Freight Acceptance testing in the 1970's

During the early 1970's the author was involved in acceptance ride testing of new freight vehicles onto BR. We also tested vehicles following service problems, derailments etc

One favoured route from Derby was to Aylestone Junction, just to the south of Leicester. This route was both convenient and suitable having a mixture of welded and jointed track, some jointed was even installed on the fast lines at this time. On arrival at Aylestone Jcn, the train was put onto the slow line and the loco would then uncouple and go forward to Wigston Junction where it would reverse and return to run round the train and haul it back to the RTC.

In these early days RTC had two class 47's (D1960 and D1961) allocated for test work from Toton depot when required. Both were equipped with ETH from new and had been extensively tested at RTC after delivery in 1968.

D1960 is now 47703 and is at the Wensleydale Railway but D1961 was scrapped as 47515 in 2006.

We also undertook slip brake testing of wagons. Slip brake testing is a long standing method of measuring the braking performance of a vehicle and this was regularly carried out on a possession of the Down slow between Crewe and Winsford. See here for more details

 Here is a selection of photos of the freight testing and the railway scene in the early 1970's

Click on the picture for a bigger image - all photos are the author's unless otherwise credited.

RTC 1972

The main freight test vehicle was Test Car 1. This was a former GWR-designed Hawksworth autocoach although built by BR. It was acquired in late 1971 and is seen here sometime in 1972 coupled to two BSC bogie tippler wagons. The exhaust pipe from the temporary portable generator, which was fitted in the original luggage compartment, can be seen protruding from the open window.

BR official


In this later picture, probably sometime in 1973, the Test Car has now been fitted with a permanent generator to supply power for the test equipment. The new radiator grille can be seen at the far end and the former driving position can be seen at the near end. These end windows were very useful when running as they enabled the test engineers to observe the wagon under test.

It has also been fitted with modern hydraulic buffers but retained its GWR bogies at this time.

BR official

Somewhere in England The vehicle still had its original steps which could be swung out by use of a large lever in the central cross corridor. Here's a snap of testing staff boarding the vehicle via the steps - location unknown - possibly Manton on the line between Kettering and Melton.

Test Car 1 was originally an auto-trailer based on the former GW Hawksworth design, which was usually found on branch line services coupled to an 0-4-2 tank loco. The coach was built by BR in Swindon to Diagram A38, Lot 1736 and was formerly number W233W. It was fitted with a driving position at one end - to the right on the middle photo, complete with bell. The author remembers that it was maroon when it first arrived and was originally fitted with a temporary portable hand cranked diesel generator in the former luggage compartment - see photo one above.


Test Car One in GW chocolate and cream livery on the occasion of the Great Western's 150th anniversary in 1985. The coach never carried this livery in service as it was built under BR's ownership.

BR official

It was gradually equipped with all that is necessary for testing work, 240v generator, kitchen and workshop. It was painted chocolate and cream for the GW150 celebrations in 1985 (above) but was de-commissioned in 1998 and was resident at the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley where it served as a support coach for the 7F preservation group, latterly it has been purchased by the 5542 group who plan to restore it to its original condition.

Test Car 1 Test Car 1 ADW 150375 stands in the yard at RTC in 1972 attached to a hopper wagon. This formation would probably have just arrived back from a Leicester run as the Test Car would normally be marshalled next to the class 47 with the vehicle trailing.

For more details of the various test cars which have been used by the DM&EE over the years look here

Leaving Derby A class 45 No:98 passes the RTC Yard on its way to London with 1M51.
Beeston Class 20 No:8064 and an unidentified member of the class pictured at Beeston with a mixed freight
Nr Aylestone Jcn 6-72 On a bright summer's day in June 1972 somewhere near Sileby, the test train is passed by a London express piloted by class 25 7536 on a running-in turn from Derby Loco Works. Note the BG behind the train loco - this was commonplace in the early 1970s for the conveyance of parcels or bicycles etc.
Trent South Junction Two class 20's haul a train of mineral wagons at Trent South Junction sometime in the early 1970's
Aylestone jcn 1972 Sometime in 1972 an Up express passes the test train at Aylestone Jcn.
Aylestone With the class 45 making smoke, 1M15 passes the test train which has a 45t tank wagon on test, probably a 4-wheeler with Gloucester pedestal suspension.
RTC yard 1972 A general view of the yard at the RTC Derby in spring 1972 showing APT-E, a re-furbished class 101 DMU and the R&DD's Baby Deltic
Aylestone 3-5-72 On 3rd May 1972 train No:1C64 consisting of Mk1 stock, heads to London behind a class 45 locomotive, which were the mainstay of these services at the time
Aylestone 5-5-72 On 5th May 1972, the test engineers are on the ground, having a look at the wagon no doubt. A Class 45 passes with 1D11 a Down express - note the absence of high visibility clothing even under British Rail
Syston North Junction A Class 47-hauled test train waits at Syston North Jcn as a Down express passes behind a class 45.
Aylestone Junction Three trains can be seen in this view; the class 45 hauled Down express, the class 45 with a freight waiting to carry on along the Up Slow once the test train has departed and a class 47 with an Up express approaching from Leicester.
Aylestone Junction Seconds later 1M15, the Up express passes.
Going Home A few minutes later and the freight test train with a class 47 on the front crosses onto the Down fast en route back to Derby - sometime in the early 1970's
Was Leicester really like this? 1E41 sits in the Down main platform at Leicester station as the test train goes round the back on the Goods lines - how things have changed!

 ........and much later

Pictured at Sileby on 10 March 1983 is a test train headed by 45036 (also carrying its old number, 45) with TC1 autocoach ADW 150375 and an ICI hopper


More pictures will be added as time permits


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