Linear Motor trials 1975

Brush Electrical Machines and British Railways Board were awarded contracts to study the performance of Linear Induction Motor's (LIMs) and to test a motor with its associated control on a railcar over a straight track. BEM's interest lay in the experimental vindication of their ability to design and build a motor to a given specification, as well as in gaining experience of thyristor converter equipment in an arduous environment.

BR's interest centred on the effect of LIM's on vehicle suspension design, related to magnetically suspended vehicles, (MAGLEV)  particularly the variation of motor forces when traversing reaction rail discontinuities.

Useful experience could also be obtained in designing, constructing and using linear motor tracks on an operational site.

The tests were carried out at the Mickleover test track with a linear motor mounted on a Class 101 DMU RDB975018 and RDB975019. The trials were to evaluate the difficulties of laying the aluminium/steel reaction rail, which the linear motor would utilise, down the centre of the track. The motor never provided propulsion as far as I know but was used to test the practicalities of the system.

This is the Class 101 DMU in mid 1975 pictured standing on a piece of track equipped with the linear motor test facility.

Author's collection

Around 260 yards of the line was equipped with the aluminium/steel reaction rail including points and crossings.

Author's collection


The unit had earlier been used to evaluate the Plasma Torch method of adhesion improvement.

It was eventually scrapped in June 1981 at King & Sons, Snailwell

DB975018 & DB975019 on Leeds neville Hill depot in the early 1970s

Garry Brookes collection

The unit passing Dunford East with the Plasma Torch Train on 29th June 1971. Under the rear bogie of the leading coach a flame can be seen burning onto the railhead to clean it and improve traction

Keith Long

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