Cars Remodeled on Central London Railway--Extensive Modernization Program (1926)

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Cars Remodeled on Central London Railway

Electric Railway Journal · Vol. 67, No. 25 · June 19, 1926 · p. 1050.


Cars of the Central London Railway Have Been Remodeled to Conform with the Standards of the Underground System.

When the Central London Railway, running from the heart of the city to the western outskirts, was opened for traffic in July, 1900, the cars were regarded as sumptuous, but they were all trail cars, electric locomotives being used to haul them. In consequence of complaints of vibration from the tenants of houses above the route, though the railway is at a great depth, the heavy locomotives were superseded by multiple-unit trains. The complaints then disappeared, but in recent times the call has come for improving the cars. A result now is that 250 cars are to be remodeled and refitted throughout to provide the same standards of comfort and efficiency as are now afforded on the Hampstead and City lines. The improvements include more comfortable seats, pneumatically controlled doors, better lights, better ventilation and faster running.

One car has been rebuilt on these lines and the results of a trial run in service have been so satisfactory that the "Underground" will proceed at once to remodel all the rolling stock on the line.

The manually operated gates at the ends of the cars have been removed and the platforms completely inclosed. Passengers step immediately into the compartment instead of having to make a right-angle turn as at present. Entrance and exit are effected through air-operated doors, four being provided to each car. These are spaced equidistantly. Passengers are near to an exit wherever they may be seated and a more uniform loading of the car is the result. Control of these doors can be achieved from any part of the train. On a seven-car train the rear guard controls the doors in the rear part and the front guard the remainder. The safety devices on the air doors provide that during the last 6 in. of stroke of the door engine the pressure is retarded almost to zero so that the door can be easily pushed back by hand. The door edges, further, are cushioned with broad rubber tubing. An ingenious electrical interlocking device secures that the starting signal cannot be given until all doors are closed.

The lighting has been materially improved and is more evenly distributed. A new type of lamp bracket is employed and all lamps are shaded. More ventilators are fitted and a new and simple type of drop window, which can be regulated by passengers, affords still better ventilation. Well sprung seats upholstered in moquette replace the old seats of pegamoid, rattan and wood. The interior decoration is in green and mahogany, giving the car a bright, cheerful appearance. The exteriors of the cars are painted red and cream.

The improved rolling stock will be capable of high speeds. Experience gained with cars of similar type on the Hampstead and City lines shows that at busy points the station stopping times have been reduced from 50 seconds to 25 seconds. On the Central London tube this will mean a saving of considerable time in the through journey. Instead of four motors on the six and seven car trains there will be six motors. This increase will give better acceleration and it is estimated that at least four minutes will be saved.

Extensive Modernization Program for London Underground

Electric Railway Journal · Vol. 68, No. 2 · July 10, 1926 · pp. 57-60.


One of the 24 Steel Motor Cars.

Central London Railway Is Making Sweeping Alterations in Many of Its Wooden Trail Cars — Increased Operating Efficiency Is Hoped For — City and Hampstead Lines Have Adopted a New Standard for Tube Cars — Many New Cars Purchased.

For several years the London Underground electric railway companies have been carrying out systematic improvements in the types of cars used on their lines. New cars purchased have been designed in accordance with up-to-date developments in carbuilding practice and much of the existing rolling stock has been modernized from time to time. With one notable exception all of the new cars which have been purchased in recent years have been necessitated not by the scrapping of old ones, but by railway extensions. The exception was in the case of the City & South London Railway.

When the small tubes of that company were enlarged to correspond to the standard tube diameter more than a year ago it was found necessary to retire all the then existing rolling stock, consisting of small wooden cars hauled by electric locomotives, these being replaced by the regulation steel Underground cars operated on the multiple-unit system. A junction was constructed with the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway near Euston and a service of through trains over the two lines started.

== Modernization Program Limited to Central London Railway at Present ==

The present modernization of old cars of the underground lines extends only to the Central London Railway. A brief sketch of the work that is being done by this company appeared in the issue of the Electric Railway Journal for June 19, page 1050. With the exception of 24 steel motor cars, one of which is shown in an accompanying illustration, this rolling stock consists of wooden cars built mainly of teak, with metal outside sheeting, and has been in service since 1900. Through careful maintenance these cars are still in excellent physical condition, especially as they have been operated entirely within the tubes and have thus escaped the rigors of unfavorable climatic conditions.

Prior to modernization the cars had open-end platforms and no side doors. The work being undertaken consists of closing in the end platforms and cutting two 3-ft. 3-in. doorways at points between the trucks on, the trail cars and a double doorway 4 ft. 6 in. wide in the middle of the motor cars. These doorways will be provided with sliding doors, air-operated. The control of doors will be pneumatic, two small pipe lines being run throughout the train. So that closing of the doors may be sufficiently accelerated an electric control will be superimposed, but this control will be of a secondary nature and will not be essential to the door operation. All doors will of course be interlocked, giving a lamp signal to the guard when all doors are closed. The guard will in turn transmit a bell signal to the operator of the train. Operation of the door gear will be effected through the use of a vertical-faced rotary valve with a detachable handle. Piping to the pneumatic door system will be of copper as far as possible, to avoid trouble hitherto invariably experienced with new iron pipe due to scale, cuttings, etc.

Draft Screens Are Provided

Side doorways will be provided with semi-frameless draft screens of heavy plate glass attached between the side of the body and vertical grab poles running from floor to monitor. These grab poles constitute vertical struts and are made of steel pipe covered with thin black fiber tubing where handling will occur. The design of the draft screens is shown in an accompanying illustration.

