Metrolink M5000

Operating since 1992 Manchester's Metrolink is a fast growing light rail network which since 2014 has been operated exclusively by the M5000 tram [1], part of Bombardier's Flexity Swift family. Croydon Tramlink also operates the CR4000 in the Flexity Swift family.

The first M5000s were ordered in 2007 with a service entry at the end of 2009. Further orders followed which allowed for the replacement of the original T-68 tram and for expansion of the Metrolink service. Now there are one hundred and twenty in service with a further twenty seven ordered in 2018, for delivery in the early 2020s, to allow for an increase in service frequency.

Number built: 120 (+27 on order)
Built: 2009-
Builder: Bombardier, Vossloh Kiepe
Motor: 4 Traktionssysteme Austria AC traction motors (750v DC OHLE)
Power: 640 hp (480 kW)

The M5000s are articulated units based on the K5000 trams used in Bonn and Cologne. They have either fifty two or sixty seats depending on the batch, with standing they can hold nearly one hundred and fifty passengers. They operate on their own or as pairs. They are able to operate in longer formations but this causes problems with platform lengths and signalling so is only done in the event of a breakdown.

The first sixty M5000s are fitted with automatic stop equipment and can be used anywhere on the network, the second batch of sixty does not have this equipment and are restricted as to the routes they can operate on.
3058 on the streets of Manchester

Front on view of 3114

3094 at Deansgate Chesterfield stop

3054 in the city centre

3010 and friend connected

3094 prepares for the off

[1] Colin J. Marsden (ed.), Light Rail (Key Publishing, 2018) p. 41

Class 309 AM9

The Class 309 was built for Great Eastern AC electric routes out of London Liverpool Street to Clacton and Walton. They were based on the Mark 1 coach design and had a high performance being intended for express passenger duties and were the first British Rail EMUs (officially) capable of reaching 160kp/h (100mp/h) [1].

As built the 309s, originally known as the AM9, were in two and four car sets though the two-car 309/1s were strengthened in the 1980s to four car sets by the addition of loco-hauled Mark 1 stock [2]. Restaurant facilities (the griddle cars) were however removed at the same time from the 309/2s.

Number built: 76 cars (2 and 4 car sets)
Built: 1962-63
Builder: BR York, Wolverton
Motor: 4 GEC WT101 traction motors per unit (25kV AC OHLE)
Power: 1, 128 hp (841 kW)
Formation: (309/1) Driving Motor Brake Standard Corridore (DMBSK)+
Battery Driving Trailer Standard (BDTS) (later) Driving
Motor Brake Standard (DMBS)+Trailer Standard (TS)+
Trailer Composite (TC)+BDTS
(309/2) Battery Driving Trailer (BDTC)+Motor Brake Standard
Corridore (MBSK)+Trailer Restaurant Buffet (TRB)+
Driving Trailer Composite (DTC)
(309/3) BDTC+MBSK+Trailer Standard Open (TSO)+DTC (later)
BDTC+Motor Brake Standard (MBS)+TS+DTS

In the privatisation era some units moved to the North West where they continued in service around Manchester but these were withdrawn in 2000. A couple of units were converted to departmental use testing cab-signalling as the Class 960/1. These were preserved in 2009.
Preserved 309 616 in London & South East ("Jaffa Cake") livery as these received in the mid-1980s [3]

309 616 and 960 102, then at the Electric Railway Museum

Front view of 309 616

Side view of 960 102

Side by side

Another view of this livery, the forerunner to Network South East

[1] Alec Swain, Overhead Line Electric Multiple-Units (Ian Allan, 1990) p. 48
[2] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 227
[3] Colin J. Marsden, Motive Power Recognition 2: EMUs (Ian Allan, 1986) p. 35

Ruston and Hornsby LAT

Ruston & Hornsby built many of these narrow gauge shunters mostly for industrial users though the most notable example, ZM32 (RH works number 416214 [1]), was bought by British Railways and worked at Horwich Works from 1957 to 1964 on the 457mm gauge line there [2].

Built: 1952-1958
Builder: Ruston & Hornsby
Motor: Ruston 2VSHL diesel
Power: 20 hp (15 kW)
Wheel arrangement: 4wDM

The LAT class were fairly simple but sturdy locomotives, diesel mechanical with a chain drive to the wheels. They could be adjusted to a number of different gauges.

