaply than do other modes of transport;
  3. traffic flows by rail and other transport throughout the country as a whole, to discover what volume of traffic favourable to rail is available and how it moves (these studies, Dr. Beeching points out, are particularly important but also particularly hard, in the case of merchandise traffics);
  4. how the railways’ methods of freight handling can best be modified to attract remunerative traffic;
  5. the volume of traffic likely to be attracted by various possible modifications of the system, and the potential profitability of the business so obtained.

In view of the many enquiries and studies of the past few years, further such research would seem to duplicate previous studies. Surely most of the facts sought are available somewhere in the B.T.C. or the Regions?

Nor is it clear whether the five studies to be undertaken at Dr. Beeching’s behest will be entirely independent of the assessments of the transport situation being made by the Ministry. It is hoped that all five will be completed within 12 months; and to help complete them, and indeed to relieve the overburdened managerial staff of the B.T.C. and British Railways, the new Chairman proposes to introduce a sprinkling of men from outside - largely, one imagines, as “boffins".

Dr. Beeching believes that the financial difficulties of the railways can be traced to deep-seated causes and will not be quickly eliminated: in fact, losses may even get worse before they get better. Nevertheless, a worthwhile increase in revenue can be achieved, without unreasonable increases in fares and rates - it must not be overlooked, on this topic, that Dr. Beeching hinted at the reduction of some charges - and without setting off inflation, if present restrictions are removed. Legislation already is proposed to curtail the powers of the Transport Tribunal.

The completion of some of the earlier parts of the Modernisation Plan, Dr. Beeching admits, has greatly enhanced the quality of some services and further improvements will follow. It is now necessary to modernise the managerial structure and the manner in which the system is operated in relation to a very different pattern of user requirements. The organisation of Commission headquarters appears to be too complex and certain responsibilities may be hived off. Because much of the modernisation programme was devoted to deferred maintenance and replacement, it may be regarded to that extent as expenditure to bring the physical assets up to a satisfactory condition and so preserve the existing business, rather than as likely to lead to appreciable improvement in profitability. Although it may ultimately be possible to credit the Modernisation Plan with the improvement in net receipts of £85,000,000 expected of it, therefore, Dr. Beeching regards it as much more probable that any such improvements will result very largely from changes in the operation of the railways, maintained in an efiicient state by modernisation.

The failure of the Modernisation Plan to better financial results as quickly as was expected should not discourage optimism as to its ultimate financial results. For example, mixed use of steam and diesel on some lines is costing more than steam alone, but the complete change to diesel traction is expected to yield substantial savings. Even if, upon more prolonged consideration, a railway system as widespread as at present is seen to have little prospect of future viability, it will not be possible to reach that conclusion and then to plan and provide alternative transport very quickly. If ultimate replacement is planned of B.R., what surface transport can take their place? Not roads in this small country, where roads take up valuable space and conversion of railways to roads is impracticable. Pipelines and conveyors for freight, perhaps? To keep the railway system in being until its ultimate replacement, heavy replacement expenditure will be necessary in any case, and failure to replace and modernise now will almost certainly lead to greater cost, in the form of increased operating losses, than the capital saving likely to be achieved by sharply curtailing modernisation at this stage. The main uncertainty in Dr. Beeching’s mind is focused on the potential viability of the main-line network, plus a limited number of its more important feeding and connecting lines, which carry both the bulk of the freight traffic and the middle-to-long-distance passenger services. Stopping trains on many of these routes and services on a great many branch lines are known to be uneconomic. Uncertainty as to the main lines is concerned mainly with merchandise and other freight traffics. It seems probable that revenue from medium-to-long-distance passenger trains, which has kept up well so far, will be sustained and possibly increased as modernisation takes effect. But passenger traffic, Dr. Beeching maintains, will not increase enough to offset the loss of freight traffic which has occurred already, with a corresponding fall in its contribution to the fixed costs of the system. Therefore, unless freight traffic receipts can be considerably increased, the main-line system will not pay, nor is it certain that it could be made to pay on any reduced yet reasonable scale. Of freight traffics, general merchandise has prospects of considerable expansion. The fall of coal class traffic is likely to continue, both because the output of coal may continue to decline and because of a movement of some large consumers closer to the coalfields. Mineral traffic is likely to rise in step with growth of the economy, but the railways already have the major share of it and cannot stimulate much more. The main aims of British Railways, Dr. Beeching believes, must be: to bring the standard of their services to an acceptably high level; to operate services efiiciently and economically; and to make the whole business pay its way. But for the financial stringency which results from present losses, success in pursuing the first two of these aims should be possible. It does not follow, however, that success in the first two will ensure achievement of the third aim.

Is the prevalent attitude to our railways sheer defeatism? The experience of Western Germany seems to show that it is. Conditions on British and the German Federal Railways may differ in many respects, but the predominantly industrial economies which they serve have much in common. The Deutsche Bundesbahn has the advantage over B.R. of longer hauls, including transit and other international trafiic, but the German road hauliers and manufacturers and traders who operate their own transport are allowed to use larger vehicles, and over not one but many M1s; in other ways, too, they enjoy greater freedom than do their British counterparts. Nevertheless the Bundesbahn in the face of acute road competition is reported to have reduced its deficit in 1957-60 from £66,000,000 to £5,000,000, and appreciable net profits are expected for 1961. This has been done largely by improving services. Electrification has effected the usual economies, notably better utilisation of motive power and stock, and it has attracted fresh passengers through higher speeds and comfort (the Germans are now, we gather, scheming to regain their pre-war rail speed supremacy). Nevertheless, there is still a large steam passenger train mileage in the North. Freight traffic has been captured largely by introducing special types of wagon, by fast services and by an aggressive advertising campaign which stresses the advantages of the rail. Staff has been cut 8 per cent without hardship. What the Germans can do, surely our railways can do, or at least try.

A 71.9 m.p.h. British schedule

From Trains Illustrated No 155 (August, 1961). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

After a lapse of 22 years, during the 1939-1945 war and since, and apart from the brief summer during which the Western Region "Bristolian" worked between Paddington and Bristol on a timing of 100min, at 71.0 m.p.h., Great Britain at last is going to have a permanent schedule at over 70 m.p.h. which doubtless will be the precursor of not a few others. Although for the time being the full "Deltic" accelerated timetable over the East Coast Route will be until all the units have been delivered and are working reliably, the winter timetable, from September 11th, is to see the first fruits of their activity. The star turn is to be the radical speed-up of the 7.45 a.m. down "West Riding", which will be booked over the 106.7 miles from Hitchin to Retford in 89min, at 71.9 m.p.h., exactly equal in speed to the pre-war booking of the down "Coronation" between Kings Cross and York. This train is to cease calling at Doncaster and Wakefield, and to reach Leeds, 185.7 miles, in 3hr from London. The Bradford portion will run via Leeds; it will also have a through portion for Sheffield, due there at 10.35 a.m., in 2hr 50min from Kings Cross - and, by connection with the Woodhead route, moreover, this Sheffield portion will provide the fastest service of the morning from London to Manchester, unless the L.M.R. has some substantial improvements in mind for the winter. In the up direction the Bradford portion of the up "West Riding" similarly will run via Leeds; the train will leave Leeds at 7.30 a.m. and call at Wakefield as now; from here the run to Kings Cross will be non-stop, in 164min for the 175.8 miles, at 64.3 m.p.h. These altered times mean that the "West Riding" will be accelerated 44min down and 45min up. Other notable changes in the Leeds service will be the 55min acceleration of the 5 p.m. from Bradford, now to leave Leeds at 5.29 p.m., call at Wakefield and next at Retford, where a through portion from Sheffield at 5.42 p.m. will be attached, run from there to Hitchin in 95min (67.3 m.p.h.), and reach Kings Cross at 8.42 p.m., in 3hr 13min from Leeds and 3hr from Sheffield. A third beneficiary from "Deltic" haulage is to be the down "Yorkshire Pullman", which is to leave Kings Cross at 5.25 p.m., cover the 155.95 miles to Doncaster in 145min (64.6 m.p.h.), and reach Leeds at 8.40 p.m. in 3¾hr (47min faster than now), Bradford at 9.6 p.m. and Harrogate at 9.20 p.m. The 7.30 p.m. down "Aberdonian" already has been quickened by 54min with the benefit of "Deltic" haulage and the return working of this unit is in future to be the 7.50 a.m. from Newcastle, which will stop at Darlington only and run the 232.3 miles thence to Kings Cross in 3hr 28min (67.0 m.p.h.), within 10min of the pre-war "Silver Jubilee" time. This will reduce the time from Newcastle to Kings Cross to 4¼hr, with an arrival at 12.5 noon, a 50min acceleration. There will be reductions of from 10 to 25min in the times of other trains, and in all the E.R. tables will show 29 services timed at 60 m.p.h. or better


