As the old 1938 era tube trains are coming to the end of their extended life on the Isle of Wight, a campaign has been launched to return one to London.

Yesterday, the formal process by which organisations can express their interest in acquiring one of the old tube trains was announced by South Western Railway, which operates the Isle of Wight railway.

The newly formed London Transport Traction Group (LTTG) has already discussed bringing one back to London, to operate on the Epping Ongar Railway.

The process of acquiring a train requires interested organisations to demonstrate that they have “the capacity and financial security to remove and look after the train, as well as a suitable long-term physical location for the train.”

The LTTG has already started negotiating a long term storage and operating proposal, and is now seeking financial pledges to support the campaign, and will shortly be making membership and donation options available.

A full proposal will be produced in the coming weeks.

If you do make a pledge, it is non-binding until/if the group is allocated a unit by South Western Railway and can be cancelled at any time by contacting the Treasurer.

More details and how to support the campaign are here.


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  1. Alex Metslov says:

    Look, if it’s old – it’s old. It has done it’s job. No need to romanticise outdated stuff and call them vintage.
    Take it apart. Make new ones. Fit for purpose and future.

  2. Ronald Sullivan says:

    I had the honor to drive a 38 tube stock on the East London Line in the 70,s ,to say that it should be scrapped just goes to show that you have no intelligence, to be a good train motorman you had to be able to know how to handle a 38 stock.

  3. Maurice Reed says:

    If a set does come back to Epping/Ongar I wonder how they would operate it? No conductor rails and the steam locos are probably vacuum fitted whilst the tube stock has air brakes.

    • ianvisits says:

      Details are on their website – power is hoped to come from on board generator/batteries.

  4. Craig Cunningham says:

    fit battery power [or hybrid petrolectric] after all vivarrail have done it with D78/278/978s or whatever!

  5. Charles says:

    Let’s destroy that old train, let’s destroy our past, our history, it never happened, it was never important and our children cannot learn anything from it!!!

  6. David Flack says:

    I would say put one in a museum. If it is converted as suggested then it’s no longer original.

    • Andy Lamborghini says:

      Nothing is “original”. The Flying Scotsman’s only original parts are some bits and pieces of the cab. Yet it is the Flying Scotsman. Everything historical, and I literally mean everything has been touched up here and there, converted or replaced. So it doesn’t matter if it’s converted or not. What matters is to keep one on working order because there is nothing more exciting than watching an old train go by, because it’s living history.

  7. Pedantist says:

    I have fond memories of the 38s. Went to work on them from Golders Green starting in 1960. I say let’s preserve at least one of them in some running order.

  8. Strabismus says:

    I’m all in favour of returning one to the EOR where its type once ran, and see no conflict with an alternative power source such as battery. However let’s not forget that the LTM has an operational 4-car set that sporadically ventures out on much of the network on heritage trips, so the type is well represented. Surprising really that it only lasted 40 years in squadron service; the 1972 Bakerloo stock looks well set for 60 …

  9. David Winter says:

    My response on Facebook, reproduced here:

    Others have commented that the EOR has no spare space. So this group must find funds to:
    1. Obtain a site;
    2. Construct a storage/maintenance facility;
    3. Arrange for bespoke manufacture of parts to 85 year old designs;
    4. Obtain Members with suitable skill sets to maintain the vehicles;
    5. Purchase a genset vehicle to feed current through the unit; and then
    6. have sufficient funds to make SWR an offer.

    Certainly a substantial enterprise in view here.

    I fully support the idea of preserving one in Island Line format (would love NSE). Whether a fully working, or rolling (haulable) or even static …. but certainly not cut up. But let us not underestimate what’s involved …. considering the “professional” railway has struggled to keep a fleet operational.

  10. The LTTG is very aware of the challenges which we face in our bid to preserve and operate one of these historic trains. I can assure you that storage and operation is under negotiation, with an additional proposal, hopefully suiting both parties, to maintain public access to the set even when it is not in service. This will require some work, but is far from insurmountable.

    Power wise we are working alongside a professional railway equipment company who have many years of experience providing on board power for electric vehicles. This is not the first heritage venture which they have undertaken, but it is, we believe, the first time a vintage electric multiple unit will be able to operate under it’s own power on a UK heritage line.

    Really, it comes down to fundraising. We already have a good start with pledges coming in from people who, like us, are excited by the prospect of bringing tube stock back to Ongar under it’s own power. Please follow the link below to our fundraising page and consider whether you can be a part of making this happen.

    And for more general information about the group and its aims, please follow the link to our homepage

    Thank you all.

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