998901 Drewry Railbus

Home Railway

Middleton Railway

Location History

Middleton Railway Nov 97-Present

Current Location

Middleton Railway


Current Status

Under Overhaul

Visited Railways

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (Contract Overhaul): May 15-Jul 15

Current Livery

BR Green


Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (Contract Overhaul): May 17-Jan 18

TRA Designation




EM2 Locomotive Society





Record Last Updated

11 February 2018


Preservation Modifications
The inspection tower the vehicle had for its departmental role has been removed and the interior converted into a passenger saloon.

Preservation Information
998901 was a special purpose departmental vehicle used in the maintenance of overhead cables, latterly seeing use by Derby Research at the Old Dalby test track. In November 1997 BR Research had become Serco Railtest and their collection of 4 wheel test vehicles: two Drewry Cars (including 998901) plus the Wickham Railbus were put up for sale as part of the operation to clear the Old Dalby site for the Virgin testing.

The EM2 Locomotive Society (owners of E27000 ‘Electra’ at Butterley and students of all things Woodhead) had been aware of the vehicles for some time and jumped at the chance of buying the two Drewry Cars. A home was negotiated at the Middleton Railway and 998901 was moved there in November 1997. Its less fortunate sister was stripped for spares, sold to a third party and eventually broken up on site at Old Dalby.

998901 was basically complete and operational when purchased but as is usual with volunteer overhauls time ticks by at a frightening speed!

In June 1998 the vehicle was successfully operated under its own power for the first time in preservation.

A dedicated few aided by Middleton stalwarts managed to restore the vehicle into BR brunswick green livery as carried by 998900. No photographic evidence of 998900 exists so they have had to make a guess based on what was visible under the rust, the vehicle made its first run in green in July 2000.

As well as the external restoration, the hydraulic tower was removed and the interior converted into a passenger carrying area. Both Railway Inspectorate and Department of the Environment and Transport in the Regions had to be consulted at length over this and final approval to bring the vehicle into use was granted in May 2002.

In August 2002 the vehicle was launched into passenger service.

At some point between 2003 and 2009 the vehicle was returned to its Derby Research red/blue colour scheme.

Between May and July 2015 the vehicle underwent a contract overhaul at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway where it received bodywork repairs and a repaint into BR green, returning to the Middleton Railway where it performed well operating charters, all line tours and offpeak services.

Tragically in February 2016 the vehicle was the victim of an arson attack by vandals and the whole railbus was gutted by fire. None of the interior survived and the exterior was severely damaged. Thankfully the vehicle was deemed repairable, albeit with massive effort and cost, and owners the EM2 Locomotive Society took the brave decision to return the vehicle to service, under the title "Project Phoenix" which was launched in November 2016.

In May 2017, following several months of preliminary work, 998901 was transported back to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, where it had been contract overhauled just months before the fire, for rebuilding work to be undertaken in the Vintage Carriage Trust workshops at Ingrow. The first task was removal of the fire damaged roof and its replacement with new steel. By the late summer the bodysides had been similarly repaired and windows were refitted during August. September saw special shaped roof sections fitted which completed the steel repairs and allowed repainting work to commence. By the end of the year, the repaint was finished and the last of the windows fitted making the vehicle a watertight shell for the first time since the arson attack.

Early 2018 saw 998901 returned to its home the Middleton Railway for its interior reconstruction to progress.

Future Plans
As part of the vehicle's return to service following the arson attack of 2016, its owners are currently fund raising for and also physically progressing the rebuilding of the interior which was lost in the fire. The end intention is of course to return the vehicle to operational service.


A much more positive move, DB998901 is loaded and returned from Ingrow to Middleton after completion of its contracted body reconstruction work, 29/1/18. EM2 Locomotive Society


DB998901's repaint completed inside the VCT workshops at Ingrow, 17/12/17. EM2 Locomotive Society


DB998901 looking much better with bodywork replacement and repainting well in hand at Ingrow, 13/8/17. EM2 Locomotive Society


The fire damaged DB998901 arriving at Ingrow for contract bodywork rebuilding, 5/17. EM2 Locomotive Society


The sickening sight of DB998901 shortly after being victim of an arson attack. The interior of the vehicle and the upper section of the body including windows and roof were all totally destroyed, 2016. Ian Dobson


DB998901 after its repaint was completed, 19/8/15. Ian Dobson


DB998901, almost complete at Ingrow, shortly before moving back to the Middleton Railway, 11/7/15. Ian Dobson


DB998901 after bodywork repairs at Ingrow in green undercoat, 27/6/15. Alex Fowles


RDB998901 shortly after arrival at Ingrow from the Middleton Railway for contract repairs, 6/5/15. Ian Dobson


RDB998901 at Park Halt, summer 2014. Ian Dobson


RDB998901 at Park Halt, 7/6/14. Ian Dobson


RDB998901 stands at Park Halt, 4/6/09. David Beardmore


998901 shared a home with another former non-passenger railbus, Wickham 999507, 30/8/03.Ian Dobson


998901 shared a home with another former non-passenger railbus, Wickham 999507, 30/8/03.Ian Dobson


998901 freshly restored at Middleton. Ian Dobson




Restored side panelling and windows being refitted, 6/1/18. EM2 Locomotive Society


Curved roof sections still required for the roof corners, 22/7/17. EM2 Locomotive Society


The new roof has now been fitted, 21/6/17. EM2 Locomotive Society


The interior stripped out ready for reconstruction work to start in earnest, 5/17. EM2 Locomotive Society


The destroyed interior after the arson attack, 2016. EM2 Locomotive Society


The scene of the destroyed interior after the arson attack, 1/2/16. Ian Dobson


The saloon devoid of seating whilst a new floor covering was fitted, 2012. EM2 Locomotive Society