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The Railbus Story


Part Two

The meeting was held on the 10th August 1956, attended by all Regions except the North Eastern. No Region other than the ScR seemed particularly enthusiastic, yet each came up with lines for trials. The Eastern Region had decided on the Maldon / Witham / Braintree and Yarmouth / Lowestoft lines, the Western would take four vehicles for undecided lines, the Southern would take three or four to base at Tonbridge depot for the Westerham and Hawkhurst branches. The Scottish had identified the Crieff - Gleneagles and Ballachulish branches requiring seven or eight vehicles, and the London Midland would take three to six cars for unidentified lines. By the time of the meeting three firms had expressed interest in supplying railbuses, one (Wickham) supplying specifications that pleased all the Regional representatives in attendance except the Southern, at a cost of approx. £11,500 per car. The meeting agreed that there should be a formal approach the BTC to purchase 20 of these vehicles. The full minutes of the meeting can be found here.

The formal procedure to gain permission to obtain vehicles, whether built in it's own workshops or from contractors, was for British Railway's Central Staff to submit a proposal to the Works and Equipment Committee of the BTC, and this was done on the 24th August 1956 (details can be found here) seeking £240,000 for the twenty railbuses. This was authorised by BTC at their September 27th meeting (Minute 9/474), and a further meeting between the Regions was called to discuss the next steps.

Reversing their original approach for funding claiming one single type used everywhere would be best for comparison, the meeting looked at details of the submissions it now had from five firms (Waggon und Maschinenbua, Wickham, AC Cars, BUT (Park Royal) and Bristol Commercial Vehicles) and decided an ideal order would be the following:

    E.   Sc.   L.M.   W.   Total
Waggon und Maschinenbau
    Donauworth
  2   3   -   -   5
Wickhams Ltd.   3   -   3   -   6
A.C. Cars Ltd.   -   4   -   3   7
British United Traction   -   -   -   -   -
Bristol Commercial Vehicles   -   -   1   1   2
 
    5   7   4   4   20
 

As both W&M and BUT were offering a similar Uerdingen type vehicle, it was felt that the German design should be chosen being already proven having already operated successfully in Germany for some time. Only two were chosen from BCV as they had a much longer delivery time having the need to first develop a prototype. And AC Cars likely received the larger quantity as they quoted the cheapest price. The full minutes of this 18/10/56 meeting can be found here.

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