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Lower Edmonton > Transport and Watercourses  > Rolling stock

Rolling stock

A look at the rolling stock that will have been seen on local lines over the years.
This page is out of date when it comes to the present day rolling stock and should really be read as if it were about 2005. The silly 'one' name was dropped on 27th February 2008 in favour of National Express East Anglia. The merging of the 315 fleets seems to have happened and the few units I have travelled on in the last couple of years all seem to have the NXEA colour scheme with rather pink interiors which I guess must be the result of the 'refurbishment', though they still look just as tired to me. I have completely lost touch with what happened with the 317 fleet and the new stock replacing it on the Stansted Express services.

I can't really comment on the railways without discussing the trains themselves. I've probably included a smidgen more detail than strictly necessary but I've tried not to go overboard. I'll attempt to put it into historical order and if anyone can fill in the gaps for me then that would be nice.

Some of the information and photos on this page come from Cecil J Allen's book The Great Eastern Railway (Ian Allan Ltd, fifth edition paperback 1975 [originally published 1955], ISBN 0-7110-0659-8) and his booklet Great Eastern (Ian Allan Ltd, 1959). I have also drawn upon Trains Illustrated 17 The Great Eastern Railway published by Ian Allan in late 1975 or early 1976.

Steam services


I can't really comment much on the operation of the 'low level' branch when it opened in 1849 except to say that an early railcar (just the one) was named 'Enfield' and worked it for a while. However it didn't prove too successful and was later turned into a 2-2-2T tank.

In 1872 and 1873 a number of 0-4-4T tanks had been built and these were used on the 'high level' railway when it opened. The photo (above left) shows a later alteration of an 1873 engine. The class 61 was a similar sort of design introduced in 1875.

In 1886 the class T18 0-6-0T tank engine, later LNER J66, was introduced and was intended for shunting and light freight duties. It was a small engine with 4 foot driving wheels. An experiment was tried with one of the class on the Enfield Town service and it turned out that it was well suited to hauling and accelerating the heavy, overloaded, trains. A number of the class were introduced to the service for a while but gave way to the slightly larger R24 (LNER J67 and/or J69) which was built from 1890 to 1896. This is probably the class shown in the second two photos. Variations on the class were introduced in the early 1900s which I believe were designated S56 (LNER J69 it seems). In 1912 there was a slightly tarted up version (shown in the last photo) and this continued to be developed and eventually became LNER class J68.

It seems that the remarkable feats of these little engines was not matched by a remarkable ride. The J67/8/9 classes were given the nickname 'Buckjumpers'.

The 0-6-0T was the backbone of the 'Jazz' service. The 'Jazz Trains' were so called, according to O.S. Nock, because at one stage they had brightly coloured coach doors to differentiate between the three classes and speed up loading. Elsewhere I have only seen it said that the first class coaches had a bold yellow stripe on the roofline and the second class a bold blue one. I guess they could both be correct. From what I have read, these services started in about 1902 and were at their peak in the early 1920s after a reorganisation of Liverpool Street station and many other aspects of infrastructure and operation. Stopping times at stations were measured in seconds and the service is regarded as the pinnacle of what could be achieved for suburban services by steam haulage.

I don't know if the Jazz Train nickname is still used today for the Liverpool Street suburban services, but apparently it had lingered on with railwaymen to the late 1960s at least. Every now and again they try to make the service seem more cuddly with names like the fairly recent 'City Hopper' (the Lee Valley got called something like the 'Heron Line'). A good few years back (late 1970s, early-1980s?) and to tie in with increased frequencies due to GLC involvement, they came up with 'Jazz Train'. Unfortunately there wasn't much chance of catching the public imagination this time around when this amounted to little more than a logo on the timetables and a little sticker placed on the front of the trains.


The 0-6-0T classes were not the only locos in use on the Enfield Town service.

William Worsdell's M15 2-4-2T had been introduced in 1884 and earned the nickname 'Gobblers' for their coal consumption. Worsdell left for the NER and built similar engines there (later the LNER F8). James Holden replaced Worsdell at the GER and experimented with replacing the Joys Valve Gear, considered to be at the root of the performance problems, with Stephenson valve gear. This was successful and all the class had their valve gear replaced by 1898 and a further 120 engines were built in 1903-09. They became LNER F4 and although the 40 original versions were withdrawn between 1913 and 1929 the later ones lasted into the British Railways era with the last going in 1956. Stephen Dewar Holden took over from his father in 1908. In 1911-12 he built 20 more 2-4-2T based on the M15 but larger and with higher pressure boilers which became LNER F6 and lasted until 1958. In the period 1911-20 32 of the J Holden builds were rebuilt with the higher pressure boilers as class M15R and these later became LNER F5, again lasting until 1958.  I suspect much of the above discussion is actually off-topic for the site but I include it for interest and because I don't know which variations did actually work local services and when.The photo on the left above shows a 1909 version.

