May 2010. No. 1,309. Vol 156. A journal of record since 1897
Headline News 56 Route for High Speed 2 unveiled; East Coast rebranding cost £630,000; North Norfolk joins national network; Jarvis files for administration; Deutsche Bahn sizes up Arriva; £10,000 reward for rail vandals; Easter strike looms/averted . plus: 64 Action Stations at NRM! An exclusive first interview with Steve Davies – the new head of the NRM.
Steve Davies. Pic: NRM
On the cover
MAIN IMAGE: A British icon . . . the doublearrow logo that represented BR from the 1960s onwards and has become one of the most recognisable symbols in the country.
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FOR EVERYTHING THAT RUNS ON RAILS
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The BR Issue
INSET: Running over rails laid just four days earlier, ‘Britannia’ Oliver Cromwell christens Sheringham level crossing on March 11 (see Headline News.) STEVE ALLEN
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Track Record The Railway Magazine’s monthly news digest
70 Steam & Heritage Guest trio for SVR reunion gala; Tornado makes impact at Mid-Hants; Mallard for Shildon; NYMR to steam 15 locos for gala; Imberhorne waste will leave by rail. 78 Railtours ‘Princess’ for London termini; Irish Mk 3 farewell tour.
Operations news– p96.
81 Traction & Stock Old Oak to maintain ‘Adelantes’; Seized final drive caused derailment; Overground’s Class 172 on test.
84 Narrow Gauge Talyllyn marks pioneer’s birth; Derailment at Welshpool.
87 Network Strategies outlined for East Midland and Great Western; £5m upgrade for Gourock; Avalanche closes line.
88 Classic Traction ‘Deltic’ engine swap; 4CIG sacrificed, 4SUB saved.
92 Metro Three-car trials on Docklands; New depot for Blackpool.
95 World News Nilgri line to re-open; Xrail advances wagonload.
96 Operations Our monthly round-up of news from the TOCs.
106 Disposals and Stock Spot Repainted, named, sold or scrapped? Full details here.
44 Subscription Offer More and more readers are subscribing. Why not join them and never worry about The RM being sold out.
62 Multiple Aspects Columnist Lord Berkeley shares his opinions on the state of Britain’s railways.
63 Readers’ Platform A sensational breakthrough in our Evening Star identity crisis story as 9F owner David Shepherd makes a startling revelation.
67 Heritage Diary Where to go for steam and classic traction this autumn.
102 Meetings A summary of club meetings and film shows of interest to railway enthusiasts.
105 Reader Services Includes a list of all the Friends of The RM.
A breakthrough in the Evening Star mystery. See Readers’ Platform – p63.
106 BR Prize Crossword Your chance to win £100 worth of books in our popular prize crossword. This month it’s all about British Rail . . . naturally!
106 Where Is It? Can you guess the location of the subject in our just-for-fun quiz?
Above: Watched by one of the largest crowds in living memory at Sheringham, ‘Britannia’ Pacific No. 70013 blows a jubilant whistle as it makes history hauling the first-ever train to run direct from London King’s Cross to Holt! See North Norfolk Railway crossing report in Headline News. MIKE PAGE
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7 The story so far... A brief resumé of BR between 1948 and 1971 for those of you who may have missed Part 1 last year. 8 Marsh David Stewart-David examines the term of Sir Richard Marsh, who ran BR from 1971 to 1976. 14 Parker Sir Peter Parker had many obstacles to overcome between 1976 and 1983, as D.H. Yaxley explains. 20 Bob Reid 1 Under Sir Robert Reid, the railway went back to basics but innovated greatly. David Stewart-David reports. 28 Bob Reid 2 The second Sir Bob Reid (no relation!) found himself having to prepare for privatisation. D.H. Yaxley reports. 34 Welsby John Welsby never received a kighthood and chaired the board only in its death throes, but he was no mere hireling, as Ian Day explains.
