søndag 20. oktober 2013

The 37/4s - Why were they built and the Other Rumours at the Time ?

As a thirty seven fan and former addict to haulage by them, I do get de-tractors from time to time ;-)

That is people who question how good they were and why they bothered refurbishing so many of them.

The 37/4 story is the one most at hand here:

The core here is that BR actually had a twenty year old committment to ridding the network of steam heated stock. By the end of steam in 1968, boilers were a complete anachronism but so much of the new coaching stock had been built such that steam could still work them that the phenomenom would tender white whisps and hissing from two tone blue coaches for another 20 years.

For the west highland line this meant that the turning point would be the introduction of the Mrk III sleeper coaches, which had replaced most of the then extensive sleeper services on the main lines,. In addition it wasonly the scottish overnight services retaining steam heat by the early 1980s on the older Mrk I sleepers (Bedz as we called them)

At one point during trials of the stock, Scotrail were quoted in the media as saying the coaches were not suitable and the service was going to be abandoned, but the coaches were in fact pretty suitable for the duty, in particular the air cushioned ride and sound proofing leant themselves to some decent "doss" on the highland and higher speed metals the services ran over to London.

Why did BR not utilise an existing locomotive class with ETH ?

Well the rumour is that Eastfield had at some point asked if they could get the unofficially RA 5 class 33/2s, the slim Jims. However they produce a lower ampage than needed for the sleeper services. Also Eastleigh wanted them for their own purposes of keeping fitters in a job.

The more obvious candidate was the higher ETH rated class 31/4- there is some confusion on how much power these can apply, but realistically a 250 tonne train would be a piece of cake even if they are only sending 1000hp or so down to the wheels. GIven the decision making time of say 1980-82, then in fact these locomotives were very much in use on the cross pennine roots via derby and in the west country where in both cases they had replaced unreliable 1st generation DMU operations. So they were not up for grabs.

Also there is CHris Greene's comments, as the then general manager of the ScR aka Scotrail by then, who did not entertain the idea of class 50s at ED (the question was posed and the rumour about in the early 8os as the IC 125s displaced 50s from their top spots in the course of less than 6 years. This rumour may have come with the fact that ED was ridding itself of 6LDA sulzers with then three or four types of EE SVT/CSVT locos being manageable) He said a new class in ScR was a bad idea in terms of crew training, spares and repairs.

The 31 Brush type two had been "failed" for services on the west highland line in its rather puny Mirlees day, but the SVT 1470 hp unit may have fitted rather well into ED as a depot. However, it would mean all the above Chris Green mentions,  despite their eminence in the reliability stakes.

Also there was another point of view- 37/4s would have to work both bigger passenger trains, and as an allocation to ED would work freights. The CP7 bogie offered the ideal solution for all round services out of ED where there is little opportunity for 37s to work at 90mph anyway on the allocated RA5 services, while often pairs had to be used to ensure starting and progress on WHL freights which were subsequently handled by a single 37/4.

A really grand allocation they became then! Being able to work until 2010 on the sleeper if I read correctly and I remember hearing them on the service after 2004 when sleeping at a relative's house near the line- with some disbelief having given up bashing 18 years before!

I gave up bashing for all the right reasons- my era was in those whisps of steam and 37s doing over 90mph when they got let loose on the west coast main line or a replacement Glasgow-Edinburgh service and so on. 37/4s marked modernity and shiny stuff and I nodded and smiled and retired from bashing as they began plying their trade of fast acceleration and better wheel slip control on the routes. Later when I saw they had displaced duffs on Highland Line services a little part of me wanted to get a freedom-of-Scotland and clear some numbers and lines but really that was just a tiny part of me by then. A lot of bashers went on to misspend youths and budding romances by carrying on with the several incarnations of liveries and routes the 37s then went on to work, and I am glad for them and glad that I did not follow them!

fredag 26. april 2013

Class 37 Self Steering "Bendy Bogies" (CP5)

  The desire for more power to move passengers faster and lift heavier freights on the west highland line, and lines north of Inverness, lead to the obvious candidate being the RA5 EE type 3 aka the class 37, 1750hp CoCo loco. In a techincal paper recently made available I find a fascinating insight into what was a class novelty soon brushed under the carpet by 1986, namely the "bendy bogie" experiment.

As a design, the CoCo bogie has many advantages, but one challenge is getting them to go round curves and we have a lot of those in the Highlands of Scotland!

The fact is of course that Class 37s had a much longer history with the ScR than most bashers and cranks knew, although that being largely a non boilered allocation to Eastfield and Grangemouth and thus in fact, their use limited due to demands for steam heating even in May and late August on these routes.

It seems that the WHL was not a route of choice for 1960s controllers allocating out EE type 3 motive power, and I propose they were probably either a) reserved for medium weight coal and petrochemical freights elsewhere ;  or b) banned from the route due to Co Co configuration.

Prior to tests of boilered EE type 3 locomotives at some point around 1977-78, I never saw myself or heard any "tractors" living within earshot of the route, nor did I see then or now any photos of 37s on even freights up there despite a decade of allocation to relevant depots. Someone will no doubt correct me and please, be my guest!

The Background History, Geography, Engineering and Economics!

By the late 70s, the mainstay of WHL traction, the class 27s, were becoming unreliable and there was a desire to have faster timetables on the west-highland line in order to compete with road transport. To put it in perspective, 27s ran a timetable almost 50 minutes longer from ft william and suprisingly 40 minutes from Oban. In a later twist of irony, these timings are similar  to sprinters which required a fudging of class 37 timetables in order to look competitive.

Road improvements at various points on the Mallaig to Glasgow "A82", the  road-to-the-road-to-the-Isles as they call it, were either in planning in the late 70s or actually completed. In order to remain relevant on passenger timings and also to have a synergy with the aluminum and paper industries at fortwilliam and oil/petrol to Oban, then more horse power would be needed and the 37 of course being RA5 with the pulling power (max' tractive effort) as high as many type 4 and even the type 5 deltic, would seem to be ideal (55,000lbs force at 18mph for the EE type 3)

The west highland line however is less than ideal for any locomotive or indeed multiple unit due to its torturous nature in gradients, curves and slippy rails. In steam days the line eventually demanded the somewhat over-spec'ed Black 5 be utilised, but this measure of power and superior tractive effort prove successful in steam as it did in diesel with the essentially more power than needed class 37. Many steam fans in their 40s and 50s would tell us that the black 5s would out perform the little tin-cans in classes 24,25,26,27 and 29 which replaced them from the route.

At one point there was chat and a reference in some rag about the 37s speeding up timetable and improving cornering. Perhaps that was either wishful thinking or outright propaganda then. BR was already planning for some way of working around this and although open to modification, they did not want to invest in new bogies (although at a cost we heard for a new wheel and axle with driving gears- set of over a hundred grand and this being not infrequent for Eastfield cl 37s it may have been wiser!) Perhaps someone could offer a comment on the BoBo bogies of the various type 2 designs and how the axle to axle span differs or other benefits of the double bogie with fewer axles, but that is immaterial: we were going to get more "horse" and not going to get RA6 Bo Bo class 33s up the WHL!!

They Knew All Along About CoCo Issues to be Found midst Lochs and Mountains Then? 