There was also the S44 class of 0-4-4T tanks built from 1908 about which I again have little to comment.

So far I have mostly considered the Enfield Town service. This is largely because I don't really know what was happening on the other line (the Southbury loop was only open for a few years for passenger services as it wasn't successful). The Cambridge (and beyond) service would have had various mainline types I would imagine, and was certainly eventually operated by the B12 4-6-0 amongst others (third photo), but I am not sure about stopping services. However a 2-4-2T mainline tank introduced in 1893 was certainly used for Bishops Stortford services and this is shown in the second photo. This seems to have been class C32 which became LNER F3. It probably looks quite similar to the M15 but if you look at the lead and trailing axles there is a clear design difference.

The 0-6-2T class L77 tank engine (shown on the right above) was first introduced by Hill in 1914 but only a couple were built then. A further ten were built by 1921 and another ten in 1923-24 under LNER auspices. It was adopted as the standard LNER class N7 and another 112 were built in 1925-28. They would have missed the peak period of the Jazz Trains but were still operating up until electrification. It is unfortunate I have so little to say about these engines which provided the backbone of the service for so many years. There is a Yahoo! Group devoted to these engines at Enfield Town and other sheds which might help redress the balance and it has a number of photos in its archive.


The Jazz Train service was operated using four wheel coaches of 'six a side' stock (meaning there were six seats across) and O.S. Nock has illustrated one of the coaches (left). Some coaches were built like this but the idea was so successful that the existing suburban stock was rather ingeniously split longitudinally and widened. The standard peak service configuration was sixteen of these coaches. Later bogie coaches were made by mounting two of these bodies on a new chassis and later still the local service was operated with 'quint art' sets of five articulated coaches (right) which lasted to electrification.

As something of an aside you will notice that the photo of the Enfield Town bound N7 and the articulated coaching stock shows a more significant junction at Seven Sisters. If I recall correctly there is now just a single line branching off to join the line to South Tottenham but the photo shows a double track line and you can also see in the bottom right that there is another branch disappearing to the west of the station. This led to Palace Gates station at Ally Pally but is now long gone and was served by trains via South Tottenham station to and from North Woolwich. I believe that in places there is still clear evidence of where the line ran, and of course it explains the embankment alongside the south end of the station.

Electrification and diesels


After electrification in November 1960 the local services were mostly provided by Class 305 units which would originally have been green (above left) but I remember them mostly in the all blue suburban livery (above centre left) before they went to the grey and blue previously only seen on mainline stock. There were fifty-two of the 3 car units later designated class 305/1 (numbers 401-452) used for the inner suburban stopping services (Enfield Town and Chingford) and these were joined by three similar looking units designated 308/3 (453-455).  For the outer suburban services (Hertford East and Bishops Stortford) there were nineteen of the 4 car version later designated 305/2 (numbers 501-519) and these were augmented with fourteen of the very similar looking 308/1 units (152-165).

There would also be the occasional unit of flattter fronted 1950s style stock with some separate compartments. A batch of the 1958 vintage class 302 (photos above right) was allocated though this class was mainly found on the Fenchurch St to Shoeburyness service. The class 307 dated from 1956 (refurbished 1960-62) and was mainly used on the Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria service but often swapped routes with the 305 units until being banished from the local lines in the 1970s after one too many incidents with the overhead wires.

A quick flick through the November 1960 timetable shows that back then the basic service through Lower Edmonton was six trains an hour each way for Enfield Town and two trains each way for Hertford East and Bishop's Stortford via the Southbury Loop which had been reopened for passenger traffic after very many years (it had barely been used when first opened). The Hertford East and Bishop's Stortford service was formed from two units south of Broxbourne with one serving each branch to the north. These services seem to have run fast between Liverpool Street and Lower Edmonton and then all stops. The Lee Valley line was electrified to Cheshunt in 1969 and this allowed the Bishop's Stortford and Hertford East services to be split with the Hertford East service running down the Lee Valley line and the Bishop's Stortford service the Southbury Loop. I can remember the service running fast from Seven Sisters to Southbury so I should imagine that the first stop was switched from Lower Edmonton to Seven Sisters when the Victoria Line opened (late 1960s).


In the November 1960 timetable the basic weekday off-peak service for the nearest local stations on the Lee Valley line was one train an hour each way between Cheshunt and Liverpool Street and one train an hour each way between Cheshunt and Stratford via Lea Bridge. Some peak services were extended to Broxbourne. The service was operated by the Derby built class 125 DMUs which were introduced in 1958. These were high performance units for their time and could apparently hold their own against the electric units. They had hydraulic transmissions rather than the mechanical transmissions common in the day. After electrification in 1969 they were phased out of service and went to operate on the Great Northern lines out of King's Cross and Moorgate for a while. They were a completely non-standard unit which led to their early demise in 1977 and unfortunately this was before anyone had thought about conservation of DMUs so none survive anywhere.


