Edinburgh-Glasgow push-pull 1972

The service between Edinburgh and Glasgow was upgraded in May 1971 with the introduction of class 27 powered push-pull rakes of Mk2 coaches, which ran with a loco at each end at speeds up to 90 mile/h, on a 30 minute interval service. These replaced the original Swindon Inter-City DMU's which had been introduced in 1957. The service ran from Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh Waverley via Falkirk, calling at Haymarket and Falkirk High.

24 class 27 locos were modified for the task at St Rollox and Derby Works and were equipped with electric train heating (ETH), dual brakes (air and vacuum) and through-control via a cable running the length of each train set. They were also fitted with automatic fire fighting equipment and driver/guard communication  The locomotives were re-designated class 27A. The trains consisted of 6 sets each containing six Mk2a & Mk2b coaches which had also had air brakes fitted and the heating systems modified for ETH.

The original formation was tested on the Midland main line between Derby and Leicester and on the ECML.

In early 1972, following numerous problems with the class 27A locos when running the intensive services, the DM & EE received a request to carry out monitoring of the eleven-year old locomotives, which were now covering 650 miles each day. Among the defects were traction motor flashovers, bogie suspension components coming loose and the main generators causing concern as well as body stressing problems.

To achieve this Test Car 4 (the former Western Region Dynamometer car converted from a Hawksworth 3rd corridor coach) was especially modified with through-wiring for the 27-way control system and was brought up to Edinburgh. It was marshalled into a standard push-pull rake and we ran as a test train for a couple of days on 11th and 12th January 1972. I remember that the boss chose to stay in Edinburgh in preference to Glasgow as that city had a fearsome reputation at the time.

Test Car 4

Test car 4 pictured in the EDU at Derby in 1982. The through control wiring can be seen on the RHS going over the roof.

Colin Marsden



Test Car 4 and its train were based at the former Leith Central station during the tests which was a mile or so from Waverley. It was a DMU depot for the class 126 Swindon InterCity units but must have been very close to closing when we were there. We stayed in a nice hotel on Princes Street and probably would have walked up and down Leith Walk to get to the train each day - no cars for the testing lads back then!

One of the locomotives would have been instrumented to measure bogie and body accelerations thus the effect of input from the track at the higher speeds could readily be assessed. I well remember there being a bad piece of track in Falkirk Tunnel which used to give the loco (and Test Car) a kick every time we passed.

I can't remember whether any modifications resulted from the tests but the service ran with class 27's for a further eight years but by 1980 the class 27 services had been superseded by class 47's, Mk3 coaches and DBSO MK2 driving van trailers.

There is an informative site by Nick Lawford here which gives more background to the original Push-Pull operation.

  Click on the picture for a bigger image

Queen Street Station

An unidentified Class 27 sits on the buffer stops at Glasgow Queen Street on 20th July 1971 in the early days of the service.  After prolonged running at 90 mile/h the locos began shedding various pieces and suffering from traction motor flashovers etc


Princes Street Gardens

On March 24th 1975 the 13.00 ex Glasgow passes Edinburgh Castle on its way into Waverley Station headed by 27109 with 27112 bringing up the rear. 

G A Watt

27206 at Queen Street

A push-pull set departs from Glasgow Queen Street station for Edinburgh headed by 27206 in July 1976.

Michael Taylor

Near Lenzie

The 13.00 Queen Street to Waverley approaches Lenzie on 30th August 1976

D G Cameron


On September 7th 1971 class 27 5411 heads a push pull set towards Glasgow with unusually Class 37 No:6936 at the rear

D Cross


Leith Central station was one of the largest stations in Britain with a span of 67m but it had a working life of less than fifty years closing in 1952 after which it was then used as DMU servicing depot for a number of years.


The entrance to the station from Leith Walk which we would have strolled up each morning to join the test train

Courtesy ScotlandsPlaces

Leith Central This 1987 view of the station and signal box was taken from across Easter Road, the bridge having already been removed. The station was situated at the foot of Leith Walk above street level.

Reproduced with acknowledgement to A C Mullay and Ian Allan Publishers

DMU Depot

Swindon InterCity set (later class 126) inside the depot. These ran the majority of the Edinburgh Glasgow services up to the introduction of the class 27s and were allocated to Leith Central in January 1957

Bill Hamilton

D5323 D5323 and sister loco inside the depot on 16th August 1959 - visiting for reasons not connected with the push-pull services

Mike McDonald


Deltic number D9000 later named "ROYAL SCOTS GREY" pictured inside the depot on 22nd March 1961

Michael Timms Collection

Inside the DMU depot in July 1967

Courtesy ScotlandsPlaces

Inside Leith Central

Inside Leith Central prior to demolition showing the inspection roads of the former DMU depot

David Naismith

Leith Central The roof of the station can be seen above the buildings in this view taken on 30th October 1985   - there are a couple of photos of the station when it was a DMU depot here.

Albert Jordan

Leith Central

Here it is prior to demolition in Nov 1988.

The former station famously inspired the name 'Trainspotting', which Irvine Welsh gave to his notorious debut novel. The author has also numbered the Central Bar, which is based in some of the remaining railway buildings, among his favourite pubs in the city.

David Naismith


After the horror of the accident at Quintinshill in May 1915 where 227 died including 224 men of the 7th Battalion Royal Scots, mainly recruited from Edinburgh and Leith, relatives of the men congregated outside the Drill Hall in Dalmeny Road seeking news and eventually a list of the dead was read from a window. The bodies were transported from Gretna to Leith Central Station and were taken to the Hall, which was functioning as a temporary mortuary. The soldiers were laid to rest in Rosebank Cemetery, Pilrig, Edinburgh where a special memorial has been erected there to commemorate them.

For more information look here.


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