British rail technical and the class 37 fleet management in operational engineering must have known about the potential problems of running at maximum line speeds with a Co Co loco from experience with such routes in Wales, and it is reported that some modifciations, or tweaks, to the existing bogies on ED allocated "syphons" were made to allow probably for a more compliant ride at cost of some high speed stability ( with better track bed and in particular modern points, this was probably not such  an issue as it had been in late 40s BR!)

Eastfiled locos turned out with a white stripe at the tumble home bend on the locos body sides to denote this apparently, while I do not recall 37 175 having this actually, and we believed the time that 081 had it for some ceremonial/royal/tour working with an ETHEL. I do seem to remember that the white stripe denoted a speed limit on the specific locos though.

UK DE loco Bogie Design from 1947-1990 : A Fundemental Fudge ?

British locomotives like any other have vertical suspension, with the springs and dampers an obvious part of the construction. Hidden from view, the traction motors are "nose suspended" to the internal main-frame of the bogie with their own suspension such that they can ride with the axle while being cushioned from verticle shocks and horizontal movements.

Now here is the rub, you must also spring and dampen horizontal movements, because you do not want the massive forces created by the usual uneven ride of a loco as it rolls, pitches and yaws ; three aircraft and nautical terms for "shoogeling" as in Glaswegian.

Essentially this then has more to do with building engineering for earthqaukes, in reverse, where the mass which is oscillating is above the earth! There is a requirement to reduce impact forces on corners and dampen any horizontal movement transverse to the direction of travel.

So the bogies allows for this in the "commonwealth" type by having a main frame higher up in the bogie with the main circular bearing the bogie rotates under the loco on, while the axles and traction motors are then suspended on other structures which allow for some independent movement. Conversely, the characteristic 'cantilever" beam of this type of bogie  then holds all three axles vertically compliant and transmits these conjoined elements and forces to the suspension springs.

So in this way the wheel set can move to follow the rail even if the loco above is pitching, rolling or yawing, and dampen the forces. Further to this then the axles and traction motors can move to a given degree of horizontal independence with the vertical forces being resolved by the cantilever beam.

As young spotters then, we thought that the cylinder and rod arrangements on this type of bogie were brake pistons, but in fact these are an ingenious part of the system to control the extent of horizontal, independent movement while actually being laterally mounted to fit in the space available to the BR gauge.

Compromise Makes for A Good All Round Bogie System in the UK:

The independent axles main advantage is of course actually in tackling curves of a radius shorter than cant of the line and wheel bevel angle would not require this (as in fact is part of the practice of very high speed trains now, where unwanted horizontal movements under application of tractive effort or braking resistance may set up oscillations, greatly amplified by the high speed: hence HS1 and HS2, bullet train in Japan and the whole TGV thing running on very shallow curves with enormous radii) The axles of a locomotive or rolling stock for that matter must to some extent follow the radius of the curves which are sharper than allowed for in the tolerances of the higher-speed-track bed solution.

Essentially despite the whole bogie rotating around a sensible designed pivot point on the loco, the wheel set when presented with a prominent curve shall we say, are on one side forming a cord on the arc of the rail and on the inside trying to form a tangent. This has to be further corrected for in order to reduce wear to both the track and the bogies, in particular the wheel flanges and tyres but also other components which we will discuss here.

The system design then for a limited amount of independent axle transverse movement has three purposes which relate in their entirety to safe progress:

1) reduce forces on the track: ie the bogie tries to educate the radius to the "chord" between contact point and indeed between bogies.

2) reduce wear on the locos flanges and other components

3) make the ride smoother and both spring load the sideways forces and dampen them  to further this end.

Articulated Bogie Designs (eg Class 66)

Most north American locomotives do not use this approach of significant, radius-following, independent axle movement, but rather allow for a limited articulation in the  whole bogie frame design: often on CoCo design, the innerst axle pivots or rather has a limited rotation on its own frame rather than the axles itself "floating". There are probably some unwanted effects of this under traction and breaking, or over poor points etc, and with transmission/suspension of vertical forces  but now this is of course very wide spread in the UK being a feature of the class 66. For lower speed routes where it is desirable to reduce wear on the flanges and the tyres  on the wheels and the axles, gears, armatures and bearings, it would seem that this would be a better solution.

However the class 37 and most of its contemporaries were based on proven technology from the 1950s and before even, from successful and reliable designs  in the emerging diesel electric traction field. Ironically though, many steam locomotives feature a trailing wheel under the cab behind the main driving wheel which is articulated !!. The issue did not come up until the 37s were sent to Terra Scotia en masse! By then the articulated frame approach had been proven too at various speeds and track beds were far safer for modern locos to ride at higher speeds over.

Typical British Approach: Boffins with Cotton Reels.... Make Do And Mend with Ingenuity 

Confronted with a limited budget for a limited end  benefit in terms of return-on-investment then the engineers were faced with compromise and make-do-and-mend.  Typical for the political atmospehere at the time, the usual public funding issue of getting a budget to repair unsuitable materials every year, but never a larger budget in one year to eliminate or engineer out those issues, no doubt played a part. 37 bogies' would then need to "shoogle" more, yet not cost the earth to do so.

I can imagine the early tweaks were then to allow for softer sideways "preload" so that the axles could react quicker and perhaps small adjustments in the total horizontal movement possible. However, a bit like a plank of wood getting nailed down really hard at one end and the other springing up, eventually you are going to reach a limit of movement in part of the system and that prove to be critical in the "nose suspended" traction motor suspension. This has both an unfortunate simple leverage effect which could amplify small adjustments in axle transversing and also of course this is the absolute key to motive power thus being expensive to get wrong.

To summarise this fascinating article as a layman; and I hope I do justice for the inginuity of the engineers back then:

  1. The nose suspension box for the traction motors was critical and modified to include an "X" shaped rubber suspension element to allow for more movement from more directions
  2. The axles were engineered or allowed to run further in the lateral direction and to do this quicker
  3. New side ways springs and dampers were employed to then work with this longer and faster lateral travel
Success in Engineering and Failure in Economics

The trials with the bogie were evaluated as being very positive, as detailed to a very high technical degree in the paper . The results showed that the new design conformed to tolerances for these type of movements on tracks, thus being safe and the prediction was that there would be significantly less wear on the wheel sets.

However we were in a position by then of 1985 and "sprinterisation" was planned for and the lower geared 37/4s and eventually /5s would be used on heavy frieghts at lower speeds. It seems most likely to me that there was no capital budget for this adaptation to a set of 12 locomotives or so, which seems very short sighted and a result of the whole annual budget bull shit the Uk was in at the time in all departments: on the one hand not being able to spend more on year to save costs in the subsequent years, while on the other using up as much of the budget you had for operations in order that you didnt get it cut back from the actual spend. From water works to the admiralty, this was the Tory fueled "double think" of the 80s and early 90s.

As I heard from railway staff at the time, a new wheel set for a standard 37 was over 100 grand, and maybe that was higher for the new CP7 lower geared bogie. So spending one year to save for the whole life cycle of a sub class would seem sensible. On the other hand, the actual worse cause of wear was wheel spin and some other forms of wheel-spin-prevention and arrest could have been a wiser investment in terms of cost-benefit-saving.

