Thursday, 26 May 2016

Class 508

The Class 508, part of the 1972 Standard PEP design like the Class 313 and 507, was built for the Merseyside DC third rail network to replace older stock. However as there was a need for new stock on Southern Region they served there initially until the new Class 455 could be built [1]. The Class 508s were built as 4-car sets with an extra trailer instead of 3-car sets as originally intended but after 4 years when they were finally transferred to Merseyside the extra trailer was removed and became part of the Class 455/7s [2].

Number built: 172 cars (as built 4-car sets now 3-car sets)
Built: 1979-80
Builder: BREL York
Engine: 8 GEC G380AZ traction motors per unit (750v DC third rail)
Power: 880 hp (657 kW)
Formation: As built: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)+
Trailer Standard Open (TSO)+TSO+Battery Driving Motor Standard Open (BDMSO)

Not all sets went North, some remained in the South East as Class 508/2 though none of these are now in service. In the early 2000s 3 sets worked alongside the Class 313 on the Euston-Watford route [3] as Class 508/3 but nowadays the only 508s in service are the 27 Class 507/1s sets working on Merseyside along with the Class 507. They remain among the oldest stock still in service though Merseyrail plan to replace them with new stock within the next few years [4].
Merseyrail 508 115 at Rock Ferry

Merseyrail 508 114 at Hamilton Square

Merseyrail 508 128 at Rock Ferry

[1] Brian Haresnape & Alec Swain, Third Rail DC Electric Multiple Units (Ian Allan, 1989) p. 74
[2] Bruce Oliver, Southern EMUs Before Privatisation (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 86
[3] Colin J Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 389
[4] "Five shortlisted for new Merseyrail trains", Today's Railways UK No. 171 (March 2016)

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Derby Lightweight Railcar / "Iris"

In the early 1950s British Railways built a number of DMUs which became known as "Lightweights" due to the method of construction from light alloy sheets. The first batch used Leyland engines and torque converter transmission but these were soon joined by a second batch which used BUT (AEC) engines and a pre-selector gearbox. This later batch proved to be much more what BR wanted and they set the standard for DMUs [1] for the next 40 years and beyond (indeed Class 121s are still in revenue earning service!)

As well as a number of 2- and 4-car sets a couple of single railcars were also built for the Banbury (Merton Street) to Buckingham/Bletchley route. However being non-standard they were withdrawn (like the other Lightweights) after just a few years in service [2] by the end of the 1960s.

Number built: 2
Built: 1956
Builder: British Railways Derby Works
Engine: 2 BUT (AEC) horizontal 6-cylinder diesels
Power: 300 hp (224 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Brake Standard (DMBS)

However some cars avoided scrapping and went into departmental service, one of the single cars became QXV RDB975010 Iris when it was transferred in 1967 to British Rail Research [3]. Following rebuilding it was used for radio control and survey research at Derby [4] later it was used for radio propagation, noise measurement and data transmission tests [5]. Now it has been preserved at the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway and has been restored to it's original condition.
Iris at Duffield

Iris at Wirksworth

[1] Brian Haresnape, Diesel Multiple Units: The First Generation (Ian Allan, 1985) p. 23
[2] Colin J Marsden, DMU and EMU Recogition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 28
[3] Colin J Marsden, Twenty Five Years of Railway Research (OPC, 1989) p. 96 
[4] Haresnape p. 25
[5] Colin J Marsden, Departmental Stock (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 34

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Class 390 Pendolino

The Class 390 is the train the APT Class 370 could have been. These EMUs replaced locomotive hauled services following modernisation of the West Coast Main Line [1], incorporating tilting technology which allowed speeds to be increased to 125mp/h. The Class 390, known as the Pendolino, is capable of 140 mp/h but signalling and line restrictions have meant that service speeds are limited (though 145 mp/h has been reached).

Number built: 574 cars (57 9 and 11 car sets)
Built: 2001-12
Builder: Alstom (Washwood Heath and Italy)
Engine: 2 Alstom ONIX 800 traction motors per motor car (25kV AC OHLE)
Power: 390/0: 6 ,839 hp (5 ,100 kW)
390/1: 8, 763 hp (6, 557 kW)
Formation: 390/0: Driving Motor Restaurant First (DMRF)+Motor First (MF)+
Pantograph Trailer First (PTF)+Motor Standard (MS)+
Trailer Standard (TS)+MS+Pantograph Trailer Standard
Restaurant Buffet (PTSRMS)+
MS+Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)

The original order was for 53 8-car sets, these were later strengthened to 9 cars and a number of 11-car sets have also been built to try and meet an increase in demand on the WCML. All are in daily service apart from one set which was written off in the Grayrigg fatal rail derailment in 2007 [2]. The strength of the train was commended with it having improved crashworthiness compared to earlier trains. All are operated by Virgin Trains.
Passing through Tamworth
Passing Crewe
At Stafford

[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 296
[2] RAIB Report, Derailment at Grayrigg <>

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Class 08 [Updated]

The Class 08 was a development of earlier diesel shunters built for the "Big 4" railway companies and the early nationalised British Railways especially the LMS Class 11 [1]. It became the standard diesel heavy shunter and over 1,000 of it and the related Classes 09 and 10 were built over a 10 period [2].

