BR locos: allocation to services based on depots

nickw1

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Was wondering whether, in BR days (let's say the 1980s, to be specific) a given loco-hauled service would always be scheduled to have a loco from a particular depot?

To give a specific example: I'm thinking particularly Cross-Country style diesel-hauled services. The Reading-Birmingham route was generally 47s and Mark IIs in this era, but was each service always, in theory, scheduled for a 47 from a particular depot? For example let's say the 0930 Reading to Birmingham scheduled to run with a Bescot loco, at least in theory?

The 47s on this route seemed to be mostly Bescot, Bristol or Cardiff depots (BS, BR, CF) for fairly obvious reasons, presumably they were shared with the South West cross-country route. However on one occasion (a day in early January 1984 when I spent much of the day at Reading station) the 0805 Portsmouth to Manchester was hauled by a Stratford loco, 47474. In fact this was when I became more aware of specific depots, as someone I was with pointed out the rarity of a Stratford loco on such a service. (One wonders how it ended up on this service? Maybe Norwich-Birmingham had a few Stratford 47s scheduled and it was put on the southbound Portsmouth XC service the previous day at New Street in the absence of any BS, BR or CF locos?)

I do also remember that despite there being a daily Poole-Newcastle and v.v., this was generally not hauled by GD 47s (which remained an unseen rarity) at Reading. Presumably they only did the part north of Birmingham, if at all.
 
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6Gman

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Yes, every booked train would be allocated a specific diagram from a specific depot.

BUT the actual loco used (even the class of loco) could vary on a daily basis for many different reasons.

The occasional variations were what made watching the trains then so much more interesting than nowadays!
 

306024

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Stratford 47s weren’t diagrammed to the Norwich - Birmingham service, that was mostly March 31s.

Its been posted elsewhere that Stratford 47s were jealously guarded by the Liverpool St loco controllers. It wasn’t unknown though for an inward freight working to East Anglia to receive a loco due an exam, prompting something else to have to take its return working. If you had no other foreign locos at hand then there was no choice but to let a Stratford loco escape.
 

nickw1

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Stratford 47s weren’t diagrammed to the Norwich - Birmingham service, that was mostly March 31s.

Its been posted elsewhere that Stratford 47s were jealously guarded by the Liverpool St loco controllers. It wasn’t unknown though for an inward freight working to East Anglia to receive a loco due an exam, prompting something else to have to take its return working. If you had no other foreign locos at hand then there was no choice but to let a Stratford loco escape.

... and indeed it did, quite widely, on this occasion.
It was definitely Stratford, it had the 'silver top' and was marked SF in the current Ian Allan book, so must have wandered widely to end up on this service.

There was only one daily Portsmouth XC at that time, and no other 47 workings into Portsmouth, so it must presumably have been on the southbound service (which was approx 15.05 from Birmingham) the previous day. The service was 85- or 86-hauled north of Birmingham so the 47 was presumably put on there. The date was probably 5/1/84 or 6/1/84 (towards the end of the first full week of 1984, the Thursday or Friday) so perhaps locos had moved around quite a bit due to new year service disruption?

Yes, every booked train would be allocated a specific diagram from a specific depot.

BUT the actual loco used (even the class of loco) could vary on a daily basis for many different reasons.

The occasional variations were what made watching the trains then so much more interesting than nowadays!

Indeed: on another occasion this service (which was quite a celebrated service personally, as I lived on the Portsmouth Direct so it was 'our' XC!) was hauled by 47482 (from Landore, Swansea according to Ian Allan - quite an esoteric depot) and on another 47600 (Cardiff, IIRC). Never saw it often enough to work out which was its 'native' depot, though.

Another regular working seemed to be a 50 on the southbound Newcastle-Poole as far as Reading (and presumably only from Birmingham), with a 47 taking over south of Reading. (Frequently in 1983/4 and 1984/5, the Pooles changed locos at Reading rather than just running round - you can see why Reading was such a 'go to' station for much of the south at the time!). It was quite incongruous to see a Western loco hauling Eastern Region coaches, but it would make sense to have hauled just the Birmingham-Reading segment.
 
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Helvellyn

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There have been various tales on here of "escaped" locos, or measures depots/controls took to protect locos. If a Region got hold of a good runner in the 1980s putting it on a diagram that took it away for a day or two would make it hard to get back.