No matter what, 37s are still today in fact working to Mallaig after having had the longest relationship with the line of any diesel loco, spanning 3 decades.

tirsdag 2. april 2013

Duffs Again... Why We Loved to Hate the Brush Type 4.

Duff's aren't duff, as a duff basher once told us when we turned down a 47/3 in favour of a trip back on the roarer which delivered the portion for the duff to Carstairs.

I say it again: duffs were too slab sided, bald headed, monotonous whiney locos that we just didnt like them. Like Ford Cortinas, there were masses of them and any way you dress them up, generally livery , XO or push pull, they are still a ford cortina.

Duffs in fact are only really duff because they should have been an elite 2750hp loco fleet to rival the deltic. They were actually more expensive to make than deltics and Dp2 type type 4s would have been significantly cheaper and at above 2600 hp, more reliable. Also ride quality at 100mph is pretty poor in duffs because they yaw and rock on the short wheel base, large diameter wheels and relatively high centre of gravity that the stress loaded body design entailed as against EE's and other manufacturers' underchasis construction as the load bearing members, achieving a low centre of gravity.

Down to earth with 2500hp, that is how far that engine type could ever go in traction. Old, simple and most of all twin bank. 2750 was a bridge WAY too far in terms of balance, mechanical and thermal stress on engines which were not always even made at Sulzer/winthenthur. Infact 2350 hp with intecooling would have been a more sensible rating and many actually question if duffs and intercooled peaks did on average any more than this. The order for the "second generation higher horse power type 4" should have been split between several manufacturers, possible with a Falcon style loco being a concession to some standardisation of PU for the western region. ( twin high speed engines had become  comparably reliable to the 12LDA and of course both the deltics, the blue pullman and "Falcon" showed that the approach was a very valid way of offering an added degree of redundancy in getting an ailing loco to pull its load home on one PU. Also it must be noted that there is a total voltage / ampage in terms of overcoming the single PU weak field : deltics do not require field diversion until they are at around 50mph, the second engine dialling in the additional ampage while mechanical power delivery is still then comparable to a type 4 (1650hp then pulling in the second engine slowly to eventually a presumed 3300hp give or take how the loco is set up and how quickly it accelerates to a point where the first field weakens due to back EMF) This must not be overlooked because realistically it is the number of cycles an engine makes which determine its service interval. Higher speed engines have proven to have a shorter service interval, but mainly because they were chosen as somewhat exotic high power output to cc and weight in the late 50s early 60s.

The SVT / RK unit was inherently a lighter and in vee form, a more advanced power unit to upgrade over time. Even in the late 90s, replacement 37 pistons were those common stock to class 58 and worn out class 56s had their engine blocks surrogate mothered into some 50s! The V form, multi turbo approach in a light engine which had proven marine and traction application in the early 1950s, should have been ordered in numbers as part of the second (or third) phase of dieselisaiton instead of 1) continuing to 1964 with the D200 type 4 production 2) buying only 50, over advanced EE type 4 D400s.

The ideal situation would have been for Brush and Sulzer, in fully evaluating the 12LVA engine. Although in the fullness of time, it only offered 70 hp over the duff engine, getting this engine right at 2650hp would have been a better use of time and resources than derating all the duffs made by the time the decision had to be made in the 1960s. In the fullness of time though, the LVA is a 1100rpm engine and this may have proven a weakness. Also it is more complex to maintain. For we wailway enfoosiasts, it would have been a welcome variation to the endless boredom of joe strumming and winney whining!

Despite a hugely expensive rectification programme on the runs of duffs made, to put into perspective, more than the purchase price of the deltic fleet, duffs and Peaks were never all that reliable in terms of miles per casualty. When you compare like for like with say the "unreliable" class 50 post HGR in the 80s, duffs and peaks working express services had similar MPC's. The eastfield /haymarket 47/7s only maintained a reasonable MPC on the very hard service twixt the two native cities of the respective depots by a series of proactive maintenance, often on night shift hours.

This is the crux of the matter: Duffs lasted so long and were really such a good investment long term because they were darn easy to fix. A single turbo, with simple crank shafts, basically a mirror copy of working on a 6LDA with a bigger single turbo. Leaks, cracks, valve wear, timing /push rod system etc could all be kept on top of, or fixed rapidly if there wasnt a major fail like valve seat destruction or crank case / cylinder lining decompression.

Further to the MPC rate,  a duff will grind away with her high ampage producing much lower engine HP and do a grand job. Indeed on many services 2500 hp with no ETH is complete overkill. I would also contest that duff's produce much more than 2000hp on no-E-heat services due to the punchy use of amps, the arrangement and rather pedestrian field diversion shifts and the speed limits on many routes or frieght services. When duffs did go bang, they would get hauled in usually by an EE type 4 or 3 and they were quick to fix most often. This was the secret to a relatively high class availability in comparison to the actual MPC's_: they went bang more often than EE type 4s for example, but could be fixed quicker, and depots got used to proactive maintenance as stated, which meant that "B" exams were really a bit more like a more involved bit of engineering.

However, given that a "DP2" earlier 2350hp loco had replaced the last 50% of the d200 fleet for example, it may have been that EE recommended an auxiliary generator as was pencilled in the drawings for class 37s. ( D6700 EE type 3's)

Class 40s and 37s show very much that you can bang away on a 70mph average speed timetable, producing pretty much full power through each field all day long and not have any significant increase in miles per casualty. Brakes etc wear out quicker, and oil needs replacing, timing chains adjusting, but that is simple maintenance.

Where of course duffs and ETH rancid wagons had their strength was in heating ETH stock. there the engine was revving higher in outset and power at rail required pretty much maximum output I'd say. The evil trade of "coffin" stock. Another strong point being freight where they could chunder away with a lot of mechanical pulling power delivered by virtue of Brush choosing high ampage.

 One of the big advantages which BR saw once the class had been de-rated, was safety in numbers, there being economic spare parts, depot maintenance legacy, driver training etc etc to make the class highly available ( although class availability of 90% still means that there were seven or eight times as many duffs unavailable than the "unreliable" 50s in the late 1980s) and with the build quality of bogies, electrical systems couple to the ease of Power Unit maintenance, the class paid themselves back many, many times over in a life time which far exceeded any other of the major LDA derived locomotive class anywhere.

søndag 10. mars 2013

The Best Thrashes!!!

Well which in a nutshell then, were my best ever thrashes?

I am jsut going to make a list, some locos and diagrams to be corrected or filled in later

37028 to Ft Bill

37028 vorh set up if I remember right for far north working. Big at the time, and it was an okay performer. Rarity in that it and 37017 were two of the very few vac'only 37s dotting around Scotland at the time. I ended up only ever bagging a few VO, but quite a few VB's turned up on loan to ScR while they awaited HGR E or H exams.

Good run with my sister in law in tow and a party atmosphere on the train, sarnies and flasks packed on a baking hot day in c 1983.

Track bed went on fire north of Rannoch or somewhere adding to the party atmoshpere ( still cant remember the station, seemed like a disused halt. Have piccies somewhere )

37014 1650 Glas-Ft William.

37014 features in the best ever, ever thrash below. But this was well up there., It was running either load six or eight on a hot summer saturday, and it was particularly thrash north of Ardlui with the curves showing off the attacking punch of the EE type 3 or this torturous route.

