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Long distance trains: engine changes


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Following Gilbert's excellent Peterborough North, I have become more aware that very few locos seem to have been attached to a train for the entire journey up the ECML, be the journey to Leeds, York, Newcastle or Edinburgh

 

But I'm not sure why?

 

Also, following on from the above, I'm also aware now that tyhe LMS did much the same, but where were locos changed on the WCML?

 

And thirdly, did the GWR do the same? Did the Southern region on it's LSWR trains?

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WCML usually changed at Crewe or Carlisle, Maybe Rugby and Preston to a lesser extent. North of the border trains split or joined at Symington  and Carstairs.

Edited by Caley739
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20 minutes ago, JeffP said:

Did the Southern region on it's LSWR trains?


Yes, on the long-distance through trains to Devon and North Cornwall, because:

 

- train loads and gradients were different West of Exeter; and,

 

- permitted axle-loading was lower.

 

A typical through service to the SW would run as a long, heavy train with full catering as far as Exeter, headed by the most powerful loco, then loose the catering and possibly be split into two portions to be taken forward by lighter loco(s). Further West further splits occurred, until the train arriving at each final destination might be down to two or three cars.

 

It was a heavily seasonal (holiday) set of routes, and strange in that it had a lot of small destinations, rather than one big city,  so in summer some trains were multi-portion even out of Waterloo. The exact working varied by train/season.

 

I don’t think there were loco changes on the other main SR routes other than to Weymouth (some trains split at Bournemouth) because the distances were (relative to WCML and ECML) quite short.

 

There were odd places where loco change resulted from train reversal and the need to turn engines. Redhill in relation to services to/from Reading and beyond was one, and things were further complicated there by the splitting of long trains from the midlands into portions for the Sussex and Kent coasts.

 

The established engine change location for trains from Bournemouth and Southampton to the midlands and north was Oxford, where a GWR or LNER loco took over, although there were odd cases of SR locos working through to Birmingham.

 

Also, working practices changed in detail between pre and post nationalisation.

Edited by Nearholmer
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The LMS swapped locomotives on not just the WCNL on the midland route Leeds was a frequent changeover point.

 

Logical really as a reversal was required at Leeds so one locomotive would take the train into Leeds where it would be swapped for a Holbeck resident which would then take the train into Carlisle or further afield.

 

The "foreign" engine would then presumably take a train back towards its home depot.

 

For a time both the UP and Down Thames Clyde Express would be at Leeds at adjacent platforms, apparently it could be quite confusing due to identical rakes being sat next to each other and it was not unknown for passengers to catch the one going in the wrong direction.

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22 minutes ago, JeffP said:

 

 Did the Southern region on it's LSWR trains?

 

 

Virtually all LSWR / SR trains to the West Country which required loco changes performed the procedure at Salisbury and Exeter.

 

You need to remember that unlike the other Big 4 companies (and some of their constituents), the LSWR / SR never invested in water troughs and thus trains had to stop for water on the long runs to the west anyway.

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For the principal expresses of the 19th/early 20th century, stages of around 100 miles or so seem to have been typical, limited by water - so Grantham, York, Newcastle on the East Coast; Leicester / Derby (according to route), Leeds (reversal), Carlisle on the Midland. The LNWR was exceptional, as the pioneer of water troughs, in getting to Carlisle with just the one change at Crewe. On the LSWR, Salisbury was the usual changing point - the omission of which had tragic consequences in 1906.

 

This has to be seen not only in the context of water supply but also the working practices of the day. With single-manning and each top-link driver having his own engine, out and back was a day's work - 5 hours of driving at 40 mph average, maybe 3 hours layover to turn and prepare for the return trip, along with preparation and disposal, would soon add up to a 12 hour, or later 10 hour, day. By such careful nurturing of assets, Camden's Jeanie Deans could be kept on the down 2 o'clock "Corridor" and back with the up "Corridor" from Crewe day in, day out; likewise Longsight's Charles Dickens, clocking up two million miles on a daily round trip up to Euston - an unusually long working for a single engine.

 

As the 20th century wore on, with bigger engines, less finickiness about specific types for particular sections of route, and, I think crucially, the 8-hour day, changing engines at these traditional locations morphed into changing crews.

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Many thanks to all.

I'd  forgotten train splitting and also the lack of troughs on the SR, which was why some of the Standard 5's got the BR 1F tender with increased water capacity.

 

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3 minutes ago, The Great Bear said:

And on the western, didn't the King come off at Plymouth being too heavy for the Royal Albert Bridge? Were coaches taken off here too?

 

Some came off at North Road and in these cases, most would have lost some coaches as well.

 

A few trains ran through North Road for a loco change at Keyham where they would not have removed coaches.

