Blackpool Corporation Electric Locomotive 717

Street tram networks operated ancillary or department vehicles to help with the maintenance of their networks, often these were modified former passenger carrying trams.

On some tram networks such as in Birmingham and Manchester there was a substantial business in freight sometimes employing purpose built vehicles. Parcels was the most typical load [1] though sometimes other goods too. No. 717, built for the Blackpool Corporation, was used for hauling coal trains along tram company tracks.
717 at Crich Tramway Museum

Number built: 1
Built: 1927
Builder: English Electric
Motor: 2 Dick Kerr DK30 traction motors (550v DC OHLE)
Power: 100 hp (75 kW)
Wheel arrangement: 4w

717 was a small steeple cab electric locomotive similar to hundreds built by English Electric for industrial users like the Type 3B. It was built to haul coal wagons from an LMS siding at Fleetwood next to a tram depot at Copse Road and taken to sidings at Thornton Gate four kilometres for distribution to coal merchants.

717 was fitted with a tram style trolley pole. Originally it had heavy rail style buffers but in 1949 it was reassigned to become a works shunter and departmental vehicle and had a tram coupler fitted. It remained in service until 1963 and has been in preservation since 1966. It is used by Crich Tramway Museum for shuntering and departmental duties.
Front view of 717

717 lurks in the tram sheds

717's trolley pole can be seen clearly here

[1] R.W. Rush, British Electric Tramcar Design (Oxford Publishing, 1976) p. 121

Mail Rail Museum Train

The London Post Office Railway (known as Mail Rail after 1987) was an electric railway which ran underneath London from 1927 [1] to 2003 transferring mail between Post Office sorting offices and railway stations such as London Paddington. In 2017 the Post Office Museum opened at Mount Pleasant which included the "Mail Rail" tourist attraction running on tracks around the former Mount Pleasant Sorting Office station.
The Red Train arrives back after a trip around Mount Pleasant

Number built: 2
Built: 2016
Builder: Severn Lamb
Motor: Battery electric
Power: 32 hp (24 kW)

Two battery-electric trains were built by Severn Lamb for the Mail Rail attraction. Each train (one is red and the other green - the traditional colours of the Mail Rail and Post Office Railway trains respectively) consists of three cars, the centre car containing the rechargable gel cell battery pack. Up to twelve passengers can be carried in the two outer cars which have a cab at the end. The battery car can carry up to eight passengers [2]. All four bogies on the train are powered.

Due to the narrow tunnels (and narrow gauge, the railway uses 610mm gauge) the trains are small. Being only 946mm wide and 1, 492mm tall. The passenger compartments are fully enclosed and have alarms to stop the train if the doors are opened in transit.
The Green Train at Mount Pleasant

View of one of the cabs

The Red Train at the loading station under the museum, the former depot of Mail Rail

Inside the train

The Green Train is dwarfed by the station!

[1] Peter Johnson, Mail by Rail (Ian Allan, 1995) p. 115
[2] Mike Sullivan, Mail Rail from Beginning to End (Redshank, 2019) p. 65

Class 25 (BR / Sulzer 1,250hp Type 2 Diesel-Electric)

Following on from the Class 24, the Class 25 Type 2 diesel-electric locomotive was built in large quantities in the 1960s and became a very common sight on British Rail in the late 1960s and 1970s before being phased out in the 1980s.

The early Class 25s shared the same design flaws of the Class 24 such as the awkward layout of the engine room which hindered maintenance and the position of air intake louvres and filters (some of which got so filthy they stopped working). The draughtiness of the cab was also a problem largely thanks to the seldom used gangway doors [1]. During the long production run a number of improvements were made which are detailed below.
D7535 at Kidderminster Town

Number built: 327
Built: 1961-67
Builder: BR Derby, Darlington, Crewe and Beyer Peacock
Motor: Sulzer 6LDA 28B diesel
Power: 1, 250 hp (932 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

The Class 25s were mixed traffic locomotives, spending much of their time on freight duties (not all were fitted with train heating boilers) and also some cross-country passenger services [2]. As the 1980s wore on the changing nature of the freight business meant they were becoming underpowered and regional cross country passenger duties were increasingly going over to multiple units. They were all withdrawn by 1987 though twenty have been preserved.