A number have been preserved including ZM32 which is now at the Steeple Grange Light Railway in Wirksworth. The locomotive photographed is RH 408430 which worked for Wheatly & Company brick and tile manufacturers in Staffordshire until the late 1970s [3], it is now preserved at the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway and based at Stonehenge Works.
No.27 (RH 408430) preserved at the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway

No. 27 is gauged to 610mm
[1] Paul Smith & Shirley Smith, British Rail Departmental Locomotives 1948-1968 (Ian Allan, 2014) p. 28
[2] Brian Haresnape, Diesel Shunters (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 76
[3] George Edgar, Industrial Locomotives & Railways of the Midlands (Amberley Publishing, 2017) p. 8

Class 800 Intercity Express Train

The future of high speed intercity services on key routes including the Great Western Main Line and East Coast Main Line are going to be in the hands of the Class 800, part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP). These high speed multiple units are bi-mode electro-diesels (the Class 801 is a pure electric multiple unit version).

Number built: 536 (80 5- and 9-car sets)
Built: 2015-
Builder: Hitachi Kasado & Newton Aycliffe
Motor: Hitachi traction system (25kV AC OHLE)
MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel

Final construction of the Class 800 is taking place at a new Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe though much of the build including the body shells are being made at a Hitachi factory in Kasado Japan. The prototypes were wholly built in Japan.

The Class 800 are operated by Great Western Railway (800/0 and 800/3) and London North Eastern Railway (800/1 and 800/2) as five or nine car sets. GWR introduced them into service in Autumn 2017 and LNER (formerly Virgin Trains East Coast who gave them the name Azuma) plan to introduce them before in 2019.

GWR's 800s were originally to have been the pure-EMU Class 801 but because of delays in electrifying the GWML the order was switched to the bi-mode Class 800 which has been designed to be able to switch from diesel to electric (and vice versa) at line speed. However they can only achieve their maximum speed (of up to two hundred and twenty five kp/h depending on signalling) in electric mode.
GWR 800 021 at Moreton-in-Marsh

GWR 800 035 at Honeybourne

Before the demise of Virgin East Coast, 800 101 at York

GWR 800 009 at Evesham

Aboard 800 009

GWR 800 029 at Reading

Leeds City Transport Horsfield Class

These double-decker trams were built for the large Leeds City Transport tramway fleet. They were known as Horsfield or Showboat trams, the latter due to the amount of lighting the trams had. The trams were built by Brush and had Peckham trucks and British Thomson Houston electrical equipment. As built they were equipped with trolly poles but were later retrofitted with Fischer bow collectors.

Number built: 100
Built: 1931-2
Builder: Brush Traction
Motor: 2 British Thomson Houston 509 A12 electric motors (DC OHLE)
Power: 140 hp (104kW)

These trams survived to the end of Leeds' tram operations. The now preserved 180 took part in the last tram procession in 1959 before entering preservation. Now it is at Crich Tramway Museum.
Leeds 180 at Crich

Board here

Front view

Windhoff Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV)

The fleet of Multi Purpose Vehicles has, as the name suggests, a number of roles on the network. A key one being rail cleaning and weed killing. The vehicles were bought by Railtrack to allow the withdrawal of a variety of ex-revenue earning vehicles performing these roles [1] and are based on Windhoff's Cargosprinter unit.

Number built: 32
Built: 1999-
Builder: Windhoff
Motor: 2 Railpac diesels
Power: 710 hp (530 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

MPVs usually operate in pairs, one of the units being unpowered. Most of the vehicle (apart from the cab) is a flat bed - the engine, transmission and other machinery being under the floor in the manner of a DMU. This allows for equipment modules or pods to be installed as per the duty required, such as tanks for rail head cleaning (RHTT) duties.

Similar vehicles perform a variety of other duties on the network such as the double ended High Definition Switches & Crosses Video Inspection Train.
DR98904 RHTT duties through Huyton

DR98909 on RHTT duties at Erdington

DR98958 at Leamington Spa

Another view of RHTT at Huyton

[1] Colin J Marsden, Rail Guide 2016 (Ian Allan, 2016) p. 218


The Scottish chemist and inventor Robert Davidson built Galvani, the world's very first electric locomotive way back in 1842. Although largely forgotten now, and in many ways a technical dead-end, Galvani ran at over six kilometres per hour along the Glasgow to Edinburgh railway line in 1842 just a couple of decades after steam locomotives had become a viable means of traction. However Galvani was destroyed by steam engineers worried that this new fangled locomotive would make their only slightly less new fangled locomotives obsolete [1].

Number built: 1
Built: 1842
Builder: Robert Davidson
Motor: Battery electric

After Faraday had shown how electricity could be made to generate mechanical movement Davidson constructed his own batteries and began his own experiments. By 1837 he had built his own electric motors [2] and used them to power a model railway and a lathe among with other equipment in an exhibition held in 1840 in his native Aberdeen. In 1842 Davidson built the full-size electric locomotive Galvani.