Dr. Beeching and the exporters

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

Dr. Beeching and the exporters

Not so long ago, in the early days of British Railways’ rate-fixing freedom, there was a great deal of emphasis on the desirable acquisition of modern salesmanship technique by the railway’s commercial officers. So far as merchandise traffic is concerned, B.R. now seem to be adopting a sales approach peculiarly their own. At least it cannot be criticised as smooth sales talk - indeed, the wheel seems to be turning full circle, in some sense, back to the take-it-or-leave-it approach of the old days of railway monopoly of some trafiics.

One felt this again after listening to Dr. Beeching at a mid-November conference in London organised by the Export Council for Europe, at which representatives of the major export users of transport were assembled to discuss with the providers of transport in each medium ways and means of facilitating the overseas movement of British goods and of reducing movement costs, a critical factor in the competitive saleability of our products abroad. After some of his exchanges with his customers one was left wondering whether the concern over which Dr. Beeching presides is really as short of traffic and hard put to win more as one has heard. For example, some discussion arose out of his plea that export users should provide B.R. with detailed forecasts of their future requirements, which were needed to enable rail freight services to the Continent to be planned on the same carefully calculated basis as internal services had been in the Beeching Report. He accepted a comment that useful collaboration on such forward planning required first-class commercial management on the railway side, served by able marketing staff capable of securing rapid action. But Dr. Beeching’s attitude to a claim that, if it had a service to sell, B.R. should be taking the initiative was that a customer who did not collaborate as proposed could not complain that he had wanted something else if the service eventually provided failed to meet his requirements. One appreciates that Dr. Beeching has a mandate which pre- occupies him with elimination of wasted B.R. resources resulting from industry’s traditional reliance on the railway as a standby in boom periods, or when other transport fails, and the under-utilised capacity that this assumes. Nevertheless, in an age of highly developed market research, when the customer expects to be courted by competitors for his trade, it is odd to hear an entrepreneur - particularly one fighting for a living - laying so much of the onus for successful service by his concern on the consumer, unless he guarantees a bargain price as the outcome of intimate customer participation. And that, some of his later remarks made plain, Dr. Beeching is not prepared to promise.

The Doctor had little encouragement for B.R. ferry traffic. More than one exporter had complained that ferry vans were in desperate short supply and that the B.R. fleet of 400 new vans (over 150 of which are now in service) would fall far short of immediately foreseeable requirements. But Dr. Beeching was not prepared to tie up more capital in new British vans, because of their poor utilisation in B.R. books. The solution to the exporters’ demand for more stock of this kind, it was said, lay in quicker turnround of the Continental ferry wagons bringing imports to this country. Moreover, although a new Zeebrugge ferry ship would be commissioned by the end of this year, further development of the train ferry fleet hinged on a Channel Tunnel decision; meanwhile, the capacity of the existing ships was limited and therefore B.R. were bound to be selective in the trafhc they accepted for the ferries. Coldly logical these answers may have been, viewed from the B.R. angle, but they left Dr. Beeching’s audience not a little restive.

B.R., it is plain, hope to convert their customers to interest in a projection of Liner trains to the Continent, whether or not a Channel Tunnel is agreed by the British and French Governments, though obviously the provision of a tunnel would simplify the scheme. For traffic to and from Northern Europe, on the other hand, a shipping link would have to be maintained. Mr. J. MacNaughton Sidey, Chairman of the Eastern Railway Board, who was accompanying Dr. Beeching on the platform at this conference, envisaged likely Liner train routes from this country to the Continent as extending to Basle, Chiasso and possibly Milan, to Cologne and Frankfurt, and to Paris and possibly Lyons; four originating points in this country were in mind. (Apart from this possibility, it was pointed out that the 15 or so internal Liner train routes envisaged for the initial stage of this freight scheme embraced most of the major ports - London, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Hull, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Tees-side and Cardiff; this network of services, amongst other benefits, would cater adequately for export traffic to Scandinavia.) But before such cross-Channel services could be programmed a great deal of preparatory work was necessary and there were problems for resolution to which B.R. had not the sole key. Again, prospective customers were urged to provide detailed information on their forward planning which would enable B.R. to quantify the likely traffic and cost the possible services accurately. Dr. Beeching, however, was careful to remark that the rates to be charged would be affected by the availability of return loads. Moreover, it was pointed out that existing Customs procedure on the Continent at present prejudiced employment of road-rail containers for export-import traffic and favoured throughout use of one medium - integral rail wagon or road trailer; equally important, projection of Liner train services abroad hinged on the co-operation of port and railway authorities on the Continent. ln short, the attractions of the Liner train concept to merchandise exporters to much of Western Europe seem so far to be decidedly chimerical and, in view of its reluctance to increase the ferry wagon fleet, B.R. seem to risk throwing exporters into the arms of the road and roll-on, roll-off shipping interests (even more so on North Sea routes).

"Dr. Beeching‘s case is that unless the users will bestir themselves and help him they cannot expect him to provide streamlined, and therefore cheaper, services; and moreover that his hand is weakened in negotiating with Continental carriers for similarly well-organised co-operation. This makes the same sort of sense as all Dr. Beeching’s proposals". That was the view of Sir Norman Kipping, Director-General of the F.B.I., in summing up the conference; and one cannot logically dissent from it. Sir Norman went on to add that "frankly, we users would like to do business with some entity which linked together all the elements of the transport providers. There is not enough evidence that they are yet seeing their combined functions as a part of an integrated whole .... It looks like some sort of a research organisation job, not concerned with the technologies of handling freight, but with market studies, cost studies and integrated work of that kind". With this, too, one agrees (and it was a criticism of the conference that too little attention was paid by the providers to possible co-ordination of their facilities). Our immediate concern, however, in an interim of unabated competition and co-ordination still confined largely to pious lip-service, even though the right phrases are expressed with growing fervour, is whether B.R. can afford quite the rigidity they so often display to potential customers these days. Behind closed doors, perhaps, B.R. may be shaping encouraging agreements with manufacturers on the scale of the recent oil contracts. One hopes so. But in public, their approach seems to emphasise the non possumus and hedge the possumus with provisos, some of which will involve the potential customer himself in substantial investment. Moreover, the financial user inducements of the new freight concepts are so far no better than vague. May not the railways have to continue to take some of the customer’s rough, to entice him into a big deal over future rail transport of his smooth? Can any transport system hope to unload on its customers all the risks of fluctuating demands for goods and still retain a good share of the traffic offering?

