Railcar of the Year 2018

Voting for this year's Railcar of the Year award is now open! Make sure you cast your vote before the end of Thursday 17th January 2019. Please note that only one vote is allowed per person and you are required to list your name in order for your vote to be counted. Voting is free and the winner will be announced in mid January.

The Nominations

Class 101 E51228/E56062 (North Norfolk): Selected from one of the most common classes in preservation, Class 101 vehicles have been run intensively since their late withdrawal from the mainline railway in the early 2000's. However as time has gone on these comparatively good conditioned vehicles have been running out of luck and steadily each vehicle has reached a point where they need serious overhaul work as opposed to just light maintenance. When preserved in 2004, 51228/56062 were quickly restored and put into service at the North Norfolk Railway. It then became one of the highest mileage railcars in the country working up to six days a week throughout most of the year. These factors contributed to this set being one of the first to "test" their owners when in 2011 the set had to be withdrawn for major work. The set is nominated this year in celebration of the completion and quality of said overhaul, which has been a gruelling seven year process with many hurdles along the way. The vehicle has required replacement or overhauled engines, gearboxes, freewheels and final drives, along with overhaul of the brakegear, air system and vacuum cylinders. Internally the set has had original tungsten lighting refitted, the 1980's orange Formica returned to original green and the seating reupholstered throughout the two cars. The exterior has received corrosion repairs and a full repaint into BR green livery, in the later lining style, becoming only the second Class 101 in preservation to carry this variation. The difference in the vehicles pre and post overhaul is huge, and has been completed by a small diesel team working on a steam focussed railway.

Class 115 W51859/W59678/W51880 (West Somerset): The only 3-car set nominated this year, and the first Class 115 ever to be nominated. The set is nominated for its continued existence in trying times. The Class 115's, mechanically interesting but difficult to maintain, have preservation unfriendly suburban bodies which are suffering badly from corrosion as time goes on. Additionally, their unusual Leyland Albion engines and other non standard equipment have made spares and expertise more difficult than for other classes. As a result of the above, the preserved Class 115 fleet has steadily declined over the past 20 years, to the extent that the 3-car set at the West Somerset is now the only one left still in operational service. It is hoped that the remaining spares, expertise, and luck(!) can be concentrated at the West Somerset to keep their vehicles running. Remarkably the West Somerset's set has run some very high mileages in its time and the efforts of the maintenance staff involved in keeping the set operation should be commended. Diesel Traction on very large steam railways can sometimes be overlooked so the continued upkeep of this rare set should be encouraged.

Class 116 59003 (Paignton & Dartmouth): Railcar of the Year nominations are not exclusively for the completion of overhauls, and 59003 this year is a good example of alternative reasons to be put forward. This year the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway have launched a challenge to the traditional Santa Steam Special model that has served heritage railways every year for decades. This has come in the form of the "Train of Lights" and is a visually spectacular after dark show for the festive season involving lighting displays on the rolling stock and at key points along the lineside. 59003 has been included in the stock used for the Train of Lights and suitably adorned with bodyside, roof and underframe mounted lighting for the purpose, rather akin to the illuminated trams that several UK systems had in the early 20th century. Videos of the effects show 59003 to look like it has never looked before (after dark of course). 59003 is nominated for these awards for the place it has taken in a genuinely innovative undertaking which will no doubt attract many member of the non-enthusiast public, including many that will not have been on a heritage railway before. Initiatives like these are essential for the continued survival of our movement, and should therefore be celebrated.

Class 119 51074/51104 (Swindon & Cricklade): Railcar restoration is hard as most groups operate with very limited manpower and finance. The Swindon & Cricklade Railway is no exception and they have had more challenges than most as their unique Class 119 had to be stripped of the dreaded asbestos leaving it a stripped out shell. For over 15 years the 2-car set has been steadily worked on and whilst its still a good way till completion, this year the set has made a limited return to service so that visitors can once again travel on a Cross Country set, the only one in the country. The set's historical significance ensures that this move plugs a gap that has been in preservation for a very long time indeed. The thrust of the work has been rebuilding the stripped out interior, so important given the interior is the most characteristic part of a Cross Country set (mechanically they are similar to other units). The continued preservation of the only surviving Cross Country 2-car set should be encouraged and celebrated.

Class 141 141108 (Colne Valley): The very first second generation DMU to be nominated for the award, quite fitting given that 2019 will be the start of mass withdrawals for this era of vehicle. The preserved Class 141 fleet has reduced sign significantly this year with half the preserved fleet now scrapped leaving just two sets left: 141108 and 141113. The latter set has significant mechanical modifications making 141108 the sole surviving Class 141 with original equipment underneath. At one stage '108 was looking like it was going the same way as its scrapped classmates however a small team over the past few years have taken the set on and worked through many of the mechanical gremlins that were plaguing the set, also exhibiting good teamwork and communication skills by linking in with the group responsible for '113. This year saw '108 make its return to passenger service instantly doubling the number of Class 141's in an operational state. It is now possible to experience both modified and original versions of the Class 141, and for that the team behind 108's revival deserve credit.

Follow the link below to cast your vote. Make sure you vote for your choice before the end of Thursday 17th January 2019. Please note that only one vote is allowed per person and you are required to list your name in order for your vote to be counted.