- Quarry Line Derailment
- SR EMU Fleet Survey
- BR EMU Fleet Survey
- Class 33 Farewell Railtour
- Fifty Years of Brighton Electrics
- Kent Coast Electrification
- Last Train From Addiscombe
- Last Train To Dover Western Dock
- Significant Accidents '37-'65
- Southern Electric History and Infrastructure
- Southern Railway semi-fast units
- Southern Region De-icing Trains
- The Growth of the Southern Electric Network
- Waterloo-Exeter Diesel Operations
- Westinghouse Automatic Air Brake
From 10202 To 50050: Waterloo - Exeter Diesel Operations
This article appeared in two parts in the June 1991 and August 1991 issues of Live Rail. This article recounts operations by the SR/Bulleid and LMSR/Ivatt prototypes and BR class 42, 33 and 50 on the Waterloo - Salisbury - Exeter route. Today this route remains diesel operated - by Class 159 diesel units.
In the early 1950s Southern Railway diesel locomotives operated between Waterloo and Exeter. Into the early 1990s British Rails Class 50s monopolised passenger services along the same route. This is not a history of the superb English Electric SVT diesel engine but an overview of the route and services operated by diesel locomotives between Waterloo and Exeter. New generation DMUs took over in 1992 ending conventional locomotive hauled trains out of all former Southern Railway London termini-until Great Western diverted the overnight Penzance sleeper service to Waterloo for Channel Tunnel connections.
Diesel traction appeared on the route as early as 1951 when the Southern Railway designed 1Co-Co1 locomotive 10202 began a regular diagram running 687 miles each day. Commencing in 29th October the duty covered the 0125 and 1300 departures from Waterloo as far as Exeter Central, and 0730 and 1755 from Exeter Central daily except Sundays. Each day 10202 took on 760 gallons of fuel at Waterloo and was only booked to visit Nine Elms depot on Sundays for maintenance. For the two weeks previously, 10202 had been used on the first leg of the duty only, while experience was gained on its running.
At this time, the 0730 service from Exeter was one of only a handful of BR expresses restored to pre-war timings and as such held the fastest SR timing, booked to cover Andover to Waterloo in 68 minutes averaging 58.6 mph to cover the 66.4 miles with a 450 ton scheduled 13 coach load. Hook to Fleet was passed at speeds of 80-85 mph-no mean achievement on a railway still in run-down condition. Various performance logs were published at this time with the start from Andover up the 1 in 178 grade Enham bank being a significant performance indication :
10201 was displayed at the South Bank Exhibition and was not released to normal traffic until February 1952 but from April both machines interworked alternately with a Bournemouth line diagram covering 0540 and 1635 Waterloo and 1130 and 1955 Weymouth departures. These duties were covered on a fortnightly roster with maintenance carried out on Sundays and Mondays for the Exeter and Bournemouth line diagrams.
10201 achieved notoriety as the only machine of this type to run beyond Exeter Central-by running away light engine down the 1 in 37 gradient to Exeter St Davids. Despite weighing in at 135 tons 10201 and 10202 were given a wide route availability and were passed to run to Plymouth through Okehampton, but none ever did so. Perhaps the 135 ton monster rolling on to its tracks put the Western Region off diesel electrics to build diesel hydraulics.
Bulleid's 10201 and 10202 were joined in March 1953 by Ivatts 10000 and 10001, initially on Bournemouth line turns but from the Summer timetable four interworked diesel diagrams were created. One significant difference between the two designs was that the Southern equipment was originally designed for express running with 110mph capability whereas the LMSR machinery was for mixed traffic duties. Until their appearance on the Southern 10000/1 had spent most of their time on fitted freights due to being equipped with small and unreliable train heating boilers-although for the summer of 1951 a daily 703 mile duty between Euston and Liverpool was regularly worked when train heating was not required.
In June 1952 10202 was experimentally re-geared to increase tractive effort at the expense of maximum speed after running 100880 miles by altering the traction motor gear ratio from 52:21 to 65:17. Principal traction characteristics were:
New boilers were fitted to 10000 and 10001 for SR duties and along with the re-geared 10201 and 10202, four regular diagrams worked in Summer 1952 were :
It was normal practice for diagrams 1 and 2 to be worked by 10201 and 10202 and for diagrams 3 and 4 to be covered by 10000 and 10002.
On Sundays three diagrams were booked :
All four were maintained at Nine Elms, running in if required off repair on 0720 Waterloo-Salisbury and 1300 return. Overhauls were carried out at Brighton works alongside other LMSR and SR creations, the Paxman powered 10800 and 11001. Running in after works attention took place between Brighton and Tunbridge Wells WeSt Similar regular duties continued through 1954, although the locomotive working 1100 Waterloo-Exeter Central returned to London on milk trains including the evening Exeter-Templecombe service.
