Rail motor coach

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Deutsche Bahn Alstom Class 641 Diesel single motor coach (often called “railbus”) at Gräfenroda (Thuringia) on the Ohrabahn.

A motor coach (in the European use of the word) or motorcar is a powered rail vehicle able to pull several trailers and at the same time transport passengers or luggage. With multiple unit train control, one operator can control several “motor coaches” efficiently in the same train, making longer trains possible, it can be part of a permanently or semi-permanently coupled trainset. If it is usually running as a single unit or with a matching trailer, it is called a railcar or railbus.

There were also motor cars that replaced locomotives at the head of local passenger or freight trains. Especially electrified narrow gauge lines on the European continent often saw this form of operation. Many of these railways closed down, many others changed to electric multiple units. But a few lines in Switzerland, Italy and Austria still work with motor coach pulled train consists. It can be expected that the Bernina line of Rhätische Bahn will continue for a long time to be operated with motor coaches pulling passenger and freight trains.

In Europe, motor coaches are becoming popular once again replacing light-weight aging “Schienenbuses” and “Autorails” (railbuses or railcars) in Germany and France respectively, covering small villages and for feeder services on main lines.

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