The Leyland Experimental Vehicle (LEV)
|The forerunner of all those nasty railbuses was the
Leyland Experimental Vehicle,
a joint venture between Leyland and BR to combine the worst features of
rail and bus. Here are some pictures of the various early railbuses with links.
The railbuses were powered by 200bhp 6-cylinder Leyland TL11 diesel engines, with fully automatic SCG gearboxes and a Gmeinder final drive unit driving one axle. They were 12.3m long and consisted of a standard Leyland modular bus body on a chassis having suspension based on the HSFV series of experimental designs for freight vehicles but with flexicoil springing. This allowed for a double-ended body mounted at four resilient points on the underframe.
There were five single car railbuses built for trials on BR, including one built by Wickhams for export to USA. Amazingly, they have all survived - look here for more information and pictures.
Click on the picture for a bigger image- all photos are BR official unless otherwise indicated
|The first LEV was un-powered and unbraked and is shown here in the sidings at the RTC in the summer of 1978|
|Outside EDU in June 1978|
|As part of the preliminary
trials it was ride tested on the WCML in 1979, now fitted with power
equipment and brakes, and is pictured here between two test cars at an
|At Carlisle probably on the same day
|Another view at Carlisle - with
a Leyland bus alongside - a coincidence I wonder?
|The re-built LEV1 outside the Test Hall at the RTC c1979
J A Lower
|Outside Stanton Tunnel on the Old Dalby test track in 1979|
|LEV1 pictured at an unknown depot whilst on trial. Now known as the BR Leyland Motors experimental railbus and numbered RDB975874 - note that it is now fitted with the bulbous projection above the cabs|
|Pictured here near Woodbridge on the line to Saxmundham
in early 1980 on test.
G R Mortimer
|After extensive tests it eventually entered
passenger service in East Anglia and is pictured passing through Ipswich
station in the early 80's.
M J Collins
|At Lowestoft on 24th October 1980|
|Pictured in the C&W Works prior to departing for USA c1980|
|After trials in passenger
service it was sent to the USA in early 1980 - note the grilles over the windscreen
which were fitted for use in the States.
It travelled widely before returning to Derby works in 1986.
Look here for pictures of the unit in USA
|In 2009 it was undergoing
restoration at the
North Norfolk Railway - on loan
from the NRM. Here it is outside
Weybourne shed on 11th July.
|Now up and running LEV1 is
pictured at Weybourne 18th April 2010 at the NNR's
Vintage Bus weekend
|LEV1 together with a Leyland bus
pictured at Weybourne on 9th April 2011 at the NNR's latest
Vintage Bus weekend
|LEV1 on the back of a low loader
in a garage on the A46 near Lincoln en-route to NRM's Shildon site on 10th August 2012
LEV2 or R3 for USA
|Confusingly referred to as LEV2
by British Rail, here is a view of the Wickham version of
the railbus (which was a stretched version at 15.3m built specifically for the USA) at the Old Dalby test track -
pictured on the straight between the Covered Way and Grimston. Note
the destination on the blind - 'Bus stn'. Also note the projecting steps.
are plans to repatriate the vehicle - If you are interested in seeing this
Railbus back in the UK and put into regular use on preserved
railways, then please make contact using the following email
R3 BR version
|Built in 1981 by BREL at Derby, this experimental railbus was tested on BR where it was
not a success. It was bought by NIR and re-gauged for use on the Coleraine –
Portrush line. Too small to cope with the number of daytime passengers it
was relegated to evening trains and then passed to the Civil Engineer’s Dept
for inspection etc duties.
It is now preserved at Downpatrick Station.
|It is shown here when new in the C&W works at Derby. It was given a Departmental number RDB977020 and its data panel referred to R3.|
|RDB977020 pictured at the
Control Centre at the Old Dalby test track in the early 1980's
|At Sea Mills on the Severn Beach
line on 26th November 1980
|Approaching Bristol TM on 3rd
April 1982 with a service from Severn Beach. For other photos on the branch
at Sea Mills and at Clifton Down look
|RDB977020 at Plymouth Laira
depot on 25th April 1982
Note the strange
secondary windscreens that were fitted. It was felt by various ASLEF and NUR
that the original windscreens were not strong enough for rail use, hence the
internal framing and inner windscreens.
|In service at an unknown
location - this was eventually sold to NIR in late 1982 and converted to 5'
|In Northern Ireland it conducted
a few railtours. Pictured here passing Cultra on Sunday, 8 August, 1982
|The railbus running empty from
Belfast to Belfast Central to start a railtour on Sunday 8th August 1982.
|Stabled at Belfast old York Road
RB002 Demonstrator - 'the Denmark'
Another BREL-Leyland product from c1984, it was exported as a demonstrator to the USA and Canada and spent a considerable time there.
On 30th May 1986 RB002 was being test run by NRC and VIA between Thompson and Pikwitonei and is pictured here at Thompson.
With a three panel stronger windscreen this looks much more like a class 141 than the earlier railbuses.
Pat & David Othen
It also went to Denmark and Sweden as a demonstrator and is shown here near Essen (on the Dutch-Belgian border) on 17th June 1985 on its way to Zeebrugge having gone out to Denmark by another route.
It returned to UK and was used as a classroom/office by BREL for a while and somehow it too ended up in Northern Ireland
There are a couple more pictures here . Its present location is believed to be at the now closed 4' 8½" gauge Riverstown Old Corn Railway near Dundalk in Eire but it is understood to be in a poor state of repair.
|Another version, RB004
was built at Derby in 1984. The body was built at the Leyland plant at Workington and
BREL Derby C&W were responsible for the underframe and final assembly.
It is shown here at the Mickleover test track.
|RB004 at Swanwick Junction at
the Midland Railway Centre on 29th August 2011
Later 2-car demonstrator
Extract from an article in
the Railway Magazine March 1984:-
After evaluation on the State Railway of Thailand the unit went to Malaysia for further trials, and also ran in Indonesia. Its whereabouts today is unknown
Image from the State Railway of Thailand site @ Rotfaithai.com courtesy Tristan Houser
|Pictured at Butterworth, Penang,
Malaysia on 21st August 1985
Malcolm Wilton Jones
|Another view of the railbus at
Malcolm Wilton Jones
Malcolm Wilton Jones
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