10203 entered traffic based at Nine Elms in April 1954 and was initially subject to performance tests as it was fitted with a Mk II engine developing 2000 bhp at 850 rpm. 10000/1 and 10201/2 were fitted with Mk I versions of 750 rpm rated at 1600 and 1750bhp respectively. Using steam locomotive designations, the power classifications were 6P/5F for 10000/1 and 10201/1 and 7P/6F for 10203.
All five pioneer locomotives moved to Camden for West Coast main line duties in April 1955 never to return to SR metals but the machines had already verified the EE engine. Developments of the same Mk II 16SVT engine in 10203 were used in BRs Class 40 also rated at 2000bhp and ordered from 1955 onwards. With charge air cooling at 2700bhp in Class 50 and the Mk III variant powered Class 56 at 3250bhp, BR took delivery of a total of 385 locomotives with the same basic power unit.
In 1963 control of the former SR lines in Devon and Cornwall was transferred from the Southern to the Western Region and rationalisation led to concentration of traffic on selected routes to avoid what was then seen as duplication. The GWR line from Paddington via Newbury and Somerton became the principal route to the West Country with the SR line from Waterloo reduced to secondary status.
West of Salisbury all former SR lines were closed by 1972 except Exeter to Exmouth and Barnstaple, with Plymouth to Gunnislake surviving only because of restricted road access. Okehampton lost passenger services in early 1972 but the line continues today to serve Meldon Quarry-the principal source of Southern Region ballast until recently.
The regional boundary on the Waterloo to Exeter trunk section was arbitrarily drawn west of Wilton South but the route is effectively self contained beyond Worting Junction (Basingstoke). Single line tokenless block working was introduced in 1967 between Wilton South and Pinhoe, with two aspect colour light track circuit block controlled by Basingstoke power box between Salisbury and Worting Junction (exclusive).
West of Basingstoke signal boxes retained were Andover A, Andover B (both closed c.1972), Salisbury Tunnel Junction, Salisbury East, Salisbury West, Wilton South, Gillingham, Templecombe, Yeovil Junction, Chard Junction, Honiton, Pinhoe, Exmouth Junction and Exeter Central (former A box) before reaching GWR mechanical boxes at Exeter St Davids. Gillingham, Chard Junction and Honiton became crossing points with passing loops-at Gillingham and Chard Junction the up lines were made reversible as was the down line at Honiton.
An alteration to the original plan resulted in the retention of Templecombe to Yeovil Junction as a double track section-again with reversible working on the up line. A legacy of this late change was that until 1973 only the present (1995) down line at Yeovil Junction was a through track-the up line was a bay with a loco release trailing headshunt opened by ground frame.
Also at Yeovil Junction a single line connection to Yeovil Pen Mill was retained-not now used by regular passenger services. At Whimple, the up line was retained through the platforms as a run round loop (accessed by ground frames) for freight sidings serving seasonal traffic for Whiteways Cider-while a similar arrangement was retained at Seaton Junction for civil engineers purposes.
At Dinton, part of the up line was retained for Ministry of Defence use as a running line between there and Chilmark. The latter was in regular use until 1995 but the sidings were removed from Whimple and Seaton Junction in 1990 and c.1986 respectively. Other freight facilities between Salisbury and Exeter existed at Gillingham (Shellstar fertilizers-also at Andover), Chard Junction (United Dairies milk products), and Exeter Central (Blue Circle cement), and domestic coal at Yeovil Junction and at Exmouth Junction-both still served until 1991 by a Class 37 hauled dedicated coal distribution train MWFO from Didcot.
After withdrawal of the Yeovil Junction service, the Exmouth Junction briefly operated TThO from Usk and diverted via Taunton-and a NSE Class 50 or 47/7 diagrammed to bank from Exeter St Davids-restoring regular banking to the line after an absence of several years. No other through revenue earning freight is carried, but Meldon-Salisbury ballast trains have in the past used the line at night and requiring banking assistance from Exeter St Davids.
Whimple apple products and Chard Junction milk traffic were handled by various Type 2s with trips worked by North British Class 22s until supplanted by Laira based Class 25s, and Crewe Class 47s covering the weekly Gillingham and Andover Shellstar traffic. Blue Circle cement traffic from Westbury to Exeter, once powered by a variety of Type 4s, had been diverted away from the Yeovil Junction-Yeovil Pen Mill route for some years before this flow ceased in early 1990 following two years of operation as a Class 08 trip from Exeter Riverside.
