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Wednesday 26th September saw the last unit of A-Stock run in passenger service on the Metropolitan Line. The last service was worked by 5063, and Ianvists has an excellent write up here.

Some photos to commemorate the end of an era on the Underground are below. All photos are courtesy, and copyright, Julian Gajewski.

A-Stock 5063 at Barbican on its last day

A-Stock 5063 at Barbican on its last day

A platform full of well-wishers

A platform full of well-wishers

The commemorative plaque

The commemorative plaque

Passing the mantle

Passing the mantle

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There are 37 comments on this article
  1. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know if any are likely to be preserved?

  2. Greg Tingey says:

    Where / How do we find the photo-archive ( Flickr? ) pages of this blog?
    Shouildn’t there be a link from the front page?
    ( & I have a couple of shots, you might like as well ….. )

  3. Marc says:

    Greg, the wording you are looking for is:

    “Does anyone know of a link to the photo achive and could a link to it be included on this page please?”

    You’re reading this excellently written blog for free, so show some manners to the people who write it.

  4. John Bull says:

    A good point – I’ve added a “photo pool” link to the menu above.

    As always, if people have got photos they want to share in there, but don’t have/want a flickr account, just chuck them (with any caption and attributions you want on them) to contributions@londonreconnections.com and I’ll upload them through our LR account.

  5. Fandroid says:

    I thought Greg was very polite, if a bit blunt. He wouldn’t be Greg if he wasn’t blunt!

    Realising that the A Stock is 52 years old, it’s a tribute to the designers and to the maintainers that they have served us so well even into the second decade of the 21st century. Imagine what a 1960s car would feel like now! (My 1960s models collapsed into heaps of ferric oxide dust before the 1980s started).

  6. Dave says:

    “Does anyone know if any are likely to be preserved?”

    The scuttlebutt over at “District Daves” forum suggests that one will be preserved and some cars are being retained for “Rail Adhesion Train” usage.

  7. Ricolas says:

    I seem to recall that they had the largest loading gauge of any UK train – left over from old Watkin’s grand plans with the GCR etc.

    Either way, I thought them to be comfortable and handsome; I wonder if the new ones will last 50 years?

  8. James says:

    Hopefully will have been converted to maglev in 60 years time…..

  9. Greg Tingey says:

    In turn …
    It was a starightforward question.
    As an ex-teacher (amongst many other things) I don’t have a problem with that – do you?

    A-stock preservation – YES!
    Bult by Cravens – another victim of guvmint’s campaign against British engineering construction & the railways…..

    No the current crap won’t last 50 years – beautiful engineering, totally rubbish seating & internal layout.

    No – maglev is useless, because of the same problem as “monorails” – steering & points on complex layouts.
    You need SOME version of the coned-internal wheel/rail interface for simplicity & reliability in this engineering operation

    Largest gauge?
    Even bigger than the Gas Works Railway’s “Centenary” stock from the 1930′s???

    “Photo Pool”
    MANY THANKS….

  10. Jeremy says:

    I can think of a couple of other problems with a maglev conversion if you need them. And yes, I am just old enough to have been on the one at Birmingham Intl that nearly always broke.

    The biggie would be that it’s highly unlikely you could have both systems in operation in the same tunnel at the same time. Unless people don’t mind going without large chunks of the SSR for a couple of years, that would be troublesome.

    Secondly, any such conversion, involving the complete replacement of the SSR infrastructure and rolling stock at the same time, would be likely to come out rather more expensive than a new generation of conventional trains, for minimal benefit given that tube trains spend a substantial portion of their time in service at very low speed or stopped in stations.

    The bean-counters wouldn’t go for it, and they’d be right.

  11. Ig says:

    So which are the oldest trains left of the network now then?

  12. Dstock7080 says:

    C Stock (H&C, Circle, District) are currently the oldest surface Stock, with 1972 Stock (Bakerloo) the oldest Tube Stock. A few cars of 1967, 1972 Stock remain dotted around the system awaiting disposal or further engineering use.
    The Heritage Fleet contains a 1938 Tube Stock and the 1922 vintage “Sarah Siddons” locomotive.

  13. swirlythingy says:

    To clarify: the C stock dates from 1968, making it older than the Bakerloo’s 1972 MkII Stock (although not older than the Victoria line’s 1967 Stock, which was scrapped before the A stock was).

    There was a 1972 MkI Stock, but it never really found a purpose in life, and most of it was scrapped after it was replaced by 1995 Stock on the Northern line. There are three or four complete 1972 MkI trains hiding in the Bakerloo’s MkII fleet, although they’re almost identical, so you have to know what to look for. Some 1972 MkI trailer cars were inserted into the Victoria’s 1967 fleet, but those were obviously scrapped when the 1967s were last year.

  14. timbeau says:

    The 1972 Mk I stock’s purpose in life was to make up the numbers when the 1959 stock was transferred from the Piccadilly to the Northern.

