Class 50 (English Electric 2,700hp Type 4 Diesel-Electric)

One of the most popular classes of diesel locomotive, the Class 50 was built in the late 1960s and initially hired by British Rail from English Electric to power the remaining non-electrified portions of the West Coast Main Line from Crewe to Scotland [1] on passenger trains and freight. The Class 50, a development of the English Electric DP2 prototype, often worked these WCML trains in pairs (though they could also work in multiples of three) to provide sufficient performance to match the timings of the electric locomotives they shared their trains with. The locomotives were bought outright by BR in 1973 but by the mid-1970s were being displaced from the WCML by the completion of electrification and the arrival of the Class 87. They were sent to Western Region to work in the South and South West of England.

Information
Number built: 50
Built: 1967-68
Builder: English Electric, Vulcan Foundry
Motor: English Electric 16CSVT diesel
Power: 2, 700 hp (2, 013 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Co-Co

At first the reliability of the Class 50 was poor with failures often due to problems with the then-novel electronic systems fitted. Crews joked that they were called the Class 50 as there was only a 50:50 chance they would make it to their destinations! [2] They received a full refurbishment in the late 1970s/early 1980s to improve reliability by removing little used and redundant equipment such as the slow speed control.

Much of their time was spent on West of England express passenger trains out of London Paddington and London Waterloo and other passenger services. This made them vulnerable as multiple units became the favoured mode of people mover in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the supply of work dried up. There were attempts to utilise the class for slower freights and one locomotive was modified with lower geared bogies though the experiment was not a success.

The Class 50 was withdrawn from service by 1994 though no less than eighteen have been preserved (thirty six percent of the fleet) and several are mainline certified. The Class 50s were the first class of diesel locomotive to only carry BR blue livery (and later variations) though one preserved locomotive was given a "what might have been" BR green livery. One British Rail exception came in the 1980s when one Class 50 was renamed Sir Edward Elgar and repainted in Brunswick Green to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the GWR.
50 049 in BR big logo livery at Kidderminster Town

50 027 in Network South East livery at Ropley

Two more 50s at Kidderminster, 50 031 (right) is in a fantasy "what might have been" Intercity livery

Side view

In original BR blue

50 026 at Chinnor

[1] Brian Haresnape, Production Diesel-Electrics Types 4 and 5 (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 67
[2] Michael Welch, Diesels on the Western (Capital Transport, 2013) p. 107

Class 404 4-BUF/4-COR/4-GRI/4-RES

The Southern Railway built forty-eight four-car EMUs for the electrified line from London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour via Woking. These were a mixture of 4-COR (Corridor) and 4-RES (Restaurant) sets. They were intended to be used in twelve-car formations with a 4-RES sandwiched between two 4-CORs and providing catering services for the train. The whole train had corridor connections throughout [1] so all passengers had access to the refreshment facilities [2].

Further electrification in mid-Sussex saw SR built a second batch of units, twenty six more CORs and thirteen BUF (Buffet car) sets [3], the buffet cars having modern facilities with an Art Deco interior design by O.V.S. Bulleid [4].

Information
Number built: 348 (87 4-car sets)
Built: 1937-38
Builder: SR Lancing Works / Eastleigh
Motor: 4 MV/EE 163 traction motors (750v DC third rail)
Power: 900 hp (670 kW)
Formation (4-COR): Driving Motor Second Open (DMSO)+TCK (Trailer Composite
Corridor)+TSK (Trailer Standard Corridor)+DMSO

In the Nationalisation era a number of changes were made to the stock, including converting the restaurant sets to buffet (4-BUF) or griddle (4-GRI). The final 4-RES were withdrawn in 1964 but the other sets continued in service until 1972, the 4-CORs becoming Class 404 under TOPS. In later years surplus trailers from other classes were used to augment sets creating 6-CORs and 6-TCs.
4-COR 3131 (DMBTO only) preserved at NRM Shildon

[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 306
[2] David Brown, Southern Electric Vol. 2 (Capital Transport, 2010) p. 143
[3] Alan Williams, Southern Electric Album (Ian Allan, 1977) p. 45
[4] Brian Haresnape & Alec Swain, Third Rail DC Electric Multiple-Units (Ian Allan, 1989) p. 19

Class 323

The Class 323 is a fleet of high-density electric multiple units built in the early 1990s for British Rail. They were built to replace older EMUs coming to the ends of their lives and to supply the Birmingham Cross-City Line which was finally being electrified [1]. Forty three three-car units were built by Hunslet Transportation Projects during 1992-3 for the Cross City Line and the North West for services to Manchester Airport.