There was a thread a few months back about Scottish 47s, how cross-border workings were rare for them and the fact poorer runners tended to be allocated. No doubt to mitigate the borrowing risk.

There was a late 1980s Cross-country Sunday service that ran on the Northern WCML with a ScotRail 47/7. Assume it went South overnight on a Saturday. Maybe that was used because the Midland Region borrowing it would have been too high profile, and ScotRail could have said it not coming back would lead to a push-pull service being cancelled on a Monday.
 

Taunton

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Not all. Most of the Class 47 used on Scottish internal services at this time were from various depots like Crewe or Tinsley, which had arrived in Scotland on freights. The LMS had been the initiators, from around 1930, of "common user" locos, not necessarily tied to a diagram, and this approach had applied for example with Jubilee 4-6-0 locos on Glasgow-Stranraer etc, which most commonly came from Carlisle Kingmoor but even quite regularly from Leeds Holbeck. They must have introduced a form of loco control to manage this all.

I've told this before, but in the 1950s-early 60s the Somerset & Dorset had no meaningful locos at its sheds for the heavy summer Saturday traffic. The foreman at Bath Green Park began salting away anything "useful" from about Thursday lunchtime, if it was on a return diagram sending one of his 4F 0-6-0s in return. A Black 5 was the most favoured, which is how you see Derby etc allocated locos in Ivo Peters' photographs of the line. One Thursday a Gloucester Black 5 came in on a freight, and a Bath 4F was sent in return. Friday, and Gloucester sent it back - so Bath booked it for an invented broken spring and sent them in reprisal a Jinty 0-6-0T. Gloucester crew. They didn't try that again!
 
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thesignalman

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Not all. Most of the Class 47 used on Scottish internal services at this time were from various depots like Crewe or Tinsley, which had arrived in Scotland on freights. The LMS had been the initiators, from around 1930, of "common user" locos, not necessarily tied to a diagram, and this approach had applied for example with Jubilee 4-6-0 locos on Glasgow-Stranraer etc, which most commonly came from Carlisle Kingmoor but even quite regularly from Leeds Holbeck. They must have introduced a form of loco control to manage this all.

I've told this before, but in the 1950s-early 60s the Somerset & Dorset had no meaningful locos at its sheds for the heavy summer Saturday traffic. The foreman at Bath Green Park began salting away anything "useful" from about Thursday lunchtime, if it was on a return diagram sending one of his 4F 0-6-0s in return. A Black 5 was the most favoured, which is how you see Derby etc allocated locos in Ivo Peters' photographs of the line. One Thursday a Gloucester Black 5 came in on a freight, and a Bath 4F was sent in return. Friday, and Gloucester sent it back - so Bath booked it for an invented broken spring and sent them in reprisal a Jinty 0-6-0T. Gloucester crew. They didn't try that again!
I think you will find that all of those were diagrammed operations - the Stranraer services were integrated into the S&C diagrams which would indeed be worked by Kingmoor or Holbeck Jubilees. As far as I know there were no Jubilees shedded on G&SW territory at that time.

Likewise the S&D workings would not have been designed to work on a whim, somebody in loco diagramming would have had to sit down and work out how many engines were needed on a Summer Saturday and which ones should work which train to Bournemouth and back during their layover, even if the diagramming didn't appear to be followed in practice. There was some care necessary even when it seemed totally random - for example you wouldn't want to send a Bradford Black 5 to Bournemouth and back if it would return too late for its return working from Bath to Bradford.

Late running and engine defects would of course play havoc with the booked arrangements and that's where improvisation came in. If it was the only way to cover a service, that Bradford Black 5 would have to be sent off to Bournemouth and something else would later be used to work its home working, and it would end up at Bristol or somewhere else at the end of the day. Then comes the playing game to try and get the two engines back to their proper places! More improvisation and ingenuity needed . . .

In rather later years I had my taste of this having both worked in train planning and at the sharp end at different times. Not quite on the scale of Green Park but certainly challenging at times. Sometimes something as simple as getting certain EMUs to end their day at the proper location to go for necessary overnight maintenance required a considerable amount of jiggling.

