LYR electric units

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The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (LYR) built electric multiple units (EMUs) for lines in Liverpool and Manchester. The line between Liverpool to Southport began using EMUs on 22 March 1904, using a third rail 625 V DC. Additional trains were later built for this route, and in 1913 incompatible stock for the route to Ormskirk. Lightweight units were built to run on the Liverpool Overhead Railway.

The Southport units was replaced in the early 1940s; after regular through services onto the LOR were withdrawn the lightweight units were used on local Crossens services until 1945; the Ormskirk units were withdrawn in 1964.

In 1913 an experimental 3.5 kV DC overhead line system operated between Bury and Holcombe Brook in the Manchester area, and 1.2 kV DC with a side-contact third rail between Manchester Victoria and Bury. Electric services started in 1916, the Bury to Holcombe Brook route being converted in 1918. The cars were replaced in 1959/60.


Liverpool to Southport[edit]

Electrification of the Southport route was agreed in 1902. It was increasingly popular for commuting and pleasure trips but suffered from competition from the Cheshire Lines Railway. Electric traction was seen as cleaner than steam locomotives, and with coal prices rising, potentially cheaper. At the time concerns were being expressed, especially in the railway press, that engineering developments in Britain was being overtaken by electrification projects in America and Switzerland. Preston-based Dick, Kerr & Co. was responsible for the traction systems and the L&YR built the rolling stock.[1] A 625 V DC four-rail system was adopted. A live rail was outside the running rails 3 ft 11 12 in (1.207 m) from the centre of the track and 3 in (76 mm) above the top of the running rails.[1] A return rail, cross-bonded to the running rails, was positioned centrally between the tracks.[2] The route was 23 12 miles (37.8 km) long and gaps were left at 46 level crossings. The L&YR built a power station at Formby, generating 7.5 kV AC, conveyed to four sub-stations by underground cables.[1] The first batch of trains were open saloons 60 ft (18 m) long and 10 ft (3.0 m), initially in four-car sets.[1] The two driving motor cars were third class, weighed 46 long tons (47 t) powered by four 150 hp (110 kW) motors. The traction current was controlled from driving cabs at both ends of the train. The two trailers were first class or third class and weighed 20 long tons (20 t).[2] Doors were provided at the ends of the cars and electric lighting was installed. The trains had an automatic vacuum brake.[1] The line between Liverpool Exchange and Southport opened on 22 March 1904. Seven trains an hour left Liverpool, one express and three stopping trains to Southport, and three terminating at Hall Road. Electrification meant the journey time of stopping trains to Southport was reduced from 54 to 37 minutes.[1] In 1905–6 a further eight motor coaches, six first class trailers and six third class trailers were built to slightly different design, followed by six more 65 feet 7 inches (20 m) long motor coaches in 1910.[3] To cope with the heavy traffic to the Grand National at Aintree three trains of ten coaches were converted to allow them to be marshalled between the Southport direct-control motor coaches.[4] The LY&R stock was replaced from 1940 by new that became British Rail Class 502 and all had been withdrawn by 1942.[4]

Liverpool to Ormskirk[edit]

The line to Ormskirk was electrified in stages, reaching Ormskirk in 1913, with different, incompatible EMUs. Initially 12 third-class motor coaches with gangways on their outer ends and six third-class trailers were built, followed in 1910–14 by seven first-class and 23 third-class trailers, four driving trailer thirds, and eight motor coaches with 250 horsepower (190 kW) motors.[3] After the 1923 grouping the line was part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), and in 1926–27 11 LMS electric units were built for the Ormskirk route, withdrawn in 1964.[4]

Liverpool Overhead Railway[edit]

