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jamespetts

Short off-peak rakes - history query

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I understand that the London Underground formerly ran shortened rakes off-peak and strengthened the sets in peaktime. I have a vague recollection that this ended in the early 1970s, but I do not know the details.

 

Does anyone know when this practice ended and what the formations would have been when this practice was still extant (especially on the Northern, Central, Piccadilly, Metropolitan and District lines)? Was the later practice simply to run what had formerly been the peak time trains all day, or were the trains fundamentally re-formed when this ended; also, did it end at different times on different lines?

 

Thank you in advance for any assistance.

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The Metropolitan stopped running 4 car A60’s off peak in the early 80’s

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Pretty certain the Piccadilly line stopped using 4 car rakes off-peak in 1955 and then it was 7 cars all day.  Am guessing with the District it was around the same time.

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The District ran 6 or 8 car trains (except between Wimbledon & Edgware Road). The 2 car portion was always at the east end. At Ealing Broadway & Parsons Green the 2 car portion was uncoupled/coupled in the platform whilst the trains were taken into Upminster Depot to be uncoupled. Cancelled uncoupling then simply meant what it said, the uncoupling moves were cancelled at Ealing Broadway & Parsons Green whilst, from memory, the moves to & fro Upminster Depot still took place but the trains weren't uncoupled there. Cancelled uncoupling was pretty rare because extra station staff were required when 8 car trains were in operation - normally in just the peak hours. What I can't remember is what happened towards the end of the day especially at Ealing Broadway and Parsons Green. I don't think there were any trains stabled at Ealing Broadway overnight. I can't remember what happened to the the 2 car units uncoupled there after the evening peak. I think there were specific shunting paths at Parsons Green towards the end of the day that allowed the 2 car units to be moved around the sidings so that the trains could couple when they stabled at the end of the day.

 

I started work with LTE in 1967 and the District were still uncoupling then. I can't swear to it but I think it was the early 1970s before they ceased uncoupling. This may have been as a result of chronic staff shortages which saw service levels on all lines reduced by as much as 25% (with special reduced service level timetables - handwritten & photo-copied for issue) for at least a few years.

 

In those days there were already significantly different service levels on Saturdays compared to Monday to Fridays and on Sundays compared to Saturdays. These days the difference is minimal.

 

The Northern line only ran 4 car trains during off-peak periods so the 3 car units were worked to depots/sidings where uncoupling occurred - Edgware, High Barnet & Morden.

 

The standard stock on the Central line (and Q stock on the District line) required staff to be at track level to uncouple/couple and (I'm pretty certain that there weren't any Central line 7 car trains so) both train portions were 4 cars and both halves stayed in service. Ironically I believe that the introduction of the 1956/59/62 stock removed the need for trackside assistance to uncouple/couple  but uncoupling stopped before the new stock was introduced.

 

The Met ran (uncoupled) 4 car trains much longer than anyone else and there were different timetables for their coupled and uncoupled services. 

 

 

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By the time I started on LT at the end of 1964 off peak uncoupling was confined to the District Line where some R stocks were reduced from 8 cars to 6 cars after the morning peak, then increased in time for the evening. On the Metropolitan the A stock was worked as 8 cars apart from two 4 car trains on the Chesham shuttle and some 4 car workings on Sundays, whilst on Central 4 car 1962 stock would sometimes substitute for the 1935 and 1960 units on the Woodford and Ongar shuttles.

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I have a District and Piccadilly lines timetable for 1959 which also shows some 6 car Q stock trains being brought up to 8 cars for the peaks. 7 car standard stock trains, 7 car 1938 and 7 car 1956 stock trains were reduced to 4 cars off peak  by uncouping 3 cars to sidings on Mondays to Fridays and Sundays.  The 3 car 1938 stock units contained an uncoupling non driving motor car at the inner end (no cab, just shunting controls behind a panel at the car end). I believe the 3 car standard stock comprised a control trailer at the inner end, whereas the 1956 stock would have normal driving motor cars at both ends. 

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Further to the above, the Piccadilly and possibly the Central ceased uncoupling from 21.3.60, and the Northern and Bakerloo ceased from 26/3/61. The Northern City Line ceased uncoupling in 10/64, having used two car Standard stock trains, off peak, comprising driving motor and control trailer. This being the only scheduled use of these control trailers driven in passenger service since the practise was discontinued in the 1930s - a useful fact for modellers who might otherwise be tempted!

