If you register, you can do a lot more. And become an active part of our growing community. You'll have access to hidden forums, and enjoy the ability of replying and starting conversations.

Sir Nigel Gresley - The L.N.E.R.’s First C.M.E.

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by S.A.C. Martin, Dec 3, 2021.

  1. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    4,292
    Likes Received:
    6,914
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Asset Engineer (Signalling), MNLPS Treasurer
    Location:
    London
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I have to ask - wearily - who has been “trashing” his reputation?

    If that’s an aside at me, I have to refute it. And frankly, my book on Thompson and its contents do more to enhance Gresleys reputation, than trash it.
     
    MellishR and 60525 like this.
  2. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Messages:
    33,577
    Likes Received:
    18,475
    Occupation:
    Training moles
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Not aimed at you but read through the thread and you will find the posts.
     
  3. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    11,246
    Likes Received:
    10,717
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Have to say, there has been far more by way of questioning long held assumptions concerning how decisions were arrived at during HNG's reign than owt of a vitriolic or polemic nature.

    For my part, I find the depth and breadth of knowledge on this 'ere forum has added greatly to my own understanding of decisions seemingly confined to the realm of pure engineering. I'm looking forward to seeing LNER policy between 1923-41 fleshed out, in the manner of that between 1941-5 ..... and positively champing at the bit to see the same level of debate brought to bear, concerning Mr Webb's tenure on the LNW!
     
  4. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Messages:
    3,616
    Likes Received:
    3,852
    Occupation:
    Once computers, now part time writer I suppose.
    Location:
    SE England
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Gresley certainly needed board approval to build more pacifics, but would that approval have been as detailed as individual design? GW locomotive committee minutes talk about type rather than classes, although its as well to be aware that more must have gone on than was formally recorded in minutes.
     
  5. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    3,498
    Likes Received:
    6,843
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    An interesting comparison in Germany you have the creation of the DRG in 1924 and the subsequent creation of the Einheitsdampflokomotiven.

    It is interesting to muse on what would have happened if Nationalisation rather than grouping had been pursued in the 1920s. I suspect that if they had gone down the line of having a CME it would have been Gresley anyway - young CME at grouping but with a strong body of work. Alternatively a more committee based approach as had been used during WW1 and was in Germany might have followed. Either way I think there would have been more standardisation earlier on, who knows maybe the A3 might have become the British version of the BR 01.

    At the same time, I think that without radical change in the ways the railways were managed I doubt there would have been too much difference without a sweeping out of the relics from the ancien regime of the pre-grouping era. Nationalised railways led by Whitelaw or one of his ilk would just get you in the same place as grouping.
     
  6. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    20,374
    Likes Received:
    16,447
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    But theSouthern electrifications were largely suburban in nature, focusing on high frequency traffic where gains came not just from the different source of power but also eliminating the operational inefficiencies of locomotive haulage. The Kent coast scheme did build on previous successes, as the reach of schemes increased. It’s noticeable that those schemes were centred on multiple units, and that the Southern network has had a grand total of 75 electric main line locomotives in its history - and that’s counting the 48 class 73 electro-diesels.

    That’s a different beast from the majority of the LNER, and it’s operations. That the Shildon electrification was dismantled so quickly suggests both, yes, a lack of imagination but also the degree of challenge in making the economics work for what was then still novel technology.

    We focus a lot here on the cost of fuelling - coal or electric - locomotives. I think that’s a rather limited and limiting view, and that the total cost of ownership is what matters.

    I don’t think the cards in the electrification hand were as strong as you suggest.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    MellishR likes this.
  7. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    3,498
    Likes Received:
    6,843
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Is the Tyneside electrification not suburban in nature? A template was there that could have been built outward from.

    The NER was a pioneer, by the end of the LNER it is a laggard surpassed by other companies in the UK and well behind where the big players in Europe are.

    The SR was able to build on the pioneering work, the LNER didn't.

    What I find strange is that people praise the agent when something goes well but blame the structure when something doesn't happen or goes wrong. Call it Mourinhoism - when his teams win it is because of his brilliance, when his teams lose it is because of the players, the referee, etc etc.

    The LNER was dealt a strong hand by the NER in terms of new technology and just didn't play it very well. Some of that is down to structure but some of that is down to short termism in decision making at the expense of the long view, as you illustrate with the example of Shildon.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2021
    2392 likes this.
  8. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    11,246
    Likes Received:
    10,717
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Some might say that, far from building on, the Southern in fact abandoned the real pioneering work in favour of 750dc 3rd rail.
     
  9. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    3,498
    Likes Received:
    6,843
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Feel free to make that argument, someone else's turn to play devils advocate :)
     
  10. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    20,374
    Likes Received:
    16,447
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    But build out where from the Tyneside electrification? What were the routes that leant themselves to that investment, and were going to make the return? Where were the intense service patterns that would return those benefits? I agree with your assessment of relative performance, but see the structural factors as fundamental constraints upon achieving the sort of incremental development and transformation undertaken south of the Thames.