The Western Region quickly replaced passenger Exeter to Waterloo steam traction in September 1964 with D800 "Warship" diesel hydraulic B-Bs, initially from Newton Abbot depot but later shared with Plymouth Laira. D829 "Magpie" was used for initial crew training duties at Salisbury shed, together with other examples later during the summer of 1964. In practice the Swindon built Maybach powered series (Class 42 D803- 832,866-870) were generally used but NBL built MAN engined Class 43 (D833-865) did appear infrequently in the earlier days becoming much rarer later on. If a "Warship" were not available it was usual for a D7000 to substitute as Salisbury crews also had traction knowledge of "Hymeks" for Cardiff-Portsmouth inter-regional workings.
Both D1000 "Western" and D6300 NBL Type 2 made rare appearances west of Salisbury-almost always in the event of a failure. A D6300 outbased at Yeovil Town for Evershot banking duties on the Westbury-Weymouth line occasionally made appearances in the Yeovil area on ballast work, while similar machines could later be observed at Templecombe on Somerset & Dorset line demolition trains.
Between 1963 and 1966 WR based DMMUs were used on various local passenger trains between Exeter and Yeovil, as well as working the Sidmouth, Seaton and Lyme Regis branches. Similar units also found use on certain Woking-Basingstoke-Salisbury local services being displaced from operating to Woking as part of the Bournemouth electrification scheme.
Passenger stations beyond Basingstoke were Overton, Whitchurch, Andover, Grateley, Salisbury, Tisbury, Gillingham, Sherborne, Yeovil Junction, Crewkerne, Axminster, Honiton, and Whimple. Later Templecombe (October 1983), Sidmouth Junction (as Feniton May 1971), and Pinhoe (October 1983) reopened (all had been closed March 1966), while St James Park is only served by Exeter-Exmouth trains.
The service pattern of Waterloo-Exeter bi-hourly semi-fast trains was established in June 1965 and more or less survived to the end of locomotive hauled operations in 1993, but until January 1991 with an ever increasing number of intermediate services between Waterloo and Salisbury. The basic weekday service pattern was established with Waterloo departures at 0900 and every two hours until 1900, with corresponding Exeter departures at uneven intervals from 0615 (Exeter Central only) to 1800 although up trains have been subject to numerous detailed changes in departures with each timetable.
The irregular up service pattern which always existed was designed to meet demand for more closely spaced morning London arrivals than a regular interval service would provide, while various short workings, generally originating or terminating at Salisbury were provided at the start and end of each days service. In addition the 0110 ex-Waterloo continued to run through to Plymouth via Okehampton, as did a 1012 Brighton-Plymouth and 1040 Plymouth-Brighton which were D800 duties west of Salisbury.
Through trains and portions from Waterloo to North Devon and Cornwall disappeared after the 1964 season. However, one through holiday service operated in summer 1965 from Paddington via Yeovil Junction to Bude and Ilfracombe on Saturdays only-the following year this was rerouted via Taunton and served Ilfracombe only-motive power in both seasons was usually a D800. Other additional trains gradually disappeared-through the 1970s and 1980s the only services running outside the bi-hourly pattern were one additional Waterloo to Exeter return trip and one each way South Coast to Devon service.
Other holiday trains through to coastal resorts in South Devon appear to have retained steam traction until withdrawal or line closure-for example the 1965 timetable retained 0800 1000 1200 Waterloo to Sidmouth and Exmouth services, returning portions at 0900 1115 1413 from Exmouth and 0915 1120 1427 and Sidmouth. These workings produced D6300s on the Devon branches.
A major operational change occurred in October 1971 with the commencement of the winter timetable. With BRB central traction policy concentrating on diesel electric types and the hydraulic D800s had to go. At this time the line was still low on any WR priority for upgrading to Type 4 traction (even to Class 52 "Westerns"), so SR based Class 33s allocated to Eastleigh were diagrammed to services running under headcode "62"-six three day Class 33/0 diagrams being used to cover the core services hauling a maximum of eight electric train heating vacuum braked Mk Is.
The last full day of D800 operation was Saturday 2nd October 1971 when all six diagrams were Class 42 operated-with D808 "Champion" and D817 "Foxhound" both appearing in maroon with full yellow ends livery. The majority of the Swindon "Warships" and all the remaining North British built machines were condemned over the same weekend. On the Sunday, various odd Class 33+42 double heading or engine changing took place to position sufficient D6500s to work the full service from Monday morning. As a class, D800s lasted another fifteen months or so-a few were outbased at Westbury for the then new Yeoman stone workings hauling rakes of old HOP21 vacuum braked coal hoppers, and still appeared between Salisbury and Woking on traffic destined for M25 construction to Merstham.
