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AC Cars Railbus


When British Railways decided to make trials with railbuses it invited firms to submitted proposed specs (following rough guidelines) and prices. Notes made about the initial AC Cars application were as follows:

A.C. Cars Ltd

This British firm have previously produced railcars for the Southend Pier Railway. The proposed design of railbus provides for a central driving control at each end, air operated central sliding doors on each side with central luggage space and outward facing seats in addition to seats at the ends of the vehicle. The total seating capacity is 50, with accommodation for approximately 20 standing. Suspension of the underframe is by means of rubber shear compression units specially designed for mounting at an angle on each side of the axlebox.

The body is suspended at each corner of the underframe by means of special rubber springs acting in shear and compression with hydraulic dampers to prevent undue oscillation.

An air operated normal type of clasp bake is provided, together with lightweight rolled steel disc wheels and roller bearing axleboxes.

The power unit comprises a B.U.T. 150 h.p. underfloor diesel engine of a type similar to that used on the diesel multiple unit sets giving a maximum speed of approximately 55 m.p.h. Heating is by means of an oil combustion unit.

Drawgear and buffers are mounted on the body sub-frame and are only intended as a means of towing the vehicle in an emergency.

The price quoted was dependant on the quantity ordered, five vehicles would cost £10,000 each, but if ten were purchased the price would drop to £9,300 each. Delivery would commence 9 months from the date of order and would be supplied at one per month for five, two per month for ten.

Of the five firms that submitted designs, British Railways approached the BTC for permission to purchase seven AC Cars vehicles (4 for the ScR and 3 for the WR) (along with 5 from Waggon and Maschinenbeu, 6 from Wickhams, 2 from Bristol Commercial Vehicles, and none from Park Royal). However the BTC declared that 5 vehicles should be ordered from each firm except BCV which should remain at 2. The revised allocations meant that one would be allocated to the ScR, the other four to the WR.


Sc79979 was numerically the highest yet the first to be delivered, and in preparation for this publicity details were drawn up. A meeting was held on 21/1/58 to discuss a members / press inspection / demonstration run, the minutes of this meeting can be found here. The event happened on the 13th February '58, with Sc79979 displayed at Marylebone and performing two test demonstration runs, one for press and one for officials. On the same day the BTC issued a press release with basic details of the railbus scheme, the first delivery and technical details about the AC Cars type. It can be found here.

The vehicle was also in display at Paddington on 19/2/59, before returning to the builders for further modifications, during which time it would be beaten into traffic by the Waggon und Maschinenbau type, a fire at AC Cars' Thames Ditton works the following months delayed the delivery of the four WR vehicles. As the works was not rail connected, nor were the doors large enough for completed vehicles, the railbuses left the factory by road in two parts and the bodies fitted to the underframes off-site.

The final cost of the five vehicles, allowing for additional modifications, was £70,113, over £20,000 more than planned.

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