John
 

ChiefPlanner

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Of course - 47/8 with longer range fuel tanks were exceedingly important to what became "Cross Country"

Locomotive dedication from the early 1980's - though unpopular as a concept , did focus the mind on where loco's strayed to. Take Crewe based 47's , once upon a time you could find a road weary 47 almost anywhere in the UK - from Aylesbury to Southampton , but once a dedicated pool for Petroleum workings was set up , that changed dramatically.
 

chorleyjeff

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Not all. Most of the Class 47 used on Scottish internal services at this time were from various depots like Crewe or Tinsley, which had arrived in Scotland on freights. The LMS had been the initiators, from around 1930, of "common user" locos, not necessarily tied to a diagram, and this approach had applied for example with Jubilee 4-6-0 locos on Glasgow-Stranraer etc, which most commonly came from Carlisle Kingmoor but even quite regularly from Leeds Holbeck. They must have introduced a form of loco control to manage this all.

I've told this before, but in the 1950s-early 60s the Somerset & Dorset had no meaningful locos at its sheds for the heavy summer Saturday traffic. The foreman at Bath Green Park began salting away anything "useful" from about Thursday lunchtime, if it was on a return diagram sending one of his 4F 0-6-0s in return. A Black 5 was the most favoured, which is how you see Derby etc allocated locos in Ivo Peters' photographs of the line. One Thursday a Gloucester Black 5 came in on a freight, and a Bath 4F was sent in return. Friday, and Gloucester sent it back - so Bath booked it for an invented broken spring and sent them in reprisal a Jinty 0-6-0T. Gloucester crew. They didn't try that again!

That's what happened in Lancashire Wakes Weeks in steam on a large scale. All sorts from all over the place passed through Preston on the way to Blackpool, Morecambe, Scotland etc. Very varied and interesting times.
 

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That's what happened in Lancashire Wakes Weeks in steam on a large scale. All sorts from all over the place passed through Preston on the way to Blackpool, Morecambe, Scotland etc. Very varied and interesting times.

The economics of the BR steam era "seasonal" services , particularly on the S&D were very questionable , though hugely enjoyable for observers. Well covered in many articles over the years , particularly those who year for those interesting times.

However , and I have mentioned this before - even under sectorisation and loco dedication , in the 1980's flexibilty could be found as required - 50 Tinsley freight 47's were loaned nationally for weekend passenger workings and about 20 or 30 Toton based 31's and 20's. The squeeze came later.
 

75A

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We used to have fun @ Brighton in the 80's with Class 47's on the Brighton - Manchester service.
We crewed the train between Kensington Olympia & Brighton then the return.
We weren't trained on Steam Heating, so the first thing we'd do on taking the train over in London would be to check if it had it. If it did we'd turn it off.
This meant that the return journey back from the seaside could be cold.
 

nickw1

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The economics of the BR steam era "seasonal" services , particularly on the S&D were very questionable , though hugely enjoyable for observers. Well covered in many articles over the years , particularly those who year for those interesting times.

Not steam, but summer Saturdays at Reading were also very interesting. There were many, many extras on top of the usual Plymouth/Penzance hourly service, often going to Paignton but sometimes to Newquay. Also the odd Tenby holiday service. Generally a mixture of 50s and 47s hauling MkI coaches. I believe these were used for such things as Reading-Twyford-Maidenhead-Paddington peak extras during the week, and as such could easily be redeployed on Summer Saturdays.


And in those days, the 'summer' season lasted well into autumn. I clearly recall spending the last Saturday in September, 1984, the 29th (so almost October) observing all these holiday services. Even used one of them to get to Reading, the 1125 Guildford to Leeds summer extra hauled, IIRC, by 47293 (whereas 47/4s were more usual for XC). Maybe that was one of the Tinsley freights?

Same year, I spent one summer Saturday at Stafford (August 18th) which had a similar procession of extras to the West Country, if not quite as many as Reading.

Back to the original post, I also recall 47001 from Haymarket at Reading on that January day hauling some sort of excursion service - that was clearly a long way off its home depot! Add to that Invincible and Howe double-heading a humble Oxford-London stopper and it was really quite a day... not bad for a rainy Thursday or Friday in the middle of winter, doubt I would sing the praises of such a day nowadays.
 
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Taunton

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The economics of the BR steam era "seasonal" services , particularly on the S&D were very questionable
It all depends how you do the arithmetic. There weren't a lot of, if any, extra assets in place for the summer traffic, but the freight side, essentially coal from the Somerset coalfield which was the only worthwhile bit on the S&D (and only north of Templecombe at that) shut down at weekends, so locos, and men on overtime, were available. The stock was 1930s LMS, not used a lot but would otherwise have been scrapped. It made do with minimal maintenance; the BR costing of coaching costs did not recognise this and averaged it all out by the year, not by the mile, so the main Inter-City fleet got a subsidy from this operation.