Through the 1970s Class 33s D6500/01/03-49/80 and D6555-75/77-79/81-97 were permanently allocated to Eastleigh and Hither Green respectively, usually with a seasonal move of D6550-54 between the two, Eastleigh gaining the larger summer allocation. Balancing the change in motive power provision from WR to SR the five basic coaching sets were based at Newton Abbot, and because of the then non-standard use of ETH were branded "To work between Waterloo and Exeter only".
Vehicles were actually dual heat with previously unactivated ETH and appeared to have no ordered formation but basically consisted of two adjacent CKs with two adjacent BSKs at the centre of each set to concentrate van and first class accommodation in the shorter platforms, one RB and three SKs. Each circuit ran, taking for example the 1973 weekdays service, as 8RU (offering full restaurant facilities) except 1010 Exeter-Waterloo and 1500 return which was 8RB. The catering vehicles were also interesting for a Southern route in that at least two of the regular RBs (W1927/30/33) ran for some years on Gresley bogies, and full kitchen car W80040 was also a regular vehicle.
9-car formations operated the summer season with the extra vehicle attached on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. During the 1972 summer season some of these extra coaches had been formed of loose Derby based maroon liveried Mk I SKs-the rest of set in blue and grey. WR style bodyside mounted yellow destination boards simply worded "Waterloo Salisbury Exeter" were also carried until 1972-another excellent WR idea lost to central policy.
The bi-hourly Waterloo-Exeter service pattern continued, along with the Reading to Salisbury alternate bi-hourly service operated by 3H DEMUs. One commuter service was operated (0656 Salisbury-Basingstoke, or similar, and 1810 Waterloo-Salisbury) and provided by a push-pull Class 33/1 + 8TC formation, this set also running on Sundays as 1736 Salisbury-Waterloo and 2110 return.
Two loco hauled SR 3 set L, BSK-CK-BSK formations, (circuits 104-109-with circuit numbers still then stencilled on the car ends) were utilised on short Salisbury-Basingstoke workings such as 0739 Basingstoke-Salisbury and 1719 return with parcels vans and Class 33/0 power. Similarly SX 1955 Exeter-Basingstoke, 2352 Basingstoke-Salisbury, 0645 Salisbury-Exeter was formed by a WR based CK-BSK-TSO- TSO circuit also with various parcels vans, and would often be hauled by a Class 35 or later a Class 31 if the booked Class 33 had been appropriated for Meldon to Woking ballast workings.
The 0140 Waterloo to Yeovil Junction newspaper and passenger train and 0645 return was provided by a special GUV-TSO-TSO-FK-BSK-CK-BSK-GUV Clapham Junction set-two dedicated GUVs being S86724 and S86729 also carrying special route brandings due to ETH through cabling requirements. At the WR end, a weekdays local Exeter-Axminster service was normally been provided by a DMMU with one return morning and evening trip.
Deployment of Class 33s was seen by many observers as another stage to closure-there was much adverse correspondence in the contemporary railway press about deceleration and limited loadings, contrasting with the performance columns of the same journals which were filled with logs of runs demonstrating some of the finest work ever done by BR lower powered diesel locos.
The reduction in output from the twin engined 2200/2300bhp "Warships" to the single engined 1550bhp "Cromptons", and the need to supply ETH during the winter imposed a load limit of eight coaches with no heating in summer permitting the increase to nine. Exeter to Salisbury is graded, and the loadings in tons, using 1960s WR nomenclature are listed. Note that the timing load of a D8XX running on only one engine is higher than that of a D65XX while supplying heat.
(1) normal timing load to maintain line speed
Regular double heading by Class 33 to increase loads was always impractical due to platform length limitations at Waterloo-two 33s standing on the buffer stops and two 33s at the head end for departure would be limited to eight coaches. However the 1300 Waterloo-Exeter was frequently doubled headed to Salisbury by Class 33s running in off classified repairs at Eastleigh Works. The ex-works locomotive arrived at Waterloo off the 0955 Eastleigh-Clapham empty NPCCS, running back light engine from Salisbury to Eastleigh.
One service that deserves special mention is the through Brighton to South Devon train. After closure of the through Okehampton route in 1967 this continued until 1971 as a daily out and back Brighton-Exeter service hauled by two Hither Green based Class 33s. For the winter 1971/72 timetable a rather odd Saturdays only service by a WR three car DMMU was retained in the same paths west of Salisbury but without South Coast connection-the through train otherwise withdrawn and no mid-week service at all.
However from May 1972 a through train was restored Saturdays only using weekend spare Hastings DEMUs-initially two 6Bs in summer reducing to one 6B in winter, with various 6B and 6L permutations in successive timetables continuing until May 1976. The service then reverted to loco hauled operation using single or double Class 33s with an Oxted line commuter set. The first year of Hastings DEMU operation highlighted an interesting difference in WR and SR practices in that on the down journey the DEMU displayed the normal red roller blind tail light display, but on the up journey a conventional oil tail lamp was carried as the WR did not then recognise red roller blinds.