B.R. lost less in 1962

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

B.R. are likely to reduce their deficit for 1963, compared with the loss of nearly £160m in 1962, despite a 6 per cent wage increase in November, 1962, and a decline in traffic which had reduced gross revenue by 1.2 per cent on the 1962 takings up to October 5th, 1963. The improvement is said by the B.R. Board to result from stringent efforts to reduce costs, stricter regard for budgets, better operating methods and utilisation of the new motive power, rationalisation of workshops, reduction of freight depots, training and development of lower levels of management and various administrative economies. A substantial change for the better is expected from the 1964 results.

The G.P.0 dissatisfied with B.R

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The Post Office has informed B.R. that it is dissatisfied with the service it is getting for its parcels and is urgently seeking improvements. One course it is proposing is that parcels trains should be loaded exclusively by its own staff. Neither party was anxious to discuss the dispute in public as we went to press, but it is believed that the Post Office is complaining of the cost and unreliability of the railway service and that it is holding over B.R.’s head the implicit threat of turning more of its traflic over to road conveyance, on the lines of the successful East Anglian scheme it inaugurated last summer.

Success of cheap Anglo-Scottish fares

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

There has been an encouraging response to the cheap "Nightrider" (40s) and "Dayrider" (63s) fares introduced experimentally on specified trains between London and Edinburgh and Glasgow until March 25th, in the hope of improving loadings. As a result, further evidence of a new flexibility in fare schemes for long-distance travel on selected services is expected in 1964, when B.R. will be launching a national campaign to boost second-class travel, following their drive for first-class patronage in 1963. It is believed that there will also be trials of cut price meals on some routes.

New L.M.R. Divisions in North-West

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

As part of the decentralisation plan, the East Lancashire Division of the L.M.R. was divided on December 9th into Manchester and Preston Divisions. Previously, the East Lancashire Division covered an area from Alderley Edge and Buxton in the south to Carnforth in the north; the boundary between the new Manchester and Preston Divisions is roughly a line bordering on Chorley, Darwen and Bacup. The previous District organisations have been merged into the Divisional offices, as elsewhere on B.R. Mr. C. P. Millard, formerly Divisional Manager, East Lancashire, heads the new Manchester Division,embracing E. Lancashire, N.E. Cheshire and N.W. Derbyshire. The Divisional Manager’s offices at Peter House have been moved to Hunt’s Bank, Manchester. Mr. J. Pollard is Divisional Manager of the new Preston Division and his area will cover Central Lancashire, the Fylde area of Lancashire and part of W. Riding. The Preston Division is temporarily located at Preston station, with the Commercial Manager based on Bolton Trinity Street station.

The L.M.R.’s future shape

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

Mr. R. L. E. Lawrence, Assistant General Manager of the L.M.R., presented in a recent paper to the East Midlands branch of the Institute of Transport as sharply defined a picture of his Region’s present and future state as circumstances permit. The problem features of the L.M.R. as it now stands are, he believes: (1) that the decision to electrify the main line in the southern half of the Region leaves open the question whether to electrify northwards from Weaver Junction; (2) that acquisition of territory from the W.R., combined with the duplication that already existed between the ex-L. N.W.R. and ex-Midland Lines in the Greater Birmingham area, necessitates rationalisation concurrent with electrification; (3) that for historical reasons, Lancashire is overserved by railways, with the result that rationalisation there is also necessary; and (4) that there are too many trunk routes between Manchester and the eastern side of the country, Manchester and Liverpool, and the Midlands and the South-West and London (because of the survival of the G.C. system). When all proposed closures are completed, the Region will be left with this pattern of main-line passenger train services:

  • Between Euston and Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, faster electric trains on an interval basis, which should result in journey times short enough to recapture passenger traflic from the air.
  • Concentration of all London-Birmingham/ Wolverhampton/Chester and London-Manchester passenger tratiic on the Western Lines at the expense of the W.R. and Midland Lines respectively.
  • Fast diesel-hauled train services over all non-electrified trunk routes, resulting from dieselisation of steam express services, the conversion working progressively from north to south.
  • Closure of wayside stations and unremunerative branch services, enabling the fleet of diesel multiple-units to be concentrated on semi-fast inter-city and local and residential interval services. As regards these last, Mr. Lawrence made the surprising remark that the first steps in effecting co-ordination of residential transport in co-operation with local authorities have already been taken in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

The "really massive" changes provided for in reshaping the Region, said Mr. Lawrence, are on the freight side, where coal concentration will result in the whole of the coal delivered from stations in the Region being handled in 163 depots; this will be achieved by setting up mechanical or non-mechanised depots in conjunction with the N.C.B. and the coal trade. Sundries will be handled in three types of depot: 33 main, 13 secondary, and 16 auxiliary, replacing 167 existing sundries depots. Full-load depots are eventually to number only 190, Planning of Liner trains is now well advanced. Co-operation with the N.C.B. and consignees is enabling increasing tonnages of coal to pass in block train loads, and merry-go-round working no doubt will ensue. As to the future, Mr. Lawrence doubts whether, despite high-speed passenger trains, there will be much development of day travel over longer distances, though sleeping-car travel (including provision for accompanying motor cars) will become more popular than ever. When considering technical advances, account must be taken of the parallel developments likely in competitive forms of transport. On the freight side, he looks for speeds up to 100 m.p.h. not merely to improve transits, but also to make the best use of line capacity in harmony with the faster passenger trains. Better road/rail transfer facilities must be developed and by that time it may be possible to merge the existing separate services for small consignments, i.e., freighttrain sundries, passenger train parcels, B.R.S. (Parcels) and G.P.O. parcels post, into one composite road/rail organisation.

