End of the Line: C-ing You Go

If anyone is wondering what the corny title is about, this is our new corner of the monthly section on trains. We will try our hardest to go "On the rails" too once a month, with this being our first edition in some time. 

April 2014 sees the end of the line for London Underground's C Stock units, these being represented in two batches and two 'special' units. These trains will be replaced by the rolling out S7 stock which will run the Circle, Hammersmith & City Lines and District Lines. A slightly longer variant, the S8 operates on the Metropolitan Line. 

C69 Stock 5598 arrives into Westbourne Park Station, on a
Hammersmith & City Line service stations to Liverpool Street
running duty number 234. 

The C stock operates in two batches: The C69, which ran the Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines, the C77, which runs the District Line between Wimbledon to Edgware Road and the two special units 6734 and 6548 which are the C08 units.

If you may be scratching your head thinking, "Wait a minute, the District Line operates with D78 stock" then you are correct. However the C stock also operates on the District Line between Wimbledon to Edgware Road only due to the shorter platform lengths stations Edgware Road - High Street Kensington which cannot accommodate the D78 stock. 

However, the C stock hasn't always been STRICTLY between Wimbledon and Edgware Road, some C stocks have been spotted on the 'Main Line' District Line before, I do remember myself seeing a C stock operate (In service) on the District Line at Ealing Common, which is way off route back in 2006.

I have to credit the fact that despite being refurbished over 25 years ago, these trains have kept themselves together in a decent condition, something I am impressed with. The C stock's exterior is immaculate, definitely the best out of the A, C and D rolling stocks. Perhaps that must explain the reason why prior to withdrawal it was actually London Underground's face, any posters, especially international ones or any form of advertising to come to London or something like that always had a photo or video of the C stock and never anything else in most cases. 

Not just with posters and adverts, even the London Underground Simulator, which seems very impressive and highly popular (It is a good game, I tell you) has taken all the details of London Underground stations and even railway tracks on the Circle, Hammersmith & City and District Lines (Wimbledon Line), and made it in the game like the real thing. The rolling stock used, even though is updated on a yearly basis (?) and the S stock has drafted into service has still been chosen that you and your peers drive the C stock on any of the lines and the S stock in fact doesn't exist.

Just last week, I rode a C77 unit myself before withdrawal for probably the last time in my life. Prior to this, I didn't enjoy the C stock that much. But that was on the Circle Line, and you can't really enjoy the Circle line to say the least. I've only used the C stock between High Street Kensington and Earl's Court on the District Line, but this time I decided to ride the whole journey end to end. I have watched a few videos and they did seem more exciting as they actually go faster than the D stock, so that is something. 

I hopped on the train at Wimbledon on a nice, sunny and bright day, probably the first we've had in ages. The train was relatively empty so I actually got to take in more of the details of the train. At first I was on the wrong platform at Wimbledon, as there are 4 platforms, consisting of two island platforms. On the platform I was on was a just a D stock train, and no other train on the other platform. I was waiting there for another 10 minutes on no train arrived, although by then a D stock train left. I was just wondering when a C stock train was coming, only to switch platforms to realise all that time a C stock was on stand in the platform. Considering C stock trains are dramatically shorter than the D stock for the  reasons stated above, the entire D stock was covering the C stock train, and the C stock train didn't actually reach all the way to the end of the platform, so you had to walk up halfway the platform to get on the train.

I ended up on C stock unit 5516, and about 4 minutes later the train was ready to leave for a journey bound for all stations to Edgware Road. As I was on the other end of the train, or what is now the front as it has switched directions (Don't get on at the end, all the passengers go in there and make your journey more cramped and miserable).
C77 stock 5516 is seen at Edgware Road on the District Line
having finished the 30 minute run from Wimbledon in it's last
days. LondonBuses72's favourite C stock train, without a doubt
as she ran duty 074.

I couldn't believe it, the journey was thrilling, the train moved off quickly and within 3 minutes we were at Wimbledon Park. Unit 5516 showed me a side I had never seen on the C stock, the good side. As I moved onto Southfields which seemed to be familiar with it's unclear announcements (Read below). Skipping to East Putney, several passengers on the platform seemed to embark. As it left we went over on the viaduct around East Putney before crossing the River Thames where the train picked up serious speed. I kept bouncing on and off my seat at one point because the train was vibrating the bridge so hard. At Putney Bridge we had to wait because an extremely slow District Line (D stock) train which I saw leaving earlier at Wimbledon was moving extremely slowly. Due to this as we had docked into the platform for 5 or so minutes, we did pick up several passengers. We continued into Parsons Green after some time as the D stock did pick up a bit of pace and I saw the whole C stock operational spare train which sits in the siding looking rather fresh.

I passed another 'sports landmark' just a stop after Parsons Green, at Fulham Broadway, home of 'The Blues' or Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium which is pretty much outside of the station. Luckily Fulham Broadway station was rather empty, as there was to be a scheduled match later on in the evening, right now it being around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. 