Heavy snow falling overnight 19/20th February 1978 required the use of 33117 sandwiched between Salisbury based independent snowploughs ADS70225 and ADS70229 and, then unusual, 50023 light engine on snow clearance work-the appearance of a 50 perhaps to foretell the future.
The 1970s proved to be a decade far from retrenchment. By 1973 the line ranked amongst the top ten BR services based on revenue generated per coach mile with steadily increasing load factors but no real improvement in service level or capacity. Commuters moved further west, albeit in small numbers, with Tisbury, Gillingham and Sherborne-railheads for a large and affluent catchment area-all seeing modest annual growths in season ticket holders.
Waterloo trains offered a regular if lower standard service with easy access to the City, while few, if any, Paddington bound trains offered a realistic daily journey even if a convenient railhead could be found. An additional 1638 Waterloo departure, previously running as unadvertised, initially running Fridays only, was introduced in the 1974 public timetable, formed 4-RMB-4 and remaining on the line over the weekend allowing an additional Sundays 1645 Exeter-Waterloo train. The 4-sets were formed by Central Division circuits 25-29 and 41-43.
Cascaded Class 50s displaced by the introduction of HST sets to domestic WR InterCity services were provided from May 1980 following a period of familiarisation at Salisbury and Waterloo traincrew depots. Class 50s were the optimum solution at the time-although potential 100 mph capability could allow better pathing between electric services to Basingstoke (assuming then future raising of line speed limits) there were two far more important reasons for such deployment.
Electric train heating locomotives allow single manning-this had been done with the Class 33s, and since sufficient Class 47/4s could not be released any use of steam heat only traction would have required the expensive reinstatement of drivers assistants to operate the steam generators. Also, the six basic locomotive diagrams were amongst the highest mileage duties in the country and daily mileage exceeds the fuel range of most types-a seventh diagram would be needed to provide a fuel turnover engine if any other class of locomotive were utilised.
The longer range fuel tanks of ETH Class 50 would meet these requirements. Interestingly Bulleid's 10201-3 also had long range 1150 gallon fuel tanks. Ranges of suitable locos in 1980 (and Class 52 "Western" for interest although never deployed on the route) were:
The main features of the new timetable were retarding the oo00 Waterloo departures to oo10 but with the same paths west of Salisbury due to accelerated running, and nine car formations of Mk II rolling stock-most of the sets had been formed of such vehicles since 1978/79.
Better pathing over the single line was provided by eliminating some dead crossings-prior to 1980 the standard bi-hourly pattern was to cross on the move on the Andover-Salisbury and Templecombe-Yeovil double sections and again but dead at Honiton. Accelerated timings allowed the first two crossings and then Pinhoe-Exeter Central. However the new service got off to a bad start with the derailment in June of a Meldon to Woking ballast train near Dinton resulting in diversion of trains via Westbury for several days. A class 37 was in attendance with the recovery operations-one of the earliest appearances between Salisbury and Yeovil.
Initially the Class 50s operated a simple one-for-one diagram based on Class 33 duties requiring only six daily diagrams. Stock sets were also formed at first with one Mk I downgraded FO at the Exeter end of each set. The summer Saturdays only 0837 Waterloo-Exeter and return remained a single Class 33 with an Oxted commuter set. Displaced Class 33s were moved over to the Portsmouth-Bristol service, also then operating bi-hourly, displacing some rather volatile Class 31/4s in use since 1977.
Weekend engineering operations have long been the bane of traveller's-winter 1980/81 was no exception. Westbury-Salisbury-Exeter was cleared for HST operation with diverted IC125 units reversing at Salisbury on Sunday mornings while on adjacent platforms the overnight (actually mid-morning by the time it reached Salisbury) Stirling-Brockenhurst motorail train also ran round due to blockades between St Denys and Southampton. This latter block also caused Class 31s to appear on diverted Portsmouth services via Basingstoke, and Class 50s to run from Brighton on the Exeter service on successive weekends.
The need to divert trains led to the reopening of the Laverstock loop the following year along with the commissioning of Salisbury power box-replacing the 1902 vintage LSWR low pressure electro-pneumatic interlockings at Salisbury East and West, along with Tunnel Junction and Wilton South mechanical frames in August 1981.
Laverstock loop was an essential reinstatement to allow the diversion of ISO freightliner containers away from Southampton while the tunnel was entirely rebuilt, and was the second major change to running lines at Salisbury. In 1973 the former parallel GWR route to Wilton, diverging immediately at the west end of Salisbury station, was closed when a new junction was built at Wilton. This allowed closure of the GWR mechanical signal box Salisbury C-which did not control running lines used by Waterloo-Exeter trains.