The "Western" affair - and some morals

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The trouble with the "Western" class transmissions, briefly discussed last month, did not prove as disruptive operationally as first impressions threatened. The whole class was not affected, but only those that had attained the mileage at which the roller bearing failures were occurring, or roughly 20 per cent of the total fleet. The fault in the bearings was detected when a transmission returned to the manufacturers for a routine strip and examination after 100,000 miles running was opened up; the discovery prompted investigation of other transmissions which had completed a similar mileage and similar conditions were found. It proved possible, however, to limit withdrawals to some six locomotives at a time. In an operation lasting only two days, each transmission with a defective bearing was returned to service with a replacement of the same type (four spare transmissions were available to allow a proportion of repair by replacement). By the year’s end bearings of a new type were expected to be available to modify by degrees the transmissions of the whole class. There are two comments to be made on this further B.R. diesel misfortune. The first is that its occurrence reiiects neither on hydraulic transmissions in general nor on the main components of the "Western" class transmission systems in particular; the root cause was collapse after a period of a conventionally designed bearing through uneven distribution of wear, a mishap of a kind which might happen in any new mechanical apparatus during its initial period of service. The second observation is that this setback is not another black mark against British-built diesel locomotives and their equipment - in fact, only a small proportion of criticism one hears levelled at the British product is fair when, as is so often the case, it ignores a crucial fact. No new motor car goes into mass production until a prototype has been exhaustively tested - and even then motor manufacturers concede that the early purchasers will unearth "bugs" in everyday use which require modification, so that it may be a further year before the design is perfected in all particulars. A new aircraft prototype undergoes still longer proving. The massive fleet of B.R. diesels, on the other hand (and in total contrast, notably, with the German Federal Railway stock), has been ordered straight off the drawing board. One can fairly, if one feels it to have been incorrect judgment, condemn this as asking for teething troubles and protracted programmes of detail modifications. But it is unfair to talk disparagingly of the 80-odd detail modifications that a new type is found to need after some six months of service as though they were inherently a reflection on British design and workmanship. Not even railwaymen, let alone laymen, always avoid this injustice. On the other side of the fence listening to some manufacturers, one feels that they have visualised their products as serving Utopian, not British Railways, which are staffed by average, fallible human beings coping with the most rapid traction change in world railway history and whose equipment generally is no more immune than any other railway’s to a wide range of operational stresses. Some manufacturers seem to design for, and optimistically expect, immaculate operation and maintenance from the first day a depot is dieselised with their products. This attitude instinctively blames B.R. when anything goes wrong. What is fair criticism, in our recent experience, is that there is still lacking between the British locomotive industry and British Railways the high degree of co-operation and productive liaison at all levels - such as exists, for example, in Western Germany - that is essential to achieve the optimum result from B.R. diesels and thereby to win the export trade in traction equipment that this country needs.

Dive-under at Retford

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

After 111years, the level track crossing at Retford, where the East Coast (ex-G.N.R.) double-track main line intersects the west-to-east ex-M.S.L.R. Sheffield—Grimsby line, is to be replaced by a dive-under taking the west-to-east below the East Coast tracks. One result will be the raising of the present 65 m.p.h. speed restriction at this point on the East Coast line to 80 m.p.h. The dive-under and associated works are due for completion in about two years’ time. By 1968, the C.E.G.B. power station now under construction at West Burton, east of Retford, will probably be consuming 5m tons of coal a year, brought from the N.C.B.’s East Midland and N.E. Division coalfields. Much of this additional traffic must traverse the ex-M.S.L.R. line via Retford, and train movements over the level crossing are likely to conflict. The first railway to reach Retford was the M.S.L.R. in July, 1849, the original M.S.L.R. station being east of the junction with the present spur from the ex-G.N.R. station on the East Coast main line. In September of the same year the G.N.R. opened its Doncaster - Retford section, and ran its trains via the spur into the M.S.L.R. station. Not until July, 1852, did the G.N.R. complete the Peterborough - Retford link and inaugurate the crossing on the level with the M.S.L.R. tracks. The M.S.L.R. brought into use in July, 1859, the Whisker Hill curve, which enabled M.S.L.R. trains to be routed via the G.N.R. station (as they are today), and the M.S.L.R. station was closed. The new curve also made it possible to abandon a spur from the East Coast to the M.S.L.R. line, to the south-west of the level track crossing. In the new layout, the west-to-east tracks will dive under the East Coast line in a distance of about 1 1/4 miles, with approach gradients of 1 in 100 on the east and 1 in 133 on the west side. A length of some 2,160ft is to be carried between reinforced concrete retaining walls with a reinforced concrete invert, the whole forming a U-shaped channel, over which thc East Coast will cross by a 38ft-long single-span bridge. Temporary structures will carry East Coast trains over the cutting at relatively high speeds while work is in progress. New low-level platforms will serve west-to-east line trains and will be connected with the East Coast platforms. Whilst the spur from the East Coast to the west-to-east line, to the east, is to be taken up, the Whisker Hill curve will continue to be used by Kings Cross - Sheffield Pullman expresses and other trains. At its western end, at Whisker Hill, the down (westbound) track of the Whisker Hill spur line will be carried over both west-to-east tracks by a flyover and rejoin them at a point further west. An overline road bridge, which is being widened for the Notts. C.C., at Whisker Hill, is to cross over the westbound track of the Whisker Hill spur, which in turn will span the new west-to-east tracks at this point. New up and down goods loops are to be laid to relieve the west-to-east lines. The scheme includes installation of electrically operated lifting barriers at Thrumpton and Gringley Road level crossings (east of the dive-under), operated from Thrumpton signalbox, and at Rushey Siding level crossing (west of the dive-under), to be controlled from the adjacent Mansfield Road crossing. The whole scheme, for which authorisation was recently obtained, should be complete in two years at a cost of over £1m.

Diesel depot at Shirebrook

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The E.R. has been authorised to construct a new diesel servicing depot at Shirebrook, to replace Langwith Junction motive power depot, writes a correspondent. Shirebrook West was the operating base of the 12 Brush Type 2 diesels engaged in one of the pioneer E.R. Class 7* freight workings, covering coal hauls from Mansfield and Warsop to Immingham, Whitemoor and New England. The Type 2s have now been superseded on this job by Brush 2,750 h.p. Type 4s, with the aid of which the traffic will be moved in fewer, heavier trains of up to 85 13-ton wagons or equivalent load.

Britain’s heaviest express

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The heaviest express passenger train regularly operated by B.R., the Victoria - Dover "Night Ferry", has become even more weighty - to the extent that it is now one of the most massive in Europe. From December 2, two more Wagons-Lits sleepers were added to the formation, making 10 in all of these coaches, and bringing the rostered load to 19 vehicles of all kinds, including refreshment cars and mail vans. A single 2,500 h.p. electric locomotive provides the power for the 850-ton train.

End of Steam at Doncaster works

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The last steam locomotive to be repaired at Doncaster works for normal line service, Gresley’s Class A4 Pacific No. 60009 Union of South Africa, left the works on November 6th to return to duty in the Scottish Region. The works’ last steam job was the reconditioning for preservation at Clapham museum of No. 60022 Mallard.

Collision at Kings Langley

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

A stationmaster acting as traffic inspector during engineering operations is held responsible for a collision between the 12.20 p.m. Holyhead to Euston train and a rail-mounted crane near Kings Langley, on April 21 last, by Lt. Col. I. K. A. McNaughton, the inspecting ollicer, in his report (H.M.S.O. 3s). The crane, standing on the down slow line, was being used to unload overhead signal gantry components from a materials train on the up slow line, for which purpose the Engineer’s Dept. had an absolute occupation of both tracks. The four tracks at this point are paired by use, from west to east; down fast, up fast, down slow and up slow. During unloading operations the crane slewed round and its tail obstructed the up fast line from time to time. In such cases the intermittent obstruction is protected on the lines concerned, as laid down in the B.R. General Appendix and in Rule 217, by a handsignalman, stationed at least one mile from the obstruction, who must put on the rail three detonators, 10yd apart, and exhibit a hand danger signal (flag by day, lamp by night) to an approaching train. Where the obstruction is not within the protection of normal signals, a second handsignalman must be stationed 1/4-mile from the obstruction and, where the two men are out of sight of each other, additional handsignalmen must be appointed intermediately to repeat hand signals. lf, in going back, the outer handsignalman reaches a signalbox or intermediate block signal, he must ask the signalman to keep his signals at danger for the line concerned until the obstruction is removed. The signals must also be maintained at danger if the obstruction itself is situated between the distant and any stop signal worked from the same box. On the day of the accident the Signal Engineer’s Dept. was erecting three signal gantries at different sites near Kings Langley. The Hemel Hempstead stationmaster, acting as traffic inspector, was responsible for the safety of trains passing the site where the crane was working. At the first two sites there were no men available to act as handsignalmen and he had arranged by telephone to Watford No. 2 and Kings Langley signalboxes for the fast lines to be "blocked" between trains. When the third site was reached three men were available as handsignalmen and the traffic inspector decided to act himself as the inner handsignalman on the up fast line. He instructed the up fast outer handsignalman to be placed at a road underbridge which he thought was at the correct distance from the site. This position was only 170yd in advance of Nash Mills up intermediate block signal. The driver of the Holyhead train, in evidence, said he was travelling at about 75 m.p.h. as he passed Nash Mills I.B. signal, which was showing green. He saw a man run across the line about 100yd ahead, but had run over detonators before he realised the man was a handsignalman. He shut off power and made a full brake application, but the train was still travelling at about 20 m.p.h. as the locomotive hit the back of the crane. The locomotive, a Type 4 diesel, and four coaches were derailed; casualties were confined to the crane driver and a member of the dining car crew, neither of whom was seriously hurt.

