Motorail (British Rail)
Motorail was the brand name for British Rail's long-distance services that carried passengers' cars, ultimately part of the InterCity sector. It originated with the June 1955 introduction of The Car-Sleeper Limited between London and Perth. (Due to the enginemen's strike that summer the precise start date is uncertain.) The Motorail brand was introduced in 1966 with BR press releases and the opening of the London Kensington Olympia terminal.
Motorail operated from London to many places including Penzance, Plymouth, Fishguard, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Perth, Inverness and Fort William. A short-lived service from London to Glasgow was introduced in the early 1990s.
A variety of rolling stock, both open and enclosed, was used. Many routes were operated with overnight sleeper services. The open double deck Cartic 4 was first used on a Kensington Olympia to Perth Motorail on 22 June 1966. and last used in 1978.
Usage on many routes had declined by the early 1990s. In 1989 the London to Stirling service was discontinued. The services operated at a significant loss and the service ceased in 1995 when British Rail was privatised. First Great Western relaunched a service from London Paddington to Penzance as part of their Night Riviera overnight sleeper service in 1999, but withdrew it at the end of summer 2005. It was also due to the fact, as they were carried on open rail cars, the vehicles were vulnerable, and prone to damage by vandalism, when resting in depots.
Motorail ended in summer 2005; there were still signs for it at Paddington in April 2006.
The former Motorail terminal at Kensington (Olympia), seen here in 2009. Since Motorail services here ceased, the building has been designated "Olympia Motorail Car Park P4".
- John Furnevel (2005-07-20). "West London Line | RAILSCOT Magazine". Railbrit.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
- Modern Railways September 1966 p. 468
- Cartic-4 car carriers
- "BR Motorail service pulls out of Stirling". The Herald. Glasgow. 8 February 1989. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- Paul Routledge (1995-01-01). "Motorail to be axed in BR sell-off - News". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
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