 

Pre WW2, a King might have proceeded to Millbay with the head of the train, leaving coaches behind at North Road to continue to Cornwall.

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The Carmarthen-Paddington 'Red Dragon' changed locos at Cardiff General, originally a Carmarthen Castle job with a Brit coming on at Cardiff, sometimes coming off the carriage shed with two or three 'strengtheners' and sometimes lurking in the loco spur off the 'no.1 goods' road at the Newport end of the station, while the down side pilot, a 94xx usually, brought the strengtheners.  Through Paddington-Fishguard Harbour, Milford Haven, and Pembroke Dock workings also changed locos here; a Castle could not manage further down than Swansea from Paddington on a coal full of tender.  Loads were heavier and locos worked harder than on the Bristol or Plymouth routes, and Kings not permitted.  

 

Until 1961 when they were permitted, and took over from the Brits, being banned downline from Cardiff.  They were only allowed to use Platform 1 on the up and 3 on the down, and had to access platform 1 from the Newport end, which meant that any King hauled working starting from Cardiff had to have the empty stock brought up for it by the pilot.

 

Pontypool Road was another exchange point for main line locos, as Laira locos working northwards were at the limit of their range while Crewe locos working southwards were also at the limit.  Traffic originating/terminating BTM usually changed locos at Shrewsbury, and were used as Crewe running in turns, but some GW locos worked through to Crewe.  Shrewsbury was also the loco change point for the Cambrian Coast Express, which reversed here.  

 

Oxford's role in north-south through traffic has been mentioned, and most WCML trains changed locos at Crewe.  Cheltenham-Paddington traffic changed locos and direction at Gloucester Central.  Of course, Marylebone-Manchester GC trains changed locos at Sheffield as soon as the Woodhead route was electrified.  Much NE/SW traffic changed locos at York, Birmingham New Street, and Bristol TM.  Some of this was because of tender capacity on the 4-6-0s, but some was a hangover from pre-nationalisation or even pre-grouping days when one company took over from another on through stock.  Locos were sometimes changed on Cardiff-Portsmouth workings at Salisbury.  Kensington Olympia deservers a mention.

 

On the Great Northern section of the ECML, loco changing on stopping expresses was the usual practice during steam days, often with pacifics that had tenders capable of supporting them for long distance running, even to the extent of some having corridors for crew relief.  I have no idea why this apparently wasteful practice was indulged in, but it seems to have been a hangover from the very early days of the GN when 'fresh engines' were more frequently required in the days before troughs were introduced.  It seems related to the stage coach days on the Great North Road, where horses were changed at coaching inns for fresh ones to maintain timetables while the passengers took refreshments, but I have no idea if this is the reason for it.

 

3 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

On the LSWR, Salisbury was the usual changing point - the omission of which had tragic consequences in 1906.

This was an up Plymouth boat train working, and the loco had been changed at Templecombe.  There seem to have been several factors at play here and AFAIK the BoT report did not highlight the non-stop working through Salisbury as a feature in it's own right, and came to the conclusion that for some reason the crew had become unaware of their whereabouts and not realised where they were; no attempt was made to slow the train and in fact the loco's driving wheels were still revolving with steam on until the regulator was shut after the accident.  Templecombe is not far away and the crew had not been long on duty, so fatigue is unlikely to have been a factor.  They must have been aware of passing at speed through a big station and thought they were at Basingstoke.  Incidentally there are similarities to the disaster at Grantham with this accident, except that at Grantham the crew were on the return leg of a diagram from Doncaster and probably tired enough for that to have possibly been a factor.

 

What the report did comment on was the competition between the GW and LSW on the Plymouth boat trains, and that it had come to their attention that drivers on the LSW were accepting gratuities at Millbay from passengers for early arrival at Waterloo; a dangerous attitude had developed with the tacit approval of the railways' managements.  Driver Clemens, who took CoT to around 100mph on a Plymouth boat train mails working (which incidentally changed locos at Pylle Hill), had apparently previously commented on record (on Churchward's instruction that the drivers were to hold back until he'd given the word, then they could all go and break their bloody necks as far as he was concerned) that he wasn't going to break his bloody neck for anyone, and his handling of the train on the downhill curves at Wellington, very promptly and heavily applying the brakes because a group of gangers were not responding to his whistle as he bore down on them much more quickly than they were accustomed to backs up this attitude, in that he wasn't going to break anyone else's bloody neck either, contrasting strongly with the overexcited Rous-Marten in the leading Ocean Mails van whose later comments about the blameless gangers betray his disapproval and disappointment.  I suspect he was not surprised when the Salisbury disaster put paid to the fun and games, and perhaps a little relieved.  Speed kills, if you let it get to you.