THE BR STORY
THE MARSH ERA 1971-1976
NOT only was Richard Marsh the youngest man to head BR but the appointment itself was also extraordinary – for he was the only man to effectively step down into the job.
As Cabinet Minister responsible for Transport, Marsh had been the man to whom the previous BR chairman, Sir Henry Johnson, had reported in the late-1960s, but he lost his post when Edward Heath’s Conservative Government came to power in 1970.
As Transport Minister (equivalent to today’s Transport Secretary), he had been responsible for the implementation of the Transport Act of 1968, but the election had seen him reduced to the status of an Opposition front-bencher. In July 1971, therefore, he agreed to make the extraordinary transition and take on the chairmanship of the British Railways Board.
It was his fate to be in charge during the three-day working week, a national coal miners’ strike, soaring oil prices and a rate of inflation which, in 1975, rose to a peak of 27 per cent – playing havoc with railway investment. ;gjhigVi^dch
A new decade – and a b rave new world of speed
Uniquely, Richard Marsh knew exactly how to deal with his political chiefs (because he’d been one!). He would need all that guile, as :7L?: IJ;M7HJ#:7L?: reports
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He did, however, have the benefit of seeing life on the other side of the fence, knowing from political experience what impact government decisions could have on railway finances. At the BRB, he was soon to discover the frustrations of government meddling when Heath’s administra- tion insisted that services in London and the South-East should pay their way without subsidy. That, in theory, was possible, but it would have meant huge season ticket price rises, as the only sure source of more revenue was from captive users – and most of those commuters were from safe Conservative seats in the Home Counties.
Marsh took over from Johnson in September 1971 and within a month had taken a decision that would have been anathema to his rather dour predecessor: he lifted the ban on main line steam.
This was to lead during the ensuing decades into an entire ‘industry within an industry’, as will be seen in the chapter beginning on page 46.
The railway was a curious hotchpotch in the Marsh era from 1971 to 1976. Although the last steam locomotives in BR’s own fleet had disappeared from the network in 1968, the trappings of the old era were still to be found all around in the form of engine sheds (many used for stabling diesels), huge numbers of yards and sidings and thousands upon thousands of short-wheelbase wagons, a vast amount of which were in everyday use.
Many main lines were still controlled by semaphore signals, while stations like Peterborough North, on the non-electrified East
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8 U The Railway Magazine U May 2010
Coast Main Line, remained costly bottlenecks, often blocked by loose coupled freight trains.
And yet there were signs that a new era was about to dawn: The HST prototype was introduced in 1972 and the following year saw the Passenger Transport Executives start to develop coherent transport policies, mainly in the conurbations but extending to socially-useful lines such as Glasgow-Kilmarnock and Leeds- Skipton. Far from winding such lines down, the PTEs decided to modernise them and the result saw many new stations – and passengers – across the nation’s industrial heartlands.
Computers were being used more widely for train control and this led to one of the most far-reaching advances – the Total Operations Processing System (better known as TOPS). Its introduction meant that, from 1973, every locomotive in the country had to be renumbered. The Class 87 a.c. electrics, which began to enter service on the West Coast Main Line in 1973, were the first to carry TOPS numbers from new, and they started trials on the main line from Weaver Junction to Glasgow, where the full timetable was implemented in May 1974. In Scotland, many longer distance
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May 2010 UÊThe Railway Magazine UÊ9
TOWARDS HIGH SPEED: Sir Richard Marsh – p8
THE BR STORY
The lull before the storm Just two years after landing the job, the second Bob Reid found himself in the strange position of having to plan the dismantling of his own organisation, writes :$>$ O7NB;O
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THE retirement of Sir Robert Reid in 1990 created one of railway history’s great confusions, for he was succeeded by . . . Sir Robert Reid. ‘Bob Reid 2’ as the new chairman was inevitably known, was also a Scottish knight, but of a very different style and experience. He was a well- known businessman who was chairman and chief executive of Shell UK before coming to BR. In personality, he was suave and extrovert; a lively communicator with the public.
