|Stock Numbering - Other
|A look at some of the other numbering systems in use in the UK
|31st Dec 2019
This article looks at the numbering of rolling stock on some of the railway systems away from the national main-line network. It includes the metro and light-rail networks in major cities, and some of the industrial/private railways. Narrow-gauge lines (other than the Glasgow underground) are not covered.
The largest and oldest metro railway network in the UK is that in London, which was unified under the control of a single organisation (London Transport) in 1933. The network is now run by London Underground Ltd (LUL) and comprises eleven (mainly) separate, named lines, identified on maps by different colours, and all electrified using the 4-rail system. Rail connections exist between most of the lines but these are only used for stock movements. There are two types of line on the network. 'Tube' lines run on the surface and in deep (bored) tunnels, and were built to a smaller loading gauge than that used on the main-line. 'Sub-Surface' lines run on or just below the surface, the tunnel sections being built using the 'cut and cover' method rather than by boring. Trains on these lines are built to a larger loading gauge, more or less the same as the main-line railways.
All passenger services are operated by electric multiple units and, although units are generally retained in fixed formations, identification is by side-numbers only. There are no set numbers used. Some trains display a 'train number' on a board or display on the front end, but these relate to the timetable and can change from day to day. Side numbers are displayed on the side of each coach, while most driving cars also have their number repeated on the front end. The current (2020) stock comprises around 4,320 individual coaches (cars) formed into 620 complete trains.
Today, all lines have a set train length and most recent stock has been built with cabs only at the outer ends of each train. However, shorter formations were used for many years, on certain branches or at off-peak times. As a result, much of the stock built up until the 1980s featured shorter sets with a cab at each end. Longer trains could be made up by combining such sets.
The classification of train types by LT/LUL has been fairly simple. Tube trains are referred to by the year in which it was ordered, while sub-surface stock was given a single type letter, generally sequential and sometimes suffixed with a 2-digit year to signify a variant (as in Q23 and R49 stock).
Individual car numbers within a set were sometimes rather random in the past, but all current stock is numbered so that the car numbers relate to each other. For example, there is a set on the Northern line formed of 96078 + 96278 + 96478, while a Metropolitan Line train could be 21041 + 22041 + 23041 + 24041 + 24042 + 23042 + 22042 + 21042. Matters are slightly complicated by the fact that a proportion of trains include a car fitted with de-icing equipment, and these are usually identified by using a different numbering sequence. There was also a practice of 'handing' units, such that you could have a west-facing set and an east-facing set (rather an academic distinction on the Circle Line!). This practice derived from the era when electrical couplings between sets were less operationally flexible, and are now largely irrelevant. However, as most lines do not have loops (where the direction of a train could be reversed), it is still an influence on stock numbering.
The tube stock currently in use is as follows (in order of age).
Bakerloo Line - 7-car trains of 1972 stock. Trains are formed of two units, a 4-car unit with a Driving Motor (DM) at each end of two Trailers (T), and a 3-car unit made of Driving Motor, a trailer and an Uncoupling Non-Driving Motor (UNDM). The latter are cars without a normal cab but with some driving controls in a cabinet at the end of the passenger saloon. This allows them to be driven at low speed within depots only. Individual cars are numbered in the ranges 32xx, 33xx, 34xx and 35xx for the DMs and UNDMs, and 42xx, 43xx, 45xx for the trailers.
Piccadilly Line - 6-cars trains of 1973 stock. Most trains are formed of two identical 3-car units formed DM + T + UNDM. However, a batch of double-ended units was also built (DM + T + DM) and these are now only used formed into 6-car trains. Individual car numbers are the lowest on the system, being in the ranges 100-253 (DMs), 300-453 (UNDMs) and 500-696 (Ts). The DMs in the double-ended units are numbered 854-897.
Central Line - 8-car trains of 1992 stock. Trains are formed of four 2-car units of two different types, and all cars are motored. The outer units are formed DM + NDM, while the inner two units are each formed of two NDMs. Very rarely, trains are sometimes formed with an outer set replacing one of the inner sets. Car numbers are 91001-91349 (odd numbers only, for DMs), 92001-92349 (odd numbers only, for outer unit NDMs), 92002-92266/92402-92464 and 93002-93266/93402-93464 (both even numbers only, for inner unit NDMs, those ending in 4xx being fitted with de-icing equipment).
Waterloo and City Line - This short line was part of the BR network until 1993. Trains are 4-cars, formed of two 2-car (DM + NDM) units of 1992 stock similar to that on the Central Line. These were ordered by BR and initially ran as unit numbers 482501-482510 with side numbers 65501-65510 (DMs) and 67501-67510 (NDMs). The side numbers were retained by LUL though the set numbers were dispensed with.
