150 years of the London Underground ‘Underground Pioneer’ Anniversary Train.
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first Underground Railway a special train was pulled together to recreate the experience of steam in the Victorian age one more time. Hauled by Metropolitan No 1 (the last steam engine to be built at Neasden in 1898) and supplemented with heritage coaches from the Bluebell Railway several specials were run in mid January 2013. After watching a couple of runs on the line I was lucky enough to have a ticket to travel between Moorgate and Earls Court on the very last train on Sunday 20th January.
Anyone familiar with London’s modern day Tube system will know it can at times feel a claustrophobic and cramped place so imagine traveling in fully upholstered seats in carriages with the windows open. There was both the rush of cold air from a winters night and the occasional sweet oily smell of of the steam wafting through the opening. Our surprise at our mode of travel on the Underground was nothing to the quite amazed expressions of those on the station platforms. Naturally there were gatherings of rail enthusiasts present but there were also people just trying to get home too. Imagine, if you will, waiting for the next Aldgate train at Kings Cross expecting to hear the familar drone and rattle of an electric train only to see a steam train come puffing through leaving you in a hazy white cloud.
All in all quite an amazing experience and with talk of it being repeated it’s something well worth keeping an eye out for should it happen again.