Number built: 996
Built: 1952-62
Builder: British Railways Derby, Crewe, Darlington, Doncaster, Horwich
Engine: English Electric 6KT 
Power: 350 hp (261 kW)
Wheel arrangement: 0-6-0

Despite the need for dedicated shunters having reduced considerably over the years there are still plenty of Class 08s in service and they are a fairly common sight on national rails in depots and freight yards, plus over 60 have been preserved and others sold to private companies. The vast majority of the class were of the standard 08/0 sub-class with a small number having cut down cab heights for operating in South Wales known as the 08/9.

One interesting off-shoot was the Class 13 which consisted of pairs of Class 08s permanently coupled, the cab on one of the 08s removed, to form a 700hp shunter for the Tinsley Marshalling Yard, unfortunately none survived withdrawal.
D3201 at Kidderminster SVR

08 825 at Chinnor

Another view of 08 825

[1] Colin J. Marsden, Traction Recognition (Second Edition) (Ian Allan, 2009) p. 6
[2] Brian Haresnape, Diesel Shunters (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 66

Thursday, 5 May 2016

LU 1967 Tube Stock

The Victoria Line was built in the 1960s and the first new deep-level "tube" line to be built for over 50 years. The 1967 Tube Stock was built for the new line and was the first stock with Automatic Train Operation (ATO) from new - some older tube sets had been converted to ATO for testing (see below). The 1967 Tube Stock served on the Victoria Line until 2011 when it was replaced by the 2009 Tube Stock [1].

Automatic Train Operation (ATO)
Under ATO trains basically drive themselves with the driver largely reduced in role to overseeing everything is working as it should. The isolated Woodfood-Hainault section of the Central Line was used to develop ATO in the 1960s using converted 1960 Tube Stock [2]. When the 1967 Tube Stock began to arrive after 1967 trains were tested on the section [3] before moving onto the Victoria though a small number stayed on the line for revenue services though these were recalled to the Victoria by the early 1980s due to rising traffic demand.

Number built: 316 cars in 4-car sets (in 8 car formations)
31 cars later converted from 1972 Mk 1 Stock
Built: 1967-69
Builder: Metro-Cammell
Engine: 4 Crompton Parkinson/Brush LT115 traction motors per motor car (630v DC fourth rail)
Power: 1, 138 hp (848 kW) (8-car formation)
Formation: Driving Motor (DM) + Trailer (T) + T + DM (x 2)

The 1967 Tube Stock trains were based on previous tube stock like the 1959 Stock [4] though were the first tube trains to be aesthetically designed by a industrial designer and not an engineer. They bought a lot of new features to the Underground as well as ATO including rheostatic braking, fluorescent lighting and improved windows. Although marshalled in 4-car sets the 1967 Tube Stock usually operated in 8-car formations and could be regarded as semi-permanently coupled as so. Like the Waterloo & City Line the Victoria Line is entirely underground however the main depot for the Victoria Line at Northumberland Park is in the daylight at least! [5]

Some cars from the follow-on 1972 Mk 1 Tube Stock fleet were later converted to 1967 standard to augment the fleet and the fleet received a heavy refurbishment in the early 1990s [6]. Following withdrawal a number of 1967 cars have been preserved (some as cab ends [7]) and a number of cars have also begun a new lease of life in the engineering fleet as part of the new Tunnel Cleaning and Asset Inspection Trains [8][9].
3052 at LTM Depot Acton

3110 (cab only) at LTM Depot Acton

Another view of 3052

[1] John Scott Morgan, London Underground in Colour Since 1955 (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 68
[2] Piers Connor, The London Underground Electric Train (Crowood, 2015) p. 156
[3] J. Graeme Bruce & Desmond F. Coombe, The Twopenny Tube (Capital Transport, 1996) p. 69
[4] John Glover, ABC London Underground (Ian Allan, 1997) p.60
[5] John Glover, London Underground Rolling Stock in Colour (Ian Allan, 2009) p. 55
[6] Rolling Stock Data Sheet < stock Data Sheet 2nd Edition 1.pdf>
[7] A number are at the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum (Underground News Number 651 March 2016)
[8] Underground News Number 652 April 2016 p. 188
[9] "A new Tunnel Cleaning Train for London Underground London Underground" p. 14 <>

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Class 35 (Hymek)

After building hundreds of Type 1s and 2s British Rail saw that it needed a more powerful set of Type 3 locos to bridge the gap between the small locos (which often needed to double header) and the large Type 4 locos in it's fleet. The Class 35 was the Western Region diesel-hydraulic version of the Type 3s which began to fill out the BR fleet in the mid-1960s and was seen as the true diesel replacement for types like the famous Hall class of mixed-traffic locos [1].