 

The board also commented on the centre of gravity of the loco at Salisbury, and there was a suggestion that previous liberal interpretations of the Tunnel Jc curve's PROS had been 'got away with' by trains hauled by T9s with a lower centre of gravity.  It does seem that speeding on this curve had become acceptable and it was inevitable that someone would come a cropper.

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The LMS had quite complicated engine diagrams that were intended to keep them (and their crew) fully occupied.  A class 5 engine could do a little 50 miles each way trip while waiting for it's return working.  Sometimes only the crew might be changed so they could work home or because they weren't knowledgeable about the full route.  Crewe men worked the first non-stop Euston to Glasgow as they were the only ones who were signed for the full line.  

 

Nearly all long-distance trains stopped and were faffed about with quite often with single carriages attached or detached and trains split and combined.  Swapping the engine during this period contributed no delay.  Also issues like build up of clinker could be avoided and little running repairs carried out.  

 

Alan

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On the ECML, the non-stop workings by a single loco between London and Edinburgh are of course well known.

What doesn't seem to be so appreciated though is that this was very much a one-off through working and pretty much on the limit. It was also, incidentally, the only working which actual used the crew-change facility of the corridor tenders, and one of very few on which an Edinburgh loco would be seen south of Newcastle.

 

So, what were the issues? Clearly not water, the ECML, like most other main lines used water troughs to refill at speed, and the non-stops obviously relied entirely on these. For other services in steam days, when infrastructure was there for steam working, main stations would all have water cranes enabling water to be topped up during station stops too. Remember, these wern't the firemans hose pumped from a road tanker hour-long job of todays steam specials! The water cranes had a massive diameter 'bag', and were fed from a large capacity tank, constantly topped up, up on a high tower to give a high pressure, so they could top up a tender in minutes. Also, station stops weren't the minute or two 'whistlestop' of today's railway, most passenger trains also had significant amounts of parcels and mail traffic to handle so stops were longer.

 

What can't of course is be refueled en-route is the coal. With the non-stops, even with a fast timing, limited load, and no station stops  to restart from, there's reports of occasions of running short of coal at the end of the journey, and I've seen several photos at Belle Isle of locos coming off Top Shed prep'd for the non-stop that, the heap of coal on the tender, the signaler must surely have had to bell it through to KGX as an 'out of gauge load'! So, on regular expresses, with generally heavier loads, several stops to restart from, and hence slower timings and more time on the road, such through workings were out of the question.

Even shorter runs could apparently still present problems coal wise. When I was at Gateshead from '78 onwards, one of the Running Foremen had the nickname (though strictly not when anywhere near within ear-range!) of 'floorboards' as he'd reputedly once, on an A4 on a KGX - N'cle working, used them to fire the loco on the last leg in from Durham!

 

Many workings, as the OP noted, were much shorter still, this now brings us onto working practices. Depots were, it would seem, loath to allow their locos, particularly 'top link' one's to be taken on by 'foreign' depots or crews, and workings were generally arranged to return locos back to their home depot. Perhaps a factor here, their would of course have been no centralised maintenance records, so keeping it returning home would help keep track of what was done. Also, the practice of regular manning of top link link engines, mentioned earlier regards pre-group times, hadn't entirely gone away, the idea being, i believe, that drivers would take greater pride in looking after their 'own' engine, and this seems to have continued on / off at various times virtually till the end of mainline express steam. For example, there's numerous references to in the 50s No.7 being Bill Hoole's 'regular' engine, or the well know books of 'Toram Beg' with his regular, No.100.

So, when the home depot crew were due to come off, so, often, did the loco. Although I don't think they would necessarily be worked back by the same crew after the time needed for servicing, it could still likely be by another crew from it's home depot. Grantham was one change point mentioned by the OP which appears strange now, it was AIUI, the furthest a Tyneside crew could work out and back. Although they did work through to London these were of course lodging turns which would seem were a minority, most turns being been out and back in a shift. It wasn't until the HST that London and back in a shift became possible.

Edited by Ken.W
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The main barrier to very long distance workings was ashpan capacity: once this was full the steaming went right down the nick. Pre-war, both LMS and LNER Pacifics were rostered for the circa 400 miles between London and Edinburgh / Glasgow. There would be a crew change en route; on the LNER this was non-stop through the corridor tender but the LMS made a two minute stop at Carlisle for the purpose. The change was not made at Citadel station but outside it at either Upperby or Kingmoor, so the timetable showed these trains as 'non-stop'.

 

Post war, this became more difficult as coal quality was reduced with a higher ash content, so the ashpan would become overfilled earlier and the LMR, at least, inserted an engine change at Citadel station. As far as I know, only the 'Caledonian' didn't change locos, but had a reduced load of only eight bogies to deal with.

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6 minutes ago, LMS2968 said:

The main barrier to very long distance workings was ashpan capacity: once this was full the steaming went right down the nick.

