Waggon & Maschinenbau Diesel Railbus no.’s E79962 and M79964

The answer to passenger transport in rural byways?

Most rural branchlines had low passenger carrying figures and the answer seemed to come in the way of single car diesel railbuses – effectively a bus on rails. However these did not stem the tide of closures and both the railbuses and the branchlines they served disappeared into history.

Failure in BR service, a success in preservation

As rural byways lost their services, their purpose in preservation matched their intended use on a preserved rural branchline. The all year weekend morning services and some winter weekend all line services are lightly loaded and the railbus provides the ideal solution – the services they were intended for when built.

Information

Data File

Built: 1958 Germany
Engine: No. E79962 Bussing engine 150 hp & no. E79964 AEC engine 150 hp
Transmission: Cardon shaft 6 speed electro-magnetic gearbox
Max Speed: 55 mph
Weight: 15 Tons
Max. Speed: 55 mph

Not the answer to the rural byways future

During the 1950’s British Railways was ordering small numbers of modern traction locomotives and units for evaluation. At this time 5 single car diesel railbuses were ordered from Waggon & Maschinenbau in Donauworth, West Germany. They were numbered by British Railways E79960 – E79964, originally powered by the same type of 6 cylinder Bussing 150 hp engines.

The intended use of these railbuses, each one seating 56 passengers, was for service on lightly patronised branchlines in rural areas which may explain why they were sent new to the Cambridge District where lines radiated out into the East Anglia countryside. Unfortunately, their reign on these services did not last long. Many of the small lines for which they were intended were closed in 1964 at which point the work for these railbusses disappeared.

During the 1950’s British Railways was ordering small numbers of modern traction locomotives and units for evaluation. At this time 5 single car diesel railbuses were ordered from Waggon & Maschinenbau in Donauworth, West Germany. They were numbered by British Railways E79960 – E79964, originally powered by the same type of 6 cylinder Bussing 150 hp engines.

The intended use of these railbuses, each one seating 56 passengers, was for service on lightly patronised branchlines in rural areas which may explain why they were sent new to the Cambridge District where lines radiated out into the East Anglia countryside. Unfortunately, their reign on these services did not last long. Many of the small lines for which they were intended were closed in 1964 at which point the work for these railbusses disappeared.

E79962

No longer needed, E79962 went into store.

M79964

Originally fitted with a Bussing 150 hp engine, M79964 later received an AEC 150 hp engine at some time during the trail period. With E79962 stored, E79964, on the other hand, was sent to various locations around the north of England. It was trialled on the Haltwhistle – Alton branch in Northumberland until July 1965 when it was transferred to Buxton in Derbyshire, for work on the branch to Millers Dale. Whilst at Buxton E79964 was renumbered M79964, denoting that the railbus had been transferred from the Eastern Region (E) to the Midland Region (M) of British Railways. When the Millers Dale branch closed, there was no work for M79964 and the railbus was withdrawn for disposal.

Life as intended in the Worth Valley

Amazingly, four out of the original five Waggon & Maschinenbau railbuses have entered preservation, the other two being found on the North Norfolk Railway.

E79962

No. E79962 was stored until July 1967 when it was purchased by the nascent KWVR and came directly to the Keighley & Worth. This railbus is unique amongst the preserved four, being still powered by the original Bussing 150 hp engine.

Seen regularly singularly or paired with M79964, E79962 was a regular on the Railway’s morning services until time caught up with this aged vehicle and it was retired from active service pending an overhaul “at some time in the future”.

With no prospect in sight of being restored in the foreseeable future, E79962 was transferred into the ownership of the Vintage Carriages Trust at Ingrow and moved to their workshops in 2014. After removal of asbestos, restoration commenced in earnest with a complete strip down and the unit is now receiving the care and attention that has become the hallmark of VCT renovations and is being restored to as near original condition as possible. With other pressing priorities, no date has been given for when the railbus will be completed

M79964

On arrival, M79964 was put to work alongside E79962, often working in tandem. The replacement AEC engine it received in its trials, has itself been subsequently replaced whilst at the KWVR with an identical engine which was formally in a London Transport bus.

M79964, along with our Class 101 Diesel Multiple Unit, is regularly used on our weekend morning and Wednesday midweek services, especially in the winter months when passenger loadings are low. A popular feature with our early morning visitors is the increased forward visibility afforded by the railbuses and DMU’s, giving passengers a totally different perspective of the line.