Information
Number built: 129 (43 3-car sets)
Built: 1992-93
Builder: Hunslet TPL
Motor: 4 Holec DMKT 52/24 traction motors (25kV AC OHLE)
Power: 1, 566 hp (1, 168 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)+Pantograph Trailer
Standard Open Lavatory (PTSOL)+DMSO

The Class 323 proved unreliable when first delivered, the traction package causing a number of problems especially with cooling, and it was a couple of years after delivery before they became fully operational. Later on however Northern's fleet won awards for its reliability.


Twenty six sets currently serve with West Midlands Railway (previously London Midland) and seventeen with Northern Rail, operating on electrified commuter lines around Birmingham and Manchester. The EMUs have just completed a retractioning programme replacing the original Gate Turn-Off thyristor equipment with a more advanced Integrated Gate Bipolar Transistor set-up [2]. West Midlands Railway's 323s are due for replacement in 2020 with a Bombardier Aventra family EMU.
WMR 323 202 at Butlers Lane

WMR 323 216 at Chester Road

Northern 323 232 at Manchester Piccadilly

WMR 323 202 while back in London Midland livery, at Alvechurch

WMR 323 204 at Bromsgrove

Northern 323 239 at Crewe

[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 262
[2] Ian Walmsley, "A traction heart transplant", Modern Railways (March 2017) p. 43

Blackpool Electric Tramway Company

The Blackpool Electric Tramway opened in 1885, it was the first electric tramway in Britain and one of the first in the world [1]. After successful tests on a short length of track in Manchester [2] the company was granted a seven year concession by the Blackpool Corporation and began operating along the promenade between Cocker Street and Station Road, the trams taking current from a central channel conduit. The conduit was rather wide and prone to fouling by sand, sea water and especially children's hoops! On occasion the tramway had to resort to horse power but was a financial success. In 1893 the Corporation took over the company and it's line (relations between the company and the Corporation always being rather fraught) and the line became part of the Corporation's highly successful tramway system which survives to this day.

Information
Number built: 10
Built: 1884-5
Builder: Lancaster Railway Carriage & Wagon Company
Motor: Elwell Parker electric motor (250v DC conduit later OHLE)
Power: 7 hp (5kW)

Ten tram cars were built for the tramway, six were "Winter" cars with enclosed lower decks though were used all year. The surviving tram, number 4 which is now at Crich Tramway Museum, was one of these. As built it was fitted for conduit current pickup and had a single Elwell Parker electric motor with chain drive to the axles. The tram was very similar to horse tram cars, it didn't have a truck but axles carried in trunnions bolted to the sills [3].

Later it was fitted with a truck and a pair of more powerful GEC GE52 motors. It was given a trolley for current collection from overhead wires which is the method the Corporation standardised on. Number 4's passenger service life was fairly short, it was converted to a works car in 1899 and continued in this role until the 1930s when it was placed in storage. It was preserved and restored to running condition in the 1960s.

It has now been restored back to close to it's original condition and can be run using a battery powered motor.
Number 4 at Crich

The tram had an open top-deck

Front view

[1] Charles Klapper, The Golden Age of Tramways (David & Charles, 1974) p. 61
[2] R.W. Rush, British Electric Tramcar Design (Oxford Publishing, 1976) p. 12
[3] Ibid. p. 13

Class 222 Meridian

The Class 222 Meridian is similar to the Class 220 and 221 in being new generation high speed diesel units though they have a different interior to the other units with more space available due to more components being fitted under the floor. They were originally built for Midland Main Line and Hull Trains [1].