It's a shame that Stewart Joy, Beeching's economist, never got to grips with cost attribution. He had a good go at revenue, but not the other side of the equation. None of which is to say the S&D was other than a loss-maker, and much of its holiday traffic capable of diversion via Reading. It's a common experience with large-scale transport operations (airlines can be the same) that the mainstream flow finds it convenient to shunt some of their costs to a shared minor part of the operation. I suspect that because almost all S&D long distance holiday traffic came from the north the LMR kept all the ticket office receipts.
 

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There was also a tendency amongst loco controllers to keep hold of the reliable locos and get shot of the poor ones, totally ignoring their notional home depots. So if a "foreign" 47/4 arrived in Scotland, the Controller would have a quiet word with the driver who'd arrived with it, and enquire as to how the loco had performed. If it was a good one then it might find itself on workings to / from Inverness over the Highland Main Line for the next few days. Conversely, if it was a weak loco, and had a repair book full of recurring faults (or a brand new repair book with the old full one having mysteriously vanished) then it was earmarked for the first train taking it south of the border.
 

6Gman

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One other point on 47s.

Pretty sure that for many years they were pretty much all sent to Crewe for works overhauls.

So very tempting for Crewe to use them for a day or two (= several) "just to check they're ok, you understand" before getting them back to Stratford, or Gateshead, or Immingham or wherever . . .
 

75A

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One of the good things about the Southern in the 80's was that we only used 2 classes of Loco, with the 33's based @ Eastleigh & Hither Green, & the 73's all based @ Stewarts Lane, which meant that we all had a vested interest in looking after them.
Can't remember ever using a 33/2 (Slim Jim), as they were mainly for the Eastern section.
We weren't that keen on any of the 73/0's, or the very rare time we had an 08 instead of a 09.
There was a Sunday night turn from Brighton to Newhaven, Newhaven to Redhill (via Lewes) then Redhill to Brighton which was bad enough in an 09, but an 08 on the Falmer bank always guaranteed tripping the speed cock multiple times.
 

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It all depends how you do the arithmetic. There weren't a lot of, if any, extra assets in place for the summer traffic, but the freight side, essentially coal from the Somerset coalfield which was the only worthwhile bit on the S&D (and only north of Templecombe at that) shut down at weekends, so locos, and men on overtime, were available. The stock was 1930s LMS, not used a lot but would otherwise have been scrapped. It made do with minimal maintenance; the BR costing of coaching costs did not recognise this and averaged it all out by the year, not by the mile, so the main Inter-City fleet got a subsidy from this operation.

It's a shame that Stewart Joy, Beeching's economist, never got to grips with cost attribution. He had a good go at revenue, but not the other side of the equation. None of which is to say the S&D was other than a loss-maker, and much of its holiday traffic capable of diversion via Reading. It's a common experience with large-scale transport operations (airlines can be the same) that the mainstream flow finds it convenient to shunt some of their costs to a shared minor part of the operation. I suspect that because almost all S&D long distance holiday traffic came from the north the LMR kept all the ticket office receipts.

In many ways - at "production level" - it was all about covering the work as best as possible. There might have been statistical data kept on "utilisation" of drivers and "power" - but as Dick Hardy memorably said - no local manager had a budget , and would have been terrified at the idea of having and doing one. That came later.

I am sure all this weekend working for the likes of Bath and Templecombe etc crews was welcome from a pecuniary point of view - and one gathers the introduction of 9F pwer on some trains was not welcomed by the crews as the opportunity for piloting etc was vastly reduced.

Meanwhile the real world "Pearce and Crumps" of this world , let alone the car manufactering industry from the 1950's were getting into their stride.....
 

Taunton

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and one gathers the introduction of 9F pwer on some trains was not welcomed by the crews as the opportunity for piloting etc was vastly reduced.

Meanwhile the real world "Pearce and Crumps" of this world , let alone the car manufactering industry from the 1950's were getting into their stride.....
The 9Fs were however pretty useless the rest of the week, apart from the Pines Express itself, which over the S&D was a single return run based on Bournemouth, north morning, south afternoon. Unfortunately the 9Fs were allocated at the wrong end, to Bath Green Park. They really were a bit of a solution looking for a problem.
 