    I think you underestimate the role of the EMU as an enabler of change, taking capital, fuel and employment costs out of the equation as self propelled trains shuttled back and forth. That progressive SR didn't start to build electric locomotives until the 1940s - 30 years after the NER had done so for the Shildon scheme; it was still using steam long after the ER's "botched" upgrade had given it the Deltics, and it only got rid of steam with a half-hearted Dorset electrification, combined with dieselisation west of Worting. On freight, challenges around yard working caused headaches long into the BR era.

    In a capital restricted world, I stand by my view that large scale electrification by the LNER would have been a visionary, high risk policy
     
    ragl likes this.
  11. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    3,498
    Likes Received:
    6,843
    Location:
    Here, there, everywhere
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Out of Kings X, Liverpool Street, Glasgow and Edinburgh off the top of my head. Only one of which gets started and isn't completed by 1939.

    You've got the template for urban electrification, rolling stock that works, proof from Newcastle that it improves passenger numbers.

    The period 1923-35 is a lost period for electrification despite it being when some of the most innovative and 'outside the box' thinking about steam is taking place in the same organisation.
     
  12. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Messages:
    20,374
    Likes Received:
    16,447
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Grantham
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I'll give you Glasgow, but am less convinced about either Edinburgh (note the 50 year gap between "Blue Trains" and Edinburgh suburban electrifications) or King's Cross - I'll defer to those who remember pre-electrification King's Cross suburban, but believe the 1976 scheme was a step change in service levels.
     
  13. Mandator

    Mandator Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,743
    Likes Received:
    2,977
    Gender:
    Male
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Are people forgetting Woodhead? Gresley was the instigator behind 6000 Tommy.
    It was realised that Worsborough and GC main line between Sheffield and Manchester would benefit from electrification, for obvious reasons.
    How this scheme and the Liverpool Street electrification schemes were to be funded, given the finances of the LNER, someone might know?

    Sent from my SM-J330FN using Tapatalk
     
  14. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Messages:
    7,604
    Likes Received:
    4,586
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance photo - journalist
    Location:
    Southport
    If talking urban electrification then surely Leeds must come into the equation - and possibly even Sheffield with its link of the Woodhead scheme. But most interestingly is the UK belief that electrification was best suited to urban areas as competitors to the local tramway networks whereas in Hungary the view was that branch lines were best suited to electrification due to the savings in (wasted) coal and water from interminable station stops. Far more realistic is that the mid-century companies didn't have the research that shows the electrification effect on main lines - the increase in passenger numbers / revenues that mitigated the high capital cost of the infrastructure and it was that high initial capital cost that put off Boards laying out scarce capital. Reference to the Shildon scheme should note that it was not renewed simply because AT THE TIME available steam resources could cover the work with less expense than renewing the infrastructure hence an easy decision to take when capital was scarce. Note that Woodhead and Liverpool St schemes only came about because the Government of the day provided the capital which the LNER Board was unable - not unwilling - to fund given the other demands being made on funds. I reiterate that the LNER was not unwilling to consider electrification as the work of Raven and Gresley testify with their involvement during the 1920s in the various bodies that both considered and formulated future policy / standards for railway electrification schemes.
    As for the Southern Railway its policies were also founded on available capital. Whilst the Southern had 3 systems to meld into one, and the chairman Sir Herbert Walker saw a future of electric multiple units as the prime passenger trainset, the comparative costs of adopting one and replacing the other two it accepted the fact that 3rd rail DC was the cheapest option given that it was the largest of the 3 systems - and once that decision was taken the London - Brighton MAIN LINE was the first to be electrified with the chosen system. Agreed that the 3rd rail system was also cheaper to both instal and operate but - again - that decision also was made in the light of scarce capital.
    For other electrification schemes among the best examples is the Merseyrail network with the Liverpool - Southport line being the first Main Line to be electrified (in 1904) and until the mid-1960s being operated as a suburban service to Hall Road and a main line thereafter with a mix of both express and local stopping services. An interesting thought is that the scheme was introduced by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway - where Gresley was in charge of Carriage & Wagon hence Gresley was familiar with the L&YR Mersey and NER Newcastle electrification schemes. As I have noted earlier many forget that Gresley specified the EM1 / Class 76 locomotive and followed the principles established by Sir Vincent Raven and his various committee reports. In addition the L&YR scheme was built by Dick, Kerr as contracted by Aspinall to meet his specification in the same way that Metropolitan Vickers were contracted to build the EM1 at Doncaster Works to meet Gresley's specification.
     