26 000 and 26 000 0635 IS to Far North (to Dingwall)  My first ever big overnight and it was to do the classic, probably either october 1982, december that year on a "Loanded" 10 quid freedom or summer 1983. It was damp and chilly at snechie.

This is the only type 2 in the book of thrashes because by in large type 2s were crappy underrated locos which should have been re-engined to 1500 hp at least. You needed two of them to get going, but this route really showed what a pair could do with type 4 power and 140 tonnes of momentum up front. We hurtled through the countryside and it was only with some regret that I bailed for the more usual Achnasheen leap, or perhaps I did cross - Skye for another thrash.

37025 Mallaig to Ft William 198x post my cross Skye bus and ferry move.

The cross skye move was accomplished with the freedom of scotland waived at both ferries and a dosey bus driver: it wasn't valid on the busses but was on the ferries. Seeing I was a 14 year old on my tod he let me on and I journeyed to a sweltering Mallaig. It must have been nearly 30'C there for some reason and the train was unbearably warm until we got going. By god we got going, I have not comeo out of Mallaig so fast since! The driver calmed down after Arisaig, but for those 10 minutes he was as they say, possessed.

37014 + EHTEL

This is the famous one, with Chris Gibb on board : all of us on the ex WCML buffet just behind the sleeper cars with Peter Walker making up almost an hour between Crianlarich and Dumbarton to leave almost on time there as I waved goodbye to him doing what with 37014 ? THats right, more notch 8 and get it all moving !!  This is well written elsewhere, but Peter knew the CAPABLE speeds and with the air brakes he could really just slam them on for Garelochhead, Faslane and then Rhu. The run past cardross was like being on the WCML, must have been 90 mph in the 60-70 zone. Absolute hell, have blogged on it b4.

4514... Bristol- Glasgow Beedz. Blogg3ed on this too, absolutely amazing, waved bye bye to a nice pair of enormouse 37s on lickey as we went up it at over 70 mph. I never respected these locos before or indeed after, but this was a diesel run to remember and a fantastic bit of stick merchanting!!  Also I think we went via Worcester loop or whatever which required a pilot loco : this was  another huge 37 and once again, it was not deemed necessary to plug it on the front as often happened on those services with a duff in tow.

Peter Waterman and some other ex drivers say that the 45 was the best loco they used, beating all comers but that is partly down to huge tractive effort being available with their massive weight. If they had been on ScR when I was a basher (and i did intend to do them out of Edinbra on the ECML  but never got round to it, fearing being stuck without  a last train or decent over night move) then I would have taken them instead of duffs when on option and covered lines with them perhaps. But then 40s may well have lasted longer in that parrallel universe and then 45s were the enemy.

37296 1715 Glasgow Edin

37147/174 Scarboroough- Glasgow, from Edingburg.

Both above showing the ease at which a 37 in standard form could tackle a 70mph average speed on the route with a decent rake of stock.

37209 1984 July, to and from Stranraer. Not much on the way down, determined to do the whole route with a big NB 37 though form Glas Cent. After telling the driver I thought it was a good loco, and the train leaving 2 minutes late, the thrash up the glens there was spectacular. A well functioning bit of kit, with a driver who just let it rip.

33000 Crewe- Shrewsbury, Bailing off an Addexx / Mystex at Crewe we took a Cardiff service instead of the duff, sans billett. The wee 33 totally surprised me, being my first ever one and I was truly grateful to Sulzer for making at least one fine LDA variant . Type 3s always had to work for their living and I rate all type threes, even a soft spot for non ETH 31s.

50 008 0900 Bristol-London to Bath.

First run on a 50 with the first compo not stuffed with Ruperts or other neds. Stuck my head out a whiole and the loco just showed how much faster than a duff they were when working well, and how VERY much better they sounded than any sulzer sloshing strummer.

Varioous Roarers

We were lucky in having Bert_Exs and Mystexs from dear aul' Glesga because they were comprised of the old mark I 100mph airbraked stock and nearly always a Roarer. Roarers werent really any good at accelerating from a start, 86s and 87s being better, but over an 86 they did seem to hurtle around at speeds between 70 and 100 for some reason. Maybe the mark Is just made them feel faster, and certainly they went over 100mph if they had the road on these limited stop specials.

By 1983 though the surviving 81s and 85s had begun to go bang quite often so we did record two failures.

More on the night:

37 026/025, to carlisle in the dark down the WCML goign mental and the same on 1S81

I did of course want to do a few routes with 37s and cleared a fair bit of the standard stuff at least. 37s on the Carlisle Via Dumfries in winter were rare, and having 1) not done the line with a syphon 2) not having anything better to do than 110 miles off one thirty seven rather than 35 off three up the WHL.

Nothing of note to Annan because the route is effing boring and effing poor for a 37 becasue a heck of a lot of it is 40-50mph right in 2nd feild divert, the 37s achilles heel on twisty and gradient strewn routes with speed limits of between 50 and 60mph: they rarely impress unless the driver gets above divert and breaks the limit! However upon ajoining the WCML south of Annan rather gingerly over the points and maybe to a signal, the driver vented his frustration at field diversion by going through all three on the WCML, necessitating a rather heavy bit of braking to come to a halt in the station. Jeckyll and Hyde you could say, and the way the mark I's were ratteling I'd say it was over 90mph.

1S81 was usually some crappy tea cup or tip top with boiler on, but it dropped a 37 with boiler, probably 025 one night and it showed the type two diagram that it was just a wee lassie, and the big brother type 3 was now in charge. Thrashed the hell out of it with a very impressive run as far as stirling. I may have bailed there, line acheived for a tractor can't quite remember, but a boilered 37 at Perth on a chilly summer midnight hour does ring a bell .

37 264 ex works, no clag, just thrash up the WHL with Davey Fraser saying it was the best loco on eastfield in his inimitable "old man" way. Great thrash, hardly any clag which equals a well prepared set of valves and timing chaine tuned to perfection.

37 188 was one of my beasts as was 178 . 175 was just too claggy nutty to be a contender but neds love clag these days!!

40170 on the overnight to Perth, blogged before. Nice tunes up the QSt tunnel!!!
40155 as blogged, why oh why did they cut up locos in such good nick when we had rancid type 2s and some tatty duffs whcih could have been cannibalised to keep their bretherin of vermin going at other depots while a selection of the best 40s whislted on providing secondary back up power admirably into the 1990s???

40 118 05 jan 1985 Carlisle Settle with Reidy, Rupert and Co. Particularly hell on the way North really big thrash out of Settle. Two coaches at least more or less stuffed with bashers. I mean the revenue from bashers would have paid for the refurbishment of a class of 20 of these old slugging beauties ???

Apart from that I think there are a few I will remember, including my first decent run behind a 37-4 out of ft bill which was hell in the snow up the valley to Tulloch and beyond " like a canon in the night"

By then I was in fact a bert, I viewed 37-4s as new fangled stuff, 40s were gone, 1984 had happened ( miners strike and all) so I retired pretty much officially in April 1985.

Do I regret not bashing longer because 37s came to work a lot more lines in scotland ? Well hell no!!! I had healthier hobbies to persue and I had had my run for my money of bashing. It was all just a game and I liked the back drop and thrash of my dear old west highland line over anything else. When sprinters came in there, I started using the bus which is a lovely run over via Inverary for anyone going that way, and then I eventually got my driving licence.

