Steam on the Underground – District Line 150

Having been on one of the LU150 trains six years ago, I knew what to expect and what locomotives would be used. However, this trip would be different for a few reasons.

Six years ago, Siobhan, Brian & I went up to London to travel on the trains as part of the London Underground 150th anniversary.  Then, it was January, at night and cold. This time it was June, mid-day and hot, and I would be travelling alone, with just the one small rucksack of covers. My husband Steve came with me – he hadn’t seen anything like it before and, since I wasn’t able to leave to train to take photos, it made sense for Steve to go the High Street Kensington station to take photos of the train arriving, departing and at the platform.

High Street Kensington station, wreathed in steam & smoke

The journey to London was uneventful, and as we’d managed to catch an earlier direct train, I’d have more time to get to Ealing Broadway. So far, so good. However, when I went to the registration area to receive my wristband for the journey, I was informed that, due to a technical difficulty, there would be an hour’s delay. Fair enough, I thought, and let my husband know. At Ealing Broadway, rumours were flying around about the cause of the delay – some said that it was due to the carriages, some were saying that the electric locomotive was misbehaving. Meanwhile, at High Street Kensington, word was going around that the first train of the day had been cancelled due to the delay!

Metropolitan No. 1 District Pioneer  

Metropolitan No. 1 Footplate crew

Eventually, the train arrived at Ealing Broadway, at 12.30pm (the time that it was due to arrive at the end of the first run). After making sure that passengers were in the correct seats (and, in one or two cases, the correct carriage!), we left at around 12.45. Very little of the journey itself was underground but at every station that we passed (and occasionally stopped at), there were people smiling, waving and taking photos.

Me on the 1st District 150 train of the day with my precious cargo

We should have stopped at High Street Kensington station for 25-30 minutes but, due to the late departure, that was reduced to 15 minutes, presumably in an effort to make up for lost time. After a brief word with Steve, and a quick photo, we were off again on the return journey. And again, I was struck by the number of people at the stations that we passed. Earls Court especially was packed, with people standing on the stairs, just taking photos. How many, I wonder, had just come down to see the steam train? Even an incoming train at High Street Kensington stopped briefly, as the driver wanted to take a few photos.

Even in these days of electric trains, never underestimate the pulling power of a steam locomotive!

Here is the cover I carried on my journeyR345     150th Anniversary of the Opening of the District Line     £10.95

(you can find out more about this cover by clicking on the image above)

All the best

Sarah

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