First generation AC EMUs on the GEML/Lea Valley

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by 90sWereBetter, 21 Sep 2016.

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  1. 90sWereBetter

    90sWereBetter Member

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    Just trying to work out the chronology of the Class 302/306/307 fleets on the Great Eastern Main Line post-war, as I'm a bit confused with it all, especially with the 302/307 fleet.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 306s were effectively the Shenfield Metro fleet from new until the 315s came into service in the early 1980s?

    With the 302s and 307s, were they used on the Southend services and branch services from new until cascaded 312s and the new 321s replaced them? Were the 302s then sent over to the "Misery Line" to supplement their own fleet?

    That being said, I've seen a few photos of 302s running on the Lea Valley Lines along with 305s, which has now got me thinking "I thought the 317s were supposed to replace the 305s on the West Anglia side of things"? :lol:

    Sorry if it I seems like I'm rambling, it's just the whole first-gen AC EMU side appears very confusing with regard to operations, Network SouthEast sectors, and replacement. :)
     
    Last edited: 21 Sep 2016
  2. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Confusing also because the 3xx class codes weren't used for the majority of their lives, and were assigned in no particular logical order.

    The 306 Shenfield (001-092) and 307 Southend Victoria (101-132) were indeed original 1500v DC units, and the 306 were replaced by the 315 around 1981. Meanwhile, for the 307 and the other later units there was a substantial refurbishment programme in the early 1980s that actually made very nice units, all the compartments stripped out to open stock, new seats, better draughtproofing, etc.

    The 307 always seemed confined to Southend Victoria services, but the rest of the modernisation plan GE emu stock could, and did, turn up anywhere. The 305 and 308 were equally at Hertford East or Clacton. The 3-car suburban units 401-455 were theoretically for Chingford/Enfield, but likewise turned up anywhere, at Southend Victoria or Bishops Stortford, probably coupled to a 4-car to give first class accommodation. Apart from the sliding door 306 stock the rest could, and did, MU together. There were by the way a number of 306 turns all the way to Southend, and likewise the slam-door stock could sometimes be found on Shenfield locals.

    The 302 were the first built of the modernisation plan AC stock, and were stored on completion and then all appeared overnight the weekend (1960) the 1,500v was converted to 6.25Kv AC. The Shenfield and Southend stock was then rebuilt, but although the 302 was intended for the LTS about the first 20 were always kept on the GE line for the rest of their lives, mixed in with the other units. The LTS changed over to electric only after all the 1,500v units had been converted.

    The 315s were intended just to replace the Shenfield units, it was only some years after they came along that peak hour reductions on both this line and the Enfield/Chingford lines (especially the last named, which had peak service halved) that they got transferred to run these latter routes as well.

    Although only inner suburban units should run to Chingford, the sidings there were used to stable many of the 4-car units between peaks, so they were regulars on that branch, although not in service. Another major storage group was Thornton Fields sidings, west of Stratford, where units required a double shunt and ended up stabled at right angles to the GE main line, on the site which is now the Olympic Stadium.

    Regarding the main "Lea Valley" line, from Clapton round to Tottenham Hale and on to Cheshunt, this wasn't included in the electrification plans until the 1970s, so it got its own group of high-powered 3-car Derby-built dmus, which ran the service, and onwards over the electrified lines, until some infill electrification was done. No new electric units were built to cover this, there was a general tightening-up of diagrams at the time. The diesels were sent over to Kings Cross where they replaced a lot of the loco-hauled compartment stock there.
     
    Last edited: 21 Sep 2016
  3. Master29

    Master29 Member

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    The 302`s mainly used the Liverpool St- Bishops Stortford line along with the 305/2 `s often coupled together as Taunton rightly points out. However, this was only the case with the first 25 units as the rest were allocated to East Ham on the Fenchurch Street Shoeburyness route. The 307`s were built in 1956 3 years before the 302`s at Eastleigh works and were originally D.C operation. Again as Taunton says usually on the Liverpool st Southend Victoria, but not necessarily. The same is possible with the 302 `s regarding D.C operation but not too sure.
     
