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Was wandering through the Newcastle City Libraries Archive Collection and happened upon this circa 1975/80 aerial photograph of the Test Track at Middle Engine Lane in Wallsend and wondered if it had been on the site before. Wonderful piece of history and one that shows what little was in that area post the Silverlink etc developments - photograph courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/newcastlelibraries/4089617839/sizes/o/in/photostream/


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My visit to the Metro Test Track - July 1976

At the Tyneside Summer Exhibition in July 1976, there was (in the Tyne & Wear PTE Tent) a "mock-up" of a Metro Train carriage (just the front part of) that you could look at, climb onto, and actually get in and sit down in, etc.

Remember, 1976 was a full FOUR years before the Metro opened, in August 1980.

Seeing that mock-up train at the TSE really fascinated me, I was really interested by the Metro throughout the ten or so years prior to its opening in 1980 (as I still am now) and followed every little detail of its development.

I didn't get any photos at the TSE (unfortunately) but there were some published in a PTE booklet, below.

The 'mock-up' had been at TSEs for the previous year or two, so the 'livery' is slightly different from what eventually happened, and from what I was to see later that day at the Test Track . . .




When I got on that mock-up train, I also obtained a couple of tickets to visit the Test Track, which we left the TSE to do, immediately!

Here are two photos from that July 1976 day at the Test track, one of them showing "Mrs NH" with all the stuff we had bought at the TSE that day!!






At the Test Track, we (needless to say!) had an amazing trip up and down the track, through the test tunnel, etc, on Metro 4001.

Fabulous!

We also got the below leaflet . . .










THIS page is not from that leaflet, it is about the 'Test Track', but is from an early edition of the MEET YOUR METRO booklet, that was produced from time to time in the 1970s . .



Interesting times!!

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I'm just brimming with Metro based questions at the moment.

I notice even at the mock-up state there is that 3 figure number board in the cab window. They still exist in digital form today. What's that for please? I assume it tells someone which driver is in the cab.
 

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Maroon and cream Dan - just as you remembered it :cheers:
Looked like something from the LMS. If I recall correctly there was gold detail on it too. The old NER colours.

Really don't know why they couldn't keep a couple on the fleet like this.

I totally get advertising but liveries celebrating the old trains of the past - including the yellow Metro would make for a more interesting network. Even one in BR blue and grey.
 

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I notice even at the mock-up state there is that 3 figure number board in the cab window. They still exist in digital form today. What's that for please? I assume it tells someone which driver is in the cab.
The three numbers are the running number for the Metro (same as a heacode on the national rail network). Each driver has a diagram from the working timetable which is this three digit number. They are displayed at the front when checking if trains are running to time, and the driver and control use this number when talking over the radio. A slightly different headcode is displayed when working over Network Rail infrastructure on the Sunderland extension, but this isn't displayed on the front.

RE aircon - only the driver who is getting this (that is the big box on 4041 at the front when you look at the recent pictures).
 

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Re: Express Metro services --- the timetable from 1st June 1987 shows 2 services in the morning (dep Monkseaton 08h13 and 0823) and 2 in the evening (Monument 17h10 and 17h20), as non-stopping between West Monkseaton and Benton.

They are marked as "Express journeys", although they seem to only save 1 minute compared to the all-stations trains...

Not sure how long they ran before / after this.
 

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Re: Express Metro services --- the timetable from 1st June 1987 shows 2 services in the morning (dep Monkseaton 08h13 and 0823) and 2 in the evening (Monument 17h10 and 17h20), as non-stopping between West Monkseaton and Benton.

They are marked as "Express journeys", although they seem to only save 1 minute compared to the all-stations trains...

Not sure how long they ran before / after this.
Yes that was about the right time. Don't think it lasted very long. As I said earlier, its not as if there was a third track to allow for overtaking.

Would this have been possible with the BR layout? I have seen a picture on here a few weeks ago that showed Tynemouth with a middle track.
 

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Re: Express Metro services --- the timetable from 1st June 1987 shows 2 services in the morning (dep Monkseaton 08h13 and 0823) and 2 in the evening (Monument 17h10 and 17h20), as non-stopping between West Monkseaton and Benton.

They are marked as "Express journeys", although they seem to only save 1 minute compared to the all-stations trains...