Class 25 sub-classes are listed below but there were also differences within sub-classes too especially with respect to train heating provision (or lack of).

Sub-class Details
25/0 Original, very similar to Class 24 but with uprated engine
25/1 Improved lighter traction motor and other weight saving measures
25/2 Redesigned interior, air filter louvre layout and cab with gangway doors removed
25/3 Final version with improved equipment
25/9 Locomotives dedicated to mineral traffic
D7629 at Duffield

D7659 at Rowsley South

D7535 at Hampton Loade

D7612 at Chinnor

D7535 at Kidderminster Town

[1] Brian Haresnape, Production Diesel-Electrics Types 1-3 (Ian Allan, 1983) p. 33
[2] John Vaughan, Diesels on the London Midland (Ian Allan, 1981) p. 30

Class 710 Aventra

The Class 710 is a member of Bombardier's Aventra family of EMUs (like the Class 345) that has been procured for London Overground to augment it's fleet of Class 378s. The Class 710 was built for the electrification of London Overground's remaining diesel route, the Gospel Oak to Barking line. After some delays the Class 710s finally entered service on this route in May 2019 [1][2] with full take over of the route in August.

Number built: 222 (54 4 or 5-car sets)
Built: 2017-
Builder: Bombardier Derby
Motor: Bombardier traction system (25kV AC OHLE or 750v DC third-rail)

Class 710s will next be deployed to the Watford DC route out of London Euston allowing Class 378s to be cascaded to other London Overground routes to enable increased frequencies. The Class 710 will also be used on London Overground's services into West Anglia.

The Class 710 comes in two variants. The 710/1 (thirty one sets) is AC only and will be used on West Anglia services, the rest (twenty three sets) are the 710/2 are dual AC and DC third rail.
Arrival of 710 269

710 265 arrives at Blackhorse Road

Side view of 710 269

710 269 departs heading for Gospel Oak

[1] Underground News No. 691 (July 2019) p. 352
[2] Underground News No. 692 (August 2019) p. 435

Class 47 (Brush/Sulzer 2,580hp Type 4 Diesel-Electric)

The Class 47 is the largest single class of mainline diesel locomotive built for British railways with a total of five hundred and twelve built in the 1960s [1]. They became the standard Type 4 diesel locomotive and have operated on all parts of British railways on passenger, freight and engineering services. Most have now been withdrawn but there are still around thirty in mainline service plus others in preservation. Thirty-three have also been rebuilt and re-engined as Class 57s.

Number built: 512
Built: 1962-68
Builder: Brush / BR Crewe
Motor: Sulzer 12LDA28-C diesel
Power: 2, 580 hp (1, 920 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Co-Co

The Class 47 was built to allow British Railways to finally withdraw steam traction on mainline services by 1968 and became the definitive second generation diesel locomotive for BR.

Originally they were a follow-on from the Class 45/46 Peaks and indeed the first twenty Class 47s replaced the last twenty Class 46s on order [2] with some of the equipment used (and in subsequent locomotives) was chosen because it was left over from the "Peak" production. The Class 47 had an uprated version of the Sulzer 12LDA28 powerplant but with a flat front as mandated by British Rail and took advantage of improvements in technology especially in terms of weight savings to be a Co-Co not a 1Co-Co1.

There were some teething problems as might be expected with such a big class, the Sulzer diesels needed to be derated to 2, 580hp to reduce wear and tear on the engine, but the Class 47 soon became the mainstay of heavy duty services. Five locomotives were fitted with the Sulzer V12 12LVA24 engine and classified as Class 48 though were later converted back into "normal" Class 47s.