Existing framed windows in the cars are being replaced with semi-frameless main windows with semi-frameless inward-swinging top lights controlled by a dead-centered spring giving open and closed positions.

Peculiarities in Door Design

Owing to the small dimension between the cant rail and the floor on the tube cars it is necessary that the side doors should be curved at the top portion to conform to the roof line. This involves not only a discontinuous cant rail, which at the doorways must be replaced by a steel-built lower roof, but also makes it impossible to hang the doors from the top. The standard underground arrangement of a larger bottom roller on ball bearings and a sliding guide at the top has been adopted. In order to maintain the contour of the door these latter are being made of a cast aluminum alloy known as Alpax.

The 24 steel motor cars previously referred to are at present provided with closed ends fitted with hand-operated swing doors and swing side doors located near the forward or motor truck. These latter doors are controlled by means of a door check and are locked and unlocked automatically by the operation of the end doors. Eight wooden motor cars have recently been converted to the same type as the steel motor cars, but it is expected that the doors of the 32 motor cars will soon be converted to the standard pneumatically operated type.

The seats in the modernized cars will be of a well-sprung type, upholstered in moquette, and will replace the old seats of pegamoid, rattan and wood. Additional cross seats will be provided at the newly constructed ends, a slight extension of the floor behind the headstock at the corners being made to accommodate these seats. The interior decoration of the cars will be in green and mahogany, giving a bright and cheerful appearance. Exteriors will be painted red and green.

Lighting Is Improved

Improvements are being made in the lighting arrangements of the cars. The present monitor rail lighting is being replaced by bracket lights with Superflux type shades. These are located along the cant rail, except at the doorways, where similar lamps in ceiling fixtures will be used. Better distribution of light is obtained by making these changes.

The modernized units are being arranged with insulated negative wiring to permit of their being used at a later date, if required, with an insulated return, as is usual on the Underground railways. The negative wire is being temporarily earthed so that the cars can run on the existing earthed return used on the Central London Railway.

Some reconstruction of the trucks may be carried out, experiments in this direction being in progress at the present time. No change is being contemplated just now in the general motive equipment of the Central London Railway, although consideration is being given to the necessity of increasing train lengths and speed. This will eventually require intermediate motor cars and some change in control and other equipment. In all probability the present changes in the cars will make possible considerable improvements in operating schedules, due to the great facility with which loading and unloading may be accomplished.

City and Hampstead Lines Adopt a New Standard

For through service over the lines of the City & South London and the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railways 197 new cars were recently purchased. These are of an improved type designed to form a standard for future use. Since their delivery a further order for 127 similar units has been placed and delivery of a large share of these has now been made. They are to be used on the Morden and Kennington extensions, south of the River Thames, of the two railways named above. These lines now have a total of 505 cars, 324 of which are of the new standard.

To arrive at this standard much the same method was employed that was conceived in this country by the Grand Rapids Railway, namely, that of asking various manufacturers to build sample cars embodying all possible improvements in car design. Orders were placed with five leading British manufacturers of rolling stock for single cars, each to be to Underground specification with respect to dimensions and general principles of design, but to embody any special features that the manufacturers might themselves devise. A sixth car was built to specifications formulated by Underground engineers. These six cars were later submitted to the exacting test of service in the tubes and after an exhaustive trial a new design of car was evolved. This incorporated the salient features of the six test cars and is the standard type of rolling stock now in operation on the City and Hampstead lines.

It has been necessary to reduce the seating capacities somewhat in order to provide additional lateral seats. Passengers have indicated a marked preference to face in the direction of car motion, and this factor, together with the arrangements of the doors, causes the trail cars to have a seating capacity of 48 as compared with the previous capacity of 52. In the motor cars 30 seats are provided and in the control trailers 44, these figures comparing with the former 42 and 52 respectively. The seats, upholstered in a fawn-colored moquette, are of the spring-borne type. Special attention has also been given to the lighting, and the lamps, of shadowless design, are distributed in a manner that permits of a soft yet brilliant light being diffused equably through the car.

The arrangement of the doors governs the general principles upon which the City and Hampstead cars have been designed. Instead of platforms and collapsible gates at each end of the car, there are two pairs of sliding doors, as on the modernized Central London cars, these being located to divide the interior of the car into three sections. This arrangement makes for expeditious ingress and egress, every seat being conveniently near a door. Each doorway provides an opening of 4 ft. 6 in., the total width of opening to the platforms per car being 9 ft., compared with the 6 ft. afforded by the narrow end doorways formerly used. Operation of the doors is pneumatic, practically similar to the system employed on the modernized cars described above.

A very noticeable feature of the new cars is the smooth and quiet performance in operation. The rattles and other harsh noises frequently concomitant with the operation of trains in tunnels have been largely eliminated. This improvement was effected through experiments and research conducted by Prof. A. M. Low in which the use of "sound photographs" played an important part. The bogies are inclosed in asbestos shields and special packing devices have been adopted in the bogies themselves and in other parts of the car.

Side View of Altered Car of C. L. R.
[Left] Draft Screen at Side Entrance. [Right] Interior of C. L. R. Car After Alteration.
Floor Plan of Altered Car Adopted by Central London Railroad.
Interior View Before Alterations Had Been Made.New Top Glass for Ventilation.
A New City and Hampstead Trail Car.
Interior of a Standard City and Hampstead Trail Car.


Electric Railway Journal, McGraw Hill Company, Digitized by Microsoft, Americana Collection, archive.org.

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