Signal box modernisation in the Exeter area took place in 1984 when Exeter Central came under control of the new Exeter power signal box in October. The following May, the westbound Waterloo-Exeter track (Down SR) was altered for reversible working and substantial layout alterations at Exeter St Davids itself eliminated conflicting SR and WR movements after over 100 years of operation. (The Southern Railway had once proposed to build a flyover over Great Western tracks to avoid these conflicts.)
Along with accelerated service extra Waterloo-Salisbury services were added although it was not until 1982 that a full hourly service was established between those two points. The additional trains were covered by all day operation of both the 8TC and newspaper train circuits, and additional TC diagrams later linked to the peak hours Clapham Junction-Kensington Olympia service. These intermediate trains called at Overton, Whitchurch and Grateley in addition to the normal Woking, Basingstoke and Andover stops of the through Exeter services. The displaced DEMUS were used to introduce a bi-hourly Reading-Portsmouth service.
Of much more significance was the shift in regional boundary from milepost 87½ to 117½ bringing Tisbury, Gillingham and Templecombe back to SR control. An immediate result was the extension of the 0616 Salisbury-Waterloo to start back at Gillingham and the 1638 ex-Waterloo to Gillingham (already running to Yeovil Junction FO). These were the first of several alterations made in successive timetables to cater for rising traffic west of Salisbury. The 1980 and 1981 services also introduced more stops at Tisbury, Crewkerne, Feniton and Whimple-most trains now included the first two but Feniton and Whimple have since reverted to a more irregular service.
In May 1982 the number of Class 50 turns was also increased to seven with the addition of an extra Mk II set and almost all Waterloo-Salisbury trains covered by Class 33/1 and TC formations, with combined diesel and electric traction on peak hour services as far as Basingstoke allowing enhanced SX commuter services serving Salisbury.
Mixed mode working was not new, as the 0656 Salisbury-Waterloo had combined with 8VEP at Basingstoke for several years. The May 1982 dual traction trains were 1724 SX Waterloo to Eastleigh and 1810 SX to Salisbury conveying Salisbury and Bournemouth portions respectively, while in the mornings the 0710 Basingstoke-Waterloo attached a Gillingham portion at Basingstoke.
The SO Brighton service was revised to run at 0920 to Paignton, with the balancing 1305 ex-Paignton running on a different path at 1418 from Exeter, the former 1418 Waterloo departure advancing to 1335. Further revision in May 1983 saw these services changed to 0920 SO Brighton-Penzance and balancing 1050 return, and new 1120 FO Brighton-Penzance and 1415 SuO Penzance-Waterloo trains.
Class 33 power continued to be provided between Brighton and Exeter-normally Hither Green based and double headed. Double heading by Class 33s running in from Eastleigh works now occurred on the 1410 Waterloo-Salisbury. Other irregular paired Class 33s has occurred-but some novelty workings included 0935 SX and 2120 SO in 1988/89 which featured a Class 33/1 at each end of an 8TC formation.
Class 50 locomotives had always been plagued with technical difficulties and between 1979 and 1983 Doncaster works carried out a refurbishment and simplification programme. Complex equipment such as dynamic braking, slow speed control and inertial air filters were removed in an effort to increase availability-average reliability rising from 10000 to 16000 miles per failure on refurbishment.
An overall higher failure rate on the SR resulted in only refurbished machines being assigned in theory-but the demanding stop-start service pattern and track condition on the heavily used sections towards Waterloo began to cause fatigue failures on underframe engine mountings. Rectification work proved expensive as many engines became affected. Allied with this other failures continued to occur-main generator commutation problems are particular to the class as the EE840 machine is overrated in this application.
Service reliability became depressingly low. Measures to improve matters included the provision of portable cellular radio telephones carried in the locomotive cabs west of Basingstoke, and the installation of a passing loop located immediately east of Tisbury station in March 1986-fully reversible and controlled by Salisbury. However, both of these moves were towards failure containment by reducing late running after an incident, rather than failure prevention. Locomotive availability continued to be a major problem.
1987 saw operational changes with beginning of Sectorisation of resources and Exeter-Waterloo coming under Network South East and subsequently brand named "West of England". Clapham Junction ceased to be a carriage maintenance depot with remaining work transferred to Eastleigh and then to Plymouth Laira.
Timetable alterations from May included the insertion of Clapham Junction stops on Waterloo to Salisbury trains, but a most interesting train was the SX 1105 Portsmouth-Plymouth and balancing 0940 Plymouth-Portsmouth covered by Class 50s with Waterloo-Exeter stock by including the 0925 Waterloo-Portsmouth and 1530 return-a novel service for a route fully electrified for over 50 years.