    Last edited: 21 Sep 2016
  4. Mikey C

    Mikey C Established Member

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    I remember there were still 305s operating on the longer Lea Valley routes in the late 80s, via Tottenham Hale, I much preferred these to the 315s that operated the majority of the services by then!
     
  5. Alfie1014

    Alfie1014 Member

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    As already mentioned the 306s (AM6) and and 307s (AM7) were originally DC units and were converted to AC around 1960.

    The 112 class 302 (AM2) units were the first purpose built AC EMUs and were for the LTS line, where electrification was due to be implemented in 1961-2.

    Construction of the 302s was started (in 1958) before the LTS wires were due to be energised, with the intent that some were ready to operate as a test bed for AC electrification on the line between Colchester and Clacton, (where the first (official) passenger services were introduced in April 1959) and to be used in lieu of the DC units during the first months of the conversion of the DC services to Shenfield and Southend Vic whilst the AM6 and AM7 units were rebuilt for AC operation. A few 302s were also lent to both the LMR and ScR for driver training and familarisation in 1959, (with a 302 actually briefly operating a passenger service due to the failure of steam train on the Styal Line before official services started on the Clacton branch).

    Further units were built for the extension of the ER wires between Chelmsford and Colchester (308/1s), for the Chingford, Enfield, Hertford E and Bishops Stortford (305/1s, 305/2s and 308/3s) North East London services. A further 9 units (308/2s) were also built for Boat Train and Parcels services on the LTS route around this time too.

    All of these earlier units (with the exception of the 306s) could work in multiple together, however the 307s, (possibly due the location of their pantograph or their original poor riding bogies), were prone to de-wirements especially on the NE London routes and so tended to be kept on Southend Vic services or occasional workings as far as Colchester on the main line.

    It was apparent early on that 121 units for the LTS was an over provision and the first 25 units (201-225) spent much of their pre-refurbished lives allocated to either Clacton or Ilford depots working GE and NEL line duties.

    All of the 305/2s, 307s, 308/1s and 30 of the 302s were fully refurbished in the 1980s and interworking became more commonplace (except for the 307s still mostly working Southend Vic services) with most of these 1st generation units finishing their NSE days on the LTS as more modern units were either built or cascaded in from elsewhere.
     
  6. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    A substantial amount of the GE system was initially electrified at the reduced AC voltage of 6.25Kv. This included all the original DC line out to Southend Victoria, all the North East services out as far as Broxbourne, and the LTS to beyond Barking. The inner suburban units without first class therefore hardly ever ran onto the 25Kv. It was only after this was converted to mainstream 25Kv in the 1980s that it was possible to draft in units like the 312, and indeed the Class 86 electric locos, which did not have 6.25Kv capability.

    Gerry Fiennes, in his well-known book "I Tried To Run A Railway", was very scathing about whoever decided in the 1950s to convert the perfectly-running and almost-new 1,500v system to the dual 6.25/25Kv AC system. He had to deal with the multiple failures in its early days, some quite serious. It was of course a completely isolated electrification until the 1980s link-up via the North London line.
     
  7. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    It was of course an issue with poor switchgear design/manufacture in some of the trains rather than anything wrong with dual voltage ac that caused the failures.
    Had the option of 6.25kV not been there, the additional civil engineering associated with 25kV clearances may have prevented the extension of the original Liverpool St. - Shenfield - Southend until recent times.
     
  8. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    By the time the 6.25kV was uprated to 25kV, I believe further research and experience had shown that the clearances needed were not much more than those provided for 6.25kV, which were in turn mostly unchanged from the 1500V before that. So in the end very little of the extra civil engineering was ever carried out.
     
  9. Phil.

    Phil. Established Member

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    You are correct. It was the same for Euston which is why classes 81-86 were built as dual voltage locos. The clearances required for 25Kv were found to be less than previously thought.
     
  10. PeterC

    PeterC Member

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    I used the GEML regularly in the 60s and 70s/

    Thinking back the 306s operated stoppers out to Shenfield and the limited overnight service out to Southend. These services always ran as 3 units, never reduced in off peaks. When the timetable included a Shenfield - Chelmsoford shuttle this was also a 306 and I think it was a single unit.

    I can't remember a Southend daytime service in the 60s early 70s that wasn't operated by a pair of different classes. I assume 307 + 308 as it was always one with a flat front and one with a sloped cab window. Again I don't recall single units running.

