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jools1959

2-EPB’s used on the North London Line

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I’ve been asked by a friend in the US, when he lived in London in the mid 80’s, he travelled around both the tube and the North London line.  He showed me a picture of what looked like a 2-EPB he had travelled in which he originally confused with a Class 501.  
 

I told him that it wasn’t a 501 because they were 3 cars long and he wondered how long the 2-EPB’s were used before being replaced with 313’s.  Could anyone answer that for me?

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I lived in St Margarets in 1987-89 and commuted to either Acton or Neasdon via the North London Line, and all I can remember being used were 2-EPBs. I've no idea what the gradients are like but I do remember some horrendous wheelspin at times.

 

I moved away in June 1989 and I don't remember 313s being used at all, but it is a long time ago and 313s are hardly the sort of train I would choose to remember.

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6 minutes ago, keefer said:

According to bloodandcustard.com

https://www.bloodandcustard.com/SR-2EPB.html

The cl.416s were used from May 1985 - 3rd October 1989

Agree with that.  

 

I lived near the line at the time and made numerous trips.  Having also lived in Custom House in its later diesel-operated days it was of interest to compare the performance of the "new" electric trains.  Hardly new, of course, because they were SR-design 2EPB units dating from 1953-6 but built on the underframes of 2NOL units which dated from 1934.  That made them around 55 years old at withdrawal and one of numerous examples of Southern thrift in re-using worthwhile hardware with newer bodies.  

 

The North London Line is one of many different parts and characters.  From the genteel greens of Richmond through the railway lands of Willesden and the backyards of Kilburn beneath Hampstead Heath and on through trendy Camden to downmarket Dalston.  The 2EPB units began when the route still ran in to Broad Street though it was soon diverted to Stratford.  They eventually reached North Woolwich when the route via Connaught Tunnel was electrified and the platforms at the terminus swapped for a reason which now escapes me.  

 

They replaced 3-car 501s and looked superficially similar but with only two carriages.  They required window bars because of the tight clearance in Hampstead Heath Tunnel.  They were barely adequate when running to Broad Street and woefully inadequate once the route to Stratford (re)opened.  Sardine-can conditions were the norm.  BR had apparently decided that they would be "good enough" for a route which was felt to be running down and without a long-term future.  History and various changes of policy and funding have proven otherwise.  The Stratford link, previously an infrequent and unreliable diesel during its early days as a re-opened route, became immensely popular as reliable electric trains took over.  They also revived the flagging fortunes of the moribund North Woolwich line which was as close to closure in the late 1970s as having a peaks-only service, virtually unknown and unused and definitely not promoted.  When I boarded the DMU at Custom House one morning at around 08.00 I got a very surprised look from the crew; I was the only passenger aboard on a "peak hour" train.  And so it remained into Stratford.

 

During the 2EPB era it was possible to travel right around London by these units.  From Woolwich Arsenal to Waterloo East, thence Waterloo (main) to Richmond and from there to North Woolwich before returning across the river by ferry or through the pedestrian "pipe".  Units accessed the North London Line via a connection, now removed, between the Up Waterloo line and platform 3 at Richmond and were maintained at Wimbledon.  They were usually paired for empty-car movements between Richmond and the depot but never in passenger service on the NLL. 

 

The route is now run by 5-car class 378 units operating (on the Willesden - Stratford core) eight trips an hour of which four run to Richmond and four to Clapham Junction via the more recently electrified West London Line.  They are often, even during the current emergency, very well patronised with peak-time trips at absolute capacity.  The trains and the stations have been extended from 3-car to 4-car and now 5-car yet are still not enough.  A very far cry from a 2-car train every 20 minutes.  

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10 minutes ago, Gwiwer said:

Units accessed the North London Line via a connection, now removed, between the Up Waterloo line and platform 3 at Richmond and were maintained at Wimbledon.  

I chaired the meeting in 1984 between LM and S Regions that agreed to provide the link at Richmond. I thought the units were maintained at Selhurst at that time. 

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there are some cab-ride videos of the NLL (and Gospel Oak-Barking) in the 1980/90s on YouTube.

To see the old DMUs and EMUs bimbling along these routes, you could think you were on a rural/country line in some places.

Have these lines a bit of a chicken/egg situation? 

Was the service so run-down and shoddy because there was little patronage, or vice-versa?

Is the upturn in services/usage/quality of stock due to increased patronage or vice-versa?

 

Probably a bit of both, BR pretty much gave up on these routes as not worth it, hence only the determined (or those who really needed to) used the services.

But with a bit of money and change of viewpoint as to their usefulness (w.r.t. an increasingly crowded railway system), they have driven a demand for their services by using increased frequency and modern stock. 

What is the main competition to these cross-London services, the Tube? You could see why many folk would go for the Overground solution

 

 

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There used to be a Woolwich-Richmond cl.313 video but i can't find it now.

2-EPBs on NLL Sept. 1989: 

 

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BR had been distinctly set in its ways where London was concerned, doing just what the Big 4 had done, and pouring people into termini. Orbital routes were ignored - SLL, NLL - and actually crossing between Regional fiefdoms - think Thameslink and now Crossrail - was much too hard. Then Bob Reid Mk 1 invented Sectors. Initially these were very small, embryonic organisations, providing a bit of grit in the Regional oysters, but, divorced from everyday operations, they did take a long, hard look.

 

The L&SE people realised that rolling stock utilisation could be tightened a bit, and thought outside the box. Why shouldn't 2-EPBs run on the NLL, releasing the 501s for disposal? They worked with the GLC to fund a study on Thameslink feasibility - I think it cost £100k. The rest is history. And Hastings, East Grinstead and Solent electrification schemes were implemented without any new units being built. Different times.  

