March 2010. No. 1,307. Vol 156. A journal of record since 1897
Headline News Class 66 derailed by suspected brake failure; DfT outlines proposed ECML timtable; Railways battle against winter snow; FCC warned over franchise; ‘Barriers-up’ crossing death probe; DfT to offer ten-year franchises; Police warning over Welsh Highland crossing; War of words over Chunnel chaos; Tornado on Royal Train once more.
Right: The scene at the Carrbridge derailedment – p6.
On the cover
MAIN IMAGE: Resting amid the snow and trees of Carrbridge, Scotland, after a derailment in freezing conditions on January 4 is DB Schenker’s newly-reliveried No. 66048 James the Engine. For full story see Headline News. DANIEL STAZICKER
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Track Record The Railway Magazine’s monthly news digest
54 Steam & Heritage SVR launches wheeldrop appeal; Heritage lines beat ice and snow; LSWR gala for T9 launch; E4 returns. 64 Railtours Fifth decade for John Farrow; ‘Fellsman’ trains announced.
Gordon Highlander back in traffic – Classic Traction, p80.
69 Narrow Gauge Garratt trio for WHR(C); Appeals for Ffestiniog locos. 72 Traction & Stock ‘Gatwick Express’ Class 460s to disappear?; ‘Monty Python’ star launches Wrexham & Shropshire’s refurbished Mk 3s; DB Schenker honours retiring chairman with Class 67 naming. 78 Network New bridge at Blackfriars; Workington enhancements. 80 Classic Traction Barry Island re-opens; ‘Bubblecar’ repainted. 84 Metro Trams for Preston and GCHQ?; Edinburgh rethinks Line 3. 85 World Belgian high-speed opening; Carriage tax row in France. 86 Operations Our monthly round-up of news from the industry. 92 Disposals and Stock Spot Repainted, named, sold or scrapped? Full details here.
12 Multiple Aspects Controversial columnist Lord Berkeley shares his opinions on the state of Britain’s railways. 12 Railways in Parliament A summary of what our MPs have asked about rail. 29 Subscription Offer A record number of readers are subscribing. Why not join them – by taking advantage of our special offer? 36 Readers’ Platform The vexed subject of ‘digital cheating’ is just one subject for debate in the liveliest letters column. 44 Reviews A varied selection of latest book reviews 45 Heritage Events Diary All the details you need on where to go for steam and classic traction this winter. 45 100 Years Ago A look back at what Britain’s senior rail title was reporting 20, 50 and 100 years ago.
48 Panorama There has been an avalanche of great snow pictures this month! A selection of some of the best.
93 Meetings A summary of club meetings and film shows of interest to railway enthusiasts.
98 Prize Crossword You can win £50 worth of books in our crossword.
Winter snow features in our Panorama selection – p48.
Above: GWR 28XX class 2-8-0 No. 3802 emerges from Llangollen engine shed onto a fresh carpet of snow on December 20 and takes the spur down to Llangollen Goods Junction, prior to working the 11.00 ‘Santa’ service to Carrog. DAVID WILCOCK.
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14 Evening Star at 50 BR’s last steam loco, No. 92220 Evening Star, is 50 in March. We relate its life story – and examine the rumours that the preserved loco is an imposter.
19 Roving the North-West rails Dave Richardson travels to his former trainspotting haunts 50 years on as part of a week-long railrover in the North-West.
THE STORY OF 92220
Evening Star at
It seems to have been around for ever, but it only reaches its 50th birthday this March. 8=G>H B>AC:G
tells the story of BR’s last steam loco, Evening Star, and, on pages 16 & 17, we solve the ‘imposter’ riddle and reveal the astonishing story of how close Britain came to losing its national icon
WHEN British Railways announced that its very last steam locomotive would be 9F 2-10-0 No. 92220, the engine appeared to be assured a permanent place in history before it had even turned a wheel.
Its construction brought the curtain down on almost a century and a half of British main line steam development and the decision to give the freight engine a name and a passenger livery afforded it iconic status from the start.
There was no way No. 92220 was ever going to be ‘just another loco’.
