The Leamington and Warwick Tramway

The Leamington & Warwick Tramway was opened in late 1881 running from the High Street in Warwick through Milverton and terminating at Leamington Spa railway station [1]. The trams were horse drawn. Seven horse trams were operated, one of which has been preserved at the National Tramway Museum (see below).

Information (Electric Trams)
Number built: 13
Built: 1905, 1921
Builder: Brush Traction, English Electric
Engine: 2 Brush electric motors (460v DC OHLE)
Power: 60 hp (48 kW)

The tramway was taken over by British Electric Traction in 1900 with the tramway rebuilt for electrification in 1905 and to 3' 6" gauge in common with other electric tramways in the Midlands[2]. A power station to feed it built next to the Grand Union Canal in Leamington Spa. The tramway changed hands again in 1912, being bought by Balfour Beatty. The tramway was closed in 1930 due to competition with motor buses, plus it had never caught on with the public. Indeed the tramway had been rather unpopular, generating many complaints from the public to Leamington Town Council. Relations between the company and the council also being rather strained.

For electrification twelve Brush double decker trams were bought, six coming from the Taunton Electric Tramway [3]. An extra tramcar built by English Electric was introduced in 1921 to replace car 7 which had been scrapped after an accident in 1916 [4] where it demolished a pub. One tramcar was also converted into a works car with equipment fitted for scrubbing the track. None of the electric trams escaped scrapping after closure in 1930 though the works car was transferred to the Llandudno & Colwyn Bay Electric Railway where it served in a similar role until 1936.
Surviving horse tram car, at Crich Tramway Museum
Postcard of tram in Warwick (KD Collection)

Postcard of tramway in Leamington Spa (KD Collection)

[1] S.L. Swingle & K. Turner, The Leamington & Warwick Tramways (Oakwood Press Locomotion Papers No. 112, 1978) p. 9
[2] Ibid. p. 25
[3] R.W. Rush, British Electric Tramway Design 1885-1950 (Oxford Publishing, 1976) p. 32
[4] Swingle & Turner, p. 31

Class 345 Crossrail Aventra

The Class 345 is the rolling stock being built for the Crossail project which crosses London and when it opens fully in late 2019 will be known as the Elizabeth Line. The Class 345 is the first of the Bombardier Aventra family of EMUs to enter service.

Information
Number built: 630 (70 9-car sets)
Built: 2015-
Builder: Bombardier Derby
Engine: Bombardier traction system (25kV AC OHLE)

No Class 341 was built but
it did appear on a carrier bag!
Crossrail will eventually be a one hundred and eighteen kilometre line stretching from the West (as far as Reading) to the East (Shenfield) of London. It will have a new tunnel section through the centre of London. Unlike other deep level tunnels the Crossrail tunnels are large enough for standard gauge trains and not tube sized stock. The Crossrail project was first mentioned in 1974 though no serious plans or proposals took place until the 1980s and early 1990s. If the project had begun under British Rail then the rolling stock could have been the Networker derived Class 341.

Finally concrete proposals were formed up in the early 2000s with construction beginning in 2009, twenty one kilometres of new tunnels being needed under London. The first part of Crossrail to open officially is due at the end of 2019.

However the Class 345 entered service in the Summer of 2017, it being operated under the TfL Rail brand until the Elizabeth Line is opened officially. The Class 345 is currently used on TfL Rail routes from London Liverpool Street to Shenfield (though only as seven car sets as the platforms are not long enough for the full nine car train yet) and from London Paddington to Heathrow Airport.

The Class 345 is designed to be able to move a lot of people very quickly. The train is designed to be able to carry up to one thousand five hundred passengers at up to 140 km/h (90 mp/h).
345 007 at London Liverpool Street 
An unidentified Class 345 departs Stratford

Old and new at Liverpool Street, 321 314 and 345 007

345 015 at London Liverpool Street

Class 507 (BREL York Suburban Services 3-car)

These units, part of the 1972 Standard Design High Density Stock family, were built to replace the life-expired Class 502 in the late 1970s on the Merseyside third-rail DC electrified network [1]. They are very similar to the Classes 313 and 508 (with whom they share the Merseyrail third-rail network) [2].

Information
Number built: 99 (33 3-car sets)
Built: 1978-80
Builder: BREL York
Engine: 8 GEC G310AZ traction motors (750v DC third rail)
Power: 880 hp (657 kW)
Formation: Battery Driving Motor Second Open (BDMSO)+
Trailer Second Open (TSO)+Driving Motor Second Open (DMSO)

As built they could carry two hundred and thirty passengers in a 2+3 seat arrangement but since refurbishment at Eastleigh in the early 2000s that has been changed to a less sardine can like (and warmly welcomed by passengers) low density 2+2 arrangement (seating reduced to one hundred and eighty six [3]).