Northern Line - 6-car trains of 1995 stock. Trains are formed of two 3-car units formed DM + T + UNDM. Individual cars are numbered 51501-51686 for the DMs, 51701-51726 for DMs formed into units with de-icing trailers, 52501-52686 for Ts, 52701-52726 for de-icing trailers, 53501-53686 for UNDMs and 53701-53726 for UNDMs formed in de-icing sets.
Jubilee Line - 7-car trains of 1996 stock. Trains are formed of a 4-car unit (extended from 3-cars as built), formed DM + T + T + UNDM and a 3-car unit formed DM + T + UNDM. Individual cars are numbered 96001-96126 (DMs), 96201-96326 for the original trailers (except that what would have been 96280-96318 are fitted with de-icing equipment and have 600 added to their numbers to become 96880-96918), 96601-96725 (odd numbers only, for the additional trailers in 4-car sets) and 96401-96526 for the UNDMs.
Victoria Line - 8-car trains of 2009 stock. Trains are formed of two identical 4-cars units formed DM + T + NDM + UNDM. In practice, the trains have remained in the formations in which they were delivered, with each having two units whose cars end in sequential 3-digit numbers (for example, 11005 + 12005 + 13005 + 14005 + 14006 + 13006 + 12006 + 11006). Since the whole line is in tunnel (apart from the depot), de-icing cars are not needed. Individual cars are numbered 11001-11094 (DMs), 12001-12094 (Ts), 13001-13094 (NDMs), 14001-14094 (UNDMs).
The four sub-surface lines all now use trains of S-stock, built from 2008 to 2012, although there are two slightly different types. The Metropolitan Line uses 8-car trains known as S8s, which feature some transverse seating due to the potentially longer journeys. The Circle, District and Hammersmith & City Lines use 7-car trains known as S7s and fitted with longitudinal seating throughout, to maximise carrying capacity. All cars are powered and there are only two main types, though the non-driving motors vary in the equipment they carry. Although nominally formed from two units each, the trains are treated as a single entity and mixing of units has (so far) not occured. The DM cars are numbered 21001-21116 (S8) and 21301-21568 (S7). The remaining cars are numbered 22001-22116 (S8), 22301-22568 (S7), 23001-23116 (S8)(except that what would have been even numbers 23002-23056 are fitted with de-icing equipment and are changed to 25002-25056), 23302-23568 (S7)(even numbers only as the odd numbers are the cars omitted from S7 trains, and 23302-23382 are actually 25302-25382 due to de-icing equipment), 24001-24116 (S8) and 24301-24568 (S7). That all sounds a bit complicated, and I haven't even mentioned the couple of S7 units that were changed to S7+1s! A look at the actual formations (as shown in various spotting books) will make things clearer, but I hope I have given some background to the logic behind the numbering schemes.
Engineers Stock will be covered shortly
The only other 'deep tube' network in the UK is that in Glasgow, opened in 1896 and operating as a six-mile loop around the city. It is also unique for being narrow gauge (4ft) and was cable-powered until 1935 when it was converted to third-rail electric. The original rolling stock was used for an amazing 80 years, comprising 'gripper' cars (that gripped the cable) that were later converted to motor cars, and trailers. These were finally withdrawn in 1977 when the line was closed for renewal.
Replacement stock was built by Metro-Cammell in 1977-1979, entering service when the line was reopened in 1980. All the new cars were driving motors with a cab at one end, and they were numbered 101-133. Trains were normally formed of two cars coupled back to back. The fleet was expanded in 1992 when eight new trailer cars numbered 201-208 were built by Hunslet TPL. These allowed trains to be formed of three cars, either as a trailer flanked by driving motors or as three driving motors.
The current rolling stock is due to be completely replaced by 17 new 4-car units built by Stadler, the first of which was delivered in spring 2019. The new trains are the same length as the previous 3-car trains and feature 'walk-through' connections between coaches and temporary driving cabs. It is planned to switch to staffless operation in due course, and the cabs will be replaced by further seating, giving passengers a unique view through the large front windows. The stock numbers of the new trains, and the date when they are due to enter service, are not currently known.
Tyne and Wear Metro
The Tyne and Wear Metro was opened in stages between 1980 and 1984 as the UK's first modern light rail system. It took over former BR rail lines including the North Tyneside Loop and branches to Bank Foot in the north west and South Shields. Interestingly most of these lines had previously been electrified by the North Eastern Railway in 1904 (using a third rail) but they had reverted to diesel operation under BR control in the 1960s. The Metro used overhead DC electrification and featured some stretches of new route, including two tunnels through central Newcastle and an impressive bridge across the River Tyne. Initially the network was separate from the main-line, although there were a couple of places where the tracks were also used by BR freight trains. However, from 2002 the system was extended over the BR tracks to Sunderland and then along a disused track formation to terminate at South Hylton. Between Pelaw and Sunderland the Metro trains share the tracks with other main-line passenger and freight trains.