Principles of protection not understood

Lt. Col. McNaughton feels that the Hemel Hempstead stationmaster did not appreciate the basic principles of protection or fully understand his responsibilities as traffic inspector. His action at the first two sites in "blocking" the fast lines by telephone instead of using handsignalmen was irregular and not in accordance with the regulations. At the third site, by acting as inner handsignalman he could not maintain effective supervision of the work. His placing of the outer handsignalman at Nash Mills was incorrect, for the detonators gave only 1,483yd braking distance to the crane. The inspecting officer considers that had the Hemel Hempstead stationmaster planned the day’s operations correctly he would have realised that, at the third site, the up fast outer handsignalman should have been stationed at Nash Mills I.B. signal and this man should have maintained contact with the controlling signalbox by telephone to keep the signal at danger. Moreover, the handsignalman did not carry out his duties correctly; had he given the driver of the approaching train a clear and distinct view of the handsignal as required by the rules, the train should have been able to stop in time. The Hemel Hempstead stationmaster would have been justified in cancelling the day’s arrangements when he found that there were insufficient men to ensure adequate protection. It was not within his responsibility to alter the arrangements to allow the work to proceed, however keen he may have been to avoid delay to the electrification and resignalling programrne. He was also at fault for failing to inform Control that the work would not be completed at the specified time. Kings Langley up distant was being worked normally, although the site of the work lay between it and the home signal, but this was not a contributory cause of the accident. The fact that the engineering operations concerned were omitted in error from the weekly engineering notice also had no bearing on the accident. Lt. Col. McNaughton clears the train crew of all blame and adds that they did all they could to avert an accident. Lt. Col. McNaughton considers that Rule 217 provides adequate protection if conscientiously carried out, but recommends that where a handsignalman is posted a short distance in advance of a stop signal provided with a telephone, that signal, and not the hand signal, should be used to stop approaching trains, particularly where colour-light signals are in use. He also suggested that Rule 217 should be brought into line with the Appendix instructions for the working of cranes in the vicinity of intermediate block signals.

Protection of engineering works

This accident focuses attention on some of the problems encountered in the execution of engineering works while maintaining traffic on adjacent lines, and underlines the predicament of the traffic inspector faced with a shortage of men to act as handsignalmen. Weekend engineering operations are a common feature on B.R., particularly in connection with the L.M.R. electrification, and are likely to con- tinue extensively on this line at least for the next two years. While endorsing Lt. Col. McNaughton’s remarks on the protection provided by Rule 217, it is open to question whether this rule, as originally conceived, was ever intended to be used other than in an emergency to cover such incidents as a broken rail or landslip affecting the immediate safety of the line. Its regular use to conduct trains past the site of engineering works where cranes or other machines cause an intermittent obstruction on the lines remaining in use seems primitive in the extreme. It is also inconsistent in its application, for where engineering works are carried out within the protection of fixed signals, or up to one mile in advance of signals, the normal signals and not the handsignalman are used to stop a train approaching the site of the works. Where engineering work is carried out in the middle of a 2-mile, or longer, block section, the normal signals are not used for protection, and trains may enter the affected section under clear signals at high speed. Sole reliance for the safety of an approaching train, in this instance, is placed on the driver hearing the explosion of three detonators and sighting the outer handsignalman’s red flag or lamp. The driver should have received previous advice of the engineering works in the weekly notice, but, as at Kings Langley, this may be overlooked. It has also been known for a driver not to hear detonators, particularly in the enclosed cab of a high-powered diesel locomotive. It seems illogical to allow a train to proceed unchecked under clear signals into a block section that, strictly speaking, is not clear. The Regulations for Train Signalling provide numerous instances where, if there is any doubt whether the block section is clear, trains must be stopped and cautioned at the previous signalbox, after which, in several cases, they may proceed slowly through the section. There is a clear need to simplify some of the complex operating instructions relating to engineering works and it seems desirable to establish a consistent method of protection by using the fixed signals at the signalbox in the rear to stop or check trains, regardless of the position of the engineering works. A handsignalman may still be considered necessary to advise the driver verbally or by a hand signal of the engineering works ahead, but he could well be replaced by an indicator board denoting "engineering works" and showing either the distance ahead or a speed restriction to be observed until the site of the works is reached. As now, the works themselves would be under the protection of a handsignalman near the obstruction. Trains could then be checked by the normal signals and brought to, or nearly to, a stop at the signal at which the warning indicator board was placed. By this method a train would, of course, receive additionally an A.W.S. caution indication on lines so equipped.

The Maintenance of B.R. Diesel-Electric Locomotives

From Modern Railways No 184 (January, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

A diesel-electric locomotive is such a complex piece of machinery that time required for maintenance must be given first priority over every other call on it, said Mr. Miller in reviewing maintenance practice followed in the E.R. The temptation to skimp examinations and maintenance procedures, to save time or overcome staff shortages, must be resisted, and supervisors must insist on strict adherence to maintenance schedules and quality of workmanship. With the high initial cost of a diesel-electric locomotive, high availability and good utilisation - which stems from good timetabling, diagramming and maintenance - are imperative.

Locomotive care is based on a system of preventive maintenance on an engine-hour basis. The majority of locomotives are not yet fitted with engine-hour recorders and examinations are, therefore, determined on a computation of the locomotive-hours in traffic. Locomotive‘ servicing takes place at servicing depots located near terminal or turnround points, such as at large passenger stations or marshalling yards, every two days, or, in certain cases, daily; in this operation fuelling, the testing and topping-up of engine lubricating oil and cooling water, sanding and certain simple examinations are carried out. Maintenance depots, which are located at the originating and terminal points of principal traffic flows and are therefore found in main industrial areas or in the vicinity of large terminal stations, carry out all other examinations and related work scheduled at intervals of one week and upwards, but excluding main works repairs. Maintenance is not carried out at servicing points although, at certain places, servicing points are combined with maintenance depots.

