Sunday, 6 February 2011

In a move that kept below the radar of the enthusiast grapevine, KRS was able to purchase and take delivery of a Mk2 coach from Serco Railtest at Derby on the 3rd of February.

So given that Mk2s are sat mouldering away on many storage sites (including ours), what is so special about this one?

Well ADB 975290 was known most recently as Serco Railtest's Test Car 6 and was fitted with a large generator set and numerous fittings to make it compatible with such things as HSTs. It was also passed for 125mph running so it far from a run of the mill Mk2.

It started life at Derby Works in 1964 as 13396, one of a batch of 18 Mk2 FKs (corridor first) that were delivered to a Southern region that still used steam locos extensively. As such it was fitted with dual brakes and heating allowing it to be either steam or diesel hauled. Fittingly it was delivered in Southern Region green livery.

These coaches were the most modern on the region and were used on long distance express trains including the boat trains to Southampton. A clue to this can be seen in the brackets still in situ that used to hold wooden boards with the train names painted on them.

Blue asbestos and a reduction in the express trains in the 1970s lead to withdrawal after less than ten years of front line service, but 13396 was fortunate in that it was sent to Derby for conversion into a test train vehicle. This work was completed in 1973 and although the interior was reorganised, much of the orginal polished wood panelling remains.

BR Railtest and Serco continued to maintain the coach to very high standards until early in the 21st century and it remains in good order to this day. As and when time permits we will clean the interior of any remaining asbestos and repaint the coach into its orginal green livery, in keeping with its status as a true Southern vehicle.

In the short term we will use it as a meeting room, whilst keeping it in good order so that it can be put back into mainline use at short notice. A tidy pressure ventilated Mk2 with an onboard generator is a very useful vehicle and we are hopeful that its mainline days are not over.

In the meantime, a little bit of our southern railway heritage has been saved.

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