4-wheel 2 & 3-car railbuses

After the extensive technical support of the prototype 150 and 151 units, the focus of attention moved primarily to the fleet of railbuses then being introduced.

Following the original proposals by the Research Division for a lightweight railcar, several single car railbuses (or LEV's) were built for evaluation. Most used an adapted Leyland bus body on a 4-wheel modern suspension, based upon the developments with HSFV1.

A two-car unit, designated the class 140 with each car having four wheels and a Leyland 200HP engine, was subsequently built in 1981 to BR's then current specifications regarding end loading strength etc which resulted in an expensive unit. This was trialled all over the country.

The first complete class was the twenty units of two-car class 141 railbuses which were originally based at Neville Hill, Leeds. Introduced into service in and around West Yorkshire from November 1983 these turned out to be very uncomfortable and unreliable and were eventually withdrawn and exported to Iran.

The Commissioning section was formed some time after the 141's had been introduced so we didn't have much to do with them

There followed three further classes of railbus, the142, 143 and 144. Later a centre car was added to some of the 144 units. The original traction power train consisted of a Leyland TL11 200 HP engine, a Self Changing Gears mechanical automatic gearbox and a Gmeinder final drive unit on each car driving only one axle. 

We used to accompany the delivery runs from Derby C&W Works to the various depots. I remember a few incidents:-

On a run to Newton Heath we ran for a few miles in the Hope Valley over a 20 TSR at 40 since the driver missed the commencement board. The ride was usually so bad we didn't notice anything amiss on the the poor track.

On another occasion we missed the single yellow and nearly had a SPAD at New Mills.

The run with the 'Skippers' to Laira was a long one but interesting as it went down the GWR over the various banks in Devon. At Laira in 1985 the class 140 was out of use and sitting on blocks at this time.

After the problems experienced with most of the components they now sport Cummins  LTA10-R 230 HP engines with Voith hydraulic gearboxes and Voith final drives. The original broom - with two new heads and three new handles?

Click on the picture for a bigger image - photos are the author's unless otherwise indicated

Class 140

The first two car unit introduced in January 1981 was a sort of beefed up version of the LEV and was known as the class 140..................

This is now preserved on the Keith & Dufftown railway in Scotland

140001 on a promo at Leeds on 4th June 1981

Paul Colbeck

140001 on a promo at Leeds on 4th June 1981

Paul Colbeck

Leyland's finest together at Bradford Interchange in June 1981.
Despite its boxy design, 140 001 was a revelation at the time. We hadn't seen any new rolling stock on local West Yorkshire services in two decades

Clifford Stead

At Kilmarnock in August 1981

Paul Strathdee

140001 enters Bamber Bridge station on 18th September 1981

Paul Hardman

Arrival The prototype 2-car railbus 140 001 arrives at Shrewsbury on 4th December 1981 having traversed the scenic Central Wales line on a driver training run

140001 at Shrewsbury

The unit stands in the sidings awaiting the return trip


Later that day 140 001 leaves Shrewsbury for Swansea 

Ugly or what...?

Pictured in the RTC yard at Derby in April 1984 the class 140 front end had waist high air hoses and marker lights together with a corridor connection. Altogether rather ugly.



Class 141

After the original came the class 141's - a bit of a disaster. These are no longer operational in the UK as most members of the class were sold to Islamic Republic of Iran Railways around 1999-2000. These units have since been withdrawn and replaced by new DMUs.

In 1996 Serco Railtest acquired 141118 (55518+55538) which they converted into a weed spraying unit for use on branch lines. It was painted into the Serco livery of red and grey and nicknamed 'Flower' but ended up in Iran.

141 new

This is the first example in the yard at Derby C&W Works

Author's collection

141 at Derby

An unidentified class 141 is pictured on the Goods Lines at Derby around 1985 - probably heading for the RTC for a test of some sort

Wet Wakefield

On a rainy day at Wakefield Kirkgate an unidentified class 141 departs with a Huddersfield service

141 at York

In the Metrotrain livery another unidentified Class 141 in one of the north side bay platforms at York - probably 1986

141006 at Leeds April 1984

Graeme Salt

A pair of 141s approaching Huddersfield on 9th May 1987

Neil Harvey

Upper Broughton

Here's a shot of one of the class 141 railbuses on the Old Dalby test track in December 1987. 141 012 had been at RTC to have its engine and transmission replaced in a bid to improve the performance of these truly awful trains.