Sub-class Details
47/0 Original with train steam heating boilers
47/3 Dedicated freight locos with no train heating
47/4 Fitted with electric train heating
47/6 Single loco fitted with Rushton 16RK3CT engine testing for later Class 56
47/7 Fitted for push-pull services 
47/8 Fitted with extra fuel tanks
47/9 47/6 loco later fitted with engine to test for Class 58 

Surviving Class 47s are still used on a variety of services such as charters, spot-hires and engineering services. Over thirty have been preserved to date many in working order. One Class 47 has even worked charters in Hungary. When the class was being built in the 1960s few would have suspected that might happen! [3]
47 580 at Crewe

47 712 at Kidderminster Town

ROG 47 813 at Derby

47 773 at Tyseley

West Coast 47 237 at Tyseley

GBRf 47 749 at Kidderminster Town

[1] Colin J Marsden, Traction Recognition (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 40
[2] Brian Haresnape, Production Diesel-Electrics Types 4 and 5 (2nd Edition) (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 52
[3] "47 375 named Falcon", Railways Illustrated No.166 (December 2016) p. 10

Wirral Tramway HK Tram

The Wirral Tramway, which opened in 1995 [1] runs between the Woodside Ferry Terminal (near Hamilton Square) and the Wirral Transport Museum. Along with heritage trams there were two newly built trams for the line, although built to a 1950s doubledecker style. These were built by Hong Kong Tramways to the same design as their own 1950s fleet which they had been rebuilding in the 1980s and early 1990s [2]. The trams were built to run on standard gauge, the HK system uses 1, 067mm gauge) [3].

Number built: 2
Built: 1992
Builder: HK Tramways

The two trams arrived in 1993 and were tested out on the Blackpool tram network (Blackpool Transport Services ran the Wirral Tramway until the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society took over in 2014). The two trams are numbered 69 and 70 following on from the number scheme of the original Birkenhead Corporation Tramways.
The trolley pole on Number 70 is turned around

Cab of Number 70

Number 69 in the museum shed

Number 70 at Woodside Ferry Terminal

Ready for another trip

Number 69 amid considerably older trams

[1] Keith Mitchell & Keith Smith, Birkenhead to West Kirby (Middleton Press, 2014) Fig. 116
[2] Peter Waller, The Tramways of Hong Kong (Blacksmith Books, 2018) p. 87
[3] Mitchell & Smith, Fig. 117

Class 444 Desiro

The Class 444 (along with the very similar Class 450) was ordered for South West Trains to replace slam door stock on long-distance services running on the former Southern Region Western Section [1]. They can mostly be found on London Waterloo to Weymouth and Portsmouth services.

Number built: 225 cars (45 5-car sets)
Built: 2003-04
Builder: Siemens Transportation
Motor: 1TB2016-0GB02 traction motors (750v DC third rail)
Power: 2, 682 hp (2, 000 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)+Trailer Standard
Open (TSO)+TSO+Trailer Standard Buffet (TSRMB)+
Driving Motor Composite Open (DMCO)

The Class 444 differs from the 450 in being a 5-car set and with a low-density seating arrangement [2] to better suit longer journeys. Like the 450 the 444s are equipped with a pantograph well and could be converted in future to 25kV AC overhead line electric collection though there are no plans for any such conversion.

Like most new types the 444s had a few teething problems when entering service but quickly became very reliable units and indeed received the Golden Spanner award for being Britain's most reliable trains in 2010 [3]. They are now operated by SWT's successor South Western Railway.
SWR 444 036 at Woking

SWR 444 005 at Milford

SWT 444 013 at Guildford

SWR 444 004 passes through Farnborough

SWT 444 003 at Clapham Junction

SWR 444 003 at Godalming

[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 344
[2] John Balmforth, South West Trains (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 66
[3] Siemens Desiro Class 444 wins award as most reliable train <>

Brookville Petrol Switchers

The Brookville Locomotive Company (nowadays known as the Brookville Equipment Company) began operations in 1918 converting Ford gasoline trucks for rail use with flanged wheels. By the 1920s they were making their own locomotives [1], many of them small petrol engine powered shunters (switchers) which found their way into many industrial users fleets.

Builder: Brookville
Motor: Ford petrol engine
Wheel arangement: 4wPM

Two locomotives are in the Statfold Barn Railway collection having once worked for Charles Matthews Ltd. in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada. Brookville 3526 (built 1949) and 3746 (build 1951) are narrow gauge (610mm gauge) switchers which were both bought over from Canada to the Statfold Barn Railway in Staffordshire for restoration and preservation.
Brookville 3526 at Statfold Barn Railway

Brookville 3746

Another view of 3526

[1] Amanda Anger & Adam J. Mohney, Brookville 100, p. 13