Other innovations were the introduction of a second Saturdays only South Coast service by diversion of the 0550 Exeter-Waterloo to Hove, returning from Brighton at 1107, and the not advertised WThO 1005 Salisbury-Weymouth and return 1831 Weymouth-Andover services catering for seaside day trippers utilising Class 33/1 and TC stock on marginal time.
Dedication of resources by sub-Sector to specific lines commenced in October 1987. Major works overhauls on Class 50s had by now ceased with power unit overhauls transferred from Doncaster to Crewe earlier in the year. As NSE gained responsibility for Class 50s the Sector sponsored maintenance of the type, along with coaching stock, at Laira, although the depot is some fifty miles beyond the nearest NSE route.
The pool consisted of thirteen Class 50s for nine daily diagrams-initially 50001/02/03/17/18/19/27/28/29/41/43/44/48 but changing with time. Four Class 33/1 diagrams were also covered by Eastleigh based dedicated machines, and the Ocean Liner boat train Mk II FK set was allocated to the line as a spare.
During the 1980s, prior to the reorganisation of BR from a regional production led railway to the business orientated organisation the planned rolling stock cascade for Exeter-Waterloo had always been towards HSTs-either as full 2+8 or 1+5 half units. 125 mph operation would never be realised but line speed increases to 100 mph or 110 mph and the high power to weight ratio of 2+8 the sets would have resulted in significant accelerations.
However, even with the East Coast electrification, changes in the InterCity Sector meant that IC125s would not now be cascaded as these are prime revenue generators, alternative modernisation schemes had to be developed. In the shorter term, Class 50 and Mk IIs could not survive as viable business options much beyond 1992 and alternatives demanded urgent consideration in 1988 to cover the next four to five years.
Double heading by both Class 33 and Class 50 was considered (platform lengths at Waterloo still prevent this) as was push-pull operation with Class 37/4 provided one at each end. Sustained 90 mph running would be on the limits of the traction motors as fitted to Class 37 even though of the same basic EE538 type as in Class 50, while the 85 mph maximum speed of Class 33 would no longer be acceptable.
One obvious solution was the use of Class 47/4s although this would bring in problems if its own. In October 1988 47473/547/587/589 joined the Class 50 pool at Laira. The fuel capacity limitation remained, so only particular duties were diagrammed for Class 47s rather than in a common user pool. No significant increase in availability resulted, and highlighted another difficulty-different braking characteristics showed up in higher brake block wear with the Class 47s needing reblocking during the third day of each three day diagram.
The ideal long fuel range (1295 gallon) Class 47/7 could not all be released from Provincial (Scotland) in May 1989, and increased InterCity Class 47/4 requirement meant that the better examples were converted to extended fuel range Class 47/8 by InterCity-operationally suitable but not available.
Class 47/4s had been diagrammed to certain Waterloo-Exeter line duties already-but never on the high mileage continuous turns. In 1984 0140 SX Waterloo-Exeter and 0643 SX return became the first regular duty on the line. Later, in 1986, 2100 Sun / 2210 SX Waterloo-Salisbury returning next day 0640 SX / 0700 SO Salisbury-Waterloo was diagrammed for a Bescot loco, while in 1988 one Bath Road diagram covered 0547 SO Exeter-Hove and 1105 SO Brighton-Exeter, and a second 0938 SO Plymouth-Brighton returning 1710 SUN Brighton-Plymouth.
Only Class 47/4s requiring major expenditure on F exams were left over-but Class 50s with more recent heavy classified repairs were still in service. The effect was that from May 1989 a pool of twenty Class 50 was created, along with eight 9-car and four 6-car Mk II sets to cover the entire Waterloo-Salisbury-Exeter service. At the same time this theoretically allowed NSE then to withdraw from the support of Class 33, and in the longer term from TC stock.
However, a side effect would be that push-pull workings to destinations such as Tisbury and Gillingham running on marginal time were not possible where running round was required, nor were unique the mixed mode workings in multiple with EMUs. An initial shortage of rolling stock meant that an 8TC formation was in daily use for two return Salisbury-Waterloo trips but hauled conventionally by Class 50, while the Ocean Liner boat train set was also in regular use.
The Waterloo-Portsmouth-Plymouth service was withdrawn, along with the existing Brighton/Hove trains, and replaced by a weekends only operation Brighton-Plymouth via Portsmouth with Class 73 traction east of Portsmouth and Class 50 west to Plymouth. Interestingly, the SR / Raworth electric locomotives 20001-20003 had regularly been used over the same section on Brighton-West Country some thirty years earlier.
