Cravens Heritage Trains
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Our second train also operated on the Central Line for 30 years and is now being restored at Hainault depot. More...
Epping Signal Cabin
Epping Signal Cabin became redundant in 1996 when re-signalling of the Central Line was completed. Since 2001 CHTL has leased the Signal Cabin - we hope to restore the frame and open a small museum. More...
L11 is a unique locomotive built for shunting at Acton works. CHTL hopes to preserve this locomotive. More...
The eastern branches of the Central Line started life as part of the Eastern Counties Railway More...
More Preserved Tube Stock
Many other items of underground rolling stock have been preserved. Read more...
Central Line Track Replacement
Wood Lane 2003
Isle of Wight
More railway and underground websites...
The 1960 Stock
New Trains for the Central Line
The 1960 stock was built as prototypes for a new fleet of trains for the Central line, to replace stock dating back to 1923. Cravens Limited of Sheffield built 12 new driving motorcars. The cars were numbered 3900 to 3911. To save costs the two trailer cars in each unit were converted cars of 1923 stock. The trailer cars were numbered 4900 to 4911.
Our unit in its original form was delivered to Ruislip Depot in August 1960, and entered passenger service on 9 November 1960. The stock operated in 3 8-car trains on "mainline" service on the Central line. However the plan to build more 1960 Stock for the Central Line was never carried out. The cost of converting the old standard stock trailer cars was high. The deteriorating condition of the standard stock together with the anticipated increases in traffic resulting from the electrification of the routes into Liverpool Street made the provision of new trains for the Central Line an urgent priority. As a temporary measure the last 57 trains of the 1959 Stock then entering service on the Piccadilly line were transferred to the Central. London Transport then decided to order more of this design, the trains became known as the 1962 Stock.
The ATO Experiment
The full-scale introduction of the 1962 Stock left the Cravens units as non-standard stock. However the development of a new technology gave the trains a new lease of life. Following small scale trials of ATO (Automatic Train Operation) on a short stretch of the District Line it was decided to carry out further tests on a larger scale. The Woodford to Hainault line was identified as a suitable test site. In 1963 the six units were withdrawn from service and five were converted for the ATO tests, which began in April 1964. The tests were successful and ATO was used on the Victoria Line when it opened in 1968. A detailed explanation of ATO as used on the London Underground can be found on the TubePrune website. The remaining unit (3910 + 4902 + 4903 + 3911) was used for engineering tests. This unit travelled Widely it was even hauled along the disused Highgate - Finsbury Park line to reach the Northern City when that was part of the Underground!
The converted units were to continue to operate on this lightly used section of the Underground for over twenty years. By the mid 1970s the condition of the pre-1938 stock meant they were no longer suitable for passenger service. They were to be replaced by 1938 stock cars. With the light level of traffic between Woodford and Hainault it was thought that the units could be reduced to 3 cars. Six 1938 stock trailers were therefore selected for conversion.
Standard stock cars 4908 and 4909 were withdrawn in November 1975, 4906 and 4907 followed in 1977. However the replacement programme was delayed by the discovery of asbestos in some of the Cravens Driving Motor cars. As a result it was 1983 before all the standard stock cars were replaced. An additional four-car unit of 1967 was borrowed from the Victoria Line. One car of '38 stock (012331) was prepared for use with 3910 and 3911 as a track recording train. However it was never used in this role; asbestos was discovered in 3910 and 3911 and they were scrapped, renumbered TRC912, the track recording car remained in storage at Acton Works. It is still there!
3902 and 3903 together with 1938 stock conversion 4929 were used for experiments in fully automatic train control. The "FACT" train could be seen operating between Woodford and Hainault in the early 1980s. By 1986 the experimental ATO equipment was life expired and three units were modified to conventional one-person operation (OPO). Driving motorcars 3901 and 3905 were converted in 1987 to become pilot motors for the Underground's track recording car - a function they still perform. In April 1990, at Hainault Depot, the first of the remaining three units was painted red with cream window pillars and grey roofs (approximating the original 1938 stock livery), with gilt fleet names and car numbers. The old Central London Railway coat of arms was applied to the front corners of the driving motors. A year later a second unit was similarly painted with the third being withdrawn from service and used as a source of spare parts.
The early 1990s saw timetable changes; 8-car trains of '62 stock operated all services between Hainault and Woodford, while the Cravens units replaced the 4-car '62 stock on the Epping - Ongar service, which was by this time restricted to peak hours. When the Ongar branch was closed on 30th September 1994 the remaining units were stored out of service at Hainault depot.
Into Private Ownership
With the impending closure of the Epping-Ongar line a preservation bid for the line had begun. It was hoped that the current supply could be maintained after closure allowing the line to become the first preserved railway to use electric traction. With this in mind a small group of ORPS members set up the Cravens preservation fund to purchase a unit. Unit 3906/4927/3907 which operated the last train to and from Ongar on 30th September 1994 was selected.
Trailer 4929 was also purchased in the hope that it could be restored and become the fourth car in the unit. Sadly research revealed that this would be prohibitively expensive. 4929 remained at Hainault until November 2001 when, along with 3908, 4921 and 3909 it was removed for scrapping.
After the purchase of the unit by the Cravens Group maintenance work was undertaken at Hainault Depot. Its first passenger carrying duty in private ownership was on Sunday, 9 July, 1995. Two tours of the eastern end of the Central line, Grange Hill to Woodford, Leytonstone and Epping, were carried out. Further tours of the eastern Central line between Leytonstone and Epping operated at Easter 1996.
In 1996 completion of the Central Line re-signalling was imminent - this would make future operation on the Central Line impossible. Rather that the train become a static exhibit it was decided to move the train to Ruislip depot.
Between 1996 and 1999 further tours took place which saw the train travel over much of the District, Metropolitan and Northern lines. The train was also exhibited at Stanmore Open Day. During the popular "Steam on the Met" events the train has been exhibited at Rickmansworth and also operated services on the Chesham branch.
In 2000 The 'Central Centenarian' was operated in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the opening of first section of the Central Line between Bank and Shepherds Bush. This unique tour of the entire line had to occur at night, as the train is incompatible with the Automatic Train Operation now used on Central Line. It was only possible with the full co-operation and support of LUL.
Unexpected repair work prevented any special trains operating in 2001. However during the summer of 2002 the unit was used for a filming contract on the Aldwych branch and on Bank Holiday Monday operated a shuttle between East Finchley and High Barnet. Our most recent railtour the East London Explorer ran on the 18th May 2003.
For more information on CHTL contact Bob Yeldham
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