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The Metropolitan Railway

This company opened the worlds first passenger carrying underground line in 1863 and built up a network of lines in central London, mainly connecting the large passenger terminals. From the 1890's the company faced competition from the deep 'tube' lines in London but extended branches out into the surrounding suburbs. The Met had numerous complex joint working arrangements, the Great Central originally used part of the Met's Buckinghamshire line as the last leg of their London Extension.

The electrification of the Met's London lines on the 'third rail' system began in 1904 but the outlying branches remained steam hauled as did much of the goods traffic. The line to Amersham was finally electrified in 1961, the service beyond that point being taken over by British Railways. I believe the last regular steam workings on British railways were operated by London Transport on the old Metropolitan lines.

The Met operated some goods services on its lines into London where there were several goods depots. The Met's stations outside the city were similar to those on any other branch line in the country. In about 1900 the Met took over the operation of the small branch line to Brill in Buckinghamshire, this line was unusual in that all the services were run as mixed trains (goods wagons attached to the rear of passenger trains). The Brill branch closed in the mid 1930's.

Goods stock first appeared on the Met in about 1890, originally borrowed from the Midland Railway but later built for the line by contractors. I have not been able to establish whether the Met's goods stock was pooled in the common user scheme, the few examples I have seen do not appear to carry non-common-user markings (see Historical Background - Common User Scheme). The goods fleet, which only totalled about 500 vehicles, included open wagons, vans and cattle wagons.

The Met was 'absorbed' by the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933 at which time virtually all the goods services were taken over by the LNER. The LNER took over the fleet of steam locomotives, repainting them in LNER colours. The goods stock remained in MET livery for many years after the change.

Metropolitan Railway goods stock was painted light slate grey and wagons had the word metropolitan in block lettering along the sides. Outside framed vans and cattle wagons had MET. RLY. on the sides to either side of the doors. Later the body colour changed to the Midland Railway light grey and the initials on the sides changed to M E T about eighteen inches high spaced evenly along the sides, outside framed vans retained their earlier lettering however.

Passenger stock was in varnished teak and the locomotives were a deep chocolate brown. Horse boxes were (I believe) oak brown with METROPOLITAN in yellow on the sides.

With the change to London Transport in 1933 locomotives were painted London bus red but I cannot confirm the livery for the goods vehicles retained for service trains. Certainly by the 1960's the goods wagons used as service stock on the line were light grey with white markings.

Fig___ Metropolitan Railway



(1) Metropolitan Railway John Glover, published by Ian Allan in 1998

ISBN No: 0 7110 2630 0 - Reportedly a thorough history of the line but I have not seen it so I cannot comment.

(2) Back Track magazine September and October 2001 - Metropolitan Freight - article by Michael J Smith. Describes the freight lines and facilities in the city and provides an overview of services.

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