Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

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SCB2525
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Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by SCB2525 » Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:24 pm

Just wanted to bring this up; there's a photo on the Fox Chase line Wikipedia page that apparently was added last year of said railbus being tested past Huntingdon Valley station. I had never seen such a photo and figured I would share it. Date is cited as September 10, 1985

Image

Clearfield
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by Clearfield » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:08 am

WOW. IF it happened, it would need to terminate north of the no-longer-existent crossing diamonds near Bethayres.

Failing that, it would still need to be bumpered at Fox Chase for the same reason.

FRA and non-FRA equipment can only coexist with temporal separation.

Great picture tho
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25Hz
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by 25Hz » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:05 pm

I'd take this over what the line has become.
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JeffK
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by JeffK » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:21 pm

Plus it wasn't the first time they tried the idea. From 1967:

Image

It failed then, too (fortunately).
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jfrey40535
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by jfrey40535 » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:41 pm

I don't know if they were ever under serious consideration for purchase, but those units had serious mechanical problems and broke down while under demonstration testing. Of course, that was back in the day before overbearing government regulation banned any vehicle or type of operation that didn't meet today's gold plated, unattainable standards.

kiha40
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by kiha40 » Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:11 pm

from wikipedia:
Yet another BREL-Leyland product from c1984, RB002 was exported as a demonstrator to the USA and Canada and spent a considerable time there. It also went to Denmark and Sweden as a demonstrator. It returned to UK and was used as a classroom/office by BREL for a while and somehow it too ended up in Ireland. Its present location is believed to be at the now closed 4' 8½" gauge Riverstown Old Corn Railway near Dundalk in Eire but it is understood to be in a poor state of repair.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RB004_at_TSR.JPG" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Tadman
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by Tadman » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:43 pm

Leyland were a unit of British Leyland, the nationalized UK motor manufacturing conglomerate. In short (but not an oversimplification) everything they built was utter crap. This includes just about any British car from the 1970's into the 1980's. It's no surprise this didn't work out.

Out in Chicago (and at MBTA, too) a Fiat railbus demo'ed on the Rock Island. It didn't last long, even on the "run anything with wheels" Rock Island. Fiat were not known for reliable products, either. Frankly, it was just not a good fit for the Rock's traffic pattern. At the time, the pattern was very traditional commuter train type - Heavy AM inbound, heavy PM outbound. This called for long consists able to accelerate fast, which meant 6-10 cars and (2) E6/7/8 locomotives.

I can't speak to Newtown traffic, but it seems like it might have been a better fit for a railbus given the lighter traffic.
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by trackwelder » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:25 pm

Tadman wrote:
I can't speak to Newtown traffic, but it seems like it might have been a better fit for a railbus given the lighter traffic.
perhaps at the time, but if that line was still active it would be butt to gut every morning and evening now.
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25Hz
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by 25Hz » Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:50 am

Yea, we'd need something a lot beefier than a lil railbus. RDC would do it, which is why they were used (ironically still a perfect niche for it). The only two options that would work is full electrification, or... SEPTA could adopt an RDC program that could in effect, either short term or long term extend service back to reading, quakertown, newtown, and possibly connecting transfer at bound brook with NJT.

Two seats is better than no seats or 3-4 seats. Currently to get from fox chase to newtown requires 2 or 3 transfers... http://prntscr.com/27e1x1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

But of course this is all moot unless things change and creating an actually regional vs center city based system where you can actually make purposely timed transfers vs every bus/train being their own little island. -shrug- Really neat seeing that other photo too.

You know, we have several collage campuses here now, a historic district with great food and shopping, a huge state park, lots of different events where they close off sections of the main streets... only thing missing is that train station. The timing is definitely right

Oh well.
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trhickey
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by trhickey » Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:50 pm

SEPTA tested a BREL (British Rail Engineering-Leyland) Railbus throughout their Regional Rail System in August and September, 1985 (I was the program manager). The unit was designated RB004 by BREL and ART-01 by Amalgamated Rail Technologies, BREL's US agent. This vehicle has nothing to do with the 1960s-era experiments with Hy-Rail Buses, noted in an earlier post, or the LEV-2 (Lightweight Experimental Vehicle) operated in NH in the 70s. This was a Leyland transit bus body, motor, and transmission mounted on a British Rail freight car chassis with two fixed axles (no trucks).

You don't see many pictures like this because (1) most of the tests were conducted between 11:30PM and 5:30AM, except for limited daylight runs to Newtown, Pottstown, and Thorndale, the vehicle was stored out of sight inside Lenni Shop between runs, and (2) the Philadelphia newspapers were on strike during most of the test period. The intend was, if successful, railbuses would have been used to restore service through a private contractor to Newtown and Pottstown.

As some posters remarked, the melding of bus and rail components was a mechanical nightmare. The biggest problem during identified during the SEPTA demo was wheel-slip---it played havoc with the automotive-style transmission (bus wheels don't slip!) which ultimately crapped out halfway through the demo and putting it on hiatus while repairs were carried. Signals were not a problem, however; it carried an on-board exciter like the Reading RDCs and successfully shunted signals and crossing protection everywhere it ran, including during tests conducted by Conrail engineers on some very rusty track on Barbados Island.

After we were done with it, it rolled off to Cleveland (we rode as far as Harrisburg via Reading) then left the country. After a couple decades of service back in the UK, the unit appears to reside in a railway museum. Like everyone else, it has a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/messages/RailBusTrust" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)

BTW, I think that's me in the front window to the left of the driver (who sat behind the center window). :-)
Last edited by trhickey on Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SCB2525
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by SCB2525 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:49 pm

Funny that the poor engineering of a British company can be directly attributed to the fact that I can't ride from Newtown to Fox Chase/Philadelphia via rail.

Tadman
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by Tadman » Sun Dec 22, 2013 8:29 pm

Why do the British drink warm beer?

Because they have Lucas refrigerators.
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by hutton_switch » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:50 am

I'm new to the area and didn't know that there were various experiments to try to replace the RDC's on this route.

On all of the old, 2-lane roads from Newtown south, traffic is now choking them at the primary intersections, especially during rush hour. Is there any study going on, or proposal where the line could be restored to service? The major costs certainly would be reinstalling crossings, deciding on what type of cars SEPTA would decide to invest in as the mode of transportation, station reconstruction, and the clearance of the ROW of brush and the occasional tie replacement (it looks like the rails are generally in good shape).

I read somewhere that when confronted with the cost to electrify the line from Foxchase to Newtown, Bucks County balked, and refused to pay for it.

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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by Clearfield » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:01 pm

hutton_switch wrote:I read somewhere that when confronted with the cost to electrify the line from Foxchase to Newtown, Bucks County balked, and refused to pay for it.
I don't know where you read that, but you are correct.

Bucks County still has no intentions of having SEPTA reactivate the line on any basis. Without the active support of the Bucks County Commission, the Newtown line will continue to be a memory for those who rode it, and a dream for the rest of us who don't have to foot the bill for restoration.
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tgolanos
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Re: Newtown Branch - Leyland Railbus Test Photo

Post by tgolanos » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:05 pm

I thought it was Montco that didn't want to pay anything for Newtown? Unfortunately, you're right about the lack of will today.
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