LEV2 / R3 - Experimental Railbus LEV2 / R3
Vehicles in this photo
The following vehicle(s) appear in this photo.
- LEV2 - Experimental Railbus LEV2
- Connecticut Trolley Museum, USA
- 11 April 2009
3 May 2009, 00:45:51
It has now been questioned whether this IS actually LEV2 (!) so if anyone can confirm that would be great...
4 May 2009, 17:53:27
Yes it is! This railcar was built in early 1981 specifically for the US of A - Amtrak? There is quite an amount of info on this link: http://www.metropolitanrailway.co.uk/pacer2.htm with pictures dating from 2000 showing the same livery - but cleaner!
Some sources show LEV2 as RB001 - which I think is actually wrong as technically 975874 was the first railbus! The wikipedia link on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Railbuses needs to be treated with caution as it states both LEV1 (975874) and LEV2 were exported. As far as I am aware LEV1 has never been exported and is at the NNR.
6 May 2009, 12:43:51
The website at http://www.traintesting.com/LEVs.htm shows a picture of LEV1 captioned as "After trials in passenger service it was sent to the USA in early 1980 - note the grills over the windscreen which were fitted for use in the States.It travelled widely before returning to Derby works in 1986." - can anyone confirm this?
6 May 2009, 14:08:35
Wikipedia is right...and wrong! LEV 1 was not exported as such, it went on a demonstration trip to the USA but came back again (see my comment under 975874)
7 May 2009, 15:27:24
This is indeed LEV2. It was built by Wickhams and sold to the Federal Railroad Agency. It was not used much apparently, and was given to the Steamtown Museum. So the story goes, the fluid flywheel dismantled and then all interest was lost and the vehicle was sold for scrap. It was bought by the Cheat River Railroad in Virginia from the scrapman and they repaired and used it for some time. It then went to Connecticut. The body was lifted off the frame and it was transported as two loads, so I would suspect it has never been properly reassembled since. I found this out when I emailed them about it some time ago and they sent me some pics of it en route to the museum. They also offered to sell it to me for $35,000!!! They would also get it going for mr for another $15,000!
10 May 2009, 08:54:02
Further to Bob's comment, I was told more details by John Carter, the chairman of the Connecticut Museum and the driving force behind getting LEV2 back running again, when I visited there last month. He stated that the vehicle ran in the US as part of an energy efficiency program instigated by Jimmy Carter. This followed the oil crisis of the 1970s when even American drivers realised they needed to economise! However, during the trials, the railbus was involved in an accident when it hit a vehicle at a level crossing. The car driver was killed, and although the blame was very much his, for running the level crossing, the media kicked up such a stink about how this little train couldn't be seen or heard that the program folded. He also added that the engine has been repaired and was being refitted by the local technical college as a project. He hopes to get the vehicle running again at Connecticut this summer. That rather suggests that it has now been re-assembled properly. The inside was in very good condition except for one driver's cab and a very small leak in the roof. Still needs a paint job though. I suggested all over blue with yellow ends, but Mr Carter didn't like that idea!
24 May 2009, 21:12:03
This vehicle is actually known as R3 and was built by D Wickham & Co specifically for the USA. It differs from LEV1 in that its overall length was 15.3m rather than LEV's 12.3m. It was exported in October 1980 and still exists today!
29 April 2010, 18:22:22
If anyone is interested in a recent update on this vehicle and its future, please contact me via the Wickham of Ware Yahoo! Group.
24 June 2010, 13:43:25
This vehicle was the first R3 railbus (the LEV was R1 and the Class 140 was R2) and was sometimes known as R3-01. It was two bays longer than LEV and had Leyland National Mk2 front ends, whereas LEV had the original flatter Mk1 front ends. R3-01 had a Leyland National body and a BRE underframe but was assembled by Wickham at Ware for contractual reasons (something to do with BR not being allowed to build for export at the time I think). It was briefly trialled on the Old Dalby test track (I have photos) but was then sent to the USA where its history was much as detailed above.
I understand that the way it all came about was that the Secretary of the USA Department of Transportation came to the RTC in Derby to see the APT, spotted the LEV in the corner and was immediately interested as it seemed to fit in with some ideas that they had for reintroducing some branch line services. The result was that LEV was shipped to the States for trials, following which R3-01 was ordered by the US DoT, whose logo it still carries.
LEV was never intended to enter passenger service, but after the US trials BR came under pressure to run it, hence the East Suffolk line operations. The rest of the Railbus story, as they say, is history.
R3-02 was only a test shell used for development work at the RTC at Derby and R3-03 was RDB977091, used in trial service on BR on the Severn Beach line, later sold to Northern Ireland Railways and now preserved at Downpatrick.
Later single unit cars had three-window 141-style front ends, as RB004 preserved at Telford, although this particular car was unique in having end doors and a central driving position to allow the driver to collect fares.
This layout was actually originally proposed for the LEV (I did some of the drawings at Leyland) but it was not built that way, although in its original form it only had a cab at one end and had doors on either side at the other end to permit a central cab. One doorway was later removed, but you can still spot its location by the adjacent black "pay as you enter" bus sign below the first side window.
4 October 2010, 22:00:39
This unique railbus which as you can see is languishing in an American Museum may be brought back to the UK if sufficient funds can be raised.
The Group behind the project has agreed a purchase price and has estimates for the shipping of the vehicle as well as interest from UK-based preservationists and railways which may provide a potential home. However it is now seeking expressions of interest from anyone who might like to be involved in the scheme, either practically or financially.
If you are interested in seeing this Railbus repatriated to the UK and put back into regular use on preserved railways in the UK, then please make contact using the following email address:
17 December 2010, 01:54:30
The Leyland Bus was not used by the Cheat River Railroad in Virginia. I am not even sure such an institution exists. The owner of the bus prior to the trolley museum was the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad - who operates the West Virginia Central Railroad. The Leyland bus operated out of Cheat Bridge, West Virginia - it was named the "Cheat Mountain Salamander" in honor of an endangered species that lives no where in the world other than Cheat Mountain. The bus went to the trolley museum as a part of the acquistion of former Moore-Keppell Climax #3.
Dave Shell - Northumbria Rail Ltd.
1 April 2011, 20:29:56
There are still plans to bring this vehicle back into the UK and to this end there are moves to set up a Railbus Trust. We have the funding in place to purchase the vehicle, but we need support to help cover the shipping back to the UK - even if it just an interest free loan or something similar. Anyone interested please contact Jonathan via the above email.
7 July 2011, 11:05:22
The Railbus Trust now has both a Yahoo! Group (see http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/railbustrust) and a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/RailBusTrust). Please join one or both of these if you are interested in being involved in ensuring the future of LEV2 and the other 2nd Generation Prototype Railbuses.