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LMS Route: Trent Valley Line

LMS Route: Nuneaton to Leamington

Nuneaton Station: lnwrns1732

View of a fairly full Coventry Pneumatic Rail-car leaving Nuneaton station on a Coventry service on a wet day on 12th May 1937

View of a fairly full Coventry Pneumatic Rail-car leaving Nuneaton station on a Coventry service on a wet day on 12th May 1937. John Taylor writing to correct the original caption states, 'I think the caption may be wrong concerning the direction of travel. If you look closely you will note that the route is set from the DOWN SLOW to the UP & DOWN COVENTRY and signal 39, on the bracket of four, is off suggesting the railcar is travelling towards Coventry. Signalling information has been taken from an SRS box diagram for Nuneaton No 2 dated 1956'. A number of photographs of the Coventry Pneumatice railcar can be seen in images 'lnwrk161', 'lnwrlave1349', 'lnwrlave1349a' and 'lnwrlave1362', with 'gwrwm421' showing trials of the original Michelin prototype being tested on the Great Western Railway at Widney Manor.

This railcar, fostered in Great Britain by Armstrong-Siddeley Ltd of Coventry, was one of several different tyred single coach vehicles tested in the inter war period in attempt to find a cost-effective solution to lightly loaded suburban and rural lines. The Coventry Pneumatic railcar was a 56 seater with a maximum speed of 70 mph and a cruising speed from 55 to 60 mph. It was fitted with a twelve-cylinder petrol engine, developing 240 horse power. This is coupled to a self-changing gear-box giving four speeds in either direction. The vehicle accommodated fifty-six persons, had a compartment for luggage, was equipped with heating apparatus and was lit by electricity. The coach had been designed to give as much window space as possible to enable the passengers to see the surrounding country. The car was of a streamlined appearance and, as in an earlier model, had a driver's cabin in the roof at one end offering 360 degrees visibility to allow him to drive the Rail-car in the reverse direction with ease. The normal braking is such that the vehicle when travelling at 50 mph can be brought to rest in 220 yards from the point of application of the brakes. In emergencies the brakes can be arranged to bring the railcar to rest from a speed of 50 mph in a distance of 130 yards on dry rails; on wet rails the braking is not quite so good, a distance of 165 yards being necessary.

In the 1935 model three of the four axles on the driving bogie were positively driven. The suspension system used semi-elliptic springs this being in conformity with automobile practice. The weight of the unloaded vehicle is about 8 tons 5 cwt; the useful load is about 5 tons, making 13 tons 5 cwt in all. The power-to-weight ratio of this railcar is a high one, so that it has a very good performance. A very light construction is employed for the body; this method is on account of the excellent shock-absorbing qualities of the 36 inch diameter pneumatic tyres employed. The maximum speed of the railcar is about 70 mph, the cruising speed being between 55 and 60 mph. The vehicle will reach a speed of 50 mph from rest in 56 seconds; this is equivalent to a distance of about 1,110 yards. For braking, the Westinghouse compressed air system, with Lockhead hydraulic brakes acting independently on each bogie set of wheels is employed. The compressed air method is used to 'boost' or assist the operation of the hydraulic brakes.

Photograph HW Robinson courtesy of Steam Archive