J4180 : Railbus at Cultra

taken 40 years ago, near to Cultra and Holywood, Northern Ireland

Railbus at Cultra
Railbus at Cultra
The railbus at Cultra, on the Bangor line, on an enthusiast’s special.
Northern Ireland Railways R3 railbus

Back in 1981 BREL produced an experimental railbus based on a Leyland National road bus. It was tested on British Rail where it was not a success. It was bought by NIR and re-gauged for use on the Coleraine – Portrush line. Too small to cope with the number of daytime passengers it was relegated to evening trains and then passed to the Civil Engineer’s Dept for inspection etc duties. It’s now preserved here J4844 : Downpatrick Station. SK3432 : Sunny Hill Recreation Ground shows the LEV1 at Normanton in October 1981.

The Belfast – Bangor railway line

The Belfast & County Down Railway (BCDR) opened its railway line from Belfast (Queen’s Quay) to Holywood on 2 August 1845. This line was extended to the seaside resort of Bangor by the Belfast Holywood & Bangor Railway (BHBR), which opened on 18 May 1865. The BCDR absorbed the BHBR in 1884.

While double-track throughout, the BCDR always regarded its Bangor line as a branch off the main line to Newcastle. However, creation of the nationalised Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) in 1948 changed matters somewhat as only the Belfast – Bangor line survived the mass closures implemented by the UTA in 1950. The old BCDR Bangor line received a further blow in 1965 when it was isolated from the rest of the Irish railway system by closure of the Belfast Central Railway line from Ballymacarrett Junction (east of Queen’s Quay station) to Central Junction, just west of the former GNR(I) Great Victoria Street station (see: LinkExternal link ). However, on a positive note, introduction of UTA built MED railcars gave Belfast – Bangor the distinction of being the first main railway line in the British Isles to be operated solely by diesel traction.

In 1976, the Belfast Central Railway reopened as part of a project to replace both the GNR(I) Great Victoria Street station and the BCDR Queen’s Quay with a “central” station situated in east Belfast. Today (2013), Belfast – Bangor is an important part of the Northern Ireland Railways’ system, with services to Bangor originating from Portadown or the reinstated Great Victoria Street station. While diesel locomotives may occasionally visit with engineer’s trains, all passenger services are in the hands of Spanish built 3000 or 4000 class railcars.

For photographs of the former line to Newcastle, please see: LinkExternal link . For photographs at Queen's Quay station and Central Services Depot, please go to: LinkExternal link

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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J4180, 130 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Sunday, 8 August, 1982   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 28 November, 2007
Railway   (more nearby)
Subject Location
Irish: geotagged! J 415 803 [100m precision]
WGS84: 54:39.0634N 5:48.4724W
Camera Location
Irish: geotagged! J 415 803
View Direction
WEST (about 270 degrees)
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Leyland R3 Railbus 

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