Every locomotive is allocated to a maintenance depot, which is responsible for seeing that its scheduled maintenance is carried out. Servicing depots, on the other hand, deal with any locomotive, regardless of allocation. Their accommodation for locomotives consists of a simple shed with sufficient berths to stand the maximum number of locomotives needing simultaneous attention. Inside the shed, each track has a pit, and servicing facilities comprise fuelling and lubricating oil dispensers and water hydrants. An installation for supplying sand and a locomotive washing plant are situated at the shed approach or departure tracks. Experiments are in hand to improve locomotive adhesion, but sand or a similar material is still necessary at times to prevent wheelslip. Instead of sand, with its problems of haulage wet, drying and riddling, the E.R. is using fine particles of crushed slag, a material which can be transported in Presfio wagons, delivered direct to overhead hoppers and dispensed by gravity to locomotives.

At a two-day inspection, each locomotive is given a general visual examination to detect loose, leaking or defective parts, and, with the engine running or the locomotive moving, checks are made on brakes and deadman’s apparatus, windscreen wipers, sanding gear, auxiliary generator voltage and battery charging. A sample of the engine sump oil is taken with the engine running, usually as soon as the locomotive arrives at the depot and before the engine is shut down. Each servicing and maintenance depot has standard oil testing apparatus in which three simple tests can reveal the approximate percentage of fuel dilution, content of water and content of insoluble solids in the sample. Should any tests show that the maximum allowable amount of contamination has been reached, the lubricating oil may be partially or completely changed.

The layout of maintenance depots shows radical changes from the practice at steam depots because they are primarily concerned in maintenance and not as running sheds or servicing points. The need for a locomotive to be near the services it requires during maintenance dictates the provision of a dead-end shed, which provides a much shorter walking distance between locomotive, workshop, stores, offices and amenities than in the case of a through shed. The first E.R. depot in the London area was a six-road, dead-end shed with a capacity for three locomotives on each track. Subsequent depots have been designed on a "back-to-back" style with two shorter, four-track, dead-end sheds flanking a central workshop and ofiice area. Each track holds only two locomotives - a distinct advantage over the iirst arrangement. Three working levels have been found desirable in diesel locomotive maintenance depots. The running rails themselves are mounted on columns providing a 3ft floor to rail height, and a shallow pit in the floor between each pair of rails allows a 4ft working height beneath a locomotive. Fixed platforms, 4ft 6in above rail level, the standard running board height, provide the third level. Cleanliness in depots is of utmost importance, and floors and other spaces are finished in a hard, dust-free composition cement surface, which resists oil impregnation. Forced ventilation has been found necessary to keep the atmosphere inside the maintenance shed within tolerable limits to prevent eye and nasal irritation from diesel engine exhaust gases. Little workshop equipment has been found necessary, since maintenance and repair are largely carried out on the unit exchange basis.

The B.R. Board has established standard examination schedules for each of the principal groups of main-line diesel locomotive; one schedule, for example, covers English Electric Types 1, 3 and 4 locomotives, another the variations of Brush Type 2 locomotives. The schedules are in two sections; the first comprises an alphabetical index to all items needing attention, showing the period in engine-hours at which examination is due, and giving each item a number. The item numbers refer to the second part of the schedule, in which the items are arranged in groups corresponding to the periods after which they are due. Ultimately, all locomotives are to be fitted with engine-hour recorders to provide an accurately-recorded basis for examinations. At present, engine hours are assessed on the average work done by locomotives in a particular group, and the periods between maintenance are expressed in days and weeks. When a locomotive is stopped more than two days for repairs the opportunity is taken to carry out any engine-hour examinations falling due.

Comprehensive records of examinations and repairs are maintained. Each locomotive carries a card on which are entered, on one side, the daily or two-daily examinations due together with any defects, and on the other, repairs considered necessary by the driver. On com- pletion of the examination, the card is sent to the maintenance depot to which the particular locomotive is allocated, where the mechanical foreman assesses and plans the work required by the locomotive when it comes in for its next weekly or fortnightly examination from the cards accumulated day by day. A similar record card, kept at the maintenance depot, shows for each periodical examination the details of defects reported by drivers, or found in the examination, and is signed as each job is completed. The records of daily, fortnightly and subsequent examinations thus form a complete history of the maintenance work carried out on each locomotive.

Maintenance procedure naturally varies according to the period of the examination. In a weekly or fortnightly examination (125-150 engine-hours), the engine is run up to full speed and the turbo-charger checked for free running. The specific gravity in the batteries is tested and the cells topped up; lights are checked and the operation of the voltage regulator tested; a number of points are lubricated and the running gear, including wheels and tyres, given a thorough examination. At this stage, too, the engine and engine room are cleaned.

At the monthly (500-600hr) examination, a more intensive examination is given by removing covers, to check valve springs, adjusting screws and lubrication. Cam shafts and followers are examined for wear and for the tightening of bearing bolts. The engine speed at idling and maximum is checked, and a sample of sump oil sent to the area chemist for special analysis. Air intake filters to the engine, turbo·charger and generator compartments are changed for clean filters. A visual check is made on electrical contacts, and insulators and poles are cleaned.

The principal feature of the 1,500hr examination is the replacement of the fuel injectors. Reconditioning of fuel injectors is never carried out at a maintenance depot; for this purpose they are always returned to a main works. Fuel and lubricating oil filters are also changed at this stage, and the operation and condition of relays and electro-magnetic and electro-pneumatic equipment checked by special sequence tests. At a 1,500hr examination the examinations due at 500hr are also carried out.

Finally, at the 3,000-3,600hr examinations the principal work is concerned with the auxiliaries. Vacuum exhauster and air compressor valves are removed and cleaned, oil pump filters are changed, and the sump oil is drained and refilled with fresh oil. The bearings of the main generator, all auxiliary electrical machines, the traction motor suspension bearings and the axlebox roller bearings are greased and the insulation of power circuits tested. Separate maintenance schedules have been established for the train-heating boiler and the automatic warning system equipment.

The scheduled maintenance time for a locomotive varies according to the examination period, from 1hr (2 man/hr) for the daily or two-daily inspection, to 16hr (72 man/hr) for the 1,500 engine-hr examination. The 3,000 engine-hr also takes 16hr, but utilises 96 man/hr. A total staff of some 270 men, including clerical and supervisory grades, is needed for a depot responsible for the maintenance of approximately 150 main-line and 50 shunting locomotives. Ultimately, the E.R. will have a fleet of some 800 main-line diesel locomotives allocated to 10 maintenance depots. Altogether the Region will have 24 servicing and maintenance depots in place of 93 steam depots.

Experience gained in maintenance has led to modifications in the design of new locomotives and, in some cases, that of existing locomotives. Mr. Miller emphasised the importance of accessibility, for the ease with which covers and other components can be removed and replaced is a vital matter, not only in the time occupied but in ensuring that the work is not skimped. Among troubles encountered with B.R. diesel locomotives have been the tendency for sump oil to become diluted with fuel oil; the difficulty of cleaning bogies, particularly in view of the fire hazard which arises if they become coated with oil; the accuracy of dial-type fuel gauges (these have been replaced by sight-glass gauges); and the erratic deterioration of material used in flexible joints and hoses, which has made it diflicult to establish when they need changing. The many types of oils and greases necessary for different types of locomotive have caused heavy outlay on equipment and made for confusion.

The majority of locomotives allocated to the E.R. have not been in service sufhciently long to need a major overhaul, and it is too early to assess accurate maintenance costs. But costs emerging so far are remarkably consistent; the general electrical and mechanical maintenance, including wages, materials and overheads, but excluding interest and depreciation, of a mainline diesel-electric locomotive averages 1s-1s 3d per mile, to which must be added 2 1/2d per mile for servicing and cleaning. The cost of a main works overhaul would seem to be about 6d per mile, giving a total cost of 1s 9d-2s per mile.