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9 hours ago, Broadway Clive said:

Further to the above, the Piccadilly and possibly the Central ceased uncoupling from 21.3.60, and the Northern and Bakerloo ceased from 26/3/61. The Northern City Line ceased uncoupling in 10/64, having used two car Standard stock trains, off peak, comprising driving motor and control trailer. This being the only scheduled use of these control trailers driven in passenger service since the practise was discontinued in the 1930s - a useful fact for modellers who might otherwise be tempted!

The Northern City Line ceased uncoupling when it was cut back from Finsbury Park to Drayton Park (and a coach link substituted until the Victoria Line opened in 09/68). As Broadway Clive effectively says, the cutback occurred in 10/64.

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20 hours ago, Broadway Clive said:

Further to the above, the Piccadilly and possibly the Central ceased uncoupling from 21.3.60, and the Northern and Bakerloo ceased from 26/3/61. The Northern City Line ceased uncoupling in 10/64, having used two car Standard stock trains, off peak, comprising driving motor and control trailer. This being the only scheduled use of these control trailers driven in passenger service since the practise was discontinued in the 1930s - a useful fact for modellers who might otherwise be tempted!

Some models from my Rossiter Rise layout. 

2 car motor/control trailer as referred to above.

2 car Q Stock. This replicates a photo in a book by Brian Hardy showing exactly this formation being used on the Acton Shuttle as replacement because neither of the single cars normally used were available. 

 

Terry 

20191026_114929.jpg

20191016_193626.jpg

20191024_200701.jpg

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My nursery school backed on to the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines at Rayners Lane, I was there between 1971 and 1973 and I remember that during the day the Met line trains would be 4 coaches but at the beginning and by the end of the day they would be 8 coaches.  

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On 03/12/2019 at 22:37, Broadway Clive said:

I have a District and Piccadilly lines timetable for 1959 which also shows some 6 car Q stock trains being brought up to 8 cars for the peaks. 7 car standard stock trains, 7 car 1938 and 7 car 1956 stock trains were reduced to 4 cars off peak  by uncouping 3 cars to sidings on Mondays to Fridays and Sundays.  The 3 car 1938 stock units contained an uncoupling non driving motor car at the inner end (no cab, just shunting controls behind a panel at the car end). I believe the 3 car standard stock comprised a control trailer at the inner end, whereas the 1956 stock would have normal driving motor cars at both ends. 

The District Line ran as standard 6-car trains of CP, Q and R stocks.  CP stock was normally 2x3-car units thought could in theory be 3x2-car units.  Q and R stocks were formed of a 4-car west end and 2-car east end unit.  These could have an additional 2-car "east end" unit coupled for peak time operation as others have already amply described.  I am not aware of any being berthed overnight at Ealing Broadway and suspect that they ran as 8-car to Ealing Common for uncoupling.  They would then have entered service from the depot next morning as 8-car ready for the peak.  During the time when R stock was being repainted from red to "silver" this gave rise to occasional mixed-livery trains. 

 

Following the Q-stock withdrawal in 1971 and the reshuffling of CP stock occasioned by the introduction of C69 stock to the Circle and (then) Metropolitan (Hammersmith & City) Lines the District Line trains were reformed as permanent 7-car formations.  CP stock became 3+2+2 and R stock became a 7-car train with (mostly) the former 232xx non-driving motor being withdrawn and two former "east end" units semi-permanently coupled at the opposite end.  This remained the case until these types were finally withdrawn and replaced with D78 stock.

 

Owing to short platforms the District Line Edgware Road service and the Circle Line were always limited to a maximum of 6 cars and for some years the Circle ran with only 5 (3+2 CP stock).  This has only recently been addressed by the walk-through design of S stock, selective door opening and internal / external signage and announcements.  

 

The East London Line used 4-car units of Q-stock which was replaced by 4-car units of 1938 tube stock and subsequently 4-car units of A stock before finally seeing 3-car trains of D stock until handover to London Overground; platforms have never been long enough there for 6-car trains and today's 5-car class 378 trains are too long for some platforms.

 

The Metropolitan main line was considered quieter than the central area and a 4-car A-stock unit was more than adequate off-peak on Baker Street services.  These were boosted to 8-car for peak operations by shunting on (or off) a unit in the platform at Uxbridge and possibly also at Watford / Amersham.  Apart from two through trains to / from Liverpool Street (later Aldgate) in each peak hour on the Chesham branch those trains were always a 4-car shuttle.  Prior to the introduction of A-stock the Uxbridge service had been worked by 6-car CP stock trains and 6-car F-stock before that; the Watford service was run by 4-car T stock trains which were boosted to 6-car IIRC in the peaks and with some working to Rickmansworth which was then the limit of electrification.