Bob Osborne 


Serco's 2-car class 141 weedkiller unit 141118 in the late 1990s

P Searle


Serco's 2-car class 141 weedkiller unit 141118 was made up of 55518 and 55538. It was nicknamed 'Flower' and is seen here in the RTC yard sometime in 1996



 'Flower'  and seven other of the units ended up in Iran.




More class 141's pictured in Teheran on 9th September 2009 - These units have since been withdrawn and replaced by new DMUs

Alessandro Albe - Courtesy Phantasrail Galleries

141113 ........... and for reasons beyond my comprehension this one has been preserved. 141113 at Butterley on 15th December 2007 - unlucky for some!

The 142, 143 and 144 classes followed ............................better looking but an awful ride on anything other than CWR. 

Class 142

Built by BREL at Derby and wider than the 141's

142049 was shipped to Vancouver in 1986 for the World's Fair and even carried passengers but unfortunately it was returned to the UK.

142049 pictured at Clayburn Interlocking in British Columbia in August 1986 

John Cowan

A publicity shot in Vancouver - note the destination blind display RB100


By 2022 they had all gone

142001 Etches Park

The pioneer of the class 142001 at Etches Park depot Derby whilst on test wears the Manchester PTE livery in 1985.

142001 Nr Whatstandwell

142001 near Whatstandwell on the Matlock branch whilst on an evening test run from RTC.
142 Manchester

142010 wearing the livery of Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (MPTE) pictured at Shaw & Crompton on the Oldham Loop sometime in the late 1980's.

Author's collection

142 Milford Tunnel

An unidentified Class 142 heads south out of a tunnel, probably somewhere in the Pennines. The unit is adorned in the first 'Provincial Sector'  colours.

Author's collection


142021 in unbranded Arriva Trains Wales livery sits at York on 25th May 2006 142045 142045 captured at Liverpool Lime Street with a service to Manchester Oxford Road on 25th May 2006


Yet another livery for 142068 pictured at Lime Street with a Wigan service on 25th May 2006 Sheffield 142066 in Northern Trains livery at Sheffield on 2nd July 2008

142053 at Manchester Picaddilly on 23rd August 2018 142077 arrives at Cardiff on 24th August 2018

Class 143

Built by Andrew Barclay with body by Walter Alexander of Falkirk they were originally allocated to the North East but following refurbishment around 1999-2001 they were re-allocated to the South West and re-numbered into the 143 6xx series.

By 2022 they were all withdrawn

143 020 at Carlisle

Andrew Barclay-built unit 143020 in the Tyne and Wear PTE livery sits in the bay at Carlisle in the late 1980's or early 90s. Like the proverbial original broom (three new heads and two new handles) the railbuses have had virtually all the power train and the braking system - and the seats - and the doors changed since they were built.

It would have cheaper and infinitely better to have built more Sprinters instead!


They were eventually transferred away from the North-east to Wales and re-numbered. No:143615 passes Marshfield on the South Wales main line on 8th October 1999

Steve Jones

Tondu 143616 picks up the single line token at Tondu on its way to Coryton on 8th October 1999

Steve Jones

Cardiff Canton 143623 passes Cardiff Canton depot with a local service on 8th October 1999

Steve Jones

Bristol On 8th June 2006 143611 sits in the bay platform 1 at Bristol Temple Meads with a service for Avonmouth
Cardiff 143616 in Arriva Trains Wales livery at Cardiff on 30th June 2008 End of the line 143617 at Severn Beach station on 5th October 2009
Still surviving today 143609 leaves Cardiff Central on 24th August 2018 143624 arrives at Cardiff on 24th August 2018

Class 144

Built by BREL with body by Walter Alexander of Falkirk and originally 2-cars some were later fitted with a powered centre car.

By 2022 they were all withdrawn

York 144002 at York on 25th May 2006 in a Metro/Northern livery Leeds 144020 3-car unit approaching Leeds on 2nd May 2007
Sheffield 144005 at Sheffield on 2nd May 2008    

After the success of the railbuses Leyland were asked to fit a new body to the underframe of  a Mk1 coach and this resulted in the Leyland Mk1 coach. Another failure!



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