I turned up for the last weekend of 37s on the normal WHL serbvices to be confronted by a gaggle of insects (probaby now all "top men" with shares in good 37s!!) calling my beloved Syphons, "growlers" and warning me that this was indeed the last weekend. I felt that they were the new generation and that the old timers were gone, and anyway I was flung off another train because transcards had become invalid on the west highland line which left a fascist bad taste in my mouth. It was time to move on.

Go back and do it all again? Hell yes!!!!1

lørdag 9. mars 2013

Deltic Top Speeds

I was just having a little google about for any facts on the highest ever recorded top speed of a Deltic locomotive.

Well there were plenty of " i heard from..:" ,  or "read somewhere" from neds and "needle off the scale" from actual ECML drivers.

Also there are a few HST idiots who think deltics were a bit rubbisy and needed to be withdrawn for the zinging vermin to take over. The Deltic loco fleet was a small fleet of locos, the smallest of any commissioned main line diesel loco, and was built to supply the top express services on the ECML with improved running times on diagrams as a stop-gap for a decade while electrification was completed on the WCML and later the ECML in that timescale. Improved diagrams over exisiting sulzer powered type 4s entailed sustained 100mph operation on the new continuously welded sections. "3000 HP was needed under the bonnet" as the quote goes.  So that the deltics lasted 21 years in mainline express service is to their credit.

Top speed however is much more a matter of debate, and you then encounter the "short mile" calculation error etc. Firstly let us agree on one thing : 100mph was the maximum permitted speed and not that capable of being achieved. A loco being driver limited in those days means that a higher velocity could be envisaged and that as said above 100mph was the desired cruising speed.

DP1 , the deltic prototype had been uprated in some ways and had safety clearance for 105mph in fact, probably giving this leeway for driver error in maintaining an average of 100mph. That production locos could have been designed slower is not really a consideration if in fact DP1 was not all highly over engineered in terms of electrical equipment.

Throw the next thing into the higher than 105mph camp for them to fight with: The power units were not always set correctly to their top rpm. The non turbo deltic engine 18 cylinder, was rated at 2200hp-2500hp for the admiralty for use in MTB's, first tested in former E boats versus their much larger Merceded engines. These Power Units (PU) ran at 2000 rpm where as the production deltic locos' PU's ran at 1500rpm....ish ...it would appear that the rev limiter was not so finely adjusted and after some improvements to the design and materials during the first 6 years of loco's life with for example variation in the piston head materials, then it would have been ill advised to deliver an engine running a little below 1500rpm or banging off a rev limiting ceiling perhaps so to speak.

It is alleged that D9009 had a fault in this setting while under the cherised protection of the deltic-preservation-society, with an actual power output of c. 2000hp for one of the two PU's!

"secret trials at 3600hp" stories abound when I was a lad too, and have perpetuated on the internet. There probably i some truth in either collusion between fitters or the manufacturer and some managers with an interest more in timings than reliability and service interval! If you rev two car engines to the same relative difference of 500rpm in a deltic, then you hardly really could tell the difference  i'd say.

So here we come to a double ten percent club: firstly you have the permitted top speed being 105 in the prototype, so you could argue that a 10% safety margin was established above this: that being the 115.5mph.

114 mph seems to be quoted often on the internet and IIRC from deltic "men" in their light tweed jackets as they condescended to scurry around the ScR in post deltic 1980s.

Throw in then a second 10% in: 10% more power per PU due to slight misalignments in the limiter governor and Napier or the ertswhile Findsbury park fitter not wanting to disappoint with lower than desired power output. So 3630hp. More importantly actually in the highest field diversion a higher rpm will create a higher voltage with decreasing amps, so that is actually quite important for peak speed running: being able to extend the range before weak field is encountered by applying a higher voltage.

So now we do indeed come up to the possibility that standard deltics pushing out 3300hp, about 1.8kw at rail, could do 114 mph with their ETH off WHILE, an inadvertantly uprated deltic could then go over 120 mph.

You could just ask drivers if they had physically more power handle to pull on, but the situation is more complex due to field weakening, the electrical control system in DE locos and the momentum of the train.

The only real way is to look at timings from fast runs and deduce then the speed troughs for slowing to stop at stations and then be able to back calculate particular speed peaks which relate to the track conditions being straight and probably down hill. With runs of under an hour for 100 miles between stations it is obvious that a higher peak has been hit and maintained for a substantial period in order to allow for the acceleration and braking periods.

I'm of the opinion that a deltic did physically do 120 mph for a mile at least somewhere but however I think the 128.8 quote is probably a miscalculation based on short miles MSTS or whatever they are called.

The top speed for 37s has been quoted in pairs to me as being 114 mph noted by milepost timings on the great eastern, and 116 anecdotally. What speed they ran 37s to propell the APT stock on the ECML during high speed experiments is another story perhaps in the mythology of the blue and yellow railway.

fredag 8. mars 2013

Solutions, Solutions HST-2

I have a pretty clear view on how HST should be replaced.

Firstly I am not disagreeing that HST 1 upgrade is a good idea. It is however a bit typical of many rail companies not wanting to commit capital investment on a scale the public would and blaming short licence periods. However HST1 upgrade could be equally well achieved by a different means which would give the rolling stock more flexibility for use under 25kv wires. More on that soon.

But we need really not just one type o HST -2.  Why? Well we have the pending electrification of the GWR which will render a large part of any new fleet obsolete. Also HST 125 was never all that suitable off the GWR; MML; ECML and latterly WCML. THe single main restricting factor was the legnth of the sets, which precluded their use at several major terminii and a large proportion of platforms across the network. They weren't designed for stopping services but is the amount of first class and the restuarant-buffet vehicle really still relevant?

Also of importance is the fact that the train doesn't tilt of course which may seem like a given no-can-do, but in light of the snail pace of super-high-speed routes in the UK  (HS1 and HS2 maybe very much later) if the UK and Scotland want radically faster services which can out-compete car journeys and compete with medium distance flights then there will need to be diesel powered tilting trains.

The aim is realistically to be 15- 20% faster than current intercity services IMHO. This means 12 minutes per hour which means for example running at 100mph average instead of 75mph or 120 instead of 100mph. Average speed overall journey, and pick up time from stops are the key two factors to consider. Peak speeds help of course the average but there are always sections and diagrams which allow for some peak speed for a non tilting train. So journeys which currently take an hour and a half come down to an hour and 12 , but it is more noticeable when you break down the hour service and the two to three hour service. Take Glasgow or Edinburgh to Aberdeen: an ideal situaion for tilting trains.

However first and foremost we need to erradicate the additional subsidy stops on routes. Reducing these or even going non stop gives you a 5-10% better timetable diagram on even one hour services. So then you only have to run 10% faster on average and you can do this by tilting at 60mph on 50 mph bends for example it doesn't need to be all over 100mph stuff or vastly out of safe signal-stop distances.

Now we cans start to look at a smaller tilt which perhaps allows for a wider body or less mechanical equipment for the tilt, and an easier tilt for the 80 tonne diesel electric power cars.

