Published 22nd October 2012
The Metropolitan Line evokes memories of the inter-war years and Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman, who made the Memories of metro land film around 40 years ago.
The Met, as it was known, was built as a commuter line from Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire running southwards via Quainton Road and Aylesbury into London’s Marylebone station. It became an electrified route between Watford, Amersham and Marylebone and in 1960, was revolutionised with the introduction of roomy and light aluminium ‘tube trains’ officially called ‘A60 stock’.
These trains ran for just over half a century and were taken out of service in October 2012. They are now being scrapped at secure locations such as Eastleigh Works.
Thanks to Transport for London’s Media team, Rail.co.uk secured a place on the very last run of the A60 train and was represented by guest contributor John Farrow on the train. He also travelled on the last service train on September 26 which was the 1917hrs Watford (Met) to Harrow on The Hill which was very full.
John reports that this train usually runs fairly empty but the farewell passengers made a lot of noise with whistle blowing and much cheering in a good natured farewell to the popular stock.
They seem to have been around for ever. When I first saw one I was still at
junior school. Now the end has come I have a Senior Railcard and, yes, even a bus pass. Just think how many trains have come and gone in the meantime.
In 1961 the Metropolitan’s City Extension through to Aldgate was a dark and gloomy place, full of atmosphere and some truly ancient trains. Magnificent electric locos, named after famous Londoners like Sarah Siddons and Dick Whittington, hauled drab brown-liveried compartment stock bound for Rickmansworth where steam would take over to continue to Aylesbury.
The crusty old ‘T’ and ‘F’ Stocks worked the Watfords and Uxbridges, beside which the CO and CP trains on the Circle and Hammersmith lines, with their flared bodysides and art-deco interiors, looked positively youthful.
I was lucky to be born when I was - late enough to avoid the awfulness of wartime but early enough to have enjoyed railways before any serious modernisation began. Not only that but my father had decided to send me to school in Blackfriars, so there I was commuting from Wood Green in Quad-Arts hauled by crusty old N2 tanks locos and the odd Baby Deltic!
So imagine my excitement one morning at Moorgate when, out of the musty gloom, emerged nothing short of a dazzling apparition. The ‘A’ Stock had arrived! I was late for school that morning, taking a ride to Liverpool Street (remember the bay platform?) and back.
Never mind the fact that its arrival heralded the scrapping of so many fine old trains, to an excited 11-year old the new order was heaven! Strangely perhaps, despite a rather insensitive refurbishment in the 1990s, these classic trains have always retained their appeal over the decades and, if time permitted, I would always let a Circle or H&C train go if a Met Line train was showing as second or third train due.
The end of course was inevitable and the last day in timetabled service, Wednesday 26 September, attracted many hundreds of enthusiasts. The train ran right through the evening peak and ordinary passengers must have wondered what on earth was going on as the crowd cheered every time the whistle sounded!
I am grateful to LU for inviting me to join their charity farewell tour three days later, covering the whole of the Met Line with an unofficial 74mph maximum speed recorded. At Amersham I was able to chat with LU’s Chief Operating Officer, Howard Collins, who obviously has more than a passing fondness for these old trains too. He mentioned the difficulties with the new ‘S’ stock that will require a goodly number of sets to be returned to Bombardier for modifications. A chance for a few ‘A’ stock trains to linger on perhaps?
Sadly not it seems, but one or two trains will be retained for departmental use and ultimately preservation at Acton Works, hopefully for occasional specials for us all to enjoy as they head towards their sixtieth anniversary - and beyond?
Train formation (same for both last day in service and farewell tour):
5034 DM (Driving Motor)
6034 T (Trailer)
5035 DM (Non-operational cab. Single ended unit)
Deliveries of the new Bombardier stock have run late reprieving the A60 trains for a couple of years. They have been plagued with operational problems and have required many expensive modifications.
Posted on Saturday 10th November 2012 | 12:11 PM
I'm writing a book on 1960s Britain and would like to include a snippet from your recollections. is this OK?