60 years since British Railways ran out of steam on Fenchurch Street line
- Credit: Mike Brooke
The 60th anniversary since steam trains stopped running through east London on the Fenchurch Street network has arrived on time.
The birthday of British Railways going green with its 1961 modernisation fell appropriately on the week of COP26 - the UN world climate conference in Glasgow.
Steam engines driven by coal fossil fuel were replaced by electric trains on the Southend, Tilbury and Shoeburyness run, now powered by overhead cables operated by c2c.
“My predecessors 60 years ago were ahead of their time switching from steam to electric,” c2c’s engineering director Jeff Baker said. “World leaders have been discussing the environment on a global level — but taking a train instead of driving can help make a personal difference.”
The rail operator with a fleet of 80 state-of-the-art trains pointed out that a commuter cuts their CO2 footprint by 74 per cent between Fenchurch Street and Southend if they take the train rather than a diesel car.
The last steam engine wasn’t actually phased out on the Fenchurch network until 1962. But commuter services on the Liverpool Street line to Gidea Park and Shenfield had already gone electric three decades before, in the 1930s.