The Friends of the
of England Group
|16 March 2014
Diary of Events
Heritage Trains Underground
Andy Barr, MBE
11 November 2014
Andy came down from Scotland in 1966 to joint the “army of occupation” in England, starting as a trainee draughtsman in Acton Works. His family had a background in working on the railways in Scotland, and he gradually worked his way through London Underground, finally becoming Emergency Incident Manager before considering retirement in September 2012. However, his boss offered him the post of Heritage Operations Manager – it didn't take too much persuasion for him to accept!
Peter Hendry, London Transport Commissioner, had already decided to run steam train for the sesquicentennial (150th) celebrations of the London Underground. Andy was asked to organise it and was encouraged to ensure that staff were to feel part of it. As it turned out, most of those involved in the events were volunteers, so staffing wasn't a problem. The real problem was finding suitable rolling stock. While London Underground has access to vintage motive power, it didn't have any suitable carriages. So he approached the team at the Bluebell Railway who were willing to loan some vehicles. However, their use also needed the acceptance by the Office of Railway Regulation (ORR), meaning that they needed a safety case and emergency plan in case things went wrong. Finally, the entire thing had to be integrated into an effective timetable, with the challenge not to put one minute onto delays to normal operations. He had to get the proposals cleared through the safety committees and the unions and a long list of agencies from the ORR to St John's Ambulance. Then there was the question of whether the rolling stock fit the loading gauge.
To satisfy the ORR he needed approval for derogations from a whole range of current railway standards, from crash-worthiness to slam-doors. To achieve the latter derogation it meant banning children from travelling in the stock and providing individual briefing to passengers. To meet the fire precautions, it was agreed that a trailing, electric-powered, locomotive would start the train, thus avoiding the steam locomotive from emitting sparks onto the wooden coaches. The smoke and fire detectors at stations needed modification, but this was helped by most of them being reprogrammable from the control centre between heat and smoke sensitivity.
It was agreed to use 0-4-4T Met No 1 but this
required overhaul, so £250k was provided to the Buckingham Railway
Centre with the strong message that the work must be completed by
November 2012. Tenders for the work were received from two
organisations but the Flour Mill won the contract. The locomotive
was stripped, the boiler overhauled, everything checked and
repaired and then rebuilt. It was then run-in on the Avon Valley
Railway and Severn Valley Railway, the latter having the benefit
of allowing running up to 50 mph. It was found that the
horn-blocks were some ¾inch out of square and needed correction.
One unusual thing about the locomotive is that the tyres are
bolted to the centre, and several of the bolts had suffered
Having organised the rolling stock and motive power, Andy now needed to look at the operational management. This involved getting route agreement, organising safety, and training for staff and volunteers. Fitters were to ride on the train for rapid response in case of problems, and stewards were put on every coach to oversee passenger safety. All the staff and volunteers were provided with “crib sheets” to “educate” passengers on the use of the antiquated stock – such as not putting heads or arms out of windows.
To check out the operational side the Beattie well-tank was brought up to London from the B&WR in February 2012, which proved that the operation of steam locomotives in the tunnels was possible. The first full trials took place at night in December 2012, with Met No. 1, a coach, flat wagon (with spare water) and Sarah Siddons at the rear. Following this, the stock went back to Acton to receive its final painting and lining. The full rehearsal took place in early January before the real runs on 13 and 20 January. The rehearsal showed that there could be problems with the visibility of intermediate signals from the cab due to drifting steam. As a result a video camera was mounted on the buffer-beam to give a good view of the route ahead. Andy played a recording of one such run which gave a fascinating new view of a trip along the Met/District line – the original intention had been to go back to Lillie Bridge Depot on the Hammersmith & City for overnight storage, but they were routed along the District Line to Gloucester Road which resulted in some startled views from the few ordinary passengers waiting on the platform at Kensington High Street, although all seemed to love it with waves, cheers and clapping.
In April and May the celebrations extended to runs
to Amersham. This time different rolling stock was used – the 4TC
stock, which were fitted with internal door locks. Volunteers from
the Buckingham Railway Centre needed TfL medicals, route training
on how to operate the trains safely at speeds of up to 50 mph,
significantly higher than trains on their home patch. All were
assessed for competence using an external expert.
The Lord Mayor's show (the Saturday before the
lecture) saw Coach 353 in the parade. To place it on a flat-bed
lorry cost £7500.
I suspect Andy is going to be very busy over the