    MellishR likes this.
  15. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    11,246
    Likes Received:
    10,717
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    I think all which needs to be said from a purely technical perspective is that 6.6kVac overhead was a good generation on from a slightly butcher version of the admirable Mr.Magnus Volk's truly pioneering work. But when's that ever stopped any of us?

    Received wisdom has it that the Southern's decision to go with the Hornby system was based on little more than the greater mileage in service of the LSWR system, though considering anti-German sentiment in the wake of WWI, perhaps reliance on Siemens' technology represented an effective political veto. Had that issue been overcome, quite how much more route the LBSC's technically more advanced, if rather more capital intensive system would have needed in service, come grouping, to become the group standard is, of course, a moot point.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2021
  16. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    4,292
    Likes Received:
    6,914
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Asset Engineer (Signalling), MNLPS Treasurer
    Location:
    London
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I suspect the CEE Richards had a lot more to do with it, tbh, but there’s no doubt Gresley was a driving force behind the Woodhead electrification.
     
  17. bluetrain

    bluetrain Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2019
    Messages:
    986
    Likes Received:
    1,227
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wiltshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    The Reichsbahn took quite a few years to build up its range of standard locomotive types. In its early years, building continued of several of the "pre-grouping" Landesbahnen classes - as late as 1930 in the case of the Bavarian S3/6 Pacifics. That may be compared with Gresley's re-ordering of GC & GE classes during the 1920s. Electrification schemes were one of the factors that subsequently affected the need for new steam builds.

    I have the impression that electrification in Continental Europe made particular advances in hilly or mountainous areas, partly because these were the areas most likely to have hydro-power but also partly because hilly routes are the most difficult to operate with steam traction, requiring extra engines on front or back with extra crews. The Woodhead route was obviously selected because it was a pain to operate. Possibly the GWR "West of Taunton" 1938 scheme was prompted by the South Devon banks? I don't know whether there was any thought in earlier years of electrification of the lines over Shap and Beattock, or of further Trans-Pennine lines?

    Anyway, back to Gresley. It will be most interesting to learn more about how he transitioned from GNR to LNER CME, how he brought together his enlarged remit and developed system-wide policies, and how he interacted with the LNER Board and with other departments. His attitudes to electrification and dieselisation will be part of this story.
     
  18. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2017
    Messages:
    11,246
    Likes Received:
    10,717
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Brighton&Hove
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    No I do not currently volunteer
    Of interest @bluetrain, did the DR inherit a significant portion of route with the sort of axload constraints which came with so many of the UK (and Irish) secondary and branch routes?
     
  19. toplight

    toplight Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,268
    Likes Received:
    1,162
    Location:
    Swindon, England
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    Forgetting the technical issues that electric trains were a very new experimental technology in the 1930s, electrifying say of the East coast mainline then just wouldn't have happened for just cost reasons. Even now electrification (of say London to Bristol) only happens because the taxpayer is funding the millions of pounds of cost, it requires that enormous 'external' injection of capital. It isn't the railway funding it itself out of its own revenue.
    I am not sure it is worth it, then or now. What is the return on that money. ? Has it resulted in much increase in passenger revenue, compared to the previous HST diesel trains. ?

    How much were the railways subsidised by the government in the 1930s, would they have been willing to fund a similar scheme then ? My guess not that the railways were much more self financing, so any electrification scheme, shareholders and directors would have been questioning, well is this going to make us profit ? Would it do then, (or now), probably not.

    As for diesels, had Gresley decided to go for a diesel train, the next question, well what diesel powerplant can we use in the train ? , and at the time there was pretty much nothing available (in Britain) that could have been used. For things like the GWR railcars they used low power Engines which had been manufactured for buses, but it still took two of them to propel just one rail coach to a top speed of around 70mph. So just an 8 coach train, you would need 16 engines, hardly practical. I understand English Electric were just beginning to manufacture larger diesels at the time.

    Gresley made the correct choice at the time in designing the A4 and trains like the Silver Jubilee, practical, on budget and proven technology. It was the only realistic option.
     
  20. bluetrain

    bluetrain Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2019
    Messages:
    986
    Likes Received:
    1,227
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wiltshire
    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
    Yes I am an active volunteer
    I have to rely on ES Cox ("World Steam in 20th Century") to answer your question.

    As in Britain, axle-load limits varied between areas and routes. When the Reichsbahn was formed, the most powerful of the Landesbahnen engines had axle-loads of 17-18 tons, but some routes had lower limits. I believe that the Class 01 4-6-2 and Class 44 2-10-0, introduced in 1925/6, were the first German engines with 20 ton axle-load. The Bavarian S3/6 (4-cylinder compound) 4-6-2 also continued to be built until 1930, because Reichsbahn engineers had difficulty in designing the new 2-cylinder Class 03 light pacific to match the S3/6 performance within the same 18 ton axle-load. Compare with Gresley and the LNER B17 development.
     
    MellishR likes this.

Share This Page