 

Longon-Glasgow was a good example. It had 2 big problems: the climbs up Shap & Beattock. Shap is over 250 miles into the journey & Beattock past 300.

The solution was to put on a fresh loco for these....until the LMS built their Pacifics, which were powerful enough that they could manage the climbs even with a dirty ashpan.

 

There are lots of photos of Duchesses swapping at Carlisle in BR days, which illustrates the point in the above post about poorer coal quality post-war.

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Interesting topic and some really informative replies.

 

May I please extend the OP's query to include engine changes on long distance and inter-regional freight workings throughout the steam era post WW2.

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16 minutes ago, Right Away said:

May I please extend the OP's query to include engine changes on long distance and inter-regional freight workings throughout the steam era post WW2.

 

From Terry Essery's Firing Days at Saltley, it's clear that locomotives generally worked through - at least with a division - but crews were changed to fit the day's work within the eight hours, at least on principle - much overtime was earned sitting in lie-byes waiting for a bath. An exception was the Birmingham - Carlisle freights via the Midland route, which were lodging turns. It's far from clear why that had still to be the case - the train had several stops for examination where a crew change could easily have been accomplished. As with the passenger non-stops, there were tales of shovelling in the last of the coal somewhere around Kingsbury Junction and coming on to Saltley shed with the bunker swept and polished.

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1 hour ago, Right Away said:

Interesting topic and some really informative replies.

 

May I please extend the OP's query to include engine changes on long distance and inter-regional freight workings throughout the steam era post WW2.

Neither 'freight' nor 'passenger', but until diesel traction took over, the West Wales fish and Milk trains used to change locos at Felin Fran, on the Swansea District Line. The Neyland 'County' which had brought them from West Wales would be replaced by a Landore 'Castle'. The relieving engine would have come up the otherwise  little-used branch from Landore to Morriston West.

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1 hour ago, Right Away said:

Interesting topic and some really informative replies.

 

May I please extend the OP's query to include engine changes on long distance and inter-regional freight workings throughout the steam era post WW2.

 Many of the trains coming down from the Midlands / North of England swapped engines more than once. Bristol was a key location as was Plymouth. 

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22 hours ago, phil-b259 said:

Virtually all LSWR / SR trains to the West Country which required loco changes performed the procedure at Salisbury and Exeter.

I would imagine that a majority of trains running through Exeter Central would have had a different loco upon departure compared to arrival. Certainly anything to/from Waterloo.

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4 minutes ago, Zomboid said:

I would imagine that a majority of trains running through Exeter Central would have had a different loco upon departure compared to arrival. Certainly anything to/from Waterloo.

 

That had certainly been the norm for Plymouth-Waterloo expresses - changing at Exeter and Salisbury - until the ocean liner racing in 1904, when in an almost certainly misguided, and in the event fatal, attempt to save time, the journey was made in two stages with a change at Templecombe. It is said that the lack of water troughs on the LSWR was due to the lack of any suitable stretches of level line.

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2 hours ago, Pete the Elaner said:

 

Longon-Glasgow was a good example. It had 2 big problems: the climbs up Shap & Beattock. Shap is over 250 miles into the journey & Beattock past 300.

The solution was to put on a fresh loco for these....until the LMS built their Pacifics, which were powerful enough that they could manage the climbs even with a dirty ashpan.

 

There are lots of photos of Duchesses swapping at Carlisle in BR days, which illustrates the point in the above post about poorer coal quality post-war.

 

The majority of trains changes locos at Carlisle. That's what made it a great place for spotting when I was growing up there in the 1950s and early 60s :)

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Under which CME's  did steam locomotives become so reliable they could tackle 400+ mile  trips without attention to oiling of bearings etc  during the trip  ?

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26 minutes ago, Pandora said:

Under which CME's  did steam locomotives become so reliable they could tackle 400+ mile  trips without attention to oiling of bearings etc  during the trip  ?

 

I think both Euston - Glasgow Central and Kings Cross - Edinburgh Waverley are both just a smidgin under 400 miles. So under Fowler on the LMS (demonstration only) then Stanier on a regular basis, and under Gresley on the LNER. But I don't think lubrication was really an issue - mechanical lubricators were standard fittings by the 20s.

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It could not have happened until the Grouping as no individual railway had a continuous 400 miles of line. The LNWR could manage 299 between Euston and Carlisle, but I think that was probably the maximum. There are stories of LNWR engines, including Webb Compounds, running the full length prior to Whale taking over as CME, so that distance wasn't impossible in the early years of the century.

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15 minutes ago, LMS2968 said:

 The LNWR could manage 299 between Euston and Carlisle, but I think that was probably the maximum. 

GWR to Penzance is 320 something, but still not close to the 400 mark. 

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