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Published 9th March 2012
LONDON - The Steam on The Metropolitan Line events run from the late 1980s for a decade every May raising thousands of pounds for charities and provided two weekends a year of travelling for fun on London’s Underground!
The locomotives were manned by volunteers and one member of Underground staff as Pilotman and many lineside events took place at the same time. Steam ran from Amersham, Watford Met and Harrow on The Hill and speaking from personal experience, was great fun says rail.co.uk’s Phil Marsh.
The event was ‘too difficult’ to run after the ill-fated Private Public Partnership contracts were signed and the event was quietly scrapped. It became too difficult because of the amount of different contracts in place and ever tightening safety worries.
The 150th anniversary of the Metropolitan and District Line is in January next year and has made sure that the celebrations include a return of steam trains on the Underground. These will celebrate the anniversary with a ‘Steam on The Met’ event in May 2013, the month it was traditionally held in.
Before the actual anniversary can be celebrated, the myriad of safety tests have to be carried out to validate the paperwork and this is why a steam locomotive ventured underground on March 4. The National Railway Museum owned 1874 built Beattie Well Tank No. 30587 was taken by road to the Lillie Bridge Depot at Earls Court and then raised steam.
It was then included in a train along with a battery locomotive and Sarah Siddons, a 1923 Underground electric locomotive. The steam engine is very small and carries limited supplies of water and coal so a low wagon was also in the train carrying supplies of coal and water. The water was pumped into the well tanks using a diesel pump.
This was the first sub-surface steam train since June 1993 when Pannier Tank No. L99 traversed 26 stations between Baker Street and Ealing via Hammersmith on an empty train. This left Neasden just before midnight and arrived two and a half hours later.
The anniversary is of the opening of the first part of the Underground network on 10 January 1863 and jointly operated with the Great Western Railway between Paddington and Bishopsgate on the Circle Line.
It is therefore highly appropriate that Dennis Howells’ GWR design Pannier Tank No. 9466 will be taking part in the events next year. A smaller event will be held in January with a large public one in May.
Other engines to be used are the former Met Line’s Metropolitan No.1 engine built over 110 years ago and now under restoration near Lydney. Harry Robinson joined the line in the 1930s and is hoping to be part of the celebrations as he drove the 75th and 100th anniversary trains. These were pulled using Metropolitan No. 1.