A 2-HAP at Gatwick

Whilst rummaging in our loft recently I came across a few negatives which I had taken back in the early 1960s. This one shows a train with a 2-HAP unit leading. The location is Gatwick Airport station.


It isn’t the best photo ever and the negative is certainly dusty. But it takes me back those fifty years.

What was amazing was that these trains, which hark back to Victorian practices, were still being built new at this time. The HAP name to these 2 coach units referred to half of them (one coach) being equipped with a lavatory like the earlier 2 HAL units. But the P ion the end indicated that these had an updated pneumatic braking system. So yes, trains in the 1960s were still being built with compartments and an entire absence of loo facilities for 50% of the passengers (75% of those not travelling First Class).

The other thing that baffled me is the route number. This train is on a route 10. Now I’d have said I knew all the route numbers for that area in the 1960s, but I certainly didn’t know that one. And when I looked it up I wasn’t surprised for route 10 was from Holborn Viaduct in London to Littlehampton via Herne Hill, Streatham Common, Selhurst, Quarry and Horsham. This was no ordinary service train but a weekend special to take Londoners to the Coast. That might explain why a type of train normally used in Kent was heading to the Sussex coast.

Dr Beeching and his political master got rid of such trains. They said it was stupid to keep trains that only found occasional use on summer weekends and spent the rest of the week stored on valuable land which could be sold off. My reasoning at the time said he was wrong for many of the special trains that used to go down to the coast were composed of trains which were used for weekday rush hour services. If you needed the trains for that it seemed a good idea to use them for other purposes. And we used to watch a near continuous stream of these trains, all packed to the limit with people off for a day at the seaside.

But of course, the politics of the time dictated that railways were ‘of the past’. With trains like the “ HAPs I suppose they were. The trains stopped and each 2 coach train (they were mostly 12 coaches long) was replaced by up to 50 more cars.

I still feel convinced it was a mistake to stop them.

So I apologise for a lousy photo – but maybe some of you will agree with me that it was a mistake to abandon well used trains and force people to use cars instead.


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One Response to “A 2-HAP at Gatwick”

  1. sed30 Says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog.

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