Not sure how long they ran before / after this.
How interesting. At the time that would have only involved missing two stations as Northumberland Park didn't open until 2005. My guess is this was more to prevent overcrowding than to provide a fast service. It's curious also that the trains are consecutive as this would have meant a 30 min gap between trains at the omitted stations.
 

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Yes that was about the right time. Don't think it lasted very long. As I said earlier, its not as if there was a third track to allow for overtaking.

Would this have been possible with the BR layout? I have seen a picture on here a few weeks ago that showed Tynemouth with a middle track.
Tynemouth before the Metro had two loop tracks between the platform lines. The main purpose of these was to provide access to the Blyth and Tyne coal sidings and depot to the west and to allow goods trains to be passed. I do not think there were ever any cases of scheduled passenger trains not stopping at Tynemouth. There was, however, a morning train via Benton that started at Cullercoats and used to wait empty in the loop at Tynemouth for the previous train to pass.
 

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Between Manors and Byker
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Re: Express Metro services --- the timetable from 1st June 1987 shows 2 services in the morning (dep Monkseaton 08h13 and 0823) and 2 in the evening (Monument 17h10 and 17h20), as non-stopping between West Monkseaton and Benton.

They are marked as "Express journeys", although they seem to only save 1 minute compared to the all-stations trains...

Not sure how long they ran before / after this.
Would it be possible for you to scan the timetable and put it on here? Would be very interested to have a look.

Express/Local or Skip Stop trains are probably the best answer to capacity issues where you can't lengthen trains or run more services. I'm sure many on here will have seen the services to Pelaw in the evening being quite empty but when a South Shields or South Hylton train turns up it is normally packed. Many people would rather wait for the next train rather than getting the Pelaw one and changing half way.
 

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The tunnel at the test track was demolished in 1978 because the trains for the Hong Kong metro were also tested there and didn't fit, so that picture couldn't have been any later than then.

FWIW, I visited the test track as a kid in early 1979 and was disappointed about the tunnel not being there - but this was more than made up for by how nice everyone at the test track was. My parents just called up and asked if we could have a look, and they told us to come for a visit - and we were the only ones there. I got to drive 4002, was given a demo of the emergency brakes, and we went up and down the test track, just the driver and the five of us.
 

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Looked like something from the LMS. If I recall correctly there was gold detail on it too. The old NER colours.
I don't know if this is what you were thinking but a couple of Metrocars were paired up and painted in two historic liveries in 1989.

4044 was painted to mark the 150th anniversary of the Brandling Junction Railway. It was finished in BJR lemon yellow with black lined panels along it's sides, it had the name "Director" on it. Unit 4051 was painted for the 150th anniversary of the Newcastle & North Shields Railway and this unit wore the N&NSR colours of maroon with gold lined panels, apparently it carried the name "Times" on it but I'm not sure why?

Here is a link to the only picture I could find, you can just see the maroon car is at the back - http://www.railwayherald.org/imagelink/140164 (Photo credit to Brian Creasey)

DAN.
 

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My visit to the Metro Test Track - July 1976

At the Tyneside Summer Exhibition in July 1976, there was (in the Tyne & Wear PTE Tent) a "mock-up" of a Metro Train carriage (just the front part of) that you could look at, climb onto, and actually get in and sit down in, etc. Remember, 1976 was a full FOUR years before the Metro opened, in August 1980.


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One thing I've JUST noticed in that photo of the mock-up of the proposed Metro Carriage in 'Post 1981' (copy above) is that the Metro Map used inside the carriage (just as they are now) looks like it is that same "rare / first diagramatic" one, shown in 'Post 1946' (copy below) . . .




That's the only other place I've ever seen that version of the map!
 

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One thing I've JUST noticed in that photo of the mock-up of the proposed Metro Carriage in 'Post 1981' (copy above) is that the Metro Map used inside the carriage (just as they are now) looks like it is that same "rare / first diagramatic" one, shown in 'Post 1946'

That's the only other place I've ever seen that version of the map!
Which reminds me of how the old electric trains used to have a diagrammatic map at the end of each coach. (The diesels that replaced them didn't because they were used on other lines as well.)

There were a few different versions of the map, but right until the end I can remember some still showed Byker which had been closed for decades.

