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On Wednesday the London Transport Traction Group proudly announced that we are now working with the Epping Ongar Railway to ensure that any unit the group acquires is able to be preserved at what we feel is the most suitable mainland location.
In their respective statements the LTTG and the EOR both made mention of the EOR's tube heritage as the branch was part of the Central Line from the 1960s until the 1990s. Before this time, however, the line from Epping to Ongar was worked by British Railways' Eastern Region, and before that the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER).
In the late-1930s London Transport initiated the famous New Works Programme. Part of this ambitious infrastructure project sought to expand the Northern and Central Lines North and East respectively arrangements were made with the LNER for passenger services on some of their lines to be electrified and operated by London Transport. These included the ex-Great Northern Railway (GNR) line to High Barnet and the ex-Great Eastern Railway (GER) line from Leyton Junction to Ongar, via Epping, including what today forms the Hainault loop between Newbury Park and Woodford.
The Northern Line was also intended to take over passenger services on the ex-GNR lines to Alexandra Palace, Edgware (via Mill Hill East) and Finsbury Park along with an extension North from Edgware to Bushey Heath. Owing to the onset of the Second World War and financial constraints afterwards the only part of these latter schemes to come to fruition was the branch from Mill Hill to Mill Hill East.
Because these lines were to be electrified as part of a joint working agreement between LT and the LNER it was required that a certain amount of the new rolling stock be owned by the LNER. As such a number of new 1938 stock cars intended for the Northern and Central line extensions were officially owned by the LNER and carried small plates declaring their ownership. In the event none of these new units operated on the Central Line, instead being deployed to the Northern and Bakerloo Lines.
The numbers of the Driving Motor cars owned by the LNER ran from 10238-10323 and 11238-11323.
It is perhaps interesting to note, then, the original London Transport car numbers for the remaining serviceable Class 483 units -
483006: 10297 & 11297
483007: 10291 & 11291
483008: 10255 & 11255
483009 (Withdrawn): 10289 & 11289
As can be seen, all remaining serviceable units, and additionally 483009, are in fact drawn from the units originally owned by the LNER and potentially destined for Central Line services to Epping and Ongar had the Second World War not intervened. The connection between the Class 483s and the Ongar branch is therefore rather more involved than their simply being tube stock, and hopefully it will not be too long before some of these cars are finally able to reach to their originally-intended destination.