The initial trains (dubbed Metrocars) were 2-car articulated units built by Metro-Cammell, with high-floors as needed to serve the former BR stations. The first pair were built in 1975 (numbered 4001 and 4002) arrived in 1975 and were used for trials on a test track, while the production batch (4003-4090) was delivered between 1978 and 1981. The production batch did not have the end doors seen on the prototypes (intended for emergency use only), and 4001/4002 were later rebuilt to the later standard. The fleet has been refreshed a couple of times but is now due for replacement, and an order has been placed with Stadler for 46 new 5-car trains, expected to enter service between 2022 and 2024.
As the trains now regularly work over Network Rail tracks, they need to be recognised on the TOPS computer system. It is not known if any TOPS stock numbers have been allocated but a recent article (REF RX292) mentioned that the Metrocars were allocated the curious TOPS classes of 599 and 994, these applying to the four units not dealt with in the most recent refurbishment (599) and the remainder that were (994).
The engineering stock used on the Tyne and Wear Metro is interesting because most of it was registered on TOPS, at least for the first few years. The stock comprised twelve bogie flat wagons with various fittings (built by Procor in 1977, numbered MA1-MA12 and registered on TOPS as private owner wagons TWT95450-TWT95461) and three former Southern Railway bogie ballast hopper wagons (MA21-MA23, on TOPS as TWT15100-TWT15102). A couple of former BR brake vans and bogie bolsters were also owned but were not renumbered, and works trains were hauled by a batch of five Brush diesel shunters numbered WL1-WL5. Procor supplied a pair of new low-height spoil wagons in 1986 and these were numbered MA50 and MA51. Operated as a pair, they were not given TOPS numbers but were interesting for having BSI autocouplers at their outer ends, enabling them to be hauled by Metrocars.
In something of a reversal, the TOPS registrations for the wagon fleet were allowed to lapse, while a replacement fleet of three battery-electric locos built by Hunslet were TOPS registered. Internally numbered as BL1-BL3, they are allocated TOPS numbers 97901-97903. The current wagon fleet comprises MA2/4/7 from the 1977-built flat wagons, MA21 from the original ballast hopper trio and MA50/51. Added in more recent years have been four 'Seacow' ballast hoppers (presumably ex BR) numbered MA25-MA28, and a bogie bolster numbered 94157 (origins unknown).
Docklands Light Railway
To be covered shortly
In the latter part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th, most UK cities and many larger towns had tram networks, usually with single car trams (either double- or single-deck) and on-street running. Most of the networks were municipally owned, and the trams were usually numbered in a simple numerical sequence, although on the largest systems the car numbers reached into the thousands. Most of the tram networks were abandoned in the 1940s and 1950s due to the age and maintenance costs of the infrastructure and rolling stock, and also because of the increase in ownership of private motor cars. With the closure of the Glasgow system in 1962, Blackpool was the only town in the UK to retain trams, these being as much a tourist attraction as a local transport facility.
Recognition that trams could serve a role in tackling the growing problem of traffic congestion within cities came in the 1980s. The Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway were the first results of this change, though these were both light-rail systems (with no on-street running) rather than tramways. Manchester was the first city to reintroduce trams, the Metrolink system opening in 1992 and being significantly expanded ever since. It has also been joined by five other new systems across the UK, while Blackpool's has been modernised.
Manchester Metrolink - The Manchester Metrolink opened in 1992, combining on-street running in the city centre with the re-use of former 'heavy rail' routes out to Bury and Altrincham. Because the old BR stations were re-used, the trams had to have high-floors, and the new city-centre stations required raised platforms. The network opened with a fleet of 26 trams of 2-section articulated format and built by Firema in Italy. These were classified as T68s and were numbered 1001-1026. A further six trams to the same design were built by Ansaldo in 1999 and were numbered as 2001-2006. With the network proving very popular and extensions planned, a new fleet was delivered from 2009 onwards, these being of the Bombardier Flexity Swift M5000 model. The new trams were of similar configuration to the older ones (which they had completely replaced by 2014) and are numbered 3001-3120. The numbers are carried on the sides and on the end (where an additional suffix of A or B is added to indicate the individual car).
South Yorkshire Supertram - The second new-generation tram network was opened in Sheffield in 1994. This did not make use of old railway infrastructure and thus enabled the use of low-floor trams, these being 3-section articulated units built by Siemens-Duewag (Germany) and initially numbered 01-25. The centre section of each tram has a higher floor level (as do the outer ends of the two driving cars) and has no passenger doors. The trams were later renumbered to 101-125. An expansion of the system along BR tracks to Rotherham was planned for 2016 and to serve this a fleet of 7 new trams was built by Vossloh in Spain. Although to the same basic configuration as the original trams, the new fleet had additional safety equipment to permit operation on Network Rail tracks (TPWS and OTMR). They were numbered as 201-207 and were also allocated TOPS numbers 399201-207, with the individual cars numbered 999001-999007, 999101-999107 and 999201-999207 (such that 201/399201 is formed 999001+999101+999201 and so on).
