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AC Cars Railbus


WR Services Begin

The railbuses took over the passenger operations on Monday the 2nd Feb. '59, with a greatly increased and improved timetable. The service on the Tetbury branch was increased from five to eight return trips, with one extra on Saturdays, similarly the Cirencester line now had fourteen return workings (two more on Saturdays) in place of the former ten. The Sunday evening services remained as before. New halts were opened at Chesterton Lane on the Cirencester branch, half a mile short of Cirencester Town station and at Church's Hill and Trouble House on the Tetbury line. These were merely rail level platforms, formed of sleepers, at which the passengers boarded and alighted from the railbuses by the retractable steps, operated in conjunction with the sliding doors by the driver. On this line the station of Culkerton, closed three years previously, was also reopened as an unstaffed halt.

It had been intended to provide through trains to Swindon from both branches, but as the lightweight cars would not operate the track circuits this was not possible.

Railbus handbill Railbus timetable WR 1959 timetable

On the first day 79978 was working the Tetbury line and carried about fifteen passengers on the 11:55 from Kemble, most of whom were railway officials. A large crowd had gathered at Tetbury station, but apart from four, all were just sightseers. The Cirencester branch was much busier, with 79976 doing the honours. Patronage increased as the week went on, and apparently by the Saturday on one afternoon trip from Cirencester the 46-seat vehicle carried 97 passengers. Special cheap day tickets were introduced between all stopping-places on both branches, as well as to Swindon, Gloucester and Cheltenham. All intermediate bookings were taken by the guard, who had a "setright" ticket machine, similar to the type that was common on buses at the time.

79975, failed on one of it's first services with electrical trouble, but this was soon rectified. Some difficulty was experienced in maintaining good connections from each branch with both up and down trains at Kemble. Most problems were soon resolved and the services were initially very successful.

AC Cars Railbus at Tetbury

The vehicles were normally stabled overnight in the engine sheds at Tetbury and Cirencester, although each ran to Swindon each day for refuelling. Tetbury shed was only just long enough to take a vehicle, there was only inches to spare.

Noted in Swindon diesel on the 15th March '59 were 79975/7.

The image shows a vehicle sitting in the platform at Tetbury.

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