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The 9F freight design was one of the 12 classes of Standard locomotive introduced for BR by chief mechanical engineer Robert Riddles and his team in the 1950s, yet the 251-strong fleet sported a surprisingly large amount of ‘non-Standard’ derivatives among its members – including Franco-Crosti boilers, air-brake pumps, double chimneys, mechanical stokers and even a Giesl ejector. Those were all part of Riddles’ desire to find ways of improving the efficiency of steam at a time when diesel and electric traction was coming to the fore. Originally, he planned an 8F with a 2-8-2 ‘Mikado’ wheel arrangement, but eventually decided on a powered fifth axle.
Construction was split into 11 orders spanning seven years. Eight orders totalling 178 engines were built at Crewe, and three orders comprising 73 locos at Swindon. Crewe’s final batch was allocated the numbers 92221 to 92250, yet was completed by December 1958 –
14 U The Railway Magazine U March 2010
more than a year before the lower-numbered Swindon batch – and that was to prove a source of confusion for non-aficionados ever after. No. 92250 also became the Giesl ejector-fitted loco, the only member of the class so treated.
Standard fitments included rocking grates, hopper ashpans and self-cleaning smokeboxes to reduce disposal times on shed. The 9Fs’ five-foot coupled wheels (the centre wheel was flangeless and the second and fourth pairs had slightly smaller flanges) allowed them to negotiate 4½ chain curves. Use of such wheels in conjunction with the same size cylinders fitted to ‘Britannia’ Pacifics and a 250psi boiler gave the 9Fs a substantial tractive effort of almost 40,000lb.
They were sent to work on the London
Midland, Eastern and North Eastern Regions, as well as the South Wales section of the Western Region. The Southern and Scottish Regions received no allocations, although the engines did find their way into those territories.
The various Regional requirements resulted in four different tender designs, while the three locos fitted with mechanical stokers required a modified tender, so creating a fifth variant.
Even as Evening Star rolled off the Swindon production line, it was clear that its working life would be short-lived. Although BR had gone through with its plans to build all 999 Standard class locomotives, the Modernisation Plan that had been running in parallel with steam loco construction had been gathering pace quickly and it was clear that the future lay with diesels and electrics. In the end, the final 9F had a working life with BR of just five years – a very poor return on the £33,497 it cost to build.
At least it survived, though . . . some members of the class were consigned to the scrapheap after an active life of roughly the same length. To many people, it was a scandalous waste of new assets as BR could, had it desired, have eked a few more years’ service beyond 1968, just as Germany, France and other Western European nations did.
It is understood that No. 92220 was completed several weeks before its official entry into traffic and that it was at first un-named and painted in unlined black, like its 250 classmates.
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However, it is thought never to have left the confines of Swindon Works in that condition, being called back into the paintshop and given a coat of lined Brunswick green passenger livery and a few traditional ‘Great Western’ embellish- ments such as a copper-capped chimney and a serif-style font for the nameplate.
The name Evening Star was chosen through a staff competition. Three earlier GWR engines, as well as a ‘Britannia’, had been named Morning Star, so the name was not only highly appropriate for the end of an era, but traditional as it had been carried by a ‘Star’ 2-2-2 broad gauge loco and by Churchward ‘Star’ 4-6-0 No. 4002. Cash prizes were received by the three employees who had chosen the same name. The naming ceremony was a formal affair conducted in Swindon’s ‘A’ shop and attended by a host of BR dignitaries. Under each nameplate was a plaque stating: No. 92220 built at Swindon March 1960. The last steam locomotive for British Railways. Named at Swindon on March 18, 1960 by K.W.C. Grand, Esq, Member of the British Transport Commission.
At the ceremony, Mr R. F. Hanks chairman of the Western Area Board said: “There had to be a last steam locomotive and it is a tremendous thing that that it should be built here in these great works at Swindon. I am sure it has been truly said that no other product of man’s mind has ever exercised such a compelling hold upon the public’s imagination as the steam locomotive. No other machine in its day has been a more faithful friend to mankind nor has contributed more to the growth of industry in this, the land of its birth and indeed throughout the whole world . . . those who have lived in the steam age of railways will carry the most nostalgic memories right to the end.”
How right he was. Evening Star officially entered traffic on March 25, 1960 and was first taken to Old Oak Common shed for inspection by BR manage- ment. Just nine days later, it worked its first railtour, the Locomotive Club of Great Britain’s ‘Six Counties Limited’ – a real coup for the club. Its first allocation was to Cardiff Canton, where it effectively became the depot’s mascot and appeared on Cardiff-Portsmouth and other
March 2010 UÊThe Railway Magazine UÊ15
50 YEARS AN ICON: Evening Star – p14
24 Three generations Three Irish traction varients spanning 60 years are put under the spotlight by John Heaton in this months Practice & Performance.