And I think the answer has to be in using powercars for tilting trains and locomotives for wide bodied standard trains. Multiple units have nearly all had their issues compared to the best of the post war DE locomotives in terms of performance and reliability and also in the hidden respect of capacity reduction which was a sneeky side effect of moving away form drawn-rolling stock.

The most important aspect of using locos / power cars is that after you electrify a route, you can remove then and place in AC motive power. The locos can then be cascaded to other non electric routes, and in the case of tilting powercars, they can be coupled to new built stock to extend the trains to other non AC routes or indeed they can be designed in outset as convertable to AC drive with removal of diesel power units being lighter than normal locomotives anyway.

Tilting should have been ideal for the voyagers, but that is another story. It is an ideal solution transpennine, far west, MULE and ScR to taking 30 minutes off a   a current two half hour journey.

The GWR and routes like the N.Wales and Midland and Great Eastern whcih are still largely not AC, lend themselves though to high speed non tilting stock which by in large has more capacity for passengers and their luggage. Coaches can be longer and wider and have more luggage volume above seating.

Now that GWR to Cardiff at least will get wires, it seems obvious that proven technology should be applied with mark 4 type stock or an updated , light mark 3 like stock being developed. On top of this you would either place a 4000 hp single power unit ie LOCO, or HST type power cars and then you replace these sets with DVTs at each end and a twin power car PSO in the middle of the set, or leccie loco at the end allowing for swap of loco and through services to the west or flexible rostering on the Bristol-Birmingham-Oxford-London triangle with swapping of motive power as needed.

Glasgow Edinburgh is often hailed as a route begging for super high speed trains, but really many of these routes just dont need it: Manchester to all the northern cities needs only the 10% acheivable by less stops and further 10% by tiltign OR line improvements IMHO. Glas-edinburgh needs only electrification, certainly not tilting at 100mph - the route needs capacity and reliablilty and this could even  be done with refurbished 318s!! A ten percent improvement is all that is needed really in terms of the wider picture of need-cost-benefit: do we need glasgow -edinburgh in 20 minutes? No , the car journey centre to centre takes well over an hour on most days so a 38-46 minute journey will be ample and proabbly have a far lower carbon footprint than sparking stuff over at 120mph peak.

It is more routes like Liverpool/Manc- Newcastle and those NW cities south to Bristol , the same in Scotland with  Aberdeen and Inverness services which can gain big wins over cars, where current flight travel is marginal.

What I am then saying is that it is indeed horses-for-courses : the GWR and MML need long, high capacity rolling stock with 140mph maximum built in for the near future. Also this solution must allow for redundancy of diesel when wires come uip, but also allow for hauling of through trains to the west. Transpennine, far west and Scottish 2 hour plus  services need a tilting diesel solution.

lørdag 2. mars 2013

zing zing hst 125, Maggie Thacher, House of Lords....that 'ss stoon the vinegar

Well most people hated zings, trams call em even HST or IC  125's, but they pretty much single handedly reversed the ailing reputation of B's intercity division. A reputation not deserved really at all in my opinion..

Generally in the 1970s there was a malaise of all the rubbish Britain had becom,m was just a huge e reluctance reluctance to invest in a time of what can now be truly alled hyper inflation.

Goal Posts Wider than the whole Pitch

The main issue was that the big railway, InterCity, was expected to compete with the average speed of 70mph on motorways. As I ranted before about efficieny of high speed and ultra high speed trains, that is of course a fantasy. Cross birmingham or into London centre you are starting on a false premise and being made to compete with a goal post far wider than the true width of the whole pitch.

Intercity from the days of the Deltics and 'Roaring' AC locos was a very competitive service in the 1960s, while the perception of the motorway competition in the 70s lead to unrealistic diagrams (timetables for joe public). There was not enough slack for slight delays or any HSE caperrs, let alone a class 50 witha  warning light  on at carlisle

In the late 70s you got to London on the WCML in just under 5 hours from Glasgow, which is lightening fast for the time. At the time, the shuttle flight from Abbotinch to Heathrow was a little over an hour with boarding and arrival taking at least another hour, while the tube or taxi into Westminister or the like was around an hour too. So you were up at two thirds of the time for often ten times the price.

The "Up" Royal Scot left 0910 and at one point it was non stop to Preston.

Enter the Tory Mysterons in the NW

But there was a mysterious lot of additional stops added to many of the services on the WCML in the early 80s. Penrith of all far flung and inconsequential places was popped on the express diagrams. Congestion was blamed and the need to serve the N.W. at all of carlisle,  penrith/oxenholme/kendel and the "city" of Lancaster. However what lay behind it was the privatisation of British airways and the need for BA to look like a shingin example of privatisation and get people off the train.

AIrlines were are one time in history like the channel tunnel: they were too captial intenstive for private investment alone and they were too important and perceptually salient to be left to the vagiaries of the stock markets. However in principle airlines are very different from railways: there is no infrastructure on the ground which is significant enought to touch literally so many locations, people and transit nodes as to really need public ownership. Airports and planes take up little space. Airlines used to run a premium transport service and have no real social responsibility for transport like the railway has had through history.

Into the era of Thatcher, who was pretty much anti rail but tolerated it so as to keep some of the hoi palloi off the M1 and M4 on her way to Chequors or her Boston home.The railways always has been and always will be run as a highly beaurocratic or rather HSE and operative administration heavy business. Outside war time, the railway has always been run with the aim of breaking even on operations while it's captial invest,ment and failure history makes the internet bubble seem like  brownie picnic.

Asphalt Folly

The Irony was that the 1970s and 80s mass expansion and interconnectivity of motorways, and the advancement of them as ring roads, in the aftermath of the mistakes in planning of the embryonic 1960s network, lead to the grid lock of M6 Birmingham and the m25 amongst many other snail speed areas on the network. It took a while for planners to realise that they had built a magnetic monster for traffic which sucked more people into their cars in search of the house-price to income trade of. Coupled to the zero convenient public transport industrial-estate of the late 70s and 80s, then grid lock beame inevitable.

So the railway was shoe horned in the early 70s to competing with the new magnet for motorists, on which an averag speed of 70mph over six hours was not achievable outside travel commencing at 11pm! Then in the 1980s it was tethered back to allow for greater growth in shuttle passengers.

Now back to the ZIng. This was the one saving grace against the adversity of all this: the zing was chosen to run on the by then extablished high speed routes with continuous welded rail and usually 100 miles or more between stops. The zing lays its routes clearly to the blue pullman, a kind of BR being allowed to act like a proper private company and offer a super premium service. By the late 70s actually the main glasgow route was far less relevant : the once second city of empire had lost a great proportion of its production and trade in the 1970s. It still retained then a population of a second city of empire, only exceeded by Birmingham or combining Liverpool and Manchester. However, letting 'wegies eat humble pie of slower services to London while Scottish Enterprise propped up the shuttle profits with executives  on a basis of a higher passenger volume at a poorer leverl of speed and comfort.

