Test Coach MENTOR

In 1973 a new overhead line test coach was introduced which bore the name 'Mentor'. This was an acronym for 'Mobile Electrical Network Testing, Observation and Recording'.

After the electrification between Weaver Junction and Glasgow was completed in early 1974 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had a ride on the vehicle  which was marshalled into a small version of the Royal Train on 7th May 1974

The vehicle numbered ADB975091 was operated by the LMR CM&EE and based oddly enough at Nelson Street at Derby, a long way from 25kV overhead line. It was converted at Swindon from a BSK 34615 built in 1955. Around the mid-1980's it carried the logo 'Test Car 3' and was transferred to the DM&EE at the RTC when a re-organisation did away with the Regional CM&EE's.

The author worked on OHLE-monitoring using the coach whilst working at Nelson Street in the early 1970's and again in the mid-1990's but this time for Railtest.

It is still going strong in 2020 although displaced from front line service by a new Mk3 vehicle in the New Measurement Train.

Click on the picture for a bigger image - all photos are BR Official unless otherwise credited

Mentor Mentor 'as new' somewhere on WCML
Mentor 'as new' somewhere on WCML
MENTOR stabled next to Nelson Street in St Andrews Goods Yard in the early 1970s. This view is looking south and the single story buildings in the left background are at the bottom of platform 1 and are still extant. The pantograph is a GEC cross arm which was introduced in the early 1970s to the class 86 and 87 fleets

Pete Keen collection

The 'Royal Train' including Mentor on 7th May 1974 somewhere on WCML

Simon Baker collection

Royal Train The 'Royal Train' including Mentor on 7th May 1974 somewhere on WCML

John Herbison

Commemorative plaque inside the vehicle

John Bunyan

Inside Inside the coach - as well as the recording of signals from the pantograph, its behaviour could be observed through the specially fitted roof windows
The interior layout
EDU Mentor in the EDU workshop showing the Stone Faiveley AMBR pantograph which it usually carried when new
Instrumentation Another view towards the observation window showing the telemetry system used to carry the signals from the pantograph to the test coach across the 25kV interface

Last run under the CM&EE on 7th July 1978.  Pictures courtesy Simon Baker

MENTOR at Oxford Road station in Manchester. 
The favoured pantograph at the time - Stone Faiveley
The arrangement of the control panel for the pantograph
Some of the staff - any names?
Some of the staff - any names?
Some of the staff - Derek Young on the left - any more names?

From a newspaper article in January 1973

Don Baker with Keith Faulkner and Alan Thorpe

Simon Baker collection

Latter days

Mentor at St Pancras - now carrying the title 'Test Car 3' in addition to 'Mentor'. Probably early 1980s in connection with the electrification of the 'BedPan' line
Another view of Mentor at St Pancras
Mentor on WCML possibly at Crewe
RTC yard At the RTC in its bright yellow livery in March 2005 now equipped with a BR/Brecknell Willis Highspeed pantograph


Upper Broughton Mentor is seen here monitoring the overhead line on the Old Dalby test track using its Highspeed pantograph and passing Upper Broughton on 27th January 2007


The coach is currently operated by DB Schenker on behalf of Network Rail 


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