A railbus is a very lightweight type passenger rail vehicle (typically non-articulated or rigid frame) that shares many aspects of their construction with a bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

, usually having a bus, or modified bus body, and having four wheels on a fixed base, instead of on bogie
A bogie is a wheeled wagon or trolley. In mechanics terms, a bogie is a chassis or framework carrying wheels, attached to a vehicle. It can be fixed in place, as on a cargo truck, mounted on a swivel, as on a railway carriage/car or locomotive, or sprung as in the suspension of a caterpillar...

s. These railbuses, a design developed in the 1930s, have evolved into larger dimensions, performance and characteristics similar in appearance to a light railcar
A railcar, in British English and Australian English, is a self-propelled railway vehicle designed to transport passengers. The term "railcar" is usually used in reference to a train consisting of a single coach , with a driver's cab at one or both ends. Some railways, e.g., the Great Western...

 and today, the terms railcar and railbus are used interchangeably.

Railbuses designed for use specifically on little-used railway lines were commonly employed in countries such as Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. Today railbuses are being replaced by modern light DMU railcar designs.

British Rail railbuses

British Rail
British Rail
British Railways , which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages...

 produced a variety of railbuses as a means both of building new rolling stock cheaply, and to provide services on lightly used lines economically.

A variety of railbus known as Pacers
Pacer (train)
Pacer is the operational name of the British Rail Classes 140, 141, 142, 143 and 144 diesel multiple unit railbuses, built between 1984 and 1987...

, which were constructed in the 1980s
File:1980s decade montage.png|thumb|400px|From left, clockwise: The first Space Shuttle, Columbia, lifted off in 1981; American President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev eased tensions between the two superpowers, leading to the end of the Cold War; The Fall of the Berlin Wall in...

 are still in common use today. Although are being gradually replaced.

German railbuses

In Germany, the Schienenbus was developed in the 1930s to fulfill the need for an inexpensive rail vehicle built to standard specifications on Germany’s Reichsbahn
Deutsche Reichsbahn
Deutsche Reichsbahn was the name of the following two companies:* Deutsche Reichsbahn, the German Imperial Railways during the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and the immediate aftermath...

 (the predecessor to DB
Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn AG is the German national railway company, a private joint stock company . Headquartered in Berlin, it came into existence in 1994 as the successor to the former state railways of Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany...

) to meet the demand for cost-effective services on light railway
Light railway
Light railway refers to a railway built at lower costs and to lower standards than typical "heavy rail". This usually means the railway uses lighter weight track, and is more steeply graded and tightly curved to avoid civil engineering costs...

s or Kleinbahn
The term Kleinbahn was a light railway concept used especially in Prussia for a railway line that "on account of its low importance for general railway transport" had less strict requirements placed on its construction and operation that main lines or secondary lines...

, and the Wismar railbus
Wismar railbus
The 'Hanover version' of the Wismar railbus was developed in the early 1930s as a light railbus for economical passenger services on branch lines in Germany.- History :...

 were pioneers in those days. These were followed after the Second World War by the eventually ubiquitous Uerdingen railbus
Uerdingen railbus
The Uerdingen railbus is the common term for the multiple units which were developed by the German firm of Waggonfabrik Uerdingen for the Deutsche Bundesbahn and private railways after the Second World War. These vehicles were diesel-powered, twin-axle railbuses of light construction...

es which generally ran in pairs and were a predecessor of the modern diesel multiple unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...


A number of serious accidents in Germany in the late 1970s involving Schienenbus resulted in the development and specification of larger, more robustly designed diesel railcar
A railcar, in British English and Australian English, is a self-propelled railway vehicle designed to transport passengers. The term "railcar" is usually used in reference to a train consisting of a single coach , with a driver's cab at one or both ends. Some railways, e.g., the Great Western...

s. Although these cars were more similar in size to the U.S. produced diesel railcars, they would not have complied with current FRA
Federal Railroad Administration
The Federal Railroad Administration is an agency in the United States Department of Transportation. The agency was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966...

 requirements, and like their North American cousin rail diesel cars, are largely railroad-derivative designs. The DB Class 628
DB Class 628
The DB Class 628 is a twin-car, diesel multiple unit operated by the Deutsche Bahn AG for local passenger rail services.- Design :...

 series exemplifies the contemporary German diesel railcar. This type of car replaced the Schienenbus and locomotive-hauled train consists where possible on branch-line and main-line assignments during the 1980s and 1990s. The Schienenbus has virtually disappeared from regular revenue service, but its rail diesel car successors are prevalent. A new-generation DMUs third in succession after the Schienenbus, are now being ordered by the hundreds by its diversity and the variety of modular design combinations.

Australian railbuses

In 1937 the NSW Department of Railways added six four-wheel streamlined
A streamliner is a vehicle incorporating streamlining in a shape providing reduced air resistance. The term is applied to high-speed railway trainsets of the 1930s to 1950s, and to their successor "bullet trains". Less commonly, the term is applied to fully faired recumbent bicycles...

 rail buses to serve on small branch lines in Cowra and Harden
Harden, New South Wales
Harden-Murrumburrah is a township and community in the centre of Harden Shire and is located in the South West Slopes region of New South Wales in Australia and is adjacent to both the Canberra region of the Australian Capital Territory and the Riverina Region in the southwest area of NSW...

 that did not have enough passengers to justify a rail motor. Powered by a Ford V8 engine, they were given the designation FP1 to FP6. When the railbus service wasn't popular, several of the buses became mobile pay cars used to pay railway employees at stations and working on tracks.

In December 1941 one of these railbuses (FP 5) was destroyed when dynamite was placed on railway tracks near Yanderra. The three man crew of the railbus were killed in the explosion. Though 2000 pounds of loose cash was taken, the safe in the railcar could not be opened by the robbers. No one was prosecuted for the offence.

The first railbus, FP1 has been restored where it is on display at Thirlmere Railway Museum.

Railbus services

In Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, "Railbus service" refers to the (road) bus service running parallel to portions of some railway lines, substituting for commuter train.

See also

  • Railcar
    A railcar, in British English and Australian English, is a self-propelled railway vehicle designed to transport passengers. The term "railcar" is usually used in reference to a train consisting of a single coach , with a driver's cab at one or both ends. Some railways, e.g., the Great Western...

  • McKeen railmotor
    McKeen railmotor
    The McKeen Railmotor was a 6 cylinder petrol engine with a passenger capacity of 73. When McKeen Company of Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A. first unveiled the car in 1915, the McKeen was among the first engines with a gasoline-powered motor...

  • Autorail
    The French word Autorail describes a single powered vehicle capable of carrying passengers. French designed vehicles are some of the most interesting made...

  • Galloping Goose
    Galloping Goose
    Galloping Goose is the popular name given to a series of seven railcars, built in the 1930s by the Rio Grande Southern Railroad and operated until the end of service on the line in the early 1950s....

  • GWR railcars
    GWR railcars
    In 1933, the Great Western Railway introduced the first of what was to become a very successful series of railcars, which survived in regular use into the 1960s, when they were replaced with the new British Rail "first generation" type diesel multiple units....

External links

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