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Q-stock was built in the 1920s and 1930s to two very different designs.The earlier cars show the American influence on early Underground operation, with their characteristic stepped “clerestory” roofs. Later Q-stock cars have an “Art deco” look with flared sides. Q-stock operated principally on the District Line
One of the earlier Q-stock cars is on display at the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden.
There are four other Q-stock cars in the Museum collection. They are:

  • 4416/17, built in 1938, and withdrawn from passenger service in 1972.
  • 08063, built in 1936, withdrawn from passenger service in 1971, and presented to the Museum in 1997.
  • 4184 dating from 1923 and withdrawn in 1971. 

The Friends and Museum have recently carried out a detailed review of the Q-stock project. The aim now is to restore three of the cars to operational condition.
Operational resilience will require functioning motors to be fitted to the oldest vehicle, Q23 car 4184, if it is to be part of a four-car train. As this car will also be the most expensive to restore, it is proposed to split the project into two phases.
Phase 1 would incorporate restoration of the two Q38 driving motor cars 4416 and 4417, along with Q35 trailer 08063, which is already close to operational condition.  Phase 2, restoration of Q23 4184, could then be undertaken once the three car train is in service, facilitated by a further fundraising campaign.

Here is a summary of the position as at May 2017:

Work has been undertaken to confirm that the cars are still within gauge for the relevant sections of the modern Underground railway and can work with current line voltages. Another major issue is now beng addressed: whether the operation of these heritage cars is compatible with proposed new Underground signalling systems.

Whilst these studies have been under way, a considerable amount of preparatory work has been carried out by small team of dedicated volunteers. Some of this has been preliminary restoration work, particularly on the interior fittings, flooring and door mechanisms of one of the Q38 motor cars. Research has also been conducted in contemporary technical publications; and parts stored at Acton Depot have been located, together with a list of other missing parts which will need to be replaced.

A business case has been worked up, analysing forecast costs and revenue for the operation of the Q-stock train, targeted at both corporate hire and public events, plus some income from static hire for filming. The business case is positive under both optimistic more cautious assumptions.

A project manager has been appointed, funded from the donations already accumulated by the Friends. The project manager has produced a costed project plan, initially for the restoration of the three cars. This plan is being assessed against currently available funds

The aim is to demonstrate substantial progress with the restoration project by 2018 – the 150th anniversary year of what is now the District Line. This will be a peg on which to hang any further fundraising efforts – initially for the restoration of the three cars and subsequently for the later restoration of the fourth (Q23) car. Restoration will not be completed by 2018, but there are subsequent openings of further sections of the District Line, which will provide suitable anniversaries to mark with the train.