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Park Royal Railbus

Operations - ScR

The two ScR cars (79970/4) went to the Ayr area. 79970 had been noted at Southall on the 3rd December 1958.

79974 was introduced on the Ayr - Dalmellington branch on the 6th April 1959. The services consisted of four railbus trips from Dalmellington and five return on Mondays to Fridays instead of the previous two, and on Saturdays seven from Dalmellington to Ayr, including two steam, and eight return, including three steam. Certain trips were also done to Kilmarnock. It was interesting to note that in at least the 1960 timetable the Dalmellington services did not carry the second class only symbol.

On 1/8/59 the scheduled railbus turn on the Dalmellington branch at 12.40pm from Ayr and 3.00pm return was undertaken by a steam loco with four coaches.

In Autumn '60, the Dalmellington 'bus, still 79974, was apparently being considered for transfer to the Peterhead branch.

79970 replaced BCV 79959 on the Speyside route between Elgin, Granton-on-Spey and Aviemore in early April '59. On June 15th 1959 four new halts opened: Imperial Cottages; Gilbey's Cottages (between Carron and Knockando); Dalry Farm (between Advie and Cromdale), and Ballifurth Farm (between Gonspey East and Nethybridge), and drivers were warned of their approach by white boards stating 'Request Stop 100 Yards Ahead'. The frequency of services was also further improved and overall journey times reduced by up to 15 mins.

By August 3rd '59 79970 was out of use with a fractured frame, the services were being operated by 40648 with one LMS saloon. Wickham 79966 was soon sent north to take over. After working well from Aviemore for over a year, 79966 also succumbed to a fracture frame (was it something to do with the condition of the track?), and 79972 was sent as a replacement. But trouble was experienced with this vehicle, and by the end of Sep. '60 79970 was back on the line. It was still there in May '61.

Despite the timetable improvements and the fact that a fine view of the beautiful scenery was to had, patronage did not greatly increase. Passenger traffic was particularly sparse between the tourist centres of Granton-on-Spey and Aviemore, but receipts from the whole service was poor (it was withdrawn from October 18th 1965).

Another line which the type worked was the shuttle between Craigendoran and Arrochar on the West Highland Line. The vehicle which had started these services was Wickham 79969, but this was out of use by March '60 when 79970 was noted on trial on the line. The service was at the time in the hands of steam, and Rhu had just re-opened as Rhu Halt, which was between Helensburgh Upper and Shandon. 79971 was noted working the line on the 11/6/60. On summer Saturdays steam was diagrammed to take over, however on this date the loco, J37 64580, had failed.

79971 was noted working still on these services on the 28/1/61, but had moved to Beith by 15/3/61. It was thought the regular Beith vehicle was still in works. During the Easter '61 weekend the Craigendoran - Arrochar service was steam hauled.

The Beith regular was AC Cars 79979, which went into works at the start of 1961, and the line was first covered by 79974 from Ayr, until 79971 replaced it, from the WHL.

The Craigendoran - Arrochar shuttle was also over time worked by 2-car sets, and the service was withdrawn form the 15th June 1964.

By mid-'60 Hamilton shed had four roads given to DMU maintenance and stabling. It's railbus allocation at the time was BCVs 79958/9 and Park Royal 79972.

Ayr had the greatest concentration of railbuses in Scotland, and their use gradually increased. From February 5th 1962 further reorganisation brought about the use of railbuses on most trains on the Kilmarnock - Ardrossan - Ayr services, as well as certain workings over the Darvel branch. Services over the Dalmellington and Darvel branches as well as the Kilmarnock - Ardrossan services were withdrawn from the 6th April 1964, but they continued to be used on the Kilmarnock trains, despite an ever-growing number out of use.

Frame trouble experienced by the Wickham vehicles saw Park Royal cars replace them on the Devon Valley line. The service ran through places such as Dollar, Rumbling Bridge, Crook of Devon and Balado, and had one through journey in each direction between Perth and Stirling, enabling the vehicles to be stabled overnight at these points. Services were poorly patronised and withdrawn from the 15th June 1964.

By November '66 a mere handful remained in service and the Ayr - Kilmarnock services were covered by two of the Park Royal vehicles (79970/1), most of the other railbuses being out of use.

Not long after four AC Cars came north from the WR, two of which went to operate the Larbert - Alloa and Falkirk - Grangemouth branches, but the other two had to go to the Ayr area where there was only now one Park Royal in active use. This vehicle also made an appearance on the Alloa - Larbert service in due course.

Railbus at Falkirk

The image shows M79971 sitting in Falkirk Grahamston station alongside Met-Camm set 69 on 6/1/68. W.S. Sellar.

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