Restore the last 306 to working order


REFERENCE the article in issue 241 on page 13 about Class 306s: firstly the unit number should read No. 017 not 107.

Originally they were only used as far as Gidea Park, where many services turned back to Liverpool Street before extending to Shenfield.

A total of 92 three-car units were built, all except unit No. 30 lasted until withdrawal.

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No. 30 came back from overhaul at Wolverton but being wired the wrong way round by mistake, it caught fire on test passing Seven Kings and was never rebuilt.

Sometime before the end of steam on the Great Eastern they were converted from 1500 volts DC to 25KV during a three-week period.

Class 306 EMU last survivor No. 306017 returned to service in original green livery to operate a Seven Kings-Shenfield shuttle service as part of a Network Day sponsored by Ian Allan to mark the launch day of Network SouthEast. This view also shows the carriage which was not modified when the trains were converted from the DC to AC power supply system.

This was great for teenage enthusiasts as all the local services to Shenfield reverted to steam hauled with antiquated coaches.

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Eventually they did stray as far as Colchester on odd occasions. I travelled on these units for most of the 1960s from Forest Gate to the City and onward to the West End where I worked.

We often travelled in the guards van as the trains were so full, they worked in three, six and nine-car formations.

No. 306017 was saved by First Great Eastern and refurbished to a very high standard and operated on certain Saturdays in summer when First held the franchise.

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I have a photograph taken at Ilford before I, along with a number of friends up for the day from Somerset, had a ride to Romford. I also have a mug that they were selling for £5.

I read in an earlier edition of Heritage Railway that this unit had been abandoned by the next TOC to hold the Great Eastern franchise and given to East Anglian Railway Museum where it has been languishing for the past few years.

Owned by the National Railway Museum, this is a unique one-off unit that deserves being returned to running order for enthusiasts to enjoy when possible on specials etc.

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I am certain it will not cost anywhere near £4 million that has recently been spent on a certain steam locomotive or take 10 years to complete – we have many great steam locomotives but only one Class 306.

I wait with interest now it is being looked after undercover in the dry, where it should have been all the time.

Phil Emond,

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