They also showed the connection with the main line east of Benton that was used by one train a day to run directly from West Monkseaton to Manors East without stopping.
 

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I don't know if this is what you were thinking but a couple of Metrocars were paired up and painted in two historic liveries in 1989.

4044 was painted to mark the 150th anniversary of the Brandling Junction Railway. It was finished in BJR lemon yellow with black lined panels along it's sides, it had the name "Director" on it. Unit 4051 was painted for the 150th anniversary of the Newcastle & North Shields Railway and this unit wore the N&NSR colours of maroon with gold lined panels, apparently it carried the name "Times" on it but I'm not sure why?

Here is a link to the only picture I could find, you can just see the maroon car is at the back - http://www.railwayherald.org/imagelink/140164 (Photo credit to Brian Creasey)

DAN.
That's the fellas! I really liked them. Odd out of context paintwork. Things like that make travelling far more interesting.

Re the pix of the mock up. Notice the geezer sitting down having a tab? How things have changed. He'd cop for a £50 fine or something for that now.

Whatever happened to the mock up? Is a bit of it in the Discovery museum.

I went to the Stephenson Museum a few years back, not knowing about the link with the Metro. How much of the Metro test days still exists there?
 

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OK another in my anorak wanting to know all about Metro questions.

When drivers change at South Gossy, what happens. There is a crackle from the PA and then a mechanical "clink" that runs along the cars. I guess this is some sort of key coming in and out that the driver has to use.

Hey I'm learning so much about the Metty this week! I've always been interested ever since I did a project on it at middle school. The PR people sent me loads of stuff - I won't have chucked it out so I guess it's deep in my mum's attic. If I find it I'll scan it and post it up.

One thing I remember from it was that some of the trains were delivered as late as 1982. The info included a list and brief history of each Metro car. Some were stored in Doncaster or York I beleive. In sidings perhaps near the ECML. Were they towed up to Tyneside from Brum. Also if my memory serves me right 4077?? Was in York railway museum for a time. It would be nice if it were to go back there at the end of its service.
 

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OK another in my anorak wanting to know all about Metro questions.

When drivers change at South Gossy, what happens. There is a crackle from the PA and then a mechanical "clink" that runs along the cars. I guess this is some sort of key coming in and out that the driver has to use.

Hey I'm learning so much about the Metty this week! I've always been interested ever since I did a project on it at middle school. The PR people sent me loads of stuff - I won't have chucked it out so I guess it's deep in my mum's attic. If I find it I'll scan it and post it up.

Snipped....
Sounds like you may be considering a career move there Dan - can just imagine your booming voice over the PA announcing the stations :cheers:
 

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OK another in my anorak wanting to know all about Metro questions.

When drivers change at South Gossy, what happens. There is a crackle from the PA and then a mechanical "clink" that runs along the cars. I guess this is some sort of key coming in and out that the driver has to use.
The driver has a key which allows access the the controls (much in the same way as a car key). When a key is inserted, the track magnetic brakes are energised which is the clink sound (the magnetic brakes clamp to the track, then the rustling metal sound is the brakes being released again). You'll also probably hear the radio crackle as well.
 

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Cheers for that now I know a bit more about my trip home. I've only wondered about that since the Mid 1980s.

Steve, I would love to be the voice of the Metro. Especially if I could do it live . "How, Ye, Divvent block the doors else I'll Knakka Ye." Should get the point home to the Charvas.

Talking of PA systems, again back in the 1980s, when I used to go to school on the Metro, there was a driver who used to do funny airline style announcements, especially on the long stretch (Pre Palmersville and Northumberland Park) between Shiremoor and Benton.

He'd say things like...."Good morning ladies and gents, I'm xxxxx your driver, just to let you know that your metro is now cruising at 52 MPH, we're on shcedule to arrive at Benton in 2 minutes time, In Newcaslte it's a fine sunny day etc etc." Happened a couple of times. Used to make the passengers smile but I guess the fun police stopped him.

Then there was a brilliant announcement when some school kid was pratting on stopping the doors shutting. It went something like this. "To the lad in the back car. There are 200 plus people on this train all wanting to get to work on time. You are making them late. 200 of them, one of you. Think about that for a second." Utterly brillaint!
 
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