Swedish Y7 Railbus no. 1212

Status: Launch into traffic on 14th October 2012

Location: Wansford or in service


 1212 On relaunch day at Wansford.  © Pete Murry (PM Images)2012 


1212 was built for the Swedish State Railways (SJ) in 1958 by Eksjoverken.

The vehicle has a very unusual appearance, being one of the widest vehicles ever to have run in the UK. With the near ground level loading there is no room underneath for the engine. It is therefore found in one of the driver’s cabs and passengers have to walk past it to enter the saloon!

378 driving vehicles of this type as well as 321 trailers were built between 1953 and 1961. Up to 8 vehicles could be coupled together and driven from one cab, though there are no plans to get another vehicle at the NVR yet! With a top speed of 78mph our vehicle ran 1,996,000km in service: The equivalent to travelling to the moon and back over 2 ½ times.

She moved to the NVR for preservation in 1984 and operated on the line until her owner passed away in 1989. Following the sale to the Bygone Village, Fleggburgh, Great Yarmouth, she spent the next 14 years undercover alongside Swedish tank engine no 1928.

When this shut down in 2003/4 the collection was sold on and the railbus ended up as an undercover picnic area on Tweddle Animal Farm, Hartlepool.

In January 2011 it was purchased by its new owners and restoration began.

1212 was relaunched back into traffic in October 2012 after a fast track restoration. Indeed in the final week of restoration over 400 man hours were put in. Because of this she won The Railcar Association's Railcar of the Year Award in Jan 2013. For details on her restoration, the award and her work since see the update below (with the most recent first).

June - October 2012

An incredible amount of work has gone on the railbus in the late summer and autumn. A full update with pictures will follow in due course, but as a brief summary, work has included:

  • Completing the external bodywork overhaul including filling, priming, and painting
  • All windows have been replaced by safety glass
  • Seats have been stripped:
    • The upholstery has been given a heavy clean.
    • All the metal framework has been sanded back to bare metal and repainted.
    • All the wooden trim and each arm rest (Each pair of seats has 3, so in total there are over 70 armrests alone) have been sanded by hand and revarnished.
  • Water had been getting into the heating duct on the side of the vehicle, rotting a large area of the floor, so a large area of the floor has been replaced, taking a number of weeks.
  • All air tanks have been ultrasonically tested.
  • All the air operated doors have been removed and overhauled.
  • The whole interior has been given a very deep clean.
  • A test and gauging run took place the week before the event to make sure the vehicle fitted down the line.

The final week saw a lot of midnight oil being burnt. We estimate that around 4-500 man hours were spent on the vehicle. Some 21 hour days were put in, with some midnight, and pre-dawn oil being burnt by a lot of people on a number of days before the launch.

Huge thanks and congratulations must go to everyone involved in the restoration of the vehicle. Naming names would inevitably lead to someone being missed out, so a big thank you to everyone. You know who you are!

Work does not stop here however. While we got the vehicle up to a standard for one run, there were a number of problems that we simply ran out of time to fix. Over the winter these will be sorted so that crew training and some passenger services can occur for fare paying passengers during 2013.

If you'd like to hire the railbus out for an event or a trip down the line, don't hesitate to get in touch via the normal channels!

April - May 2012

The main focus for April/May was to finish the exterior cab metalwork at both ends. Once the new plate had been ordered and cut to size, we drilled holes where the original rivets used to be and screwed the new panels in place for the time being until they could be welded.

With the two new panels now fitted, welded and the new window frames cut out, work moved to the rear end of the bus. The same procedures applied, removed the interior wall panels, strip the exterior metal, remove any rust and then paint before fitting new sheets of metal. Here is a brief display of the progress made;

From the photos above you can see that all four end panels are now in place. The white lines show where body filler was used to smooth the surface of the new plate after the weld was ground down.

To finish off, the new plate was painted in a cream undercoat for protection until the final coats of paint are applied.

Progress notes for April also include the fabrication of a new step at each end of the railbus (as seen in the photo above) and the beginnings of further work to the roof e.g. paint and rust removal.

We have also continued to remove external parts for restoration, such as the windows and vents. This will allow us to assess the damage (if any) to the window frames and allow bodywork restoration to continue without the fear of breaking a window.

With the windows removed, the sides of the railbus could now be needle gunned to remove the old paintwork. Fortunately the original metalwork is still sound and will require little interference.

And finally, many parts of the bus received a protective coat of paint or two over the last couple of weeks, these include; the side air vents, the engine housing, the exterior framework and the two removed snow ploughs.

January - March 2012:

Since the turn of the year, work has ploughed ahead on the railbus. We started by stripping the passengers section of the interior and set about determining the condition of the floor, walls and framework.  

The front end of 1212 has been stripped of windows, buffers, lights nd any other fittings, to allow us access to some corroded metalwork and so work can be undertaken on each part individually.

All corroded metalwork has been cut from the front end and the framework cleaned up. The majority of the frame is in good condition with only small sections requiring repairing or strengthening.

Keeping with the front end theme, as mentioned above, the double glazed windows and the interior walls have been removed from one side of the cab. The windows themselves will only need cleaning up, but unfortunately many of the window frames are corroded beyond repair. The wall panels had to be discarded as the wood had rotted right through.

The bottom of the railbus has received a thorough clean-up and repaint to protect it from the elements.

Inside, the heating ducts have been given a new coat of paint and many of the smaller parts, such as bins, have also been restored.

We were given permission by the NVR to move the Railbus just inside one of the old sheds for a few months, this change in location came just in time as the weather took a turn for the worse this week and would have stopped most of the work in the photos above from happening. This also provides valuable protection for the bus until we can make it weatherproof once more.

The next couple of weekends were devoted to the removal of corroded window frames and preparing the framework for the fitting of new panels.

In order to fit the new metal sheets to the railbus, the front end door had to be removed for restoration:

While the new plate was being fabricated, a number of other tasks were undertook, such as needle gunning the roof, removing a restoring exterior parts and cleaning up rusting metal.

November 2011

The move to the NVR took place in November and involved a wall being demolished and about 60 ft of track being laid to reach the car park. The railbus was driven on and off the low loader; the furthest it had moved under its own power in over 20 years. All this was done on half a tank of diesel still in there from the last time she was at the NVR!

railbusmove1 railbusmove2

June - September 2011

Over the summer more work has taken place focusing on the mechanical side of the railbus. While Northumbria Rail tackled this side of the project, IRPS were dealing with sections of bodywork corrosion:

railbuswork1 railbuswork2 railbuswork3

More Articles...

  1. April 2011