Save an AM9 (Class 309) with the CEPG



September 16th, 2021

Preservation groups across the globe work tirelessly to ensure the safe-keeping of locomotives, stations, carriages and more and as time moves on and technology changes, the drive to preserve unique and influential pieces of railway history never seems to diminish. Enter: The Clacton Express Preservation Group, who have recently begun a campaign to purchase, move and restore an AM9 (or Class 309) Electric Multiple Unit (or EMU). The example, no.960102, is currently for sale and the CEPG have set up a fundraising campaign on Just Giving to raise the necessary funds to meet the sale price, which has now been agreed. Below we take a look at a brief history of the unit and what the CEPG will plan to do as part of their efforts to restore it.

Information and images courtesy of the CEPG. You can find out more about their efforts here. To find out how to donate, visit their Just Giving page here.

The AM9 (Class 309) Electric units were built in 1962 and ran the line between London Liverpool Street and Clacton-On-Sea in Essex. They also served Walton-on-the-Naze. In the 1980s the Class were refurbished and lost their original curved front windscreens, and had new metal-framed "Hopper Ventilator" Windows on the sides. As electrification spread around East Anglia they went to new places, including Harwich, Ipswich and Norwich.

They finally left service in East Anglia in 1994, and went to work in Manchester until final withdrawal in 2000. Two were then selected for further departmental use in 2001 and sent for overhauls. They carried out runs on Old Dalby test track and then went back into storage until 2009, when preserved. Initially the two units went to The Electric Railway Museum, but when that closed in 2018 one went to the Tanat Valley Railway, where it is now cosmetically restored in the London and South East "Jaffa Cake" Livery. The other, went to the Lavender line and is now up for sale again. We want to save the unit as it will go to be broken for spare parts if not saved within a few months.

The aim of the CEPG is to restore one of these units back to original Network Southeast Livery and get it running on preserved railways as hauled stock. Eventually they would love to aim to get the set Mainline Certified again. The initial restoration comes in three phases:

  • Phase 1 - Initial fundraising, purchase and moving the set.
  • Phase 2 - External cosmetic restoration.
  • Phase 3 - Operational and fit to carry passengers dragged on a preserved line.

The long term ambition would be to have the unit fit for haulage or powered runs on the mainline for events like railtours and visits to other heritage railways. This could require extensive modifications to improve crashworthiness or applications to the ORR (Office of Rail and Road) for an exemption. Regardless of the time and work involved, the ambitions of the CEPG are well worth consideration and for railfans with a connection to Essex, offer a chance to see this evocative stock travelling along the line again. Class-309-Blue-Gray-Original-Windows-Liverpool-St The front of a British Railway Class 309 train in Blue/Grey InterCity livery with original 'wrap around' cab windows at London Liverpool Street station. Public Domain Image courtesy of Spsmiler. 20180311_154600 The original 'wrap around' windows have gone, as has the livery. But the CEPG hope to restore the unit to its former glory. Here it is stabled at Isfield with a Thumper Unit visible in the background (above). Photos above and below: ©CEPG 20180318_141859

IMG_20180909_142006 Slam door stock evokes smells, sounds and experiences for those that travelled on them in period. Here, the nature of their purpose is laid bare. It is hoped that passengers can once again ride on this unit, even if loco-hauled, once it is purchased, moved and restored. Photos above and below: ©CEPG IMG_20180923_112150-2

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