Collision at Stanton Gate LMR

From Modern Railways No 192 (September, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The lack of adequate ventilation and unsatisfactory features of the deadman’s pedal in BR diesel locomotives are criticized by Lt.-Col. I. K. A. McNaughton in his report into a collision between two freight trains, which occurred on December 6th, 1963 at Stanton Gate, near Trent on the St. Pancras - Sheffield main line of the LMR (HMSO 3s). The accident happened at 1.32 when an up freight, the 22.40 Leeds-Leicester Class 4, travelling at about 45 m.p.h. on the up main line and having passed at least two stop signals at danger, collided diagonally with a down freight, the 1.00 Toton-Woodhouse Mill, which was crossing under clear signals from the No. 1 down goods line (the westernmost track at this point) over the down and up main lines to the No. 2 down goods line, on the east side of the main lines. Damage to both trains and the track was considerable and the front end of Type 4 diesel No. D94 on the Leeds train was almost totally destroyed; this unfortunately caused the deaths of both driver and second man.

Evidence from the signalmen concerned at Stanton Gate South box, where the accident occurred, and Stanton Gate North box, the next cabin to the north, confirmed that the Leeds train should have stopped at the North box signals. The signalmen in the North box were uncertain whether the train passed their No. 1 home signal at danger, for they were in the act of clearing it under Rule 39(a), to allow the train to draw up to the No. 2 home signal and await acceptance from the South box. The train ran past this signal and the South box home signal, both of which were at danger. A co-acting detonator at the latter signal exploded as the train passed over it. The signalling was found to be in good order; the signalling controls would have prevented any change of plan by the signalmen in the time available and ruled out any possibility that the Leeds train could have received clear signals in the Stanton Gate area.

Lt.-Col. McNaughton concludes that the crew of No. D94, who had spent part of their turn of duty on a steam locomotive, had become drowsy in the diesel cab, where the lack of fresh air contrasted with conditions on a steam locomotive footplate. The deadman’s pedal can be maintained in the operating position without conscious effort and Lt.-Col. McNaughton reiterates a comment made in a report into the collision near Picton NER (summarized in our April 1964 issue). He says that the deadman’s treadle should be so designed that it needs some degree of positive action, perhaps combined with a form of vigilance device to maintain it in the operating position; but it should not be possible to carry out this action subconsciously if a man is drowsy or asleep. Equally important in a diesel locomotive is an adequate supply of fresh air, which must not be contaminated by engine fumes. The inspecting Officer remarks that the accident would have been prevented by AWS, which is still under consideration for this line, and he hopes there will be no delay in its provision. Finally he commends the initiative of the fireman of the l.00 Toton train in isolating the batteries and fuel supply of No. D94 after the accident, even though he had not received training on this type of locomotive.

Yeovil Junction not to be closed

From Modern Railways No 192 (September, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The WR has dropped its plan to close Yeovil Junction station. There has been strong opposition to the suggestion and on July 10th local opinion ventilated its case at a Yeovil Town Hall meeting attended by Mr. G. F. Fiennes, General Manager of the WR. A few days later the WR issued a statement to the effect that detailed proposals for the future reorganisation of services on the Salisbury-Exeter line and connecting lines between Yeovil Junction, Yeovil Town and Yeovil Pen Mill Stations would soon be published, but that these would now make no reference to the closure of Yeovil Junction. The previously announced BR decision to retain Sherborne and Crewkerne stations as railheads for their respective areas would not be affected by this re-appraisal of Yeovil Junction’s role.

Grantham to Nottingham Midland?

From Modern Railways No 192 (September, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The passenger service from Grantham to Nottingham Victoria escaped Beeching Report examination unscathed, but for some time, writes J. P. Wilson, there have been rumours of its impending transfer to Nottingham Midland. These have now been strengthened by publication of a £15m development scheme for the area of Nottingham Victoria station, in which the only provision for a railway seems to be two tracks, possibly in tunnel. At the same time, it appears that earthworks are being prepared on the Nottingham side of Netherfield & Colwick station for a new connection between the ex-GNR and Midland lines which would allow the Grantham trains to run to and from Nottingham Midland.

The Brush Type 2 crisis

From Modern Railways No 192 (September, 1964). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

On the last weekend of July two Sunday newspapers gave some prominence to the trouble with fractured engine housings on the Brush Type 2 diesels. Readers of this journal will be aware that we have been unfolding the story since the beginning of June. We reported the initial reequipment of No. D5677 with a 12-cylinder English Electric SV engine;It was thought that it had been decided to re-engine 50 more of the class; in an in our August issue, which was published before the Sunday press reports appeared, we outlined the full facts, their significance, and the remedial action that had been taken. Authorisation for the rebuilding of 50 more Brush Type 2s with English Electric 1,470 h.p. SV engines was granted on July 23rd, but up to the time of writing firm orders have yet to be placed. If the BRB authorises re-engining of the whole class of 263 locomotives, as BR mechanical engineers think may be necessary, the bill may total as much as £6m. Meanwhile the initial conversion, No. D5677, is reported to be giving exemplary service in ordinary conditions of BR operation and maintenance, without any special supervision by English Electric representatives.


BR's Eastern - North Eastern merger is paying off

From Modern Railways No 239 (August, 1968). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

Eighteen months after promulgation of the Eastern-North Eastern Region merger, the evidence is irrefutable that it will have saved at least £1m in a full year. Nearly 90 per cent of the administrative positions in the post merger establishment have now been filled and the great majority of the reconstructed departments are fully operational at York. Pending completion of the extension to the York headquarters. accommodation has been rented in and around the city to accommodate the overflow - even as far afield as Malton - for sections not vitally concerned to have ready communications with the rest of the organisation.

No painless triumph

The merger has not, of course. been a painless triumph. No reorganisation is executed without social as well as administrative disruptions. Many people, particularly those with an LNER background who had sunk deep roots in the south, did not want to leave London. For technical people there was no lack of jobs in other areas of BR nearer London, but inevitably the merger brought the careers of some staff in the south to a premature end.

There was, however, more widespread readiness to move north from Liverpool Street than expected. On the credit side, those who opted to go to York found increased chances of promotion, because of the number of senior men who preferred to stay put. But although BR put up the money to help cover the costs of moving, this aid did not compensate for money sacrificed by many who had to sell houses in the south on a falling market because of the prevalent economic situation. At the same time house prices in and around York were rising because of the influx of househunters and general inflationary trends.

Case for HQ extension

Staff who agreed to move to York were assured that it would always remain a major railway administrative centre, but one notices that the eventual disbandment of Regional HQs is still being publicly discussed. Only recently, in the British Instilute of Management Journal, the theory of a Divisional structure responsible directly to the BRB was ventilated by the man who would be at its head, Vice-Chairman Mr W. G. Thorpe. The final dispositions have not yet been settled, but, he said, "the troops are already being moved up into position". Should this happen - and when I raised Mr Thorpe’s remark in York no one seemed to consider it more than a remote eventuality - the expansion of York as a commercial city would probably find fresh use for the Regional headquarters extension building, built in association with a finance house. So long as a Regional adminstration is needed at York, however, the rent of this extension is amply offset by the functional convenience of concentrating many previously dispersed departments and by disposal of the buildings which they have been occupying.