 

1962 stock was used as 4-car trains on the Woodford - Hainault shuttle when 1960 stock was unavailable and after that type was withdrawn, and on the Epping - Ongar service which included a through early morning train from Woodford and a late evening one back to Loughton.  1967 stock was also, to the best of my recollection, used in 4-car formation on the Woodford - Hainault shuttle for the purpose of testing the Victoria Line ATO.

 

In the above "CP" is used generically to refer to O, P and Converted versions of the same variously designated CO, CP and COP.

 

 

 

Edited by Gwiwer

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I believe the two 67 stock units that spent a long time on the Hainault - Woodford shuttle were xx63 & xx79.

 

To the best of my knowledge there was never any uncoupling of (in) service trains in Ealing Common depot, it was all done at Ealing Broadway.

 

I have a fairly vague recollection that the 2 car east end units that were the result of post evening peak uncoupling were formed into a 4x2 train (and maybe more than one of those) and worked back to Ealing Common depot late at night.

Edited by Ray H

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It is interesting to note that the Hainault - Woodford service was once operated by 4 x 4 car units (trains 96 - 99) during the peak and 2 x 4 in the off-peak all based at Hainault depot. Likewise Epping - Ongar was worked by two trains in the peak and one off-peak. One unit was berthed overnight (and midday) in Loughton sidings and the other overnight at Hainault depot.

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2 hours ago, Ray H said:

I have a fairly vague recollection that the 2 car east end units that were the result of post evening peak uncoupling were formed into a 4x2 train (and maybe more than one of those) and worked back to Ealing Common depot late at night.

Whilst that may have been the case it would have meant the trailing vehicle was a UNDM (Uncoupling Non-Driving Motor) which did not have full controls.  Only a shunting panel was provided with the shunter viewing the line ahead through the centre door droplight window.  Those could form the rear vehicle of a train when not in passenger service but I question whether or not they could lead on the main line outside depot limits back from Ealing Common to Broadway in the morning.

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3 minutes ago, Gwiwer said:

Whilst that may have been the case it would have meant the trailing vehicle was a UNDM (Uncoupling Non-Driving Motor) which did not have full controls.  Only a shunting panel was provided with the shunter viewing the line ahead through the centre door droplight window.  Those could form the rear vehicle of a train when not in passenger service but I question whether or not they could lead on the main line outside depot limits back from Ealing Common to Broadway in the morning.

 

They would have been re-coupled in Ealing Common depot overnight as indeed were the trains at Parsons Green and Upminster, ready for the morning peak the following day (or on Sunday night ready for Monday). I know for a fact that trains were shunted around Parsons Green towards the end of traffic in order to recouple to the two car portions detached after the peak.

 

I can't currently confirm the situation at Ealing but it was again always possible that the 2 car portion was uncoupled at the Broadway and then worked empty to the depot rather than faff about with the use of the sidings. I'll try to make some enquiries.

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I believe the summer of 1980 was the last time A stock was uncoupled.

 

T stock usually ran as either 6 cars in the off peaks with additional trains of 8 cars in the peaks. After the war the T stock no longer uncoupled.

 

The F stock usually ran as 8 cars on the Met (7 cars on occasion if there was individual cars missing for maintenance as the stock allocation was tight).


P stock like the T stock ran in 6 and 8 car formations (with the odd 7 car post 1947) I don’t think they uncoupled post war either but the original plan was for the 25-28 trains to run as 6 cars and add 2 cars in the peaks. 
 

All uncoupling was cancelled during the war and gradually returned in the 1950s except the Northern City Line as stated which retained uncoupling until 1964.

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On 23/01/2020 at 00:39, Gwiwer said:

 

The East London Line used 4-car units of Q-stock which was replaced by 4-car units of 1938 tube stock and subsequently 4-car units of A stock before finally seeing 3-car trains of D stock until handover to London Overground; platforms have never been long enough there for 6-car trains and today's 5-car class 378 trains are too long for some platforms.

 

 

And before the Q stock, 4-car trains of F-stock. When that changeover took place there were multiple complaints from the regular clientele about their modern (F-stock) trains being replaced by "antiques" (Q-stock). Before the F-stock, 4-car trains of C-stock were used, I am just old enough to remember one middle of the day ride from New Cross to Whitechapel when the hand-worked doors were allowed to remain open for the whole of the journey, much to my excitement.

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The F stock looked pretty modern despite their age didn’t they?