Information
Number built: 143 cars in 23 4, 5 and 7-car sets
Built: 2003-05
Builder: Bombardier Brugge
Motor: Cummins QSK9R diesel per car
Power: (222/0 7-car) 5, 250 hp (3, 920 kW)
(222/0 5-car) 3, 750 hp (2, 800 kW)
(222/1) 3, 000 hp (2, 240 kW)
Formation: 7-car : Driving Motor First (DMF)+Motor First (MF)+MF+Motor
Standard Shop Buffet (MSRMB)+Motor Standard (MS)+MS+
Driving Motor Standard (DMS)
5-car : DMF+Motor Composite (MC)+MSRMB+MS+DMS
4-car : DMF+MC+MSRMB+DMS

After the franchise change on the Midland main line they were transferred to East Midland Trains. The Hull Trains units (which were known as "Pioneers") were later transferred to EMT who remain the sole operator.

They work the majority of East Midlands Trains expresses out of London St Pancras. The Meridians come in a number of different formations (see above).
EMT 222 014 at Bedford

222 004 and friend at Derby

A Meridian passes through Duffield

222 005 at Leicester

A Meridian passes through Belper

222 005 at Sheffield


[1] Colin J Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 177

London Underground 1914 Tube Stock

This stock was built for the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway (later the Bakerloo Line) which had expanded North from Edgware Road to Paddington in 1913 and a further extension to Queen's Park was due in 1915 [1]. The 1914 Tube Stock consisted of twelve new Driving Motors and two new trailers with other trailers rendered surplus by the Piccadilly moved across to the Bakerloo.

Information
Number built: 14 (12 Driving Motors and 2 Trailers)
Built: 1914
Builder: Brush / Leeds Forge
Motor: 2 GE212 electric motors per car 

The new trains introduced a number of new features. Although they retained the end of car gates as earlier tube stock they also had hinged centre doors. These were still hand operated though had electric locks and safety mechanisms to prevent the train starting before the door had closed. They also had improved interiors and better riding thanks to anti-vibration material fitted under the springs [2]. Unlike earlier tube stock they did not have a clerestory roof to retain heat in the winter.

They also had emergency lighting powered by an onboard battery in the event of current loss. They were also the first tube stock to have interpole electric motors which reduced sparking and improved reliability. They had automatic acceleration [3].

The cars were of all steel construction built by Brush (ten driving motors) and Leeds Forge (two driving motors and the two new trailers) [4]. The tube stock remained in service until the mid-1930s when it was withdrawn.
Brush built DM 43 [2]

Interior view [2]


[1] J. Graeme Bruce, The London Underground Tube Stock (Ian Allan, 1988) p. 45
[2] "New Motor Cars for the Baker Street and Waterloo", Railway Times (February 14, 1914) p. 151
[3] Piers Connor, The London Underground Electric Train (Crowood Press, 2015) p. 55
[4] Mike Horne, The Bakerloo Line (Capital Transport, 2001) p. 30

London County Council B Class Tram

These trams, known as the B Class by London County Council, were to the standard open-topped design of Dick, Kerr of Preston and built by the Electric Railway & Carriage Company. They were smaller than earlier LCC trams, with fifty six seats, and were intended for less busy routes [1].

The trams took their power from an underground electric conduit. The B Class received a number of modifications early on in their lives, they were retrofitted with top covers. One interesting modification was the original reversed staircase was replaced by a direct staircase on Metropolitan Police instruction as the original staircase obscured part of the driver's view (the very similar preserved Leicester Corporation tram shows the original staircase). The B Class trams were withdrawn from service by 1931 [2].

Information
Number built: 100
Built: 1903
Builder: Electric Railway & Carriage Company
Motor: 2 DK24A later Westinghouse 220 electric motors (DC Conduit)
Power: 84 hp (62 kW)

LCC 106 is preserved at Crich. It was converted to a snow broom and fitted with a trolley for overhead electric collection in 1925. It continued in service until 1952 when it was preserved. During the 1970s work began to restore it to a passenger carrying tram.
Two views of 106 at Crich

106 carries the London County Council livery

[1] R.W. Kidner, The London Tramcar 1861-1952 (Oakwood Press, 1992) p. 57
[2] Ibid. p. 63