As delivered the 507s were in British Rail blue and grey but in latter years have adopted the predominantly yellow livery of Merseyrail. The Class 507s (and 508s) are due to be replaced by the new Class 777 EMU the end of the decade [4].
Merseyrail 507 021 at New Brighton

507 024 at Waterloo

507 003 arrives at Hall Road

507 007 in the Liverpool Loop at Moorfields

507 024 again, this time at Sandhills

507 021 again, seen at Seaforth & Litherland


[1] Jonathan Cadwaller & Martin Jenkins, Merseyside Electrics (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 23
[2] Brian Haresnape & Alec Swain, Third Rail DC Electric Multiple Units (Ian Allan, 1989) p. 73
[3] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 386
[4] "Five shortlisted for new Merseyrail trains", Today's Railways UK No. 171 (March 2016)

Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad Crossbench Rack Trams

The Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad started operations in 1898 running between the two towns, then separated by countryside. Sixteen Crossbench Rack open sided trams were built for the company by G.F. Milnes as part of the original fleet. Three trailer cars were also built, these were later converted to electric operation.

Information
Number built: 16
Built: 1898-99
Builder: G.F. Milnes
Engine: 2 GEC 1000 electric motors (550v DC OHLE)
Power: 70 hp (52 kW)

The trams were high capacity "toast rack" cars with forty eight seats. Later the capacity was increased to fifty six by allowing passengers to ride on the platforms. Unusually for street trams they had oil lamps not electric headlights. The trams were absorbed into the Blackpool Corporation fleet when the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad company was taken over in 1920. They were withdrawn from passenger service in the late 1930s. Preserved No. 2 (127 when in the Blackpool Corporation fleet) was retained as a works car and snowplough until the early 1950s and in 1960 was restored back to it's original Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad livery to celebrate seventy five years of Blackpool trams [2]. Since 1963 it has been at Crich Tramway Museum.
Preserved No. 2 at Crich

Tramcar not long after the opening of the line, public domain image [1]

No. 2 in service, public domain image [1]

[1] Sidney H. Short, "Electric Railway Practice in Great Britain", Electric Railway Journal Vol. XV (October 1899) p. 363
[2] R.W. Rush, British Electric Tramcar Design (Oxford Publishing, 1976) p. 91

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.

Information
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)

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.


Some of the Lightweight DMUs 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

Comparison of Iris to a Class 122 railcar (left)

Side of Iris

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

Southend Pier Railway Diesel Locomotives

Southend-on-Sea's pier is 2.16km long (the longest pleasure pier in the world). Since 1890, when the pier officially opened, a narrow gauge railway has run on the pier conveying visitors and goods along it [1] (an earlier wooden pier had a horse drawn tram travelling along it). Originally the railway used electric vehicles, a toast rack style car and later on fully enclosed vehicles. The original electric railway was closed in 1978 due to it's poor condition.

After a period of of uncertainty the decision was made to build a brand new railway in the 1980s [2]. This new railway uses diesel hydraulic locomotives and push-pull rakes of coaches. The new railway was built to 914mm narrow gauge (the original was 1, 067mm) with a simplified track layout compared to the original. It opened in 1986.

Information
Number built: 2
Built: 1986
Builder: Severn Lamb
Engine: Deutz diesel
Power: 55 hp (41 kW)
Wheel arrangement: 4wDH
The current Southend Pier Railway, which is owned and operated by the local council, has two trains, each consists of a locomotive (which is at the pier end of the train) and six passenger cars. The last and shore end trailer has a driving cab. The two trains have been named Sir William Heygate and Sir John Betjeman.

The line is mostly single with a passing loop at the mid-point, both pier head and shore stations have two platforms so in peak times both trains can be in operation, a single battery electric car is also used in the Winter. Up to one hundred and eighty two passengers can be carried per train [3]. The locomotives can also on occasion propel a flat wagon in order to take provisions up to the pier head.
Sir William Heygate at the pier head station 

The driving railer of Sir John Betjeman at the shore station

The locomotives also have space for push-chairs and other small cargo

Another view of the Sir John Betjeman train

Each trailer has electrically operated doors

Heading back to shore

[1] Keith Turner, Pier Railways & Tramways of the British Isles (Oakwood Press, 1999) p. 49
[2] Colin J. Marsden (ed.), Light Rail (Key Publishing, 2018) p. 94
[3] Turner p. 61

Class 143 (Walter Alexander / Andrew Barclay Local & Secondary Services 2-car)

The Class 143 is one of the Pacer family of DMUs. It was built at the same time as the Class 142 and is also a railbus design marrying a bus or coach type body (built by coach builder Walter Alexander) to a chassis derived from a freight vehicle [1]. The Class 143 perhaps look a bit more like a train however compared to the 142, the body of which retained more aspects of its Leyland National bus heritage. The follow-on Class 144 uses the same body as the Class 143 though with a different chassis [2].