Otherwise the basic service pattern remained unaltered apart from further retardation of Waterloo departure time to 0015. One detail was that some through trains were downgraded although not decelerated from Class 1 to Class 2-apparently due to the introduction of throughout train crew workings by both Exeter and Waterloo drivers and associated single manning rules which limit the numbers of hours driving single manned Class 1.
Locomotive availability continued at a low level in 1990-at times as few as six out of the twenty dedicated Class 50s were available for service. Several were stopped waiting spare parts for very minor faults, while more serious failures increased in frequency high engine hours and mileages run since last classified repairs. During November 1990, 33101/09/16 were restored to 85 mph running under the DM&EE pool and were initially pressed into service with TC sets to cover Mk II vehicles out of service, while into 1991 various Class 47s were loaned, including the first examples of 47/7s from the NSE Thames & Chilterns pool.
Under increasing pressure to meet financial targets NSE imposed service cuts on its allegedly most expensive service in January 1991. The resource base was reduced by two coaching sets and two locomotives, involving withdrawal of several Waterloo-Salisbury short workings, cutting back of the Plymouth-Brighton service to Southampton, and reintroduction of DEMU working between Basingstoke and Salisbury to fill new gaps in the service. As the Civil Engineer withdrew from support of Class 50 the former WR engines passed to NSE pool in February 1991.
By this time projected route modernisation had been decided upon, and the demise of the Railfreight Distribution Speedlink network in July 1991 cascaded sufficient other Class 47/4s allowing NSE to put 47/7s on the regular West of England line duties. By October 1991 47701-03/05- 12/14-17 formed NTWE pool still based at Old Oak Common and working alongside the remaining operational Class 50s.
But the use of Class 47/7s did not solve the routes problems-day to day provision of motive power was still difficult and numerous substitutions of wrong Sector locomotives continued. Using small pools of 25-30 year old machinery of any class on such demanding duties is certain to give rise to availability problems.
Route modernisation had to be electrification (with perhaps a designated Class 471 "Networker" EMU clone) or new generation DMU (once designated Class 171), perhaps with elements of both and either mixed mode or even electro-diesel operation. Extending the third rail to Exeter would be expensive demanding close sub-station spacing irrespective of service level. Even part electrification to Salisbury, with mixed mode diesel or electro-diesel with diesel operation to Exeter, or even dual voltage full electrification at 25kV from Basingstoke, would also incur high capital costs and small resource pools.
In the event, a cheaper option identified itself as the then Regional Railways reduced its requirement for Class 158 express DHMUs and, in a three car version as Class 159s, was the order of rolling stock modernisation. A dedicated depot at Salisbury was included in the project-while money has yet to be found for projected infrastructure improvements west of Salisbury and track redoubling.
Class 50 normal operation officially ceased on Sunday 19th January 1992 although in practice it happened that the last two workings occurred the previous day with 50030 on 1515 Waterloo-Exeter and 50033 on 1422 Exeter-Waterloo. Both 50030 and 50033 were stopped for minor faults and were not available for service along with 50050 which was on repairs at Laira.
However, continuing problems with Class 47s meant that conditional Class 50 operation was expected for another eight week period-with 0811 Exeter-Waterloo and 1515 Waterloo-Exeter continuing with 50 traction. Class 33s continued to be regular performers on the line. NSE pool machines 33102 and 33114 along with engineers pool 33109 and 33116 were in almost daily use with much changing of locomotives at Salisbury.
159 units were progressively introduced into service as soon as available with two locomotive hauled sets operating until the end of June 1993-still with 47/7s. There was no sudden end of locomotive operations on the line-but perhaps class 50s had the last word on 18th July 1993 by again throwing the western end of the route into chaos. With 50033 topping and 50050 tailing a railtour from Exmouth to Exeter, 50033 derailed approaching Exeter St Davids.
The very last BR operated Class 50 train also originated at Waterloo running through Salisbury to Exeter on 26th March 1994 behind 50050+50007. So Waterloo-Exeter workings with English Electric sixteen power units spanned a period of 43 years with intermissions from Maybach and Sulzer. Locomotive operation returned to Waterloo for a brief period when Great Western diverted their "Night Riviera" overnight sleeping car service between London and Penzance from its traditional Paddington terminus to Waterloo. This was to facilitate connections for Channel Tunnel passengers at Waterloo, but recently the "Night Riviera" was restored to Paddington following the opening of "Heathrow Express" rail services to London Heathrow Airport. BR Class 37 diesel and Class 92 electric locomotives were to have commenced on overnight trains between Plymouth / Swansea and Paris / Frankfurt in 1996 but it now looks unlikely such trains will ever run.