21st Annual Railcar Convention

Dean Forest Railway, 16th-18th September 2016.

Report by Chris Moxon


The 2016 annual Railcar Convention was held at the Dean Forest Railway in Gloucestershire. This was a symbolic return to the railway as they had hosted the very first convention back in 1996 so it was very appropriate to return 20 years later and see how different things were.

A total of three railcar sets were in service totalling six individual vehicles. The home fleet consisted of Class 108 two and three car sets, supported by star visitor Derby Lightweight single unit M79900 (Iris)from the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.


Friday was the very traditional Driver Experience day for Railcar Association members. Irisand Class 108 3-car set E50619/E59387/E51566 were both available to sample. The line was split into two with Iris working the "town" section between Norchard and Lydney Junction, and the 108 operating the "forest" section between Norchard and Parkend. The latter section had not been opened in 1996 so was a new part of the railway for many members.

The slots were all booked up with members from the North Yorkshire Moors in the north to Colne Valley in the south all having a go in "the seat" between 10:00 and 16:00.


Saturday was kicked off in a gala format with the railway's doors being opened to the public. There was a varied timetable in place with full and half line trips, Workings with all three sets on their own plus various combinations in multiple of course! Iris had a slight hiccup in the morning but with so much DMU expertise on site it was not long before it was back up and running again! This unfortunately meant that the trip planned with a tail load had to be cancelled, however the timetable was soon resumed and normal service prevailed for the most of the day. Passengers were aplenty and the weather was fine with everyone havinga good day.

At around 16:00, all of the units were coupled together into a six car formation and transferred delegates to Whitecroft where the formal meeting was held (see separate section).

With the meeting over, the traditional Fish & Chip special was held, the units remaining in multiple. Chips were served at parkend and good use was made of the onboard buffets on the Class 108's! A group photo at Parkend was also arranged.

Formal Meeting

The annual meeting was held in the Miners Arms at Whitecroft. There were 29 members present, which was slightly dissapointing as it was a slightly lower number than has been usual over the past few years (between 40-50).

The meeting opened with Chris Bull who welcomed the visitors to the railway and briefly explained the symbolism of returning the convention to its birthplace 20 years on. Apologies included Steve Beck, Eddie Knorn, Neil Bunt and Mike Grimwood.

Chairman Paul Moxon then welcomed on the TRA side of things and thanked Chris Bull for starting the annual "do" off in the first place, or as they say in Norfolk, "borned". Paul had managed 19 of the 21 meets, having only been initiated into a certain Class 104 secret society in 1997.

Chris Moxon had prepared a summary of the year 2015/16 which was delivered by Paul Moxon. It had been a pretty quiet year with consolidation within the movement being the prevailing factor. There had not been any preserved additions, but this was to be expected as there are now not many units left at all on the national network. There had also not been any disposals, although there were Class 100, 115 and 117 vehicles all listed as "at risk" with scrapping a real possibility. There had been a large number of movements. GWR Railcar No4 had moved from loan at Swindon Steam Museum back to the NRM at York, Class 104 50437/50494 and Class 110 59701 had all moved from the Churnet Valley to the East Lancs, Class 108 51567 had moved from Butterley to the Ecclesbourne Valley and Class 127 51616/622 was expected to be moving to Peak Rail shortly from the Great Central. Grinsty Rail (at Peak Rail) had been busy Class 101's 50321, 51213, 51427 and Class 108's 52064 and 59250 all receiving contract repairs and movement to/from their home railways. Finally, Llangollen had borrowed W&M Railbus 79960 for their annual gala, and Iris of course was visiting the DFR. The subject of overhauls was then brought up, with no major restorations having been started or finished during the year.However lighter overhauls had started on Class 101 50321 (Great Central), Class 109 50416/56171 (Llangollen), Class 110 59701 (East lancs) and Class 121 56289 (also East Lancs). By comparison, six vehicles had had their overhauls completed, including Class 101 51213 (East Anglian Rly Museum), Class 108's 59250/52064 (Severn Valley), Class 117's 51360/59510 (Gloucestershire Warwickshire) and Class 121 55033 (Colne Valley). The presentation was concluded with some overall figures: The number of operational DMU's had increased nationwide by 1, however the number of restorations in progress had increaded from 44 to 54, which was good news.

Speakers so far include Roger Phelps (GM of the DFR) giving a talk on the DFR and how it has evolved over the years, Keiron Thorogood (Morris Oils) arranging a chemist to give a talk on oils and Bob Marrows finding some old colour photos of diesels and DMUs on the DFR.
As always we openly welcome other contributors to the speakers chair...


Some minor points were covered within "Any Other Business" before the meeting was closed.


Sunday saw more DMU running with a Steam service also operating. Those who had made a weekend of it were able to have a more relaxed day floating about the railway and taking in the scenery.