The Class 31 diesel (above left) was an early steam replacement for the local hauled services to Cambridge and King's Lynn down the Lee Valley line in the late 1950s but it seems it was considered a smidgen underpowered for the job. However it continued for many years with freight services. It was the more powerful Class 37 (centre left) that was to be the mainstay of the Cambridge services with the even more powerful Class 47 (two photos on right above) tending to appear on the Kings Lynn run. The Class 37 made a wonderful distinctive growling noise and I always knew when one was making one of the occasional trips along the Southbury Loop with a passenger or freight service long before it arrived.

The line beyond Bishops Stortford to Cambridge was electrified as recently as 1987. After electrification it was initially served by Class 86 electric loco hauled stock with 305s for the stoppers but after about a year the Class 47 diesels replaced the electric locos. Later Class 310 EMUs (late 1960s slam door stock) and Class 321 EMUs were apparently used. The 321s were very like the 322s built for the Stansted Express/Skytrain service and indeed the 322s did help out on the Cambridge run until they were needed for the Stansted service. These days the class 317 discussed below is used.


Stansted Express was the original name for the airport service when it started in 1990 and the five class 322 units dedicated to it had a special white livery with a green stripe. When WAGN took over the service in 1996 they renamed it the Stansted Skytrain and the livery became white with a yellow stripe. They then reverted to the Stansted Express name in 2000 when the 317/7 stock was introduced. The class 322 units were taken off the Stansted service in mid-1998 and operated a London to Manchester service for North Western Trains before having a spell up in Scotland. They are now back in the 'one' area but not on local services. There must have been a period of a couple of years when the Stansted service was operated without dedicated stock.

Present day services


The current service to Edmonton Green is mainly provided by Class 315 units on the stopping services. They are four car units with push button operated sliding doors and I think they do a good job. Built in 1980/81 and first appearing in the old blue and pale grey 'inter-city" livery (above left) they were repainted in the Network South East colours (above centre) and stayed that way for ages.

The 315 has a standard inner suburban 3+2 seating pattern throughout and is all standard class. I cannot recall any refurbishment of the units since they were introduced and they are looking a little tired now and it is quite common to find the seat cushions have become detached.


All eighteen of the units allocated to West Anglia services have now been repainted again. The first units requiring repainting were just given a white (off-white? very light grey?) "undercoat" pending a final decision on the eventual WAGN livery (pictures above).


The "undercoat" is an excellent base for adding vinyl transfers and two of these units (315 844/5) had transfers applied for promoting the family travelcard and one for the Intalink programme (315 857) in the Hertford area (pictures above).


I had more or less conceded that I had missed my chance to get a photo of the family travelcard livery as one well regarded website suggested that both units had new liveries, and although I knew it was incorrect about one other unit it rather seemed like there were three of the new ones and it must be correct. However I then spotted one crossing the bridge at Edmonton Green and was lucky to come across it again at Seven Sisters a few days later.  As can be seen by the first two photos above 315 845 was still in this livery in April 2004. I eventually caught it at Edmonton Green in October 2005.


In October 2003 I came across 315 844 with orange vinyls promoting a 'Report railway crime' initiative. The old 'Go to town with WAGN' transfers from the travelcard promotion remained at roof level. 315 858 which was previously in the undercoat also has the livery (without the left over vinyls of course). In 2005 one of the units suffered a bad graffiti attack and the end result of the clean up operation is that one coach looks a total mess.


The plain white units eventually received a purple "wagn" logo on the side of each car. The later colour scheme seen on a few of the units is a dark purple with grey doors and a lighter purple "wagn" logo. The purple itself is much darker than on the WAGN signs and looks blue in some lighting conditions. You might not notice it because the contrast is so low, but the bottom couple of feet (ie from the widest part down) of the units are actually a very dark blue which hints at the WAGN colour scheme.

On 1st April 2004, WAGN were replaced as operators by 'one West Anglia', which is a quite ridiculous name and as you can see you can't really write it down without quotes around it. The new livery is a nice blue with a less attractive band of black along the window line and multi-coloured stripes on the carriage ends. Unfortunately these days doors have to be painted in contrasting colours which doesn't help the look. No 315s running local services have had the treatment as yet (at the time of writing). The Stansted Express has just orange stripes. I thought the new livery was very silly at first but I've got used to it now. I can even tolerate the 'one' logo.