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Gospel Oak-Barking line.

BR cl.117 in the '90s:

London Overground (you might want to mute the volume for this one - I don't know why he spoils his videos like that!):

 

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In the current Traction there's a great article my Mick Humphrys, a driver based at Stonebridge Park and working the 'High Level' (ie North London Line) at that time.

 

He mentions the last day of Class 416 (2-EPB) usage on the 'High Level' was 23rd September 1989.  He notes how he worked 313006 & 015 ECS to Stratford that day, ready for the service on the 24th.

 

He also talks about the 501 which remained in service as a de-icer unit, thus outliving the EPBs I suppose!

 

Paul

Edited by bigP

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7 hours ago, Pete the Elaner said:

Did they ever make an appearance on the Euston-Watford services?

No. 
 

Maintained at Selhurst at the time


Quite possibly. I’ll buy that. They had been Wimbledon units though having previohsly been used on Waterloo - Windsor Lines services among others. 

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The bloodandcustard article linked above mentioned they were 'very occasionally' used on the Watford Jcn-Croxley Green shuttle.

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21 hours ago, Oldddudders said:

I chaired the meeting in 1984 between LM and S Regions that agreed to provide the link at Richmond. I thought the units were maintained at Selhurst at that time. 


Yes, maintained at Selhurst, they continued to work on the central section alongside the 4-EPBs. To be avoided though, as they had been fitted with window bars which at that point hadn’t appeared on the 4-EPBs.

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2 minutes ago, brushman47544 said:


Yes, maintained at Selhurst, they continued to work on the central section alongside the 4-EPBs. To be avoided though, as they had been fitted with window bars which at that point hadn’t appeared on the 4-EPBs.

Perhaps they should have. ISTR when surveys were done for 465/6, Charlton tunnel's walls were found to be grooved from cantrail smacks from passing EPBs!

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The earlier article mentions speedometers being fitted as well as the window bars - presumably the EPBs bounced around enough to make the kinematic envelope sufficiently 'variable' at speed

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The window barred EPBs also saw use on the Oxted line (with barred VEPs) when, after not seeming to have been an issue for 25 odd years of thumpers and Crompton hauled Mk1s with no bars, someone decided the Oxted tunnel S bend was a bit tight.

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4 hours ago, DY444 said:

The window barred EPBs also saw use on the Oxted line (with barred VEPs) when, after not seeming to have been an issue for 25 odd years of thumpers and Crompton hauled Mk1s with no bars, someone decided the Oxted tunnel S bend was a bit tight.

I believe the issue related to having seating adjacent to droplight windows in the electric units.  Mk1 coaching stock only had toplight sliders above the seats; full-drop door lights were confined to the vestibules which lessened the risk - apparently - of heads-out in the tunnels.  3D units were Restriction 1 and therefore slightly narrower than a Mk1 thus not requiring window bars.  

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19 hours ago, keefer said:

The bloodandcustard article linked above mentioned they were 'very occasionally' used on the Watford Jcn-Croxley Green shuttle.

Possibly once.  I believe the Bakerloo Line tube trains which berthed overnight at Croxley shed also had destination boards "Croxley LMR" in case of need but as with 2EPB units I cannot definitively trace their use on the route in service.  The 1938 tube stock showed "Watford LMR" and previously "Watford LMS" rather than "Watford Junction".  

 

2EPB units incidentally had their narrow roller-blinds above the two-character headcode equipped with destinations for the NLL service.  The original purpose of those narrow blinds was to display bars or dots above the headcode which modified its meaning.  These had been abandoned some time in the 1970s but the equipment was not removed.  Tiny lettering which was quite hard to read showed Richmond, Stratford, N. Woolwich and others

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4 hours ago, DY444 said:

The window barred EPBs also saw use on the Oxted line (with barred VEPs) when, after not seeming to have been an issue for 25 odd years of thumpers and Crompton hauled Mk1s with no bars, someone decided the Oxted tunnel S bend was a bit tight.

HMRI, pure and simple. The moment it was announced the line was to be electrified they stipulated that current (sorry) Blue Book clearances must be met. Bars on windows and limited droplights were the cheapest option, by some margin.

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3 minutes ago, Oldddudders said:

HMRI, pure and simple. The moment it was announced the line was to be electrified they stipulated that current (sorry) Blue Book clearances must be met. Bars on windows and limited droplights were the cheapest option, by some margin.

Saw many elderly ladies struggling to get their arms out to open the doors when the inside catch was too stiff. Had to step in so they didn’t miss their stop.

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Here is 6322 at Highbury & Islington in 1989:

11670796695_8fa2742358_c.jpg2-EPB_6322_Highbury_27-3-89 by Robert Carroll, on Flickr

 

These units were outshopped in 1958-9, not earlier in the 1950s as suggested above. They appeared long after the BR Standard 2-EPBs did and were the last Bulleid units to be built, as noted above, on reclaimed underframes from withdrawn 2 Nol units.

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Interestingly, my 1961/2 Ian Allan Combined Vol lists these as 2-NOP! I wonder if that was the original classification, before it was decided that electrically they were in effect 2-EPB and the name changed accordingly?

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1 hour ago, Oldddudders said:

Interestingly, my 1961/2 Ian Allan Combined Vol lists these as 2-NOP! I wonder if that was the original classification, before it was decided that electrically they were in effect 2-EPB and the name changed accordingly?



I've seen that classification used too. Presumably an EPB version of NOL, just as HAP was to HAL, and probably due to the origins of the underframes.

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2 hours ago, SRman said:

2-NOP

2-cars with "NO Pneumatic brake"? No wonder it was changed to 2EPB ;)  

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