Published at 10:17 on Friday 2nd December 2016
Tags: Woodhead, Archive, Fire, Inspection Saloon, Olive

Railbus Olive following the arson attack EM2 Locomotive Society

The EM2 Locomotive Society (EM2LS) has started a fundraising appeal to fund the repairs and restoration work required on its unique four-wheeled railbus, No. DB998901 Olive, which was extensively damaged by vandals earlier this year.

Olive is the unique survivor from a batch built in 1950 for the Woodhead and Great Eastern electrification schemes. It was converted to passenger use by volunteers between 1997 and 2000 and then used at the Middleton Railway in Leeds until the arson attack in February this year.

No. DB998901 was built by Baguley of Burton on Trent in 1950 to an order from Drewry, as part of an order for two vehicles placed by the LNER in December 1947, for use on the Woodhead Route. It was put to work as an Overhead Line Inspection Vehicle, which earned it the nickname Olive. After a number of years out of use it was handed over to the BR Research Department at Derby in the early 1970s, after which it was used to maintain the overhead lines on the BR test track at Old Dalby in Leicestershire. It was purchased by the EM2 Locomotive Society and transferred to Middleton Railway in November 1997, where it was converted to passenger use, winning a Heritage Railway Association award for its restoration. With limited capacity it was used on quieter days and proved to be a popular attraction.

Unfortunately, back in February, the railbus was vandalised in an arson attack. Extensive damage was caused to the bodywork and interior, but thanks to the prompt action of a neighbouring builders’ merchants, the Fire Brigade arrived promptly and dealt with the fire before it could spread below floor level and consequently the mechanical side of the vehicle is relatively untouched. The timing of the attack was particularly unfortunate as the vehicle had just returned from the Vintage Carriages Trust’s workshop at Ingrow, where it had been sent for extensive bodywork repairs that had been paid for by the Society’s own funds.

Damage to the bodywork is extensive and the interior has been completely gutted, however, the Society has consulted with the Vintage Carriages Trust and agreed a restoration plan for the vehicle. It is intended that Olive will be transported to Ingrow in 2017 for professional bodywork repairs and replacement of all doors and windows, after which it is planned that it will return to Middleton for Society volunteers and supporters to fit out the interior.

Although an insurance payment has been received, the people who undertook this malicious vandalism have not been caught so the EM2LS, a UK registered charity that also owns EM2 class No. 27000 Electra, is now faced with the task of raising around £9,000 to enable the repairs to take place. Having only recently paid for the aforementioned bodywork repairs, the Society’s funds are presently low and the vehicle is in a far worse condition than it was prior to the previous restoration. The EM2LS has thus launched ‘Operation Phoenix’ to raise the necessary capital, as if the £9,000 cannot be raised, the future is potentially very bleak for the railbus. Donations of any size are welcomed and can be made here.

You can also donate by sending a cheque (payable to EM2 Locomotive Society) to 21 Harper Grove, Idle, Bradford, BD10 8NX. Further information can be obtained from by emailing

Welcome to the new Railway Herald website. You have requested access to the part of the site that is only available to members.

Why not subscribe now for

£ 23 per year

Subscribe now and get access to our weekly digital magazine and online news content.

Or sign up for a FREE account, and share your railway imagery with thousands of enthusiasts across the globe.

Already Registered?

Enter your username and password below
to login to the website

Keep me logged in ? Forgotten your password?