We shortly arrived into the hub of the District Line: Earl's Court. I could have the train to myself again from here as most of the crowds left the train to change to other services from the station, or visit the nearby Earl's Court exhibition centre. We did wait again, this time not for an D stock to move up ahead, that was over (thankfully!) but a faulty S7 stock train on the Circle & Hammersmith & City lines which broke down at Paddington caused severe delays on the Circle Line and meant that trains were being diverted/ delayed severely which altered the service of the 'Wimbledon Line' as well. 

Eventually the train was ready to leave and the driver put pace as we swerved through the Earl's Court/ Gloucester Road sidings (or whatever it is) to get to High Street Kensington, very quickly in order to pay up for the time already wasted. The rest of the crowd that didn't alight at Earl's Court got off here, leaving I and about two other people at the other end of the carriage on the train which seemed to be moving quite slowly now due to the aforementioned delays.

There wasn't anything interesting worth jotting down except for the lengthy delay which had now by Paddington affected all sub-surface lines in one manner or another. The section of Paddington was actually normal, of course 5516 was waiting in the tunnel for about 2 minutes, but that was to wait for another C stock train, running number 073, to head en-route to Wimbledon, which is normal during the peaks as the train platforms are rarely empty at Edgware Road as such with Heathrow Terminal 4. We docked into Edgware Road where I did a bit of filming before heading for a Hammersmith & City line train that was heading to Plaistow. 

I decided to film the journey between Wimbledon and East Putney, which can be seen underneath the next paragraaph. 

In fact, I did something new. Not that any other blogger has done, I decided to even make a farewell video of these trains, which is about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, all this will filmed before the camera, so it means the quality of the phone may be lower. Apologies for that!

Then I decided to take an S Stock in comparison to the C Stock, to see how my personal experience was, between East Putney and Wimbledon and Edgware Road and High Street Kensington. One thing I could note down at first was the clearness of the announcements, whereas on the C stock it was so muffled. At Southfields was one example, it took me some time to figure out the announcements were saying "Exit for Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club". The C Stock sounded more like "Exit for Wimbledon Dawn Resting Club" and that sounded weird and not right at first until I noticed it was 'Lawn Tennis'. Even then I was still baffled on why it was referred to as that, as that is not the actual name for the club, it's actually supposed to be "The All England Lawn Tennis Club" which is near the Wimbledon Tennis.

For the stations between High Street Kensington and Edgware Road on the S7 stock, if you were in the first car or in the last car, you would hear something like this on the announcements "The next station is Notting Hill Gate. This is a District Line train to Edgware Road.....The front/ rear doors will not open at the next station, please use other doors". There was a fault in the announcements system at Edgware Road, probably the wrong line was selected was "The next station is Edgware Road, where this train terminates. Change for the Central Line (?!) and Hammersmith & City Lines, and as of 12th April 2014, this error still hasn't been fixed (!) 

There were two rail tours (typical of TfL) for the C Stock. One was on the 13th April, this one dubbed as the 'Off the Rails' as the C stock ran around lines it didn't serve - the tour started at Moorgate, and ran on the Metropolitan Line to Amersham, then around the North Curve to Watford, then to Harrow-On-The-Hill where the train ran to Uxbridge. After taking a short break, the train ran along the Piccadilly Line to Acton Town, where it switched directions to Northfields and made a pit stop there for an hour whilst all the managing directors and staff, as well as enthusiasts, drivers and engineers enjoyed a photography session and their lunch break.

Afterwards, the train departed Northfields and followed the Piccadilly Line to Hammersmith, before switching onto the District Line tracks and went round via Earl's Court, Embankment and Tower Hill to Upminster, before the train returned down to Barking, then to Aldgate East, where it diverged off the District Line to join the Hammersmith & City Line to Hammersmith, where the tour called for an end, at around 1700 hours. The train used on this tour was 5596 + 5727 being the motor cars with 6 carriages lettered A-F. I must say, for a C-stock train, I did see it shoot past on the rails).

The other rail tour was the grand finale of the C Stock, on the 29th June 2014, which the C stock ran around the lines it did serve in it's life time (The Circle, District and Hammersmith & City Lines). The train started the tour at Hammersmith (H & C station) and did a run to Moorgate where a double run was made up to Edgware Road, as the train then followed the length of the Wimbledon Line before going to Barking via Edgware Road, then back via one loop of the Circle Line. Lewis was there to get the last shots, as seen at Wimbledon:

Here's 5721 at Wimbledon - on the 29th July tour. This was in the afternoon, but the shot earlier on is seen below. Note the special blinds made for the occasion. Here's 5578 (the other end of the train) at Moorgate. Trains ran duty number 770.

Well, these trains are now withdrawn. And the past is the past. But whether you liked them or hated them - let's remember the iconic Modern-day Underground train.

1 comment:

  1. I recall going to Richmond on a C stock train back in the early 80's. It was pack full and raining, and the motorman had a bit of wheelslip at several stations along the way.Way off route for a C stock, perhaps it was deputising for failed soon to be withdrawn R stock ?