Motor Luggage Van (Class 419)

Ten motor luggage vans (MLV) were built between 1959 and 1961 to provide sufficient luggage space on boat trains to and from the Kent ports. Unlike their contemporaries the 4 Ceps/Beps, with whom they mostly worked, they had a non gangwayed suburban cab. These unique vehicles had quite a fascinating history. The first two, delivered in April/May 1959 had the capability when marshalled intermediately within a train to convert air braking on one side into vacuum braking on the other. A few trial runs were made in the early 1960s with an EMU + MLV + Bulleid loco-hauled 3-set formation. All ten units did however have vacuum exhausters and were able to haul vacuum braked vans in the conventional way.

The second batch of eight were delivered between December 1960 and March 1961, all being in all-over multiple unit green and with no unit number (they did not have any for many years) shown on the end. The coach numbers 68001 - 68010 were in the usual location on the body sides.

Actual completion dates were as follows:
68001       25 April 1959
68002       5 May 1959
68003       23 December 1960
68004       29 December 1960
68005       4 January 1961
68006       16 January 1961
68007       24 February 1961
68008       9 March 1961
68009       14 March 1961
68010       28 March 1961
68001/2 were LOT number 30458 and 1957 'phase 1' units.
68003-10 were LOT number 30623 and 1957 'phase 2' units.
All were built at Eastleigh on frames from Ashford to the standard length of 63' 6", overall length was 64' 6" over bodywork with length over buffers (extended) was 67' 1".
The cabs were 4' 2" deep and the Guards compartment was 6' 7" wide at the number 1 end of the vehicle (above the motor bogie). The remainder of vehicle was divided into two luggage compartments, the larger (at the No 1 end) being 27' 7" long, the smaller one 18' 6" long. Both had a pair of outward opening doors each side. The overall capacity of vans was 132 cubic yards, divided 80 and 52. Overall weight was 45 tons and load of 7 tons was permitted.

Phase 2 units were built with conduits and wiring for AWS equipment though this was not fitted until about 1985 (the first two were also equipped at this time). The SR electrical codes were AF for 68001/2 and AF-1A for remainder, all to Diagram No 498.
These units had BR Mk 3 bogies, the motor bogie with 8' 9" wheelbase, trailer bogie with 8' 6" wheelbase. The motor bogie was fitted with two 250hp English Electric traction motors and shoegear was fitted to both bogies. The motor generator had an auxiliary generator attached which charged the traction batteries. These batteries supplied power at 200v for the traction motors, compressors and vacuum exhausters.

68006 MLV 68006 seen leading a Dover Priory to Victoria train of original 4 Cep stock at Shortlands Junction on 25th June 1973.

photograph by David Smith

This picture of an unidentified MLV also shows the same side but from the No2 end. It is difficult to photograph an entire underframe broadside!

photograph by David Smith

68003 Now the other side of an MLVs underframe, again in two parts, this being on 68003, and here the Nº2 end.

photograph by David Smith

The Nº1 end of 68003's underframe.

photograph by David Smith

The special feature of the MLVs was that they could work over non electrified lines using battery power, mainly to allow them to proceed onto the extremities of the pier lines at Folkestone and Dover. The MLVs could work singly, hauling a limited load and in multiple with EP type stock.
The vans were initially mainly restricted the South Eastern Division working boat trains from Victoria to the Channel Ports and also some internal mail trains overnight, sometimes hauling vans as part of these duties (from Ashford via Canterbury to Ramsgate was a regular turn with vans in tow). They also worked regularly to Newhaven Harbour.
The amount of luggage and registered traffic on some boat trains was sufficient to require the use of two MLVs and a 2x MLV+12 Cep (or Cep+Bep+Cep) formation with a conductor rail index of 16 which was near the limit of the power supply and also had an excessive power to weight ratio. This led to the conversion of six former loco-hauled BGs at Selhurst during 1968 into Trailer Luggage Vans (TLVs) 68201 - 68206. These vehicles, with no cabs, were unpopular and caused shunting difficulties, particularly at Victoria and as traffic declined the TLVs were all withdrawn from this use in 1975, one MLV being adequate for all the traffic.

By 1985, with a further decline in boat train traffic, surplus MLVs were working more on mail trains and about this time all were fitted with Speed Sensors, a device to prevent the driver selecting neutral on the master controller above 6MPH without a full brake application being made, thereby circumventing the 'deadmans handle'. The units were then able to be used for 'Driver Only Operation' (Non-passenger) or DOO NP. An agreement with the trade unions allowed lines to be cleared for such operation only after a regular train had operated over them for a period of six months, and therefore MLVs increased their sphere of activity quite considerably, with regular diagrams from London Bridge to East Grinstead/Horsham and from Brighton to Seaford/Littlehampton/Bognor whilst these routes were DOO cleared for ECS trains. They ran singly and empty on these workings.
Several different sources state that an overnight mail train from London Bridge to Ashford was diagrammed for a MLV and this was diverted regularly via Redhill due to engineers possessions. When so routed it was booked to have loco assistance from Redhill to Tonbridge, but on a few occasions when there was no loco available it had run from Redhill to Tonbridge using the traction battery supply. This required the co-operation of the local signalmen as a signal stop at Godstone, Edenbridge, Penshurst or outside Tonbridge would almost certainly mean the train would be unable to restart again, and a clear run was essential. These must have been the longest runs attempted on battery power, this line being virtually flat.

9004 This picture of 419004 (68004) captures it not only during its brief period in Royal Mail livery but also provides a very useful glimpse of detail on its roof.

photograph by David Smith

The penultimate MLV 68009 (419 009), in "Jaffa Cake" livery, seen on display at "Woking 150" 30th May 1988.

photograph by Colin Duff

9005 Also seen in in "Jaffa Cake" livery, MLV 419005 as photographed at Dover Priory during summer 1988. This has the earlier version of this livery, without the two black stripes bordering the orange band, as in the above photograph.

photograph by Ian Fossey

Another colourful scheme in the life of a MLV! 419001 is seen here in Royal Mail Livery on the 25th May 1989 just north of Gatwick Airport.

photograph by David Smith


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This page was last updated 3 March 2004

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