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 unknown location.
Carlisle probably on the same day
view at Carlisle - with a Leyland bus alongside - a coincidence I
re-built LEV1 outside the Test Hall at the RTC c1979
J A Lower
Stanton Tunnel on the Old Dalby test track in 1980|
|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|
here near Woodbridge on the line to Saxmundham in early 1980 on
G R Mortimer
extensive tests it eventually entered passenger service in East
Anglia and is pictured passing through Ipswich station in the early
M J Collins
|At Lowestoft on 24th October 1980|
|Pictured in the C&W Works prior to departing for USA c1980|
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
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
together with a Leyland bus pictured at Weybourne on 9th April 2011 at
the NNR's latest Vintage Bus weekend
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.
There 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 address:
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.|
pictured at the Control Centre at the Old Dalby test track in the
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
here and here
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.
It was eventually sold to NIR in late 1982 and converted to 5' 3" gauge.
Frank Cox - see his excellent site here
Northern Ireland it conducted a few railtours. Pictured here passing
Cultra on Sunday, 8 August, 1982
railbus running empty from Belfast to Belfast Central to start a
railtour on Sunday 8th August 1982.
Belfast old York Road station
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.
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.
Swanwick Junction at the Midland Railway Centre on 29th August
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
at Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia on 21st August 1985
Malcolm Wilton Jones
view of the railbus at Butterworth.................
Malcolm Wilton Jones
Malcolm Wilton Jones
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