    305s drifted onto the main line occasionally, the large windows spanning two seating bays was very distinctive and gave a brighter feel to the interior.
     
  11. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    I'm happy to stand corrected, but I'm reasonably sure that the 6.25kV only went as far as Chadwell Heath on the GE (more or less opposite the Electrical Control Room), and somewhere around Bury St Junction on the WA. It was 25kV beyond both locations from the start.

    At least that is what I recall reading in 'Eastern Electric' by John Glover, the best book I have found in the subject.
     
  12. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    I remember the 305s which I always thought of as 'Chingford units'. Whilst they did have a more airy appearance, there was very little hand luggage space on them as the racks were only on the coach sides and not like 'baskets' (metal, not string as per SR units), mounted transverse over the seat backs. The inclusion of the 305s also sometimes meant that there were 7 and 11-car trains running.
    I think that the 308s were normally coupled up to 305s or 307s to prevent two adjacent cars with pantographs running as would be the case with two 308s facing opposite directions with the pantographs in the centre.
     
  13. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Quite correct, although the GE in particular has suffered as a result up until the current re-electrification. Some of the electrical clearances were as low as 75mm, and it only takes a small icicle or piece of litter to bridge that gap and bring the wires down in a big flash. Also wire height was reduced at some over bridges to get even minimum electrical clearance, meaning that the sag in hot weather quickly takes the wire out of gauge with equally predictable results. I've seen more than one train with wires sagging onto the carriage roofs.
     
  14. PeterC

    PeterC Member

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    IIRC they were divided into large compartments/small saloons with several seating bays. The seats were low backed. The other slam door units were normally two compartment coaches and two saloons with high backed seats.
     
  15. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    The map on the last page here of the official report into the early power failures in 1960 shows the extent of the 6.25 and 25 Kv systems.

    http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/MoT_EMUFailures1962.pdf

    On the main line the changeover is just beyond Shenfield, with the reduced voltage applying all the way to Southend Victoria. On the NE London lines it is out at Cheshunt. On the LTS it is on both routes just beyond Barking. The Shenfield-Chelmsford section was the only bit of the 1,500v DC that was converted to 25Kv, all the rest being changed to 6.25.

    While we are discussing the NE London, can anyone advise the point of electrifying from Seven Sisters round through South Tottenham on the Goblin, and round again onto the Lea Valley line. I don't think anything other that an occasional wire-cleaning operation ever went round it.
     
    Last edited: 29 Sep 2016
  16. PeterC

    PeterC Member

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    There used to be a regular (I hesitate to say "parliamentary") service from Stratford via those curves. I don't think that it survived the transfer of services to London Overground.

    The Seven Sisters - South Tottenham curve is used for reversing southbound trains terminating at Seven Sisters. Currently this is only during engineering work but there was talk of improving frequencies north of Seven Sisters by terminating additional trains, for which LST does not have capacity, there. I don't know if anything is going to come of that idea/
     
  17. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    I'm surprised because I didn't think there were enough of the "sloping front" (ie 305/308) emus to allow that. There were only 133-165 and 501-519, so 52 4-car units, to cover all the main line beyond Shenfield out to Clacton that weren't 309 express units, including all the peak extras, and all the Lea valley to Hertford and Bishops Stortford, especially once the Tottenham Hale line was electrified in the early 1970s without any extra electric stock.

    Regarding the chance of two 307s being operated pantograph-to-pantograph, how could they get turned? I can only think of the Colchester triangle, well beyond their orbit, as a place to do this on the electric lines.
     
  18. Smod

    Smod Member

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    My recollection of the first generation sets is this:

    In the early days class 307 sets were generally seen coupled to class 308/1 sets. I agree that there weren't enough 308/1s to match the number of 307s but this did seem to be the norm. Furthermore, only the higher numbered 308/1s seemed to be on the Southend/Chelmsford services. I had the impression that the lower numbered sets were on fast services beyond Chelmsford to Colchester and Clacton (based at Clacton?) - but I was very young and may have been wrong. The service pattern (off peak) was three trains an hour stopping at Stratford, Ilford, Romford, then all stations to Southend (2 trains per hour) and Chelmsford (1 train per hour). I think there was another service fast to Shenfield to plug the gap in the Southend service. I think that Class 307s did get turned (but I might have been wrong). Could they have been turned in the maze of tracks around Stratford?

