NER autocar: the new jewel in the crown!

A 15-year project to restore the forgotten North Eastern Railway railcar that is the ancestor of modern internal combustion passenger trains worldwide has scooped the top honour in the Heritage Railway Association 2019 Awards.

The NER 1903 Electric Autocar Trust has been awarded the coveted Peter Manisty Award for Excellence, the association’s most prestigious award.

It is awarded by the board of the HRA on an occasional basis for an exceptional and outstanding contribution to railway preservation.

North Eastern Railway electric autocar No. 3170 is pictured at its public launch at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway on October 19. ROBIN JONES Inset: Some of the plethora of immaculately-restored narrow gauge locomotives from across the world inside Statfold Barn’s Grain Store museum. ROBIN JONES

The restoration of electric autocar No. 3170, as featured in issue 248, was viewed by many as an impossible engineering project, as all that remained of the vehicle was a grounded body at a farm in Yorkshire.

However, it was the determination of expert vintage coach restorer Stephen Middleton, who bought the body and removed it for restoration, which saved the day.

Having formed a trust to administer the railcar so that substantial grant aid could be unlocked, a modern-day miracle was worked using a combination of a new-build diesel engine, recycled components from Northern Ireland Railways’ trains, HSTs, 08s and many more, keeping the design of the ‘new’ bit true to the original design concept.

Read more in Issue 249 of HR – on sale now!


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