30 Cliff-Hangers Robert Humm examines all 20 of Britain’s surviving cliff railways, or funiculars.
PRACTICE & PERFORMANCE
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THE Irish railway scene continues to offer considerable variety despite the reduction in loco-hauled secondary services that has followed squadron deployment of the successful Rotem diesel units. But the choices available are even wider each May when the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) stages its traditional weekend railtour.
For 2009, the RPSI had devised a customarily ambitious programme, in close co-operation with the national railway authorities on both sides of the border. The central attraction was Ivatt 2-6-4T No. 4 working a Saturday Dublin Heuston to Westport 164-mile trip scheduled to arrive at 17.03 after four stops totalling around two hours.
Using the RPSI’s own stock, the train promised a taste of vintage 1960s Irish railroading. On the Sunday, No. 4 was booked to work to Ballina via Ballyhaunis and Manulla Jct, returning to Claremorris, where the tank engine was to be turned ready for a 296-mile chimney-first marathon on the Monday, not only from Westport to Dublin but also onwards to Belfast and the RPSI base at Whitehead on
24 U The Railway Magazine U March 2010
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travels to Ireland to sample the best of all worlds . . . a steam charter, diesel locos and brand-new DMUs the Larne branch. That is almost the equivalent of Euston to Carlisle.
As a taster, and reflecting the changing profile of its membership, the RPSI organised a curtain-raising tour with a Class 071 GM diesel from Dublin to Waterford, then back to Dublin via Tipperary, Limerick Jct and an exhilarating run back up the main line with ‘small’ locos Nos. 171 and 141.
It was with some alacrity, therefore, that I accepted an RPSI invitation to join the party in Westport for the full day’s journey to Belfast. Would Network Rail have been able or inclined to accommodate such an excursion with a tank engine, passing through the capital on a weekday afternoon?
I was to travel out to Westport on the Sunday by ordinary service train. Not so ordinary though, as Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) chief executive Dick Fearn, generously offered a cab ride in the new six-car Korean-built unit rostered for the 18.05 Dublin to Westport, booked to arrive at 21.51.
Arriving at Heuston station earlier than anticipated provided a fleeting chance to take a trip to Kildare. The Class 22000 comes in three and six-car varieties to match disparate demand patterns that cover arterial main lines to Dublin and off-peak cross country routes. My 13.25 Sunday departure comprised 2 x 3-cars. The initial impression of the Class 22000 as it vibrated in the platform at Heuston was that it was a ‘Voyager’ by another name but that judgement was quickly amended when we moved away. The 22000s have far better noise insulation and the creaks and rattles, that are endemic to ‘Voyagers’, are mercifully absent. Standard class is certainly better with four-seat bays and good window alignment.
Returning with another Class 22000 on the
The world’s longest running railway series, established 1901
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13.00 Waterford-Heuston we improved on the working timetable by 12min, reflecting the large amount of recovery time needed for the huge Kildare line modernisation programme. It was time to meet district traction executive Alan Hughes who was to accompany me to Athlone on the 18.05 with Inchicore driver Joe Heneghan, both returning with 17.55 from Westport.
The six-car Class 22000 departed hot on the heels of the 18.00 Class 201 loco-hauled train to Cork. As we passed Islandbridge Jct another Class 201 was awaiting access to the station, which is served by only three bi-directional lines. This arrangement will continue even after the Kildare line enhancements. G^eeaZ Z[[ZXi
We soon fell into the pattern so familiar to First Great Western travellers where fast trains following each other on close headways are signal checked while the one in front obeys a temporary speed restriction. The second train then has to negotiate the speed restriction itself causing a double time loss and starting a ripple effect. But the Cork main line is not as densely occupied as the Thames Valley and the timetable had secreted enough recovery time to allow a punctual arrival at Portarlington, where the Great South and Western Railway (GSWR) line to Athlone diverges.
The run gives many opportunities to observe the continuous automatic warning system (caws), which repeats signal aspects in the cab, allowing drivers to take advantage of a favourable change before the signal itself is sighted. In cases where a level crossing distant is missed by a couple of seconds the gain is considerable.