Connections were built with the Liverpool Overhead Railway (LOR) at Seaforth & Litherland to a new station beside LOR's Seaforth Sands station and from the North Mersey Branch route to Aintree. From 2 July 1905 LOR trains began to run through to Seaforth & Litherland.[5] In 1906 the L&YR electrified the line to Aintree. The L&YR built special lightweight EMUs and from 1906 began running services over the LOR from Dingle to Southport and Aintree.[5] Regular services to Aintree were withdrawn in 1908, and after this special trains ran only twice a year, on Jump Sunday and the following Friday for the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse. Through services from Dingle to Southport were withdrawn in 1914, passengers changing at Seaforth & Litherland.[5] The trains were used on Crossens local services to Southport until 1945.[4]

Electric locomotive[edit]

An experimental electric locomotive, rebuilt from a 2-4-2 wheel arrangement steam locomotive) was introduced in 1912 for goods traffic. This had four 150 horsepower (110 kW) motors and could pick up current from the third rail on the main line or from overhead wires in Aintree and North Mersey yards. It was scrapped in 1919.


Holcombe Brook[edit]

From 1913 an experimental electric service operated between Bury and Holcombe Brook. The equipment was provided by Dick, Kerr & Co. of Preston, which was developing its products for overseas sales. It used was 3.5 kV DC overhead, and four cars, two driving motor brake thirds and two driving trailer thirds, were built at the LYR's Newton Heath works. The motor cars had two motors, one 150 horsepower (110 kW) and the other 250 horsepower (190 kW), and seated 75 passengers. The trailers seated 85 passengers. In 1918 the line was converted to the 1200 V DC system chosen for the Bury line and the cars stored before being converted into an experimental 4-car diesel-electric unit in 1927.[6]

Manchester to Bury[edit]

LYR electric units (Manchester)
In service 1916–1960
Manufacturer Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
Number built 13 sets
Formation 5 car
Operator Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
Weight 54 long tons (55 t) (DMBT)
29 long tons (29 t) (TF/TT)
Electric system(s) 1200 V DC
Current collection method Third rail (side contact)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

After the Holcombe Brook service, the LYR decided to electrify the Manchester Victoria to Bury line using 1200 V DC side-contact third rail, and originally a fourth rail was bonded to the running rails. Sixty-six cars were built at Newton Heath works and normally operated in five-car units, DMBT + TT + DMBT + TF + DMBT. The cars were 63 feet 7 inches (19.38 m) long,[7] the driving motor cars weighing 54 tons and the trailer cars 29 tons.[citation needed] The stock was of all-steel construction; the third class trailers seated 95 passengers, the driving motor cars 74 and the first class trailers 72.[7]

Opening was delayed by World War I: the first public services ran on 17 April 1916, and 16 weeks later the steam trains were withdrawn. Electricity was generated at the LYR's power station at Clifton,[7] where a four-wheel battery electric shunter was used (withdrawn 1946).[8]

These units were withdrawn in 1959/60 and scrapped, being replaced by stock that became Class 504.[7] Two bogies survived. These were used as temporary bogies in Bury depot when the bogies of Class 504 units were removed for maintenance. When the depot closed in 1991, the bogies were cut up.[citation needed]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Liverpool to Southport Electrification" (PDF). Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Accident at Hall Road on 27 July 1905". Railways Archive. Board of Trade. 2 September 1905. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Marsden 2008, p. 75.
  4. ^ a b c d Marsden 2008, p. 76.
  5. ^ a b c Gahan, John W. (1982). Seventeen Stations to Dingle. Countrywise. pp. 23–24. ISBN 0907768202. 
  6. ^ Marsden 2008, p. 74.
  7. ^ a b c d Marsden 2008, p. 80.
  8. ^ "Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Battery Locomotive". Retrieved 20 January 2013. 


  • Holt, D. (1992) Manchester Metrolink, UK Light Rail Systems No. 1, Platform 5 Publishing, ISBN 1-872524-36-2, p. 8 (photograph p. 9)
  • Marsden, Colin J (2008). The DC Electrics. Ian Allan. ISBN 978-0-86093-615-2. 
  • Nock, O.S. (1969) The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway - A Concise History, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-0130-8, p. 68-76 and p. 139-143

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