Bombardier Ilford Depot Visit 23/01/2015

“Bombardier’s Ilford Depot – No.3417’s current home.”
 On Friday 23rd January representatives from the SETG and Bluebell Railway visited Bombardier’s Ilford Carriage Works to discuss the timetable for commencing work on the Bluebell Railway’s celebrity 4VEP multiple unit, No. 423 417 ‘Gordon Pettitt.’ As has been mentioned in previous reports, Bombardier have offered both bodywork repairs and a complete repaint for the unit. This work will be carried out by trainees as part of Bombardier’s apprenticeship scheme. Paul Oldacre (project manager) talked through the specifics of the refurbishment, involving re-skinning the coaches before giving the unit a high-quality repaint in two-pack paint. Bombardier will process one coach at a time, with the first vehicle due to move into the sheds by mid-March at the latest. Bombardier have additionally agreed to fit new step boards to every coach. As ultimate owners of the unit, the Bluebell Railway will be consulted on the use and supply of the required materials, however it falls to the SETG to specify the materials in line with the SWT 400-series specifications that applied when the unit was retired from front-line service. We have also raised the possibility of having SETG technicians visit the site to allow GSM-R equipment to be retrofitted to both driving trailers. Since the unit will be in a partially stripped state and under covered accommodation all parties agreed that it is logical to do as much work concurrently as possible. More of the work to be conducted on the GSM-R system will be revealed in due course. We also hope to have news on the fitting of OTMR “Black Box” equipment within the next few months.


“The Bluebell Railway’s Chairman, Roy Watts, is caught taking his own picture of the 4VEP.”

The timetable for completion of the external restoration depends entirely on Bombardier’s workload at Ilford in the next six months. We hope, though, to have two vehicles completed by summer – naturally we will be conducting further site visits as the restoration continues. As the restoration is to be carried out in support of Bombardier’s apprenticeship program, the Bluebell hopes to invite staff to visit their locomotive & carriage & wagon works to see how the heritage sector tackle restoration of vehicles.


“A cold, damp 4VEP stands on Ilford Carriage Sidings.”

After the meeting was concluded we adjourned to examine the unit. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, despite storage without power and in the open for nearly a year, the unit has remained in relatively good condition. The paintworkhas faded further – what was once Rail Blue can now best be described as “Sky Blue with Streaky Bits” – but the corrosion around the nose ends of the Driving Trailers has not significantly worsened. The interior is unsurprisingly damp and cold,but thanks to the relatively dry weather of the past few months no further notable water ingress has occurred. During the inspection we mentioned that it would be good to see the unit made as water tight “as possible” – Mark One stock and4VEPs in particular are notorious for leaks and drafts so the ambition is to make sure that the unit is as impervious to the weather as practical. One of the areas the Bombardier will address for us is the re-seating of the windows on the unit which will improve matters greatly.


“A Cold, Somewhat Damp First Class Corridor.”

The big result for the 4VEP is that Bombardier now have a window in between their regular work to allow restoration to start. We look forward to seeing the first vehicle under cover within the next month or so. Regular visits will be conducted by the SETG while the overhaul is carried out so that we can continue to update the Bluebell Railway’s membership and the wider public on the unit’s progress.

As always, the updates will also be posted on the SETG Facebook page and the Bluebell Railway’s website.

If you use Twitter, please follow No. 3417’s progress on @Gordon_3417.

As always we need funds to expedite our work to bring No. 3417 back to the mainline – the more money we have available, the faster that can happen. Please visit our donations page – all the money you give will go exclusively to No. 3417.