Engineering & Heritage stock

This page was last modified on 22 July 2011
with a selected addition on 19 May 2018.

[PHOTO: front-quarter view of battery loco in sunshine: 61kB]

This tube-gauge vehicle is a battery locomotive used to haul engineering (or “ballast”) trains; it can take its power from the “juice-rails” or from a huge bank of lead-acid batteries on board. (Ruislip depot, 2 May 1999)

Sleet Locomotive ESL 107

[PHOTO: venerable sleet loco in depot sheds: 65kB]

ESL 107 dates back to the very early days of the Central London Railway (CLR, now the Central Line); it is built from the front halves of two 1903-vintage CLR driving cars, welded back-to-back.

The half-octagonal roof profile at the front was a distinctive feature of this stock. This loco was fitted with sleet clearance and de-icing equipment and was used to keep the traction-current rails free from snow and ice; a special feature not visible in my photograph here is that ESL 107 actually has four bogies, the two in the middle carrying the de-icing nozzles and sleet brushes. When I saw it in Ruislip depot on 1 May 1999 it was part of the LUL heritage fleet, but it has since been transported to the LT Museum’s “Depot” at Acton.

Comment: I somehow erroneously got it into my head that this loco was called “ESL 907”, and wrote this section accordingly. I only realised the error when reading a review of Bob Griffiths’ autobiography, Mind The Doors]; Bob had asked to use this photo (and accidentally mis-attributed it to C. Richard) and faithfully copied my error into his book. Sorry, Bob.

Readers may be interested to know of a hand-printed legend (in white ink) on the black-painted interior cab roof which, as well as providing handy instructions on how to release the air brake, prohibits the loco from running through the Central Line’s tunnels (owing to the extra-high positive current-rails used there, which require special ‘high lift’ shoegear). It reads:


Sarah Siddons

[PHOTO: Sarah looking quite overpowering in car-sheds: 55kB]

Above: Before the full electrification of the Metropolitan Line, trailer coaches were hauled by electric locomotive to the end of the electrified section, and a steam loco substituted for onward travel beyond Rickmansworth station. Electric Loco number 12, named Sarah Siddons after a famous 19th-century actress, has been preserved and forms part of the Underground’s Heritage fleet. (Ruislip car-sheds, 1 May 1999).

[PHOTO: loco bringing up rear of steam-hauled train at station:73kB]

Above: The old lady is brought out to haul various special excursion trains on the Metropolitan Line. In the late 20th century she acted as back-up for the steam locomotives and to provide compressed air for the train brakes, at Steam on the Met. She is seen here bringing up the rear of a steam-hauled train at Rickmansworth — sadly a thing of the past now. Apparently there is a large amount of exposed live (630V DC) electrical apparatus on board, with no partition between that and the driving area — and plenty of flashes and bangs to be heard when operating it!

Battery Locomotives

Battery Locos are used to move works trains around, and can operate all night with the traction current switched off. They invariably run in pairs, top and tailing their trains to avoid any awkward problems or propelling when reversing or shunting. They were numbered consecutively from 1 but many of the older ones (and some new ones!) have been scrapped so the numbering is rather disjointed. All of the locos are now owned and run by TransPlant, who operate from Lillie Bridge depot (a former Piccadilly Line depot near West Kensington and Olympia, now beneath the exhibition centre) and a TransPlant enclave within Ruislip depot.

[PHOTO: Battery loco from a distance, sunny: 57kB]

Loco number 52 is seen at Ruislip depot on Saturday 1 May 1999, basking in the sunshine and awaiting the night’s work.

Some of the locos (sometimes colloquially reffered to as “rats”) are painted all-over yellow, as seen to the right, the others mostly having blue bodysides. Note the louvres to allow ventilation of the battery compartment; there is a walkway from one cab to the other, past all the batteries, and ancient notices warn of the dangers of smoking in that area! 18 of the locos have been fitted with Central Line ATP (see the 1992 tube stock page for more on this), allowing them to be based at Ruislip depot.

Battery loco, close-up in sunshine: 51kB]

Its D end is seen the following day, loco 52 having completed its duties as ballast train 620 during the night.

Note the tall driving windows (where most other tube-sized stocks have a grille and destination blind), and the assortment of couplers available on each end. The dot above the offside window is a red lamp, fitted to ATP-equipped battery-locos only, which is illuminated when the loco is in ATP mode but no codes are being received from the track. Incidentally, there are no subsurface-size battery locos, they are all of tube gauge to increase their usefulness.

Schöma diesel locos (JLE)

[PHOTO: JLE diesel loco portrait in Ruislip car-sheds: 62kB]

Above: Loco no. 12, Melanie, is seen nose-to-nose with No. 7, Annemarie in Ruislip depot on 1 May 1999, where they had been sent for tyre-turning.

When the Jubilee Line Extension was being built, 14 tube-gauge diesel locos were bought from the Schöma company in Germany to assist with the fitting-out of the tunnels prior to electrification. They were all named after JLE Works Managers’ Secretaries (thanks to Mike D for this nugget!), with Number 12 being called Melanie. They are fitted with “exhaust scrubbers” which are supposed to prevent too many solid particles escaping in the exhaust fumes and leaving sooty marks everywhere. Each has a cab at one end and a long ‘nose’ containing the engine; windows with a view over the nose allow single locos to carry out reverse movements, but generally the cab end would be used at the outer end of any train. Following completion of the JLE works, they have been used on various other Permanent-Way projects around the system, such as the summer-2000 track-renewals between Woodford and Epping.

On 16 May 2014, the twitter feed of the Railway Gazette stated that London Underground had awarded Clayton Equipment a £4.5m contract to convert all fourteen of its Schöma diesel locos to battery-electric operation.

Track-Recording Train

[PHOTO: side-quarter view in car-sheds, daytime: 54kB]

Above: The “L133” end of the Track-Recording Train is seen poking out of the car-sheds at Ruislip on 1 May 1999, looking slightly dusty and having been fitted with some kind of meccano arrangement on the cab end — possibly to allow visual recording equipment to be mounted there.

The Track Recording Train provides the Permanent Way department with an objective assessment of the state of their trackwork. It is formed of three cars: two of the original twelve Driving Motor (DM) cars of 1960 tube stock, sandwiching a spare trailer of 1973 tube stock. The DMs are really just there to provide something to move the trailer around, as it is the trailer which is the Track Recording Car (TRC) and contains all the sensitive equipment. The trailer (and the inner ends of the 60-stock DMs) are actually fitted with main-line height buffers and drawgear, enabling the TRC to be hired out to Railtrack for use on their lines too. The DMs are fitted with Central Line ATP, so the train can run without escort on that territory.