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Tag Archives: EMUs

  • Second Generation EMUs by John Jackson

    As a youngster in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, my earliest memories of watching trains were at a time when diesel locos were replacing their steam predecessors. As a Northampton lad, those ‘spotting’ days involved regular sessions at the likes of Peterborough, Wellingborough and the West Coast Main Line station at Roade, just south of Northampton.

    It was not until a family holiday in 1964, however, that I had my first experience of trains running on electric power. We were staying just outside Newcastle upon Tyne when I had my first sight of a third rail providing 600-volt DC to power a fleet of ageing ‘North Tyneside Electrics’.

    This class 313, seen at Finsbury Park, was built in 1977. (Second Generation EMUs, Amberley Publishing)

    A little later that summer I was also to witness for the first time that same third rail powering London’s Underground network. Regular sessions at the likes of Clapham Junction and London Bridge were to follow shortly afterwards. It didn’t take long for me to realise the importance of the third rail in providing an intensive service for London bound commuters from what was then the Southern Region.

    Since those days in the late 1960’s, I have witnessed the expansion of electrification across much of the UK rail network. My childhood haunts of Peterborough and Roade have long seen electric trains running under the overhead wires. It should only be a matter of months before Wellingborough joins them as the Midland Main Line overhead electrification is extended northwards from Bedford to Kettering and Corby.

    The initial infrastructure costs of electrification may be high, but it is the considered view that electric trains are more environmentally friendly and, over time, have proved to be both cheaper to run and more reliable than their diesel counterparts.

    A class 717 unit, one of the newest classes, is also seen at Finsbury Park. (Second Generation EMUs, Amberley Publishing)

    The electric multiple unit (EMU) has played an increasingly important part in shaping Britain’s passenger railways and, in the 1970’s, this ongoing expansion of the electrified network demanded a new generation of these electric units. This planning culminated in the introduction of the class 313 units at the end of that decade, working on inner suburban services out of London’s Moorgate station.

    From the Isle of Wight to the Central Belt of Scotland centred on Edinburgh and Glasgow, this second generation of electric multiple units now provides the mode of transport for an increasing percentage of all passenger journeys made in the UK. Since swapping the rat race for the rail tracks and, with my camera as a constant companion, I have been privileged to witness the many types of electric units at work across the UK.

    In my twelfth and latest book, ‘Second Generation EMU’s’, I explore the variety of classes that have graced our railways over the last half century. Starting with the class 313’s introduced back in 1977 and ending with a glimpse of ‘bi-mode’ units. This latest industry buzz word may offer a far cheaper alternative than full end to end electrification of our secondary lines. These bi-mode units offer the flexibility of electric power when available, supplemented by the use of diesel engines when it’s not.

    Bi-Mode power may be one for the future. Meantime, I hope you have the chance to share the journey through the pages of this publication.

    John Jackson's book Second Generation EMUs is available for purchase now.

  • London Traction by Hugh Llewelyn

    Class 52 C-C diesel hydraulic No.(D)1065 Western Consort prepares to leave Paddington in July 1975. (London Traction, Amberley Publishing)

    For me, London is without doubt the most interesting rail centre in the UK – it has the densest network of lines, the largest number of services, the greatest number of major termini and suburban stations and, above all, the greatest variety of traction.

    I have lived and worked in, commuted to and visited London and its environs since the 1950’s, although my interest in railways didn’t start until about 1960/61. Initially I had no camera to record what I saw and my knowledge of what I was looking at was hazy to say the least! But from 1962 I started taking photographs with a very basic Brownie 127, soon progressing to a Halina 35X Super (though it wasn’t very ‘super’) and eventually various SLR’s and DLSR’s.

    BREL/GEC Class 90 Bo-Bo No.90 042 in Freightliner two-tone grey rumbles past Carpenders Park on a Coatbridge - Felixstowe container Freightliner service on 2 July 2008. (London Traction, Amberley Publishing)

    My main interest in the early years was steam but, unlike most of my friends, not confined to that. My friends thought it a little treacherous that I photographed the early diesel locomotives – even the diesel hydraulics – that were replacing our beloved giants of steam. But they thought me mad to be exhibiting even a slight interest in DMUs and Southern EMUs; the latter as objects of interest was beyond their comprehension! But how glad I am that I ignored their bewilderment and peer pressure to photograph only steam – and preferably Great Western steam! Even though I have dreadful shots of LMS No.10001, DP2, 20001, 4-COR’s and 2-BIL’s because of my poor cameras (I always blame my tools), at least I have a record of them. Photographs of these classes do not feature in my book because of their poor quality but other shots of what might still be considered ‘gems’ in the traction world are included.

    Fast approaching Haringey on a Peterborough - King's Cross service on 12 May 2012 is ABB Class 365 ‘Networker Express’ 4-car Emu No.365 508 of First Capital Connect in ‘urban lights’ livery. (London Traction, Amberley Publishing)

    There are several pictures of diesel hydraulics, one of the ‘Blue Pullman’ (sadly a ‘near miss’ in preservation), BRC&W Class 30’s before they were re-engined and became Class 31’s, Baby Deltics, the short lived BTH and North British Type 1’s, the last ‘Bournemouth Belle’ and loco-hauled Moorgate/Kings cross commuter trains. Such photographs date from my youth in the years BC – Before Cids!

    Following the end of my student days in 1972, I left South Wales for East Sussex and my modest knowledge of Southern EMUs swelled immeasurably. A few years later, I moved to various northern and south western suburbs of London which led to me commuting on SR, LMR and ER EMUs into Victoria, Waterloo, Euston and Liverpool Street. This resulted in the growth of my interest in not just those termini but also the traction which got me there.

    The Dollands Moor-Hams Hall ‘Norfolk Line’ Intermodal service is hauled by Brush Class 56 3,250 hp Co-Co No.56 312 Artemis of Hanson in its unique purple livery on the 12 October 2009. (London Traction, Amberley Publishing)

    The locations of the photographs in my book reflect my favourite stations or ones which were convenient to visit at a particular time. Having been brought up in South Wales, inevitably Paddington and stations on the former Great Western lines were a firm favourite. But running close was Kings Cross. Although not as large or as spectacular as Paddington, Kings Cross is such an architecturally well-balanced building that I find it the most attractive London terminus. Moreover, although the uniquely-styled ‘Westerns’ remain my favourite diesel locomotives, the ‘Deltics’ were nonetheless a huge attraction – the most powerful diesel locomotives in the world at the time. Hence Paddington and Kings Cross are probably over-represented in my book.

    The era of HST’s and the electrified West Coast Main Line and East Coast Main Line added to the great variety of traction to photograph and again, some classes I found more interesting than others, most notably the HST’s and Class 90’s. These therefore tend to feature more in my book than others.

    There were periods when I was not working in London and rarely visited because of family and career commitments, so there are large gaps in the timeline of my railway photography there. It was only later in my career when I worked a lot in London (though based and living in Bristol) and after my retirement when I had more free time that I had the chance to enlarge my photographic collection of London traction.

    The changing nature of the traction and locations over the decades is evident in my book. And changes continue apace with the electrification of the Great Western Main Line and, maybe, the rebuilding of Euston as the London termini of HS2.

    Hugh Llewelyn's new book London Traction is available for purchase now.

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