    The original plan had been to completely re-equip the Northern (then running with 1938 stock) in the mid/late70s with a crew-operated version of the 1967 stock. When the Heathrow extension was authorised the Picadilly got the new trains instead – 1973 stock, which is six long cars instead of seven short ones. The 1959 stock was cascaded to the Northern but as the Northern requires more trains than the Picadilly a few extra ones were needed, and as the 1973 stock design wouldn’t fit (tight curves) the 1972 MkI was born. the MkIIs started life on the Northern too, until all the 1959 stock became available, and then went to the Bakerloo. When the Bakerloo and Jubilee Lines parted company the Jubilee gfot the 72 stock, but that went back to the bakerloo whenthe 1983 stock arrived on the Jub!

  15. swirlythingy says:

    Yes, keeping track of rolling stock on the Tube during the 70s and 80s was a bit of a nightmare. To make things extra fun the Jubilee didn’t originally receive all the 1983 stock which it required, which meant it spent most of the 80s running with a mix of 1983s and 1972 MkIIs, until funds for the second batch of 1983s were released by the relevant tight fists. If you think all these details don’t quite add up to a full allocation for all the lines mentioned then you’d be right – a stock crisis in the mid-80s famously resulted in a few 1938s being dragged out of retirement because there was simply nothing lined up to replace them.

    Then after all of this, the 1983 stock was summarily disposed of when the second batch was still less than ten years old, because they didn’t want to have to build a third batch to work the extension. (Although it was originally envisioned that the 1996 stock would be a ‘top-up’ in the style of the 1972 MkI stock and not the complete fleet replacement it ended up being, which is why those trains were designed in a more traditional style than the 1992 stock, so they wouldn’t have stood out too badly.) Such are the perils of going straight from decades of monetary starvation to one of the biggest spending programmes in history.

  16. Twopenny Tube says:

    And while digressing to replacement tube stock, what of the Isle of Wight? Did anyone keep any of the first fleet that went over in the 60s? What was the origin of the current fleet? And I wonder what might be next in the frame for export to the island?

  17. George Moore says:

    Yes – one train will be preserved by the London Transport Museum at Acton.

  18. Mikey C says:

    Being very picky, part of the C stock are the C77s built in 1977 to operate the Wimbleware part of the District Line, so newer than the 1972s and 1973s.

    Further, aren’t there 2 more or less ‘new’ C stock vehicles built after the 7/7 bombings…

  19. timbeau says:

    6606 and 6734 were the new “C09″ cars although built with many components from the two damaged on 7/7.

    Also the present 5585 was built as an add-on to the C77 fleet, to replace a car damaged in similar circumstances back in 1976, although in that case the train was empty.

  20. Paul says:

    Twopenny Tube at 06:27

    SWT have stated (in a webchat a couple of years ago) that 73 stock will be used to replace the 38 stock, when it becomes available from the Piccadilly. When a webchat questioner challenged this, because of perceived issues with shortening 73′s, SWT’s reply was that this was all planned for and reiterated that it would definitely be 73 stock.

  21. Taz says:

    One A stock will remain for autumn rail cleaning duties into the future. On the Central Line two of the 1962 tube stock still perform such duties almost 20 years after the current 1992 tube stock began to take over. Of course the 1938 tube stock still provide the Isle Of Wight rail service into their 75th year!

  22. Taz says:

    It is amazing that a ride on A stock after 50 years was still a pleasant modern experience. Their refurbishment was closer to the original appearance than other types received. Even the outside was relatively unchanged apart from a coat of paint. Surprisingly, replacement was first considered back in the early 1980s when conversion costs for one-person operation were high, but fortunately modern technology provided a cheaper conversion solution.

  23. Littlejohn says:

    Is there still a unit of 1972 stock kept at Aldwych?

  24. Taz says:

    I remember the last days of the District Line Q stock and the Standard Tube Stock when I was young, and they seemed to me to be museum pieces from the Edwardian Era. The clerestory roof and lamp shades really dated them. Do younger people feel this way about the demise of the A stock, which I can recall arriving and therefore they don’t seem that old to me?

  25. Ian says:

    Taz: I think that the 1990s-ish refurbishment made a big difference to how the trains seemed and stopped them seeming like museum pieces. Most lines either got new trains or had them refurbished at around the same time, so the interior “feel” of each type of train was really quite similar. What seemed like museum pieces to me at the time were the old Northern Line trains, with their wooden window frames and floors and guards operating the doors.

  26. Greg Tingey says:

    For many years (1969-87) I commuted Walthamstow-Harrow, using “all available routes”, and in 1993/4 did the same to Uxbridge, so I know the journey & the rolling stock very well.
    Yesterday, I reprised that with a trip to Uxbridge (& on to Pinewood, but that’s another tale) – my first of more than 6 stops on the new stock…
    Good things: Better ride, quieter, air-con that works, better accleleration, probably quieter, the “internal tube” arrangement.
    Bad things: The internal layout and the seating itself.

