Visitors to the Great Central Railway (GCR) in recent years may have noticed the rather forlorn frame of a railway vehicle languishing at the back of Loughborough loco shed. This is a 1958 built AC railbus now owned by the David Clark Railway Trust. The railbuses were built to carry passengers on short branch lines where passenger numbers didn't justify the cost of running a steam service. They were small single carriage vehicles just over half the length of a standard railway carriage yet still carried up to 47 passengers. With their own diesel engine they were extremely versatile and cheap to operate. Sadly they weren't able to save most of the branch lines they were built to serve, and as the Beeching axe closed some of the branch lines the vehicles were soon out of work after only a few years in service.
One of the aims of the Mountsorrel Railway project is not only to utilise the branch line for historical recreations, and to show how an industrial branch line would have interacted with a double track mainline railway, but we also hope for the GCR to run a passenger link along the branch to the nearby Stonehurst Farm attraction at Mountsorrel. The railbus would make an ideal vehicle for running that service, particular at quieter times of the year when passenger numbers may not cover the cost of running a steam service. Being able to run the railbus would allow us to operate trains along the branch on many more weekends than would otherwise be economically possible. The railbus would also offer excellent all-round views of the scenic branch line.
The other benefit of using the railbus is that they were designed to pick up passengers from almost anywhere, almost like a road bus. A full size platform is not required due to the railbus's vacuum operated fold down steps, which can be extended from underneath the vehicle allowing it to operate alongside either a full height normal platform or a simple almost ground level wooden structure. The obvious cost savings of not having to construct a full height platform at Bond Lane are immense.
With all this in mind, project volunteers have started to look at restoring the railbus for use on the branch line and on the GCR in general. The railbus has had some restoration work done on it in recent years, but only a little. A lot of work, both mechanically and structurally, is required to bring her back to operational use.
Running the railbus would allow the project to recreate yet another part of history, this time from the 1950s.
We have already built a strong team of volunteers to work on the vehicle, but we still need more help. If you have mechanical or steel welding skills, that would be great, but don't worry if not: there's still much to do for everyone. If you would like to help out with the railbus restoration please get in touch with Steve Cramp.
Funds for the railbus's restoration are also required. A fund exists within the David Clarke Railway Trust specifically for the railbus. If you would like to donate to support the railbus's restoration, please send your cheque made payable to "DCRT", with "Railbus" written on the back, to 112 Balmoral Road, Mountsorrel, Loughborough LE12 7EW. Thank you.
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The Mountsorrel Railway is part of the Mountsorrel and Rothley Community Heritage Centre. This website is no longer updated. For updates see: http://heritage-centre.co.uk/