It is also strange to hear the automatic announcements repeated in the cab. They can be turned off, but Joe suggests they can act as confirmation of booked stops.
Riding through the Irish countryside in a Japanese-designed and Korean-built unit has ironed out many of the cultural crinkles that identify different national characteristics, but the unexpected still arises. Approaching Meelegan’s level crossing, Alan Hughes points out that the gate actually has the stop signal on it, an arrangement that is arguably more logical than putting a paraffin lamp on the top of a tall post some yards away from the crossing. It is fully protected by caws.
The maximum permissible speed on this stretch is 80mph. The unit has six 483hp engines for a weight of 302 tonnes, so there is a power/weight ratio of 9.6hp/tonne. It also has an 80hp hydrostatic-powered generator. Two three-car units weigh 308 tonnes. But, despite the power to spare, one senses a hankering for the drama of loco-hauled work. See Table 1. Dick Fearn and his team have transformed IÉ, converting Government goodwill into faster journey times and improved frequencies on an expanding network. The scope offered by the Rotem units to develop these objectives is substantial, not the least of which is the
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elimination of expensive and dangerous shunting work.
Another feature of Irish railway practice is the consistent advertising of arrival times as departure times. So when we arrive at Clara to pass the 18.15 Galway to Heuston we are able to proceed 5min early as a matter of routine. Clara is unusual in having a passing loop but only one platform so it has to be decided which train should make a traffic stop when timetabling trains to cross here.
As we pull away I sense a slight unease, at not having made the booked cross, that I might not have expected leaving say Chard Jct in similar circumstances. The whole line is controlled from Dublin Connolly Centralised Train Control so, as at Chard Jct, there is no
March 2010 UÊThe Railway Magazine UÊ25
STEAM TO DIESEL: Irish traction – p24
35 A Sekon Centenary Tania Kollias, a descendent of The RM’s founding editor George Sekon, provides new information 100 years after he left the magazine to launch a rival.
39 Steam’s Ticket to Ryde Phil Marsh looks at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and its aspirations to extend its operations north from Smallbrook Junction to Ryde.
BRITAIN’S FUNICULAR RAILWAYS
IN North America, they are called Incline Railways. In Europe, which invented them, they are usually known as Funiculars. Here in the British Isles, where the majority are located on the coast, they have always been referred to as Cliff Railways. They provide a welcome diversity of style and engineering methods and there is a surprisingly high number of them (see panel below), although the total is gradually reducing.
Cliff railways have been a fascinating part of Britain’s transport infrastructure since 1875 – and 20 such lines are currently active. HE8;HJ >KCC reviews their history
How should we define them as a genre? The word funicular derives from the Latin funiculus, meaning a thin rope or wire. That does not get us very far, for it would include all the former rope-worked inclines such as the Cromford & High Peak, Cowlairs bank and the Corkickle brake, in Whitehaven, where rolling stock was attached to a rope only for a short, steep part of the whole journey. It would also include cable tramways such as the USA’s surviving San Francisco system, where cars are attached by grippers to a continuously-moving rope.
The essential features of the true cliff railway are first, that it is a specialised cable-worked railway operating on a gradient too steep for other forms of traction; second, that it is self-contained and on a private right of way; third, that the car(s) are not self-propelled; and fourth, that the pair of cars are counter-balanced or that a single car is counter-balanced by a weight running on rails beneath the main track. This therefore excludes all rack railways, which themselves form a large and diversified subject.
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Cliff railways are sometimes referred to erroneously as ‘cliff lifts’, a solecism perpetuated by the Ordnance Survey, which should know better. Cliff lifts, a rare species in the UK, are outdoor vertical elevators.
Because cliff railways are self-contained, they have no need of uniformity. Methods of propulsion have included steam, hydraulic power, diesel, gas and electricity. There have been at least
22 track gauges in the UK, varying from 1ft 8in at Shipley Glen to the 7ft 6in of Scarborough’s recently-closed St Nicholas line.
Vehicles can be flat-floor mounted on a triangular undercarriage – the usual arrangement in this country – or stepped, as at Aberystwyth and Llyngwern. Entrance can be from the end or the side. Gradients can be as shallow as Shipley Glen’s 1-in-12 or as vertiginous as Hastings East Cliff ’s 1-in-1.28. The best of these railways have a decided air of seaside showmanship about them.