    Talk about spoining the ship!
    LUL have royally screwed up a very good product, haven’t they?
    The seating quantity is pathetic – the old stock really needed all those thick, comfortable seats – so removing them was a really bad idea.
    Then there are the so-called “seats” themseleves.
    THIN _ HARD _ UNCOMFORTABLE
    Why?
    I’m told it is for “fire safety” but I think someone is lying, again.
    To/from Pinewood I rode in a very modern mini-coach/bus (laid on for us “temporaries” that day) which must also meet modern fire & safety regulations.
    The seats were at least twice the thickness of those on the train & were comforatble.
    Why have LUL (& some of the other ROSCOS/TOCs, for that matter) been allowed to get away with this?

  27. Luke says:

    I do miss the a stocks they were such a perfect design considering the design dated from the 1940s but was used until the 1960s! Once the D stock goes only the 1972′s on the Bakerloo and the 1973′s on the Piccadilly will be the oldest trains on the network, according to LUL the replacements for both lines current stock won’t be until the mid 2020s earliest! Even the 1992 stock will be replaced in 2018/19 not sure when the 1995/96 ‘s stocks will finally join the scrap heap in the sky, they still look new even after almost 2 decades in service, the 92′s are starting to look very old and dated, yet the A stocks looked timeless

  28. Greg Tingey says:

    Article in September “Modern Railways” on this very subject, with computer-generated impressions of new stuff.
    IIRC protype(s) in 2017, producion run 2020-23 (ish) ….
    I note that the image appears to show that contra P Hendy’s comment, the proposed new stock has a cab. (!)

  29. Anonymous says:

    I saw one last week at Neasdon as well as the adhesion train, Acton museum depot has a DM to

  30. Anonymous says:

    I remember when I was young on the Northern Line the 1959 and 1972MKI Stock was in operation at the time. I miss those trains a lot. To be honest, the 1972mkI could have stayed on for another 5-10 years more if they had been refurbished to help out the 1995 stock.

  31. timbeau says:

    Anon – possibly, but there are advantages in having a uniform (1995 stock) fleet, and it may have been cheaper to extend the 1995 production run rather than spend the money on refurbishing the 1972s. (This was also a factor in the early demise of the 1983 stock and the D stock)
    Remember also that a number of 1972Mk1 cars did find a further use augmenting the 1967 and 1972Mk2 stocks on the Victoria and Bakerloo Lines.

  32. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @anonymous, timbeau

    Another highly relevant factor was that it was intended to replace the signalling at the same time and one would probably have needed the more modern trains with their more modern motors to implement the intended more intensive service. The service did not in fact get implemented at the time and the Northern Line had more trains than it could usefully use.

    As it turned out government cutbacks meant that the resignalling was cancelled and in fact the line did not get resignalled until earlier this year – more than 15 years later than planned. This and the originally surplus trains explains how they could improve the peak service last June and will do so again next month without requiring extra trains to be built.

  33. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – you also need to bear in mind that the Northern Line rolling stock is provided under a PFI deal. There is no way Alstom would have wanted to maintain a mixed fleet especially with older trains. They were lumbered with maintaining the old fleet for far longer than necessary because of the time it took to get 95 stock into service. Yes there was some “headroom” in the fleet but there were limits within the contractual set up. I can only assume that LU and Alstom have introduced some more flexibility into their arrangements following the signalling upgrade. There would have had to have been some negotiations because the asset reliability calculations, with the ATO kit fitted on trains, change. That would have a bearing on how fleet reliability was measured and probably knock through to the contract payment regime with Alstom. The fleet is also going through a refresh too which when finished will free up whatever “float” trains were used to cover for trains away for attention.

  34. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Walthamstow Writer,

    I thought Northern Line train maintenance had been taken back in house. Not 100% sure I have to admit.

  35. Graham Feakins says:

    @PoP – Yes – see this interesting TfL report:

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/tfl-rail-and-underground-benchmarking-report-2012.pdf

    Northern Line is part of Tube Lines. “In July 2010 Tube Lines was acquired by TfL and has continued to operate as a separate business within TfL‟s Rail and Underground business unit.”

    “There has been a steady improvement in maintenance costs and performance at Tube Lines since 2005. Costs were falling before the acquisition by TfL and have continued since. Tube Lines brought fleet maintenance in-house in 2011 and this has resulted in a further cost improvement.”

  36. Graham Feakins says:

    Sorry, I’m not so sure now as the report also mentions things like “It has also not been possible to separate out the costs of heavy maintenance for the Northern line, for which there is an outsourced maintenance contract – the Northern Line Train Service Contract (NLTSC) – with Alstom.”

  37. Londoner says:

    After Tubelines were bought out, Jubilee line maintenance was brought in house, but Alstom still maintain the Northern line fleet.

    One assumes because the maintenance contracts/finances differed between the fleets.

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