If you look at the 315 units from the front you can see that they have rather a pear shaped profile and that there where the front and sides join there is a sloped back section. When they first appeared this was painted yellow like the front but later they chose to paint it the colour scheme of the sides. It is this look that led to the units having the nickname 'Mickey Mouse'. The 315 is a derivative of the 1972 standard design. The earlier class 313 units that operate on the line through Winchmore Hill and Enfield Chase are visually similar with the main difference being that they are equipped to use third rail DC power in the tunnel to Moorgate. There is also a class 314 up in the Glasgow area (I think) and the classes 507 and 508 used on Merseyrail and on some Silverlink and South-Eastern Trains services are DC third-rail only versions.

A larger batch of class 315 units, which differ somewhat in their technical details, operates on the 'one Great Eastern' routes.  The entire fleet is due to be refurbished (starting in 2005) and when this is complete it is likely that there will be a common fleet across the 'one' network.

Since writing the above there have been sightings of Great Eastern units on West Anglia services (late 2005/early 2006).


The other commonly seen unit is the Class 317. These units were originally introduced for the Bedford-St Pancras service in 1981/2 and also worked services like Euston-Northampton before all ending up on the services that have become known as 'Great Northern' and 'West Anglia'. They have a top speed of 100mph rather than the 75mph of the 315 and tend to be used for semi-fast and fast services though they also regularly find their way onto the stopping services. This is fine off-peak but not such a good idea during peak periods (which seems to be when it happens most) as the class really isn't suitable because of the narrower doors, internal layout and 1st Class compartment. Apart from perhaps a stray very early morning service, no services are timetabled to have 1st Class seats and so they may be freely used.

When the so called 'Greater Anglia' franchise took effect on 1st April 2004 the 317/1 fleet was split between West Anglia (operated by 'one West Anglia') and the Great Northern (still operated by WAGN).  The West Anglia lines were allocated fourteen units but twelve more were sub-leased to Thameslink making a total of twenty-six. All bar six of them carried the WAGN purple livery according to listings I have seen. This has the lighter purple of the logo also being used around the doors to the first class compartments. The dark blue at the bottom is easier to detect on these because of the different profile they have compared with the 315. I saw two or three of these units in June, both on the local lines and operating Thameslink services, and the paintwork all looks in unusually poor condition. There are actually two variations of the livery, one with white doors and one with lilac.

In late 2002 most of the units were still in the old NSE scheme and a variant of it with a green stripe instead of red from a loan period on the London, Tilbury and Southend line. Some units showed signs of an earlier loan to Thameslink in the route posters inside. There seems to have been at least one unit in the white undercoat though that might perhaps have been allocated to the GN part of WAGN so might not have been seen locally. The LTS colour scheme is still carried on the six units that have not been repainted purple (November 2004) and all of these should have ended up working Thameslink services (from about October 2004).


The twenty-four 317/2 units built in 1985/6 were originally introduced for the Great Northern services but found their way onto the West Anglia route after a while. They were all refurbished and switched to a 2+2 seating plan instead of 3+2 and were carpeted. They are renumbered from 317 3xx to 317 6xx and are mostly used for fast services including the run to Cambridge. They have a nice colour scheme with rich blues and reds and grey around the window but it seems this was either unpopular or got overtaken by events. They do appear on the stopping services now and again and I used to see them particularly frequently on Sundays when there are engineering works on the other line. A few units have been repainted into the new 'one West Anglia' livery (the photo above is a little blurry) and it appears that the 'West Anglia' branding has been dropped from the most recent ones.


Nine former 317/1 units renumbered 317 7xx were refurbished, with some remodelling of the front end, for the relaunched Stansted Express service in 2000 and were given a special metallic blue colour scheme with grey doors and these have 2+2 seating and carpets. At least one of the units was quickly repainted into 'one Stansted Express' livery. In June 2004 I spotted one unit was carrying an advertising livery on one car and I understand a couple of others have also had the treatment. I eventually managed to photo one in August 2005 (below).


As hinted at earlier, during 2004 twelve 317/1 units were transferred from the Great Northern and West Anglia fleets onto Thameslink as Class 365 replacements arrived on the Great Northern from the South East Kent franchise. The first units transferred were immediately put to work on some peak hour Moorgate services but the main reason for the transfer was to bolster the Thameslink fleet from September 2004 while it was operating in two sections because of works at St Pancras. These twelve units were actually all sub-leased from 'one'.

It seems a number of these (or other 317/1) units are to be refurbished into standard class only units for use on an expanded Stansted Express service. The service will have eight car trains at all times and these will include one of these standard class only units.

The West Anglia fleet of 317s has now been transferred from Hornsey to Ilford and the 317/1 units have been renumbered (in a somewhat random fashion) from 317 3xx to 317 5xx as they have other EMU fleets using the 3xx number range and it helps avoid confusion. The new Stansted Express units are class 317/8 but initial reports are that the first class compartments have remained.


The real variety these days comes from the occasional freight movements that pass through. Somewhat by fluke the above Class 66 hauled train of containers came along when I had my camera to hand.

© Copyright 2000-2019 Graham Johnson.
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