Central London Railway 1903 Stock / London Underground Sleet Locomotives

The Central London Railway (which eventually became the London Underground's Central Line) was the first true "tube" railway in London [1]. It initially used electric locomotives hauling trailers but as soon as the railway opened in 1900 it was drawing complaints from properties above the line about excessive vibration, this was found to be caused by the heavy locomotives and their large unsprung weight [2]. The locomotives were replaced in 1903 by electric multiple units, known as 1903 Stock, some new build and some converted from the loco-hauled trailers.

Number built: 259 (88 motor cars, 99 trailers, 72 control trailers)
18 Sleet Locomotives
Built: 1900-03, 1913
Sleet Locomotives converted 1939
Builder: Ashbury Railway Carriage & Wagon Company
Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company
Metropolitan Amalgamated Railway Carriage & Wagon Company
(later Metro-Cammell)
Engine: (Original) 2 British Thomson-Houston traction motors per motor car
(Ealing) 2 GE212 traction motors per motor car (550v DC third rail)
(Sleet) GE66 traction motors (630v DC fourth rail)
Power: (Original) 500 hp (372 kW)
(Ealing) 960 hp (720 kW)

The new motor cars were built by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company (BRCW) and Metropolitan Amalgamated Railway Carriage & Wagon Company (later renamed Metro-Cammell), the original trailers having been built by the Ashbury Railway Carriage & Wagon Company and Brush. In 1908 some trailers were converted to control trailers to allow for shorter trains in the off-peak [3].

The fleet was augmented in the 1910s with the extension of the line to Ealing, extra stock was built by Brush with more powerful traction motors (the original stock was found to be underpowered when used in a lengthy formation). In the 1920s all stock was retrofitted with air-doors.

The CLR became part of London Underground in 1933 (and was renamed the Central Line soon afterwards). The 1903 Stock was replaced by Standard Stock as the CLR's central third rail system was replaced by the standard LU fourth rail.

Some 1903 Stock lived on as sleet locomotives. These were built by taking 2 driving ends to make a single locomotive [4]. Most sleet locomotives survived in service until the mid-1980s though as tube stock began to have its own de-icing equipment fitted their role reduced over the years but could also be used to clear leaves from the line. One locomotive ESL107 has been preserved, it is the only 1903 Stock to have survived.
Sleet locomotive ESL 107

Cab of ESL 107

[1] Paul Moss, London Underground (Haynes, 2014) p. 29
[2] J. Graeme Bruce & Desmond Croome, The Twopenny Tube (Capital Transport, 1996) p. 15
[3] Brian Hardy, Underground Train File Tube Stock 1933-1959 (Capital Transport, 2001) p. 5
[4] John Glover, London Underground Rolling Stock in Colour (Ian Allan, 2009) p. 31