Mersey Railway electric units
|Mersey Railway electric units|
Mersey Railway electric train leaving Birkenhead Park
|Car length||18 metres (59 ft)|
|Width||2.62 metres (8 ft 7 in)|
|Electric system(s)||600 V DC|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
Mersey Railway electric multiple units were electric multiple units introduced on the underground Mersey Railway in 1903. In the early 1900s the railway was bankrupt as it used steam locomotives that left a dirty atmosphere in the tunnel and passengers preferred the ferries. However, the railway was rescued by Westinghouse Electric, who electrified the railway and provided the first electric multiple units. The cars were supplemented in 1908, 1923 and 1925 and finally in 1936 to allow the introduction of 6-car trains. In 1938, when the Wirral Railway was electrified, the units were modified to allow through running between the two systems. In 1956–57 the cars were replaced by units similar to those used on the Wirral Railway.
In the early 1900s the Mersey Railway was bankrupt. The steam locomotives then used left a dirty atmosphere in the tunnel that mechanical ventilation was unable to remove. Passengers preferred the ferries. However, the railway attracted the attention of George Westinghouse, an American looking for business for his UK works, the British Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co. Ltd that opened at Trafford Park in 1899. Westinghouse considered the railway would be profitable with electric traction and undertook to fund electrification, promising to complete in eighteen months.
In 1903 24 motor cars and 33 trailers were provided by Westinghouse. The stock was of an American design, with a clerestory roof and open gated ends. Unheated accommodation was in saloons and the wooden bodies were British built, the bogies had been made by Baldwins Locomotive Works in America. All cars were 8 feet 7 inches (2.62 m) wide, the motor cars were 59 feet (18 m) long and weighed 36 1⁄2 long tons (37.1 t) and the trailers 58 feet (18 m) long and weighed 20 long tons (20 t). First and Third Class cars were provided, the first class seats being natural rattan, the third class seats being moulded plywood. The livery was maroon with white roofs and "Mersey Railway" in gold left on the upper fascia panels. Air-brakes were provided with storage reservoirs that were recharged at the terminal stations. The motor cars were powered with Westinghouse motors controlled by the Westinghouse low voltage multiple unit train control system.
An additional four trailers were received in 1908 with British bogies and in 1912 the open ends were boxed in. In 1923 two motor-cars were ordered from Cravens with four 125 horsepower (93 kW) motors and in 1925 a five car train was received from the same manufacturer. To allow the introduction of 6-car train in 1936 ten trailers units were built by Gloucester. The later cars did not have a clerestory roof, however any car could work in multiple with any other car.
In 1938 the Wirral Railway was electrified and through running between the two companies became possible. When the Mersey Railway trains were modified to run on the Wirral Railway, heaters and air-compressors were added.
Following the nationalisation of the Mersey Railway as part of British Rail, the Mersey Railway became part of the London Midland Region alongside the Wirral Railway. The cars were replaced by vehicles similar to the Wirral Railway units in 1956–57, lightweight three car multiple units that were classified Class 503.
Car no. 1, a first class motor coach, was destroyed in a fire at Derby carriage works, where it had been taken for overhaul in preparation for restoration and preservation.
- Marsden 2008, p. 72.
- Parkin 1965, p. 18.
- Parkin 1965, pp. 25-26.
- Parkin 1965, pp. 28-30.
- Parkin 1965, p. 30.
- Parkin 1965, pp. 31, 58.
- Parkin 1965, p. 31.
- Parkin 1965, p. 47.
- Parkin 1965, p. 52.
- Parkin, Geoffrey William (1965). The Mersey Railway. Lingfield: Oakwood. OCLC 8654172.
- Marsden, Colin J. (2008). The DC Electrics. Ian Allan. ISBN 978-0-86093-615-2.
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