diamond geezer

 Sunday, October 28, 2012

The London Underground celebrates its 150th birthday in January. That's still a way off, but you might like to start planning your part in the celebrations now.

In particular you might want to take your seat on the extra-special steam train that'll be running along the original Metropolitan railway on two Sundays in January. Puffing from the front will be Met Locomotive No. 1, an E-class steam loco built in 1892 that was rescued and restored by the good folk up at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. It was one of seven engines designed for use on the Baker Street to Verney Junction service, and in 1904 headed the very first passenger train between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Uxbridge. Also part of the 150th anniversary train will be an 1892 Metropolitan Railway carriage, the "Chesham set" of carriages (which usually run on the Bluebell Railway) and early electric locomotive Sarah Siddons. Imagine that lot puffing underground through Baker Street station, and it's clear these are going to be very sought after tickets.
» Met Loco No 1: facts, photoset, history

They're also going to be very expensive tickets. How does £180 first class and £150 standard class grab you? That's just slightly less expensive than the peak time Virgin fare from London to Glasgow. Even if you won't pay that much, TfL have calculated that sufficient train buffs will be so keen to recreate the age of steam they'll pay almost anything for a place on board. If that's you, the online ballot for places begins tomorrow. There'll be eight trains in total, with approximately 300 passengers carried on each. Some are pulled by steam, some aren't. Some are round trips, some are one way only. Some last an hour, some barely thirty minutes. Some cost £150, others 'only' £50. But you can't pick a trip for yourself. You'll be only able to specify your chosen date, chosen locomotive and whether you want first or third class. And then a computer ballot will allocate you a specific service, if you're lucky. That sounds terribly (terribly) random to me. If you're not lucky, or if your finances can only stretch to an Oyster card, you'll have to be content with waving from the platform as history steams by.

LU150 Public timetables and prices
First class £180 / Standard (3rd) class £150
* First class £80 / Standard (3rd) class £50

Sunday 13th January
  • Moorgate 12:10 → Kensington (Olympia) 12:42 (pulled by Sarah Siddons)*
  • Kensington (Olympia) 19:15 → Moorgate 19:47 (pulled by Met Loco No 1)
  • Moorgate 20:10 → Edgware Road → Moorgate 21:02 (pulled by both)
  • Moorgate 21:25 → Edgware Road → Moorgate 22:17 (pulled by both)
  • Moorgate 22:40 → Earl's Court 23:06 (pulled by Sarah Siddons)*

    Sunday 20th January
  • Kensington (Olympia) 18:23 → Moorgate 18:56 (pulled by Met Loco No 1 for the first 6 mins, then Sarah Siddons)*
  • Moorgate 21:30 → Baker Street → Moorgate 22:17 (pulled by both)
  • Moorgate 22:40 → Earl's Court 23:05 (pulled by Met Loco No 1)

    That's not the end of London Underground's Sesquicentennial. Other very special events involving the same train set are planned, and we're told they'll include the following:
       » Rickmansworth Festival on 19 May
       » Steam back on the Met on 25-27 May
       » London Transport Museum at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre on 3-4, & 7 August
       » Neasden Depot Open Day on 31 August
       » Amersham on 8 September

    You can keep tabs on everything that's planned for next year at http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/lu150/calendar. Alas there are no plans as yet to run any events at 1863 prices.

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