There are many obvious administrative benefits of the merger. Elimination of artificial managerial boundaries on the East Coast and North-East to South-West routes makes for more efficient supervision and monitoring of performance in every operating area - manpower, traction and rolling stock; although it was not part of the original merger scheme, a single traffic control for the whole Region is now seen as desirable to maximise these benefits. Policymaking has been sensibly concentrated and many duplicate Regional management functions are being eliminated. Both banks of the Humber are now under unified management (as they are not, incidentally, in the Docks Board administration).

South Yorkshire freight scheme

The biggest immediate improvement, probably. has been realised in the movement of industrial trafiic over the Pennines. Previously Liverpool Street controlled the eastern end of one route, via Woodhead. and York that of the other two. The Regional boundary carved through the South Yorkshire coalfield, setting up a number of devious traffic routeings in relation to the ultimate destination of the traffic. Moreover. the ER and NER had respectively set up Tinsley and Healey Mills yards in close proximity, but without thoroughly integrating their functions. Since the merger, the South Yorkshire Freight Scheme has been set up to optimise the working of the two yards; as a by-product, some economical routeings have been organised.

The whole freight working over thc Pennines has been replanned as an entity. Main objectives have been to close down peripheral yards and increase the number of wagons dealt with at Healey Mills and Tinsley, both of which have had spare capacity for additional segregation work. In the first stage of the scheme, completed last May, northbound through traflic was concentrated on Healey Mills and southbound through traffic on Tinsley, which are now dealing respectively with 700 and 100 more wagons daily. Thoroughgoing revision of the working has allowed closure of Normanton up and down and Stourton yards, and the reduction of Hunslet down yard to purely local marshalling. As a result of traction redeployment, Normanton motive power depot could be closed.

This first stage has effected economies that should total £300,000 in a full year; annual savings should amount to £1/2m when stage two is completed this month. In this second phase, reorganisation of working will allow one yard to be closed at Wath and some reduction of facilities at Doncaster. In addition, some traffic from the north-east which has hitherto been processed at Healey Mills and taken the Diggle route over the Pennines will be transferred via Rotherham, Horns Bridge and the Midland route, some passing through Tinsley; adoption of this more easily graded path will enable bigger trainloads to be worked and hence cut train crew and traction requirements.

There are the expected advantages of having a headquarters in the heart of the industrial life of the eastern side of the country, and not least of having it in the centre of what is a long railway from the Thames to the Tweed. But if there are benefits by comparison with the London-based structure on the other side of the country, there are serious counterbalancing problems. A great deal of important planning and policy-making activity in which the Region is involved is centred on London. This applies not only to purely BR concerns. but to important dealings with external bodies such as the Greater London Council and the Port of London Authority; moreover. the Transport Bill is intensifying the problem by hiving off so much of the commercial side of the railway business in the National Freight Corporation. The situation not only complicates the York executive’s life by forcing him to make time for a considerable amount of travel to and from London. but looks like making it difficult to dispense with a small HQ detachment for London area planning, for public relations. and for timing and diagramming for the former GEline.

Train Description by Computer at Leeds

From Modern Railways No 239 (August, 1968). Reproduced with the kind permission of Ian Allan Publishing Ltd

The computerised train describer system at Leeds City, which was not completed in time for commissioning of the major resignalling scheme, is now installed and in full operation. The heart of the system is a standard Elliott 903 computer (one of Elliott Automation’s 900 series models). This, with its extra store and access unit, together with a display controller designed specially for the train describer system, is situated in the basement of the main station offices at Leeds.

Two control panels

At the operator`s desk, two identical control panels are used for the eastern and western halves of the 47 miles of track in the area. Each panel has its own cluster of push-buttons to set up four-character descriptions, together with two visual indicators to check that the information for display is correct. Computer inputs and outputs are made via Elliott ARCH electronic modules, of the type already being used in both road and rail traffic control systems and for industrial process control. Reset buttons are provided, but if the description and signal number is correct, operation of a "Transmit" button will place the description into the selected indicator on the track diagram and, at the same time, clear the operating panel indicators. The most frequently used signals at the east and west ends of the station have their own "Transmit" button to obviate the operation of the signal number buttons. After transmission, a description moves automatically from indicator to indicator in step with the progress of the relevant train. lf a signalman at Leeds or in any fringe box passes a train forward and fails to set up the description in the correct signal position, a "Not Described" alarm sounds and a "OOOO" indication appears in the appropriate indicator.

There are 67 indicators on the track diagram - one at each main signal position east and west of the station - with an "Approaching” indicator from each incoming direction. The 2in by 14in cathode ray tube indicators are driven by distribution boxes housed in the diagram panel, each box catering for eight tubes. As a description moves with the train towards the limit of the area controlled by the Leeds installation, if signalling conditions are correct, train descriptions are automatically transmitted to the next signalbox over a pair of lines in a three-state coded form. The transmission is sum and partly-checked at the receiving end and, if correct, a "check back" signal is automatically sent back to the transmitter. Failure to receive these signals causes repeat transmission and if failure still occurs. a fault alarm is actuated by the computer.

Advance warning to fringe boxes

Early transmission is provided to some of the fringe signalboxes to give adequate warning of the description of approaching trains and to prevent the possibility of delays by late clearance of signals. Under certain conditions, special codes are required to be transmitted between Leeds and the fringe signal boxes to provide for cancelling, stopping and “not described" conditions.

The whole of the system is centred around the computer programme contained in the main store - a coincident current ferrite core store of 8,192 words. each word having 18 bits. A read/write cycle of 6 microseconds caters for 200 displays without flicker on the cathode ray tube indicators.

The Elliott 903 computer can run programmes on four priority levels, but only two - level 2 and level 4 - are used for the train descriptions. Normally the level 4 programme is running. This carries out the manipulation of data to provide new displays, transfer or cancellation of displays, preparation of codes for transmission and routine system checks. The level 4 programme is interrupted 32 times a second by a time signal which causes the computer to run through the level 2 programme. This programme scans inputs from push-buttons, signalling controls and outpost box inputs to put out coded descriptions. All the lines to be scanned are connected with the computer via the Elliott ARCH modules. Potential alarm points must also be scanned at least once a second.

An extra store of the same type as the main store is loaded with any necessary data from the computer. This data is used by the display controller, which has access to the extra store to provide deflection and bright-up control for the cathode ray tubes and hence legible four-character train descriptions, in which each character is formed from a 7 x 5 dot matrix. The Leeds control room works to seven outpost signalboxes - Neville Hill West, Engine Shed Junction, Ardsley Station, Morley Low, Kirkstall, Wortley West and Horsforth. The equipment in these signalboxes, unlike the electronic system in the main box, is electro-mechanical and comprises basically PO 3000-type relays and uniselectors. Indicators are of the back projection stencil type by Counting Instruments Ltd. The operation of the outpost signalbox panels is the same in principle as in the main box, except that transmission to the main box is operated manually and emergency stepping buttons are provided for operation in the event of signalling failure.

The advantage of applying a general-purpose computer to standard train describer equipment is that extensions or modifications to the system can be much more easily incorporated by means of a new programme introduced by paper tape in a few seconds, instead of complex and inconvenient re-wiring. Re-wiring is now required only for additions to the signalling system. Future developments foreseen are automatic junction route-setting and automatic train announcing, all controlled by the train describer system. The main contractor for the train describer scheme was Elliott Automation Ltd.