John Speller's Web Pages York - Newcastle Electrification

John Speller's Web Pages - North Eastern Railway
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The success of the pilot 1,500 v DC Shildon - Newport Electrification led the North Eastern Railway revive plans for the electrification of their East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle following the cessation of hostilities in World War I.

With a view to exploring the possibilities of a high speed electric locomotive, Sir Vincent Raven ordered a 1,800 hp 2-Co-2 (4-6-4) locomotive, No. 13, in 1920. The locomotive was completed at Darlington in May 1922. It had six 300 h.p. electric motors, which under different circumstances might be switched individually or severally in series or in parallel for maximum flexibility. The driving wheels were 6 ft. 8 in. diameter, and the locomotive was designed for a sustained speed of 65 mph on the level with a 450 ton train. The total horsepower of 1,800 at the rail made it the equivalent of a British Railways "Peak" Class diesel or a Gresley "A-4" Pacific. On a test run on the Shildon line with a load of 19 vehicles weighing 460 tons the locomotive ascended a 1:200 incline at 58 mph with a drawbar pull of 5 tons. Sir Vincent Raven commented that he had never been able to produce results like this with a steam locomotive.

The York - Newcastle electrification was sadly shelved after the Grouping of 1923, and Raven's masterpiece, No. 13, was placed in storage in the paint shop at Darlington. It was briefly brought out for the Stockton & Darlington Railway Centenary celebration in 1925, where it was ignominiously towed by an 0-6-0 tank. Perhaps with the idea that it would be used when the Sheffield - Manchester electrification was completed, it was classified as "EE-1" in 1945. It was included in the LNER renumbering of 1946, when it became No. 6999, and moved to the South Gosforth Shops in 1947. It was again renumbered as No. 26600 on Nationalization in 1948. British Railways, however, do not seem shared the LNER's enthusiasm for the locomotive, and it was scrapped in 1950.

It was not until 1990-1995 that the East Coast Main Line was finally electrified. What a lost opportunity!

Sir Vincent Raven's masterpiece, North Eastern Railway 2-Co-2 electric locomotive No. 13. Image copyright National Railway Museum and SSPL and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License
Class 91 High Speed Train, built for the East Coast Main Line electrification and introduced in 1989. Shown here at London Kings Cross. Image copyright Oxyman and licensed for reuse under this GNU Free Documentation License
Map of the proposed North Eastern Railway Main Line Electrification, 1920
Sir Vincent Litchfield Raven, KBE, MInstCE, MInstMechE (1859-1934), Chief Mechanical Engineer of the North Eastern Railway 1910-1922
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