At 17.46 on Sunday 9 July 1967, Merchant Navy Class 35030, Elder Dempster Line, eased the 14.07 service from Weymouth into London’s Waterloo Station. This was the last steam-hauled passenger service, on the last steam-worked main line in Britain and so marked the end of an era. From the following day, electric trains took over services between London and Bournemouth, with diesel working onwards from Bournemouth to the end of the line at Weymouth.
Much has been written about the end of steam, but what came after it has received rather less attention and yet, while the electrification scheme which ousted steam was carried out ‘on the cheap’, it was ground-breaking in many ways, not least in representing the first example of high speed push-pull operation of passenger trains in the UK. In a curious way it was also the end of another era, for while third-rail electrification continued to be used on various Southern ‘infill’ projects in later years and much more recently, on TfL’s London Overground network, the Bournemouth scheme represented its last installation on a long-distance main line.
Just over fifty years has passed since the start of electric working. The original rolling stock has been replaced twice and many places on the route now have service frequencies undreamt of in 1967. This book looks in detail at the scheme from 1964 onwards, the implementation of electrification concurrent with maintaining the existing service, rebuilding and modernising infrastructure and, of course, the original electric and trailer sets as well as the pull-push operation beyond Bournemouth. In addition, changes subsequent to the original 1967 electrification are covered in relation to liveries as well as replacements for the original rolling stock in the ensuing 50 years.