 

The C stock of 1910 vintage included D and E stock from 1912-15 which was classified as H (handworked door) stock. It also included trailers of L, M and N stock until they were converted to Q stock in the early 50s. CO/CP stock also replaced the Q stock in 1971 but lasted only lasted a short time until the tube stock took over. I believe a 6 car CO/CP stock was tried but platform lengths and stabling at New Cross depot were a hassle! 

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On the subject of short formations there have been some mis-formed trains of S-stock since their arrival.  Three District Line S7 sets received Metropolitan Line cars to run on that line as S8 sets while the reduced 7-car sets were, I believe, used on the Circle / H&C Lines.  The seating differs; an S8 has some face-to-back seating which an S7 does not.

 

I also noted a 7-car S7 train on Met main line duty last year at Finchley Road.  Nothing wrong with that as such but technically it is a short train as all Met Line trains should be 8-car and S8.  I suspect the set had visited Neasden for some work and was appropriated for operational use in the short term.  

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An extra set was ordered for the now deferred Croxley link project and this was an 8 car train with S7 seating. The reason for this is the manufacturing lines for the S8 trains had been dismantled so it was only cost effective the make a longer S7 train.

 

Several years ago there were three S7+1 trains on the Met (ie S7 trains destined for the other lines given a spare S7 car to make up the numbers). 
 

I always felt dismay watching them plod up to Amersham/Chesham!

 

Back to the Central line uncoupling which ended in the late 50s or early 60s partly due to a couple of fires originating from the shed receptical boxes. Previously standard stock on the central was formed M-T-T-M+M-T-T-M and these were split into two four car units. There were some 7 car units too (M-T-T-M+CT-T-M) as there were not enough cars to make up all trains to 8 cars. When uncoupling was abandoned the issue of having a large space in the middle of the train where the equipment compartments faced each other was solved by changing to this formation: M-T-M-T-T-M-T-M and the middle motors (with M stock stencilled to them) had their shed recepticals removed.

 

As shorter trains had generally been on the decrease since the late 1930s many standard stock control trailers had been converted to trailers. The 70 on the Central had their equipment removed and four additional seats placed in the former cab area.

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1 hour ago, Edwin_m said:

Short formations to return to the Hainault-Woodford shuttle to free up trains for refurbishment.  No un/coupling involved as far as I can tell.  

 

https://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/2020/01/woodford-via-hainault.html

 

 

8-car operation on that line is really unnecessary and only occurs for operational convenience.  The residents of Grange Hill, Chigwell and Roding Valley (the latter TfL's least-used Underground station) do not travel in such numbers that anything more than a 4-car train is required.

 

It had been a 3- or 4-car shuttle for many years until the arrival of 1992 stock.  There were always a few direct 8-car trains to and from the City and West End formed of 1962 stock to provide a limited direct service and avoid overloading Epping line trains at Woodford.  Those always ran to and from Hainault Depot via Woodford with the first / last public stop being Grange Hill.  There may still be old signage around which can display "Next Train Grange Hill via Woodford".  Since '92 stock arrived the service has been worked mostly as an intermittent extension of the Hainault via Newbury Park service with around one in three or four trains of 8-car '92 stock showing the destination "Woodford via Hainault".  The timetable offered a few minutes' stand at Hainault in either direction.  A small number of trains continues to run through via Woodford but now continue to Hainault rather than Grange Hill.  These show destination "Hainault via Woodford".

 

As the '92 stock requires significant work after a quarter-century of Central Line service a few trains have to be removed from the timetable.  One way this is done has been to terminate some Epping trains at Loughton leaving Debden, Theydon Bois and Epping with six, not eight, trains per peak hour.  Still very generous considering these are out in Essex not Greater London and Theydon Bois is another extremely quiet location.  And the Woodford - Hainault service reverts largely to a 4-car shuttle which will mean some people have to change trains again but otherwise offers little or no reduction in service.  

 

The tube has always had odd workings.  I mentioned above the one-time Woodford - Ongar and Ongar - Loughton through trains.  There remains a single public train around Watford North Curve which (IIRC without access to the timetable) is a positioning move from Rickmansworth - Watford very early in the morning.  All Chesham trains are now 8-car and run through to the main line (mostly to / from Aldgate but some to Wembley Park) meaning the crossover at Chalfont is no longer "rare track" but conversely the bay platform there is because it cannot accommodate the fixed-formation S8 trains.  And some Piccadilly trains start at West Kensington in the early morning and head west towards Heathrow or Rayners Lane using the crossover beyond Barons Court from the District Line tracks.  

Edited by Gwiwer

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