Rail Express

Letting the train take the strain

SENDING your car by rail was a service advertised from the early years of British Railways’ operations, and was one available at most stations on main line routes given the extensive prevalence then of suitable wagons, loading docks, and local shunting staff.

In those early days, however, the driver and any passengers would not travel with the car. Instead, it could be seen as an extension of the much-used ‘Passenger Luggage in Advance’ service, but with cars dispatched to a destination station some days in advance of the owner’s journey.

As car ownership grew in the 1950s, BR’s Eastern Region introduced a dedicated service between London and Scotland that saw the car and passengers conveyed on the same train. This began in 1955 and was marketed as a car-sleeper service. Loading was done in North London at Holloway Road, where there was an existing goods depot with sufficient space for cars to be driven onto covered rail vans for attaching to passenger coaches. Motor vehicles were driven onto the train by railway staff, and driven off in a similar manner at the destination in Perth.

Newton Chambers built 14 special purpose covered car carriers in 1960 for the Eastern Region, Nos. E96286E to E96299E. The vehicles were a development of a previous open freight type described as a Tierwag, of which six were built by Newton Chambers (Nos. B909200-05) to convey new cars for distribution to dealers.


The covered vehicles were initially painted in standard BR coaching stock lined maroon, with the words ‘Eastern Region Car Carrier’ displayed in large lettering on the side – although the fleet was also registered for use on train ferry

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