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30 U The Railway Magazine U March 2010
Ornate ticket booths, florid signage, and the solid thump of well-oiled gate mechanisms reassure the passenger faced with an alarming descent. In some ways, they are reminiscent of Edwardian tramcars and it is fortunate that there is now a growing tendency for such railways to be supported by charitable trusts or ‘friends’ organisations.
The honour of the first cliff railway in the world goes to France, where the Rue Terme-Croix Rousse line in Lyon opened in 1862. Sadly, it closed unremarked in 1967. The second to be constructed was the Castle Hill funicular, Budapest, in 1870, which is the world’s oldest functioning funicular, although it cannot claim unbroken operation, having been closed between the end of the Second World War and 1986.
Britain’s first was the world’s fifth – the South Cliff Railway at Scarborough which opened on July 6, 1875. It has two claims to distinction: it was the first to be built on the water-balance principle and is the oldest in the world in continuous operation.
It is also one of only two in the UK to be built to standard gauge, the other also being at Scarborough. South Cliff was an immediate success and it easy to see why, connecting an area of numerous hotels, apartments and boarding houses with a fine, sandy beach. Today it remains busy, although its water-balance operation was replaced some years ago by an electric motor.
Success encouraged imitators and Britain’s second and third cliff railways were soon promoted, again both at Scarborough. The Queen’s Parade Cliff Railway opened in 1878, followed by the Central Cliff Railway in 1881. The former was dogged by operational and
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geological misadventure from the start and closed after only nine years. By contrast, the Central Cliff Railway, serving Scarborough’s main beach, was as successful as the South Cliff line and remains in operation today.
To complete the Scarborough story, two more cliff railways were built in the 20th century. The St Nicholas Cliff Railway, only 100 yards from the Central, opened in 1929 and was closed in 2006 as a local authority economy measure. It was losing £12,000 a year, but the council is now proposing to spend £150,000 (i.e. 12 years’ deficit) removing it – which is a great shame, because, at 7ft 6in, its track gauge is the widest of any passenger railway in the country.
The North Cliff Railway opened in 1930, was dismantled in the 1990s, the components being acquired for a proposed cliff railway at Launceston, Cornwall, which has yet to materialise as there is considerable local opposition and Lottery funding has been refused.
Nowhere in Britain had more cliff railways than Scarborough, although in world terms it was far outclassed by Valparaiso, Chile, a funicular ‘mecca’ that once possessed 29 and still has 11.
Before leaving the North-East, we should take a look at another early cliff railway that is still very much in being, at Saltburn-by-the-Sea. It was the first line to be engineered by George Croydon Marks, the most important figure in British cliff railway history and at that time general manager of the lifting machinery department of the Birmingham engineering manufacturers Tangye. We shall encounter Marks frequently in this story. Opened in 1884 and one of the few now operated by hydraulic power, the Saltburn line still serves the function of taking visitors from the cliff-top town down to the beach. Greatly to the local council’s credit, instead of closing the cliff railway as has happened in so many other resorts, they have kept it in first class order. These days it runs daily during the summer but is shut during the winter and operates only at weekends during Spring and Autumn.
With a total of four cliff railways, the Kentish town of Folkestone was once second only to
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Scarborough. Today only the original line of 1884 remains in use. It runs from the Leas – the gardens in front of a solid phalanx of Victorian and Edwardian hotels – down to the beach and has a gauge of 5ft 10in. At the top is a small cabin housing the operator. Below, facing the esplanade is a stylish pavilion housing the ticket office, pumping engine and waiting room.
Folkestone is another rare surviving water- balance installation and is a good place to observe at close quarters how the system works (see panel on next page). Such was the popularity of The Leas railway that another was built alongside it only six years later. It demonstrates the idiosyn- crasy of British cliff railways – the track gauge, gradient and length were all different from Leas Mk 1, even thought it was just a few feet away.
Leas Mk 2 closed in 1966, although the track remains in place over 40 years later. Further lines followed at Sandgate Hill (1893) and the Metropole (1904), but both are long gone.
Today, it is Bournemouth that has more active cliff railways – three – than any other British
March 2010 UÊThe Railway Magazine UÊ31
ON THE EDGE: Funicular Railways – p30
March 2010 • The Railway Magazine • 5