Number built: 101
Built: 1961-64
Builder: Beyer Peacock (Hymek)
Engine: Maybach MD870
Power: 1, 700 hp (1, 270 kW)
Power: B-B

The Class 35s, which became known as the Hymek - a name derived from the Mekydro hydraulic transmission, were true examples of BR's second generation of diesel locomotive with much effort being taken in the exterior design as well as the interior with input from Ted Wilkes [2] who also advised on the Class 47 hence the similarity in their looks [3].

The Class 35 served throughout the Western Region and proved versatile locomotives though suffered with problems with the hydraulic transmission early on which led to the fleet requiring modifications until they could reach acceptable levels of service [4]. After this they quickly became the most popular and reliable diesel-hydraulic design along with the Westerns [5].

Unfortunately for the Class 35 Western Region was ending its experiment with diesel-hydraulics and withdrawals began in the late 1960s, by the mid-1970s all has been withdrawn from revenue service [6]. Luckily 4 have been preserved.
D7076 at Kidderminster

D7029 at Kidderminster

[1] Brian Haresnape, Western Region Diesel-Hydraulics (Ian Allan, 1982) p. 52
[2] John Jennison & Tony Sheffield, Diesel Hydraulics in the 1960s and 1970s (Ian Allan, 2014) p. 12
[3] Haresnape p. 11
[4] Colin J. Marsden (ed.), Modern Locomotives Illustrated No. 212 April-May 2015 (Class 35 'Hymek') p. 11
[5] Michael Welch, Diesels on the Western (Capital Transport, 2013) p. 68
[6] Jennison & Sheffield p. 88

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Class 411 4-CEP [Updated]

The Mark 1 coach based Class 411 4-CEP (Corridor Electro Pneumatic) electric multiple units were built for an extension of the Southern Region third-rail DC electrification network into Kent [1]. Later on they were also used on routes into Hampshire and Sussex. The Class 411s were built alongside the very similar Class 410 4-BEPs which had a buffet [2].

Number built: 110 4-car sets
Built: 1956-63
Builder: BR Eastleigh
Engine: 4 EE507 traction motors (750v DC third rail)
Power: 1, 000 hp (746 kW)
Formation: Original : Driving Motor Brake Standard (DMBS)+Trailer Composite (TC)+
Trailer Standard (TS)+DMBS
Refurbished : Driving Motor Standard Open (DMBO)+
Trailer Brake Composite (TBC)+Trailer Standard Open Lavatory (TSOL)+DMSO
411/4 and /9 : DMSO+TBC+DMSO

The Class 411 fleet was given a mid-life update (and renamed the Class 411/5) in the early 1980s at BR Swindon, changes included removing asbestos and moving the guard's compartment from motor cars to one of the trailers. The trailers also received refurbished Commonwealth bogies from withdrawn loco-hauled coach stock and improved windows [3]. Public address systems and Mark 3 style seats were also installed though some passengers complained that the latter were not as comfortable as the old seats! [4] Nineteen Class 411s were converted to 3-car sets (hence 3-CEP) with the loss of the TSO trailer for use on less busy routes, these were re-designated Class 411/9 [5]. A small number were also fitted with improved high-speed bogies (Class 411/6). Some 4-BEPs were also converted into 4-CEPs by removing the buffer facilities.

The Class 411s survived into the privatisation era and served with the Connex and South West Trains franchises before finally being withdrawn in 2005 [6] after 49 years service making them the longest serving Mark 1 based EMUs. A number of sets and odd-cars have been preserved.
Preserved 1198 at Chinnor

Cab of 1198

7104 leaving Ashford in 1979, photo (c) Martin Addison

[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013), p. 312
[2] R.L. Vickers, DC Electric Trains and Locomotives in the British Isles (David & Charles, 1986), p. 79
[3] Brian Haresnape & Alec Swain, Third Rail DC Electric Multiple Units (Ian Allan, 1989), p. 46
[4] John Glover, "EMU Refurbishing", BR Diary 1978-1985 (Ian Allan, 1985), p. 31
[5] Marsden, Recognition Guide, p. 313
[6] 4-car Express Units (4Cep and 4Bep) and Motor Luggage Vans (MLV), Southern Electric Group <>

Photo of 7104 licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.