Information
Number built: 50 (25 2-car sets)
Built: 1985-86
Builder: Walter Alexander / Andrew Barclay
Engine:Cummins LTA10-R diesel per car
Power: 450hp (330kW)
Formation: DMS (Driving Motor Standard)+DMSL (Driving Motor Standard Lavatory)

Originally the 143s worked for British Rail's Provincial Sector and the Tyne & Wear PTE. In the privatised era they are operated by GWR and Arriva Trains Wales. Like the 142s their original transmission has been replaced with a Voith hydraulic one.

As with the other Pacer designs the 143s are (most probably) in their final years now with withdrawal planned for the end of the decade. Two trainsets have already been withdrawn due to fire damage.
Arriva Trains Wales 143 606 at Cardiff Queen Street

ATW 143 609 at Cardiff Queen Street

ATW 143 614 (and a Class 142) at Cardiff Central

ATW 142 075 and 143 606 at Cardiff Queen Street

[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 125
[2] Brian Haresnape, Diesel Multiple Units: The Second Generation & DEMUs (Ian Allan, 1986) p. 70

Midland Metro T-69

The Midland Metro began operation between Wolverhampton and Birmingham in 1999 mostly using the former Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton Low-Level railway line [1]. Ansaldo Breda built the T-69 tram for the light rail route. They are shorter than other modern light rail trams in the UK being less than twenty five metres long. The trams have three bogies, one under the central articulated section.

Information
Number built: 16
Built: 1996-99
Builder: Ansaldo Breda
Engine: 4 DC traction motors (750v DC OHLE)
Power: 564 hp (420 kW)

Despite being less than twenty years old (and indeed having had a refurbishment in 2013 which added LED route indicators) they were withdrawn in 2016, replaced by the current Urbos 3 tram which have more low-floor accommodation and increased capacity (albeit standing).

They were put into storage for a while but all but three have now been scrapped. Two have been preserved and one has been retained by Midland Metro as a works vehicle. Due to their relative youth there were proposals to re-use them elsewhere including on the Isle of Wight but none of these proposals came to anything.
Midland Metro crosses over the Tame Valley Canal

Tram #12 departs Snow Hill

Metro taken from a passing heavy rail train

[1] Colin J. Marsden (ed.), "Midland Metro", Light Rail (Key Publishing, 2018) p. 62

Class 377 Electrostar

The "Electrostar" Class 377 is the largest fleet of EMUs built since rail privatisation. It was built to replace "slam door" stock, most notably 4-CIG and 4-VEP EMUs on commuter services around London and rural services in the South East [1].

The Class 377 usually operates off the former Southern Railway/Region 750v DC 3rd rail system though some have pantographs and can operate 25kV AC overhead lines for cross-London services and can venture up as far as Milton Keynes Central and St. Albans. Some Class 377s have been converted from the similar Class 375 as detailed below.

Information
Number built: 211 sets (plus 28 sets converted from Class 375)
Built: 2002-14
Builder: Bombardier Derby
Engine: 6 or 4 Bombardier traction motors
Power: 2, 120 hp (1, 500 kW) or 1, 341 hp (1, 000 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Composite Open (DMCO)+Motor Second Open (MSO)+
Trailer Second Open (TSO)+DMCO

They are in service with Southern and Southeastern, having also been used by Thameslink. The fleet is split into a number of sub-classes with various detail changes and in a variety of train lengths as detailed below.

Sub-class Details
377/1 Original, third-rail DC 4-car operated by Southern
377/2 Dual voltage 4-car operated by Southern and Thameslink
377/3 Third rail DC 3-car units converted from Class 375s operated by Southern
377/4 Third rail DC 4-car operated by Southern
377/5 Dual voltage 4-car operated by Thameslink
377/6 Third rail DC 5-car operated by Southern
377/7 Dual voltage 5-car operated by Southern

As well as the Class 377 there are also similar EMUs in the Electrostar family including the Class 375 and 387.
Southern 377 612 at London Bridge

Southern 377 701 at West Brompton

Thameslink 377 511 at Bedford

Southern 377 622 at Clapham Junction

Southern 377 705 at Hemel Hempstead

Southern 377 161 at Portsmouth Harbour


[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 288