The WCML has its issues of curves and gradients. BRB had then their dose white heat of technology up their sleeves: the zing was nothing very special actually- the diesel powerunits were already capable of  suprpassing 4000 hp in two units, or a twin PU locomotive by the mid to late 60s. BR type 4s at 2000-2600 hp did 85-95 mph steady, Deltic did 100-110 mph at 3300hp, the 125 would do 110-132 mph at 4500 hp. The rolling stock from prewar could do over 100mph. But BRB wanted solutions to avoiding the huge capital investment in making hte WCML as straight as the ECML and Great Western Main Line. It had two aces up its sleeve, 25kv overheadup the WCML and tilting trains.

Tilting trains were so near yet so far from being acheived in the 1970s.

Tilting trains were so near yet so far from being acheived in the 1970s. THe APT_E was apparently so encouraging as a gas turbine prototype that BR ordered not one complete prototype set of rolling stock but 6. In principle they were preparing a faite accomplis because six sets would allow for covering Glasgow-London and London Manchester for the peak expresses as operational trains and the APT itself never did look very protorype to me: looked internally and externally rather better finished that mark IIIs with a stubby 87 on the front!

The APT class 370 really did work, but was let down by low technology ( dowel / cotter pins for the low speed friction breaks being consistently poorly machined by a supplier and the hydraulic oil actually installed being too standard to cope with on the one hand cold weather on the other the high temperature of the dynamic breaking system.

Death and Two Phoenixes of the East and West

The sets were still runining for some reason into the mid 80s but were killed off by Thatcher. Once again being able to actaully do London glasgow in less than 3 hours woudl be too much competition for British Airways and for the motorway allure. The main success though was firstly the mark Iv sets with class 91s running at 140mph on the ECML and then much later, the pendolinos which now have finally improved the WCML times over those of the late 1970s.

lørdag 2. februar 2013

Glasgow Queen Street Tunnel and the Edin- Glasgow Service

As a feat of engineering you have to admire the sheer bloody mindedness of putting a north bound terminus station at the very heart of the then recently modernised city of Glasgow. This entailed running a dead straight chord of track down from south of Bishopbriggs: the tunnel itself is actually referred to as Cowlairs- Queen Street or just Glasgow Queen Street Tunnel. At 1 in 42 it was insurmountable by traction locomotives until 1908, and even then only by utilising specially built banking locomotives.

Banking on Banking

Banking remained common into the diesel age. However the introduction of more powerful class 37 and 47 locos pretty much negated the need for this banking. Indeed some trains were run down on a dead slow reverse shunt of upto 7 coaches I remember when there was  a lack of locos to haul down and provide uncoupled banking up over. To add insult to injury, on WHL trains when the dittery little class 27s were banking a 37, a spirited driver on the lead loco would outrun the 27 . This could lead to problems because the 37 would bang into first field diversion, the diesel-electric top of first gear. How dangerous this ever became of a situace I do not know with  75 odd tonnes of teacup scurrying to try and catch up with the rake or not as the case may have been.

Jewel in the Crown of Scottish Railways

The Glasgow Edinburgh route must surely be the jewel in the crown of the Scottish Region: negotiating the climb pretty much unabated to Falkirk and then the wide river valleys of west Lothian to then penetrate the very heart of Edinbra,' dissecting old and new town in the valley which used to be occupied by a lake! It connected the two largest cities together. At the time, Edinburgh a fading political centre post unification and dissolution of the parliament there, while Glasgow, the industrial and economic second city of the empire.

 You can chunder along between Scotland's two greatest city's in about 50 minutes now, and you could get there actually quicker in less than 40 on sunday mornings with an intercity 125 in the 1980s ( although it was published as 45 minutes, it went faster)

Slithery Issues

The gradient, and the weather, have always caused issues for traction. When opened in the late 1840s, hemp rope and a winch at cowlairs were used with braking wagons, the locos being removed from use in this passage up and down. This hemp rope of 5 inches circumference,  did become wire, but seem to be called the rope-pull until locomotive banking was introduced and presumaby braking was better on single units with tenders who could then descended the gradient unimpeded.

The tunnel is dank and seemed to be prone to getting greasy rails. So banking was par for the course until the more powerful locos worked the shorter rakes ( between 3 and 5 for WHL and the push pull "shove duff" glas-edin services)  Longer rakes were stlll delivered down and banked up by whatever loco was around, and often it would work a later shorter load train anyway. There was at times some methodology, but quite often a "Big NB" or a class 40 or a teac-up/tip-top dittery sulzer type 2 would come down and be punted as working say the 1715 Glas-Edin extra non stopper or a Dundee, yet only saunter off at Cowlairs and be spirited away to Eastfield or where-ever over the mysterious Springburn, Coatbridge and Bridgeton meandering connection routes..

I guess there was a limit to the allowed reverse shunt delivery in coach legnth, probably load 6 Mrk Is or II a-c's, regarded as safe. However with the introduction of 37/4s with their lower gearing and 47's on most other services in the mid 80's banking was obsolete on load 8 even.

The route basivally punishes all the diesel trains that work it, and I dare say was a back breaking and unromantic experience for driver and fireman on steam. You have the opportunity allowed you by the relatively straight route while you have this unceasing gradinet eastwards to Falkirk and the heavy braking which begins at Cadder for a 47/7 set at top speed.

Isambard McKingdon?

Really as I say, Glasgow Queen Street and its umbilical tunnel,  was a very victorian bloody minded approach to being competitive in the 1800s. It was scotland's HS2 if you like. However Glasgow Queen Street High Level has been a fantastic asset for city centre business, education and travel because it delivers people right to where they work, shop or study. It was of course built in an atmosphere very much AGAINST any notion of an integrated transport policy. Railways were the new whizz kid empires, fighting against the embedded fifedoms of the canals and even the stage coaches and ferry men.

I can imagine a top hatted railway magnet of the time, side burns bigger than fife and kinross, cigar wafting over the maps and plans, streaking a quill pen down from Bishopbriggs and making a definitive circle in the heart of the newly planned and evolving Glasgow city centre. " We will put them here, thousands of people within 5 minutes walk of their call of business Gentlemen !!"

Better Solutions and Crazy Economics

 A far better approach to delivering punters to the city,  would have been to run the track round to locations either east (High Street area) or west ( Charing cross area ) and then connect them as they are indeed today with the low level line. Queen Street High level was however made where it was, and  as a grandiose quilled pen slash and circle on the map.

A terminus at the east of the city centre with the curve past springburn to then the bishopbrigs-Lenzie cut would have been handled by locomotives in the 1850s at least. Indeed there was of course a major terminus at High Street- for freight and mail. This whole area of the city leant itself much more to access also across the Clyde, it being not of navigable importance north of the weir.

A terminus at the west, Charing Cross Area, would have provided both the western commuter and the northern commuter access to a fast growing financial centre of the city, now a shadow of its former self , slashed and still the gaping  open wound we know as the M8 through. A slash through the heart of what had become pretty much the "central business district" of dear auld glesga between the wars.

However, there it was placed , this Northern Terminus : bold, risky but with the high reward of city to city communications from heart to heart. The biggest proximity and time saving benefit for those with the cash to splash. The broadband superhighway for the wealthy and borgiouse middle classes of the 1840s.

