Friday, 19 November 2010


In acknowledgement to my readers who come through Railway Eye (great blog, I just wonder who writes it. Nigel Harris of Rail - - says he knows but is not telling.) I thought I should recount my first ride on a S Stock train on the very short run from Pinner to Harrow-on-the-Hill on Tuesday 16 November. 

S Stock train on right heading north at Northwick Park Station on the fast lines.  An A Stock train looking both dowdy and fifty years old on the left.  Photograph by Julian Gajewski and taken with thanks from his Flikr site.

A Metropolitan T Stock driving car converted to line cleaning use at Rickmansworth station.  Before the early 1960s this was as far out from London that the Metropoiltan line was electrified.  Rickmansworth was where trains to and from Aylesbury changed motive power from steam to electric.  Surprisingly I can find no contemporary pictures of T Stock in service.  Perhaps they were such unassuming workhorses that no-one bothered with them.  Photograph by Steve Thoroughgood and taken with thanks from his Flikr site.

New Metropolitan stock is a rare occurence.  As a child of Metroland this is only the third in my 63 year long lifetime.  As with many born before about 1955 I have fond memories of the brown painted compartment T stock: the original BrownRail.  In addition there was the much more glamorous long distance stock hauled on the electrified part of the system by what, as schoolboys, we called 'bugs'.  These were Metropolitan Vickers electric locomotives, all of them bearing names and all painted in a handsome lake livery with gold lettering, but these rarely stopped at Pinner.

The electrification out to Amersham and Chesham and the four tracking between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Moor Park were the death knell for the brown stock.  It was followed by the then very advanced A60 silver stock in the early 1960s that, I think contrary to all predictions, lasted fifty years.  T stock only managed thirty or so.

On first encounter I am not entirely enthusiatic about S class.  A big plus is that it is lighter and airier than its predecessors.  The Hong Kong MTR type all through corridor also adds to this.  However the negatives are a very noisy air-conditioning system and a suprisingly rough ride - I know that the track is not in peak condition these days but I had expected better.  I do not want to make invidious comparisons between this Bombardier product and the Siemens Class 444 Desiros, but I do think the latter have a much better ride.

But the big deficiency is the relative lack of seats.  Many of those that are provided face inwards. Beyond Finchley Road and out to the Chilterns there is lot to see but one is now reduced to trying to read the opposite passenger's newspaper.  Also any seat on the run to the outer suburbs is welcome, especially as the Metropolitan line is much slower than it was thirty years ago.

Sorry that my first gricer section in this blog is such a gum-bumper.  I shall try and find something else more positive next time I write a blog using the Gricing label, but don't get me started on Circle Line signalling or the earthbound limbo that is the Baker Street flat junction.

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