    Class 306s worked off peak to Gidea Park and in the peaks to Shenfield (and at night to Southend). They were never turned.

    I also think that class 305/2 sets were generally on the services to Hertford East and Bishops Stortford.

    Later the Class 305/2 sets seemed to be switched to the Southend services – I think that they were basically swapped with class 308/1, but I may have been wrong. Certainly the Class 308/1s became rare on Southend services.

    I very rarely saw class 305/1 sets on anything other than Enfield and Chingford services.

    Class 302s seemed to turn up on anything – but again my recollections aren’t that clear.

    I don’t recall when peak services to Southend were extended to 12 coaches and how this affected formations and allocations. Was this when the class 312s were introduced? I remember the 2-car class 309 units being extended to 4 cars so that 12 coach fast trains could run to Clacton.
     
  19. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    When were these 'early days'? I remember the three Southend trains one every 20 mins. There wasn't a Chelmsford service off-peak, instead there was a single 306 unit that ran from Shenfield calling at Ingatestone to Chelmsford and back every hour. There was the hourly Clacton/Walton each way that did Shenfield - Chelmsford (in under 9 minutes!).

    The fast peak Southend services (first stop Billericay) were certainly 12-car from 1971 on, the slows (Stratford, Harold Wood then every stop to southend) were 8-car as Stratford, Harold Wood, Brentwood and Shenfield platforms weren't long enough for 12-cars.
    The 312s didn't arrive until the mid-'70s when at first they were deployed on the GEML peak services. Their 90mph top speed improved headways over the 75mph 305/308s.
    The first 309 modification was for a buffet car from a Trans Pennine DMU to replace one of the original buffet trailers. This was followed by some of the 319/0s having a pair of MKI TSOs sandwiched between the driving cars. There were at least two 319/0s that werent modified by the mid '70s as the 1F80 17:40 LST-Clacton still ran with 2x309/0 (2 car), 1x309/1 & 1x309/2, an impressive performer with a max power of 4512hp available. At the time the class 86s were the most powerful locos with 3600hp.
     
  20. PeterC

    PeterC Member

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    In theory also at Tilbury Riverside.

    I can't remember dates but over the years there was tinkering with the timetable to include a fast (to Shenfield) service on the Southend branch although Stratford-Ilford-Romford-all stations every 20 minutes was the norm for most of the time that I remember between the early 60s and early 80s.

    Peak hours used to work on a 10 minute cycle, 1 Southend fast from Billericay, 1 Southend Semi, 1 Stopper from Shenfield, 2 from Gidea Park my earliest memory was 1 fast from Romford and 1 fast from Seven Kings but they fiddled with the stopping patterns of these quite early on, 1 from Ilford I think in alternate cycles.
     
  21. Smod

    Smod Member

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    I have found a timetable from 1959 that shows the pattern I described - two Southend and 1 Chelmsford per hour (stopping at Stratford, Ilford Romford...) and one Southend running fast to Shenfield. I have also found a timetable from 1972 showing 3 Southend trains and the Shenfield to Chelmsford shuttle as described above. My recollection is that the 1959 pattern continued well into the 1960s (I wouldn't remember anything from 1959!).

    Yes the timings of the 309s were most impressive.
     
  22. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    There was a full article about this in an old Modern Railways magazine, just at the end of their old small format so likely 1964. It describes the detailed operation of this sequence. Notable was how the Ilford/Gidea Park frequency was greater than now, although the biggest decline has to be in the Chingford peak hour service which had two 9-car trains every 10 minutes, one nonstop to St James Street Walthamstow.

    The magazine article I seem to recall that some services could be run by either the 306 with sliding doors, or the more modern 305/308 with slam doors, and signalmen had to be cautious with the latter in a signal stop at a platform like Stratford, where if people started opening doors to get in a nonstop which had a momentary red, it could cause great disruption.
     
  23. delt1c

    delt1c Member

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    It was actually an ex WR Intercity 123 Buffet that was used
     
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