He became chairman in April 1990, seven months before the end of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. The ‘Iron Lady’ was demonstrably in favour of commercial enterprise but ignored those in her Cabinet who wanted to privatise the railways. The new chairman’s brief, at least for the first few months until John Major became Prime Minister, was to continue the process of running the railways as a disciplined public business.
Almost the first problem Reid had to tackle were the safety issues emerging from the public enquiry into the Clapham accident. The question of safety had added meaning for the new chairman, for, at the age of nine, he had lost his right hand in an accident involving machinery while working in his father’s butcher’s shop. This and his experience of strict safety regimes in the oil industry proved invaluable.
In 1990 alone, there were 23 deaths on the railway – mostly involving workers on the track. Whilst this compared to a contemporary figure of more than 5,000 deaths on the roads, there was clear scope for improvement.
Expenditure on routine safety was, however,
28 U The Railway Magazine U May 2010
in danger of being distorted by political responses to the Clapham accident, which, like the later crashes at Southall, Ladbroke Grove, Hatfield and Potters Bar, was spectacular and close to London – features that made them of great interest to the media and to publicity- seeking lawyers.
One consequence was that a lot of money was spent on Automatic Train Protection – far from reliable – and on the rapid replacement of Mk 1 coaches, which had offered relatively poor protection to passengers in the Clapham collision. Other investments, such as central locking on slam-door trains, offered better value for money in terms of lives saved.
On long-distance, semi-fast routes in the provinces, BR was moving away from the old ‘loco and six coaches’ mentality and towards a policy of ‘shorter trains run more frequently’. This was reinforced by the Class 158 ‘Express Sprinter’ fleet, the majority of which entered traffic during Reid’s first three years and which saw long-distance passengers attuned to the idea of high-spec, higher-speed DMUs.
The tenure of Bob Reid 2 is probably best
THE BOB REID ERA 1990-1995
remembered, however, for the major initiative known as OfQ (‘Organising for Quality’), which took sector management a stage further and can be seen almost as a halfway house to privatisation. Many managers in the provinces considered it to be an exercise in ‘teaching granny to suck eggs’, but Reid saw ‘quality’ as something desired by the customers, and the customers, of course, included the Government. Quality on BR, however defined, was very variable indeed in 1990: Regional Railways was getting good productivity from its Class 150 and 156 batches of ‘Sprinters’ but the ‘Pacer’ problems continued and the 158s did not work ‘out of the box’, meaning that elderly Class 101 and 107 units remained commonplace on runs
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like Sheffield-Manchester and Glasgow- Edinburgh via Shotts. Some of those first generation units, in fact, were to last another decade in service.
On Network SouthEast, the York-built Class 455s continued the tradition of reliability established by the Southern 4-SUBS, whilst the dependability of the slam-door 4-VEPs put the performance of the newly-delivered Class 442 units to shame.
The post-industrial economy hastened by Mrs Thatcher’s monetary policy was resulting in a continuing decline in rail freight, except for container-based imports and power station coal flows. Newspaper traffic was one victim, having finally been lost in 1988, and other consumer
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May 2010 UÊThe Railway Magazine UÊ29
PREPARING FOR PRIVATISATION: Sir Bob Reid – p28
39 HST - BR’s Greatest Achievement In a Practice & Performance special, John Heaton pays tribute to what is considered by most people to be British Rail’s greatest lasting legacy – the InterCity 125 HST, still going strong even after 30+ years of service.
46 Steam Galore After a cautious start, between 1971 and the end of BR’s grip on main line steam in 1995, more barriers began to be broken down, enabling steam to return to some unusual places. Phil Marsh and Chris Milner review some of the highlights of a wonderful period.
May 2010 • The Railway Magazine • 5 Ma a y y 2 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 • Thhe e R R a a i i l l w w a a y y M M a a g g a a z z i i n n e e • 5