Motorail (British Rail)
Logo from 1966 to 1995.
|Stations called at||28 (Not all were served in all years of operation.)|
|Parent company||British Rail|
|Dates of operation||1955–1995|
|Successor||1999–2005 First Great Western Night Riviera Motorail|
Motorail was the brand name for British Rail's long-distance services that carried passengers and their cars, ultimately part of the InterCity sector.
The service had originated in June 1955 with the introduction of the Car-Sleeper Limited between London and Perth. The service operated between June and September conveying car and driver for £15 return, inclusive of sleeping berth. In 1961 it was reported that over 50,000 cars had been transported and a new two-tier transporter was introduced to expand the capacity.
The Motorail brand was introduced in 1966 with the opening of the Kensington Olympia Motorail terminal.
Motorail operated from London to many places including Penzance, Plymouth, Fishguard Harbour, Brockenhurst, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Perth, Inverness and Fort William. A short-lived service from London to Glasgow was introduced in the early 1990s.
The service was popular at a time when long-distance travel by car involved long journey times, and additional services were introduced in 1972 between Stirling and Dover, London Kensington Olympia and Carmarthen and Birmingham and Inverness. An overnight service was also introduced between London Kensington and Carlisle to supplement the daytime service.
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 its Night Riviera overnight sleeper service in September 1999, with eight converted General Utility Vans but withdrew it at the end of summer 2005.
Night Riviera Motorail van NVA at Penzance in August 2003
Motorail ended in summer 2005; there were still signs for it at Paddington in April 2006.
The former Motorail terminal at Kensington Olympia, in 2009. Since Motorail services here ceased, the building has been designated "Olympia Motorail Car Park P4".
- ^ "Motoring by rail". Worthing Herald. England. 25 March 1955. Retrieved 19 June 2022 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- ^ "A London Newsletter". The Sphere. England. 19 August 1961. Retrieved 19 June 2022 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- ^ "New Terminal for "Motorail"". Illustrated London News. England. 28 May 1966. Retrieved 19 June 2022 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- ^ John Furnevel (20 July 2005). "West London Line | RAILSCOT Magazine". Railbrit.co.uk. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
- ^ "News of the month". Railway World. Vol. 32, no. 379. Shepperton: Ian Allan Publishing. December 1971. p. 517.
- ^ 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 (1 January 1995). "Motorail to be axed in BR sell-off - News". The Independent. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
- ^ FGW's first motorail train is a sell out Rail issue 362 28 July 1999 page 9
- ^ Farewell Motorail as FGW axes summer season operation Rail Express issue 121 June 2006 page 6
- Accompanied car train
- Auto-Train, a similar service in the United States