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Railway Emergency Service


For a period in 1970 the line between Mitcham Junction and Sutton was closed on many successive Sundays for major engineering works to be undertaken. This view shows the front of Mitcham Junction station on such a Sunday with the 'Railway Emergency Service' vehicles awaiting their next turn of duty.

photograph by Mike Morant

There are frequent occasions when a railway line has to be closed, either for planned engineering works or for some unexpected reason, such as a derailment or the effects of severe weather. When this happens it is usual to provide a Railway Emergency Service by road, usually utilising buses or coaches hired from a local operator at short notice. On occasions (usually late at night) taxis may be used, something that was a fairly regular occurence on the Mid-Sussex Line (now the Arun Valley Line) during the 1970s when the last train (10:00pm from Victoria) would be cancelled, leaving passengers with no train for stations between Horsham and Ford.

Whilst the line was closed the Victoria - Epsom trains terminated at Mitcham Junction, ran on to the 'Winkle' (West Croydon - Wimbledon line) and set back into the up platform. Similarly, there were 4-Subs at Sutton waiting to meet the buses and then transport the passengers to Epsom. Both workings carried the usual '02' headcode.

SR Target