Galvani was powered by large lead zinc batteries with an acid electrolyte [3]. The motor consisted of electro magnets around a revolving log to which were attached iron bars, one log for each axle. A switch turning the electromagnets off when the iron bars were in opposition. Davidson experimented with the number of batteries needed, eventually fitted seventy six cells. Galvani wasn't a tiny machine, it was nearly five metres long and weighed nearly five and a half thousand kilograms. Galvani was powerful enough to haul itself and a coach.

However Galvani was a technical dead-end. The batteries were single use, rechargable batteries had yet to be invented. Galvani burned through it's batteries like a steam locomotive burned coal, though many times more expensively.

After the unfortunate destruction of Galvani, Davidson was unable to find investors to continue his development. Happily however Davidson was long-lived and in the 1890s was able to see his vision vindicated with the arrival of electric railways like the City & South London Railway. He was "re-discovered" and feted by the press as the inventor of electric railways [5].
Galvani [4]

Galvani [1]

[1] "The Earliest Electric Railway", Electrical World Vol. 16 (1890) Jul-Dec p. 276
[2] "Mr Davidson's electro-magnetic experiments", The Mechanics' Magazine, Vol. 33 (1840) p. 92.
[3] R.L. Vickers, DC Electric Trains and Locomotives in the British Isles (David & Charles, 1986)  p. 13
[4] T. du Moncel, Electricity as a Motive Power (London, 1883) Fig. 32
[5] John S. Reid, "Robert Davidson - pioneer electrician", The Scientific Tourist: Aberdeen

Class 350 Desiro

The Class 350 Desiro EMU has been built in three batches since 2004 and serves, and has served, with a number of Train Operating Companies, probably the most notable being London Northwestern (LNWR). With LNWR the Class 350 is the mainstay of the franchise's intercity regional services under the wires. The Class 350 has also served with the now defunct franchises London Midland, Central Trains and Silverlink and also with Southern but nowadays is only in service with LNWR and First TransPennine Express.

Number built: 348 (87 4-car train sets) 
Built: 2004-14
Builder: Siemens
Motor: 4 Siemens 1TB2016-0GB02 traction motors (25kV AC OHLE)
(350/1) 750v DC third rail
Power: 2, 010 hp (1, 500 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)+Trailer Composite
Open (TCO)+Pantograph Trailer Standard Open (PTSO)+DMSO

The Class 350 is capable of up to 110mp/h (except the 350/2) and collects its power from the 25kV AC overhead wires though some (350/1) can use the 750v DC third rail too however these days only operate as AC EMUs. They are part of the Desiro family which also includes the very similar Classes 185, 360444 and 450. Indeed the original batch of 350s was originally ordered as Class 450s [1].

London Northwestern Railway use the 350/1, 350/2 (which has high density seating) and the recently built 350/3 on services down the West Coast Main Line to London Euston. First TPE uses the 350/4.
LNWR 350 107 at Lea Hall

LNWR 350 377 at Stoke-on-Trent

TPE 350 405 and 350 401 at Wigan North Western

LNWR 350 107 at Atherstone

LNWR 350 234 at Bletchley

Back in London Midland days, 350 116 at Milton Keynes Central

[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 270

Swansea and Mumbles Railway Tramcars

The Swansea and Mumbles Railway was the first railway to offer scheduled passenger services. These commenced in 1907, earlier tramways had carried passengers on occasion but always unofficially. The railway switched from horse to steam power in 1877 and in 1928 the line was electrified to 650v DC overhead and a fleet of double decker trams were produced to run services between Rutland Street in Swansea and Mumbles Pier. The railway had previously operated a battery electric car in 1904 though that hadn't been a success.

Number built: 13
Built: 1928-29
Builder: Brush Traction

Eleven trams were built by Brush for the line with two more being added later on. The trams were the largest built for use in Britain and could seat up to one hundred and six. They could operate in pairs at busy times. An unusual feature of the trams was that they only had doors on one side this was due to the physical nature of the line with the sea one side and a road the other throughout the length of the line [1].

The railway was run down and closed in the late 1950s despite local opposition after it passed into the ownership of the South Wales Transport Company [2], the last train operating in January 1960.
Tramcar at the start of electric services [1]

Two tramcars in multiple (KD Collection)

[1] "Oldest railway in England is electrically equipped", Electric Railway Journal (Vol. 72 No. 25, December 1928) p. 1082
[2] Colin J. Marsden, Light Rail (Key Publishing, 2018) p. 104