Locomotive Performance

Early Electrics...WCML

From 1962 until 1973, my Business career involved a good deal of rail travel. Until 1965  it was from Birmingham to Manchester, from 1966 to 1968 to Liverpool, usually from either Rugby or Stafford, then from 1969 to 1973 one or two journeys a week to London, some of them involving a continuation to Sittingbourne. Sometimes I would travel from my home station, Dorridge, up to Paddington, and at other times up to Euston, starting from Hampton in Arden (there was no Birmingham International in those days).

So I saw the West Coast Electrification/Modernisation through it's various phases, and built up a considerable collection of logs, particularly on the Rugby to Liverpool, and Coventry to Euston routes. I have chosen a collection of these that involved the earlier Electric Locomotives, classes 81 to 85, as they subsequently became known. 

I do not pretend that the running shown in the logs below is in any way exceptional, but they do represent what was happening at a particularly interesting period on the West Coast Main Line. Shall we ever again have such standards of comfort (mk 2a coaches, full breakfast, lunch, and dinner facilities on most trains) and of good timekeeping. I think it unlikely. And then there is the matter of track, sorry infrastructure, quality.

July 1962 (exact date not known): I returned from Manchester to Birmingham on the 6.00pm service with E3011 as far as Crewe. The load was 6 coaches plus a "dead"  Electric loco (E3051), which was "tucked inside". I only timed the passing times, but about 90 mph was reached at Goostrey. I have no record of an outward journey from Birmingham. I suspect I was taken by car. [view log of E3011]  

14th July 1965: Birmingham to Manchester services were by 1965 changing to and from  Electric traction at Stafford. On the 8.30am from New Street we had "type 4" no D299 to Stafford. There E3021 backed down on to an 11 coach load. We went "main line to Crewe where the Liverpool portion was removed, so we had load 5 to Manchester, arriving on time.  [view log of E3021]

30th November 1966: In a new job, I now had to travel regularly to Liverpool. My first visit was on 29th November 1966 and entailed an overnight stop. The following day I caught the 12.30pm Liverpool to Euston, E3092 on a 12 coach load, but only as far as Crewe. We ran unchecked in a time of 34 min 06 sec. [view log of E3092]

28th March 1967:  The second day of the new "Electric timetable". A family day out to London, for me the first of many trips on the "Birmingham to Euston Electrics". E3066 with load 12.  By the standards of running that were achieved in the 1970's and 80's, the times and speeds look modest. But at the time they seemed phenomenal.  Maximum speed was 103 mph at Harrow.  [view log of E3015] 

28th March 1967: We returned on the 7.15pm service from Euston, another 12 coach load, with E3083. With a max speed of 100 mph at Cheddington, we were in to Coventry 1 min early in 70 min 48 sec.  [view log of E3083] 

6th April 1967: Rugby to Liverpool on the 8.30am from Euston, dep Rugby 9.42am. Load 12, and an unexceptional run, 56 min 13 sec to Crewe, then 1 min late into Lime Street after a signal check at Allerton. [view log of E3050]

6th April 1967: The same evening I returned from Liverpool on the 5.25pm Liverpool to Birmingham and Euston, service. E3066 was on 12 coaches, and we ran punctually throughout, the only delay being a signal check approaching Crewe. As usual, we ran "Slow line", 75 mph restricted, from Crewe to Stafford. In 1967 a time of 15 min 32 sec from Wolverhampton to Birmingham seemed unbelievable. [view log of E3066] 

26th April 1967: E3048 was on the 9.00am Birmingham to Liverpool, 9.32am from Stafford, with a dead E3097 in tow, making a 468/490 ton load. 7 mins late away, we ran fast line to Crewe, and picked up 4 minutes by Liverpool, arriving 3 late, including a signal check outside Lime Street. We reached 100 mph at Betley Road, and again at Acton Bridge.  [view log of E3048]
Sadly that is where we have to end. In 1981, we had major alterations to our house, and at one stage we were able to sit in our lounge watching television, look up, and see the night sky. Fortunately it didn't rain, and by the following day the roof was in place. We were lucky in so far as there was very little damage to, or loss of, the contents of the house. But one thing that was lost was my box-file containing my "Logs" from 1968 to 1978. They possibly went into a skip, or they may be under the floorboards. So I cannot show you my 1968 Rugby to Crewe run on E3081, with it's 112 mph down past Betley Road, nor my 59 min 51 sec Euston to Coventry "best time" with an AL6 in 1973.