Railcar of the Year 2013

Congratulations to the winner of the Railcar of the Year award: Class 119 W51073

The Nominations
Class 101 51189/51803: This 2-car set was nominated for the standard of its lengthy restoration on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. The set had been preserved at the same time as many other ex-Manchester Class 101 vehicles, but the poor condition (particularly of 51189) lead to the railway undertaking a full restoration rather than the usual deep-clean and minor repairs before re-entering service. The vehicles entered service during the year, replacing the line's Class 108 set which had operated services for nearly 20 years and was by now badly in need of a full overhaul. The vehicles were also notable for being the first (and at the time of writing, only) Class 101 vehicles to b restored into green livery with "standard" lining. Class 101's were all delivered with non-standard cream lines consisiting of three thin lines, with all other DMU's having two, thicker lines. In the early 1960's repaints saw the majority of the fleet carry the standard lining, however in preservation this variation, strangely, has been very rare. The K&WVR were commended for breaking this mould, and it is hoped a few other Class 101's may follow to add variety.

Class 108 M51566: M51566 is not a particularly historic vehicle; many other Class 108 Driving Motor Composite Lavatory vehicles survive operational in the UK. However the completion of the restoration of this, the Dean Forest Railway's example, was nationally significant for its wider role in completing several "puzzles". The first one was the vehicle's completion realising the first historically accurate Class 108 3-car set in preservation. This was due to there being only three Class 108 centre cars in preservation, two of which were originally part of 4-car sets, and M51566 provided the last vehicle in the DFR's recreation of a 3-car set, along with centre car 59387 and DMBS 50619 or 51914. It also heralded the completion of the DMU Group's long held ambition to have an operational 2-car and 3-car set in service at the DFR. Finally, the standard of resoration was also excellent.

Class 119 W51073: W51073, based at the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, was nominated as it was the vehicle that defied all odds in returning to service. After asbestos stripping in the 1990's, the vehicle was very badly cannibalised with preservationists being told it was not for sale, prompting more stripping of parts for other DMU's. Narrowly avoiding scrapping, the vehicle was indeed later preserved and became one of only three Class 119 vehicles to survive. Put up for sale in the early 2000's, there were no takers and eventually the owners decided to start the huge task of restoring this rare vehicle. In three stages (2004-2006, 2008-2009 and 2012-2014) the vehicle was mechanically, externally and internally rebuilt to reverse the 10+ years of decline. As the other two Class 119 vehicles have never seen passenger service in preservation, W51073 gave enthusiasts the chance to ride a Class 119 for the first time since the early 1990's, resplendant in BR Blue & Grey livery.

Class 127 M51616: Class 127 vehicles, mechanically non-standard and therefore often difficult to maintain, are always interesting to see operating. The Great Central Railway's Class 127 set had fallen into decline during the 2000's, so the revival of M51616 by a small but dedicated team to operate with partner M51622 was worthy of nomination. The vehicle had been repainted, reupholstered and a myriad of mecanhical jobs attended to to allow it to return to service, and was back in service during 2014.

Voting Pattern
Due to there being less vehicles that had shown significant activity during 2014, only four nominations were put forward this year. Sadly, less than half the number of votes were cast compared to 2013, although this is due in part to the exceptional number of Swedish railway enthusiasts who voted for "their" Y7 Railcar! A total of 214 were received, however unlike last year, the winner was by no means clear, a two horse race leading to victory by a mere 4 votes.

On the first day of voting, the Class 119 gained an early lead, but this was snatched on day two by the Class 108. Day three saw these two candidates tying before voting calmed down and the Class 119 edged into the lead by a few votes. On the 16th and 30th of December the Class 108 succeeded in drawing with the Class 119, before just four votes on New Years eve resulted in Class 119 W51073 being declared the winner. Many thanks to all those who took the time to vote.

Place Vehicle Number of Votes
1st Class 119 W51073 95
2nd Class 108 M51566 91
3rd Class 101 51189/51803 16
4th Class 127 M51616 12