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theblackwatch

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One other point on 47s.

Pretty sure that for many years they were pretty much all sent to Crewe for works overhauls.

So very tempting for Crewe to use them for a day or two (= several) "just to check they're ok, you understand" before getting them back to Stratford, or Gateshead, or Immingham or wherever . . .
They would also get used on services to get them back to their home depot. I can remember, as an excited youngster at York, seeing a newly converted 47/7 roll in on a Liverpool to Newcastle service one day.
 

thesignalman

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The 9Fs were however pretty useless the rest of the week, apart from the Pines Express itself, which over the S&D was a single return run based on Bournemouth, north morning, south afternoon. Unfortunately the 9Fs were allocated at the wrong end, to Bath Green Park. They really were a bit of a solution looking for a problem.
They eliminated the need to bank southbound freight trains out of Bath, from which the banker used to drop off at the summit in the tunnel and return to Bath under an uncomventional method which thus resulted in two trains on a single line section.

I guess they also eliminated banking elsewhere on the route, e.g. northbound from Evercreech.

John
 

D1537

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They would also get used on services to get them back to their home depot. I can remember, as an excited youngster at York, seeing a newly converted 47/7 roll in on a Liverpool to Newcastle service one day.

Yes, this was the standard way to get 47/7s (and other ScR 47s) . Light to Liverpool for a Liverpool-Newcastle service. I remember one comical piece of confusion where Crewe sent 47467 to Liverpool as per usual and it was allocated to the 18.05 Newcastle. Liverpool, naturally, put it on the 17.50 to Poole.

There was also a tendency amongst loco controllers to keep hold of the reliable locos and get shot of the poor ones, totally ignoring their notional home depots. So if a "foreign" 47/4 arrived in Scotland, the Controller would have a quiet word with the driver who'd arrived with it, and enquire as to how the loco had performed. If it was a good one then it might find itself on workings to / from Inverness over the Highland Main Line for the next few days. Conversely, if it was a weak loco, and had a repair book full of recurring faults (or a brand new repair book with the old full one having mysteriously vanished) then it was earmarked for the first train taking it south of the border.

Not only that, but towards the end of steam heat in 1985 and early 1986, the ScR was actually starting to run short of 47s with working boilers, so if an English 47/0 with a working boiler strayed into the region, it was quite common for it to be kidnapped and end up working passenger trains for sometimes weeks on end. Notable long-stayers around this time were 47103, 47191, 47194 and 47213, the latter being up there for so long that it was jokingly suggested that Tinsley were refusing to pay the ransom.
 

SteveM70

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There was a Sunday night turn from Brighton to Newhaven, Newhaven to Redhill (via Lewes) then Redhill to Brighton which was bad enough in an 09, but an 08 on the Falmer bank always guaranteed tripping the speed cock multiple times.

What was that all about?
 

SteveM70

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The Newhaven Loco would need refuelling

Ah right. I’m not that familiar with the geography of the area - what sort of distances would this have been? And presumably anything significant must be pretty tedious in a shunter?
 

75A

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Ah right. I’m not that familiar with the geography of the area - what sort of distances would this have been? And presumably anything significant must be pretty tedious in a shunter?
Brighton to Newhaven via Lewes is around 10 miles, Newhaven to Redhill via Lewes is about 30 & Redhill to Brighton is around 35.
The issue is the Falmer Bank, which when going downhill means you have to be a bit sharp on the brake as an 08 trips @ either 15 or 20 mph, whilst our own 09's which were the norm tripped @ 27 mph owing to different gearing.
 

SteveM70

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Brighton to Newhaven via Lewes is around 10 miles, Newhaven to Redhill via Lewes is about 30 & Redhill to Brighton is around 35.
The issue is the Falmer Bank, which when going downhill means you have to be a bit sharp on the brake as an 08 trips @ either 15 or 20 mph, whilst our own 09's which were the norm tripped @ 27 mph owing to different gearing.

Thanks. And blimey, three or four hours of gronking along.
 

6Gman

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I remember being between Crewe and Nantwich one day by the lineside and hearing the most dreadful racket gradually coming closer. A pair of 08s appeared at what was probably a speed of around 15mph, presumably Shrewsbury's shunters en route to Crewe for fuelling/ inspection/ maintenance.

Must have been a pretty grim journey for the driver!
 

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