West Midlands - The Midland Metro opened in 1999, running from Snow Hill station in Birmingham to Wolverhampton. Most of the route is along a former heavy-rail route, but the stations were rebuilt with low-level platforms. There is on-street running in Wolverhampton, and through Birmingham city centre when the line was extended from Snow Hill to near New Street Station in 2016. The initial tram fleet was 16 2-section T69 types built by Ansaldo in Italy and numbered 01-16. These were replaced in 2014-2015 by 21 new 5-section Urbos 3 types built by CAF in Spain. These took numbers 17-37, while the older trams have been retained in store and may be returned to service if proposed extensions to the system go ahead.
Croydon - The first (and so far, only) trams to return to London did so in Croydon in May 2000. The new network combined some former heavy-rail routes (Wimbledon to Croydon, and parts of the Elmers End to Sanderstead line) with on-street running in Croydon itself, and new lines (mainly on reserved track alongside existing roads) to Beckenham Junction and New Addington. The existing stations were rebuilt to allow the trams to feature low-level boarding, and the system was initially dubbed 'Croydon Tramlink' and operated by FirstGroup as a franchise to Transport for London. Services were operated by a fleet of 24 3-section Bombardier CR4000 trams built in Austria and carrying a white and red livery based on that worn by London Transport's traditional trams. This heritage was also reflected in the fleet numbering, which was 2530-2553. This followed on from the highest number allocated to a tramcar by London Transport, even though these were all withdrawn by 1952. Although nominally 3-section, the centre section of each tram was very short, forming part of the articulation and having the pantograph mounted on top. In 2008 the livery of the trams was changed to white with a blue skirt (similar to the livery on London Underground trains), with the addition of a green stripe, roof and front ends.
The services proved popular and 12 additional trams were obtained between 2011 and 2016. These were 5-section Stadler Variobahns built in Germany and numbered 2554-2565. Various extensions have been proposed (including to Sutton and Crystal Palace), but as of 2020, none had been given the go-ahead.
Nottingham - A tram system for Nottingham had been proposed in 1988 but it was not given the go-ahead until 1998, opening as NET (Nottingham Express Transit) in 2004. Initially running between Station Street (Nottingham) and Hucknall to the north, the network was expanded in 2015 with two new routes to the south of the city. All routes feature on-street running, while some sections were built alongside existing mainline railways. The fleet at opening comprised 15 5-section Bombardier Incentro trams built at nearby Derby. These were given numbers 201-215 and had a distinctive design with covers over the bogies to give a very smooth external appearance. When the extensions were built, the fleet was expanded by the addition of 22 new Alstom Citadis 302 trams built in Spain to a similar 5-section configuration. Fleetnumbers followed on from the original batch as 216-237.
Blackpool - Having retained traditional trams throughout (including a large batch of double-deck 'Balloon' cars built in the 1930s), Blackpool decided to modernise in 2008. The route was left as it was (basically a North to South run along the seafront from Fleetwood through Blackpool to Starr Gate) but the track and stations were rebuilt to allow the use of new trams. As the older trams had become a tourist attraction in themselves, it was decided to keep some of them for use, especially during the busy 'illuminations' season. The new trams were 16 5-section Bombardier Flexity 2s built in Germany in 2011-2012. Various fleetnumbers were already in use on the traditional fleet but since a 1968 renumbering, most had been in the 6xx and 7xx ranges. The new trams were numbered 001-016, and a further two (to be 017 and 018) were ordered in 2017. Nine of the Balloon cars were also refurbished with new centre doors to match up with the slightly modified station platforms. These cars are numbered in the range 700-724.
Edinburgh - The newest UK tram system is that in Edinburgh, opened in 2014 after delays and cost overruns forced the original scheme to be scaled back. As opened, the route runs from York Place in the city centre westwards using on-street running to Haymarket, then mainly on segregated track to Edinburgh Airport. The routes to the east of the city were put on hold but may be completed in the future. A fleet of 27 7-section CAF Urbos 3 trams was built in Spain, all being delivered by 2012 and hence having to spend some time in store. The fleet size was based on the originally proposed extent of the network so it currently has a fair degree of slack, requiring only 15 trams to be in service at peak times. The trams are numbered 251-277, this following on from the highest numbered traditional tram in Edinburgh, even though they were all withdrawn in 1956. This practice had already been used in London.
Industrial, military and private railways
To be covered shortly