Dieselisation and 20 Years of Push Pull Twixt Glesga and Edina'

Post war the route saw the introduction of diesel multiple units which probably tackled the fastest limited stop service then in about an hour and a half. Way faster than anything but a plane then. But the building of the M8 in the mid to late sixties required faster traction. Ironically enough for all those tea-cup sulzer fans, the most successful trial was with load 5 and class 37s runing in as little as 40minutes in trial runs non stop, with 105mph being recorded by one driver told to forget the 90mph safety rating of the EE type 3!. Banked up by the incomming loco, this would have been an impressive service. But this meant more crew and more time at each end and the lack of a need for banking at the Dun'edin end.

37 haulage would have possibly been most effective with three trains an hour given loco drop on's at each end  of the route  or a rapid run round at Edinburgh  because it would allow for good utilisation of the locomotives at the Glasgow end, with the banking 37 only having a short time to wait for the next arrival before dropping onto the head of it and allowing the crew from the one just arrived to bank the loco in this leapfrogging way.

However you utilised capital equipment it would have meant more train crews on the route than really "necessary" when compared to using a single type 4 and running round or the ideal situation, push pull, single power unit.

 37's could though, have been a very good stop gap while the shove duffs were prepared. The route was often tackled under 47 minutes non stop by 37s, and on semi stoppers like the 1715 Glas-Edin the more rapid acceleration of 37's cancelled out the better mid range pulling power and top speed of 47s. The EE type 3 would have needed additional maintanence as did all locos on this route but essentially for a 50 minute two stop timetable the 37 would have tackled the diagrams better than the "tea cups" and duffs which by 1984 were so unreliable that at least one push pull set was off most of the time on the route with a 37 often at the head of the replacement.

In any case Polmont / Linlithgow somehow got their stops added which makes then little difference 37 vs 47/7.

Shoving, Puffing and Going Bang Often

Push pull was seen as the solution, and what was available was the class 27s, where the series 1 dmus could be swapped over to slower type 2 booked services, and their light frieght work had pretty much dried up ( read my comments before about the what a waste of time buying thousands of sub 1300hp locos for main line services was) . The 27s in their/1 and ETH fitted /2 guises did a pretty good job but were thoroughly knackered by the end of the 70s and in need of replacement. Hard acceleration, hard braking and thermal cycling took their toll on them, as it would have done on 37s, The 47/7s with their 100mph rating, required a very high level of inspection and maintainance to stay on top of the classes' rubbishy engine block and brakes. The sub class did an admirable job and it remains to this day the fastest actual timetabled, regular twice an hour service that the route has ever had. Also they provided regular services to Aberdeen and Perth , and delivered great gladness to thrity seven bashers in 84-85 when they went bang regularily and the whole rather horrid air-con (coffins) would be displaced for a 37 with a good old rake of non air con' stock.

Why Have Sparks Taken so Long to FLy up Glasgow Queen Street Tunnel ?

So the tunnel was always an issue for combustion based traction, and was tipped for electric traction as soon as it was available in the late 1800s. I guess this would have been electric loco power cars running off a third rail. A concept we will come back to. However it was 1976 actually when rennovations included the deeper floor excavation and use of concrete ladder trackbeds which would allow for the realigning fairly readily for 25kv overhead, as had been accomplished on the low level route in the early 60s.

Why this never became anything? Well in the 70s there were hundreds of jobs in servicing and overhauling diesel traction in the less-than affluent springburn area. Also there were other commuter towns in the suburbs of glasgow which could be plumbed into the existing 25kv network. Ayr was earmarked for this and in fact it pretty much got wires in favour of the Glas-Edin route if I remember correctly, being an easy shot, just really from Paisley, making it about 30 miles of wires,  with only short tunnel sections and the main obstacles being bridges needing lifting or replacing. The extesnion to Largs probably meant that the true cost was comparable to an Edinburgh run. Also the ECML electirfication had been seen as a goer, the deltics being a stop gap for wires in fact. So there was little really against electirfication of the Glas-Edin via Falkrik route, other than a then safe Tory seat in Ayr securing wires and 25kv under Dear Auld Thatcher.

Another nail in the pre milenium coffin for electrificaiton was the carstairs route being electrified.  We in Glesga always looked upon Edinburgh as a biscuit tin lid city for silly light industry, a bunch of religious muppets on the mound,  students and culture ponses turning up in Auguist. How little did we metal bashers know that such poofy stuff, coupled to funny-financial dealings, would make Edina into the economic engine of post 1990 Scotland!  Edina got her connection to both main trunk UK lines with a necklace of 25kv overhead wires, serving through services and stoppers on the Cartstairs route to the Dear Green Place in the west as an after thought. So we had on this route intecity 225s taking well over an hour to bridge the salt-and sauce chasm and new rather rubbishy, unreliable DMU's on the north route doing it slower than 47/7s.

Final insult to injury was the attempt to perhaps get the east end of Glesga's housing estates access to Edina's  economic prospects, if not the inhabitants valuables, by running wires over the old route from Airdrie through the 'burns' and 'gates to the evil source of all that is sauce on your chips.

1980s Musings on What Could or Should Have Been

Anyway, a far cheaper solution to speed up the route, would have been, as suggested on a committe with Graham Green,to gear down some intercity 125s and make them a coach shorter, tearing out all the kitchens and most of first class, and bringing a non stop journey time down to 30 to 35 minutes to haymarket at least.

Indeed a "zing" ( IC 125) did work sunday mornings to Kings X from Glesga QS, probably because there was no Royal Scot 0910 on sundays. Thiss thing flew over the route, doing almost the ton through spam valley and probably full on 125 past cadder yard.

I only did it once IIRC; to cover the fife circuit for forties in 1983/ 84 and to then view and take the first SCABBEX ( Scarborough to Glasgow return holiday extra ) back, it usually being a completely enormous class 37 or a spare ETH duff as I think it was on the two occaisions I viewed it, the massive beastly syphon being taken off at Edinbra on platfrom 13 IIRC do go and do somethign useful in the NE, while jo strunmer was in excess on the SCr on sundays.

 Trams/zings  call them what you will, they would have been a deserved traction and rolling stock set for the route connecting the two main cities,  but the issue of making them non standard and keeping them reliable enough would have plagued Scottish Region. However, you could have attempted a derating to 1900 hp or so each end, and jsut whipping out the restaurant car so they would fit in GSQ amd operate with some better reliability ( a major issue was thermal cycling - ie engines being thrashed to 2250hp and then run down for the next stop!)

Far better though upon reflection, a new built end-to.end power car system with slidey doors and floors you can whipe the pee-wee and tartan special off after sparring with the Jambos or the Hibies. Indeed a single VP185 v16 unit with a DVO on the other end woudl have done a fine job in the summer when the rails are a little less greasy up the hole. Following elecrtification then these would find use on the Aberdeen routes.

Today's Solutions for Tommorrows Problems...

My PC , eco friendly version for today then would be a five coach single diesel power car with a v8 VP185 at about 2000 hp, and a third rail pick up and running gear under the DMVSO or whatever the pushed driver end would be. Third rail up the tunnel with max amps all the way, giving you a peak of 2 - 5  minutes 3300hp !! Diesel swithced on at the first vent and ready to take over powering at say cowlairs or even bishopbriggs.

Once Englandshire has paid its many billions for HS2......HS2's consutlancy process that is....then eventualy the route will have glorious overhead 25kv wires and we will sail over in 40 minutes. About the same time a 37/0 would take on a non Stop Scabbex in 1983.