Irish Royalty - Park Royal Coach Next For IRM
Commodious. Comfortable. Quirky and quintessentially Irish, the Park Royal coaches represent the maximum use of our generous loading gauge and an iconic piece of Irish coaching stock. It was about time it was represented faithfully in OO/4mm.
A project that has been in-hand for a while now, we're delighted to bring you the news of the IRM CIE Park Royal coaches, representing these icons from the 1950s which served CIE and later Irish Rail well into the 1990s.
Check out our extensive history of these unique coaches over a tipple below...
On July 1, 1948 the Irish Government asked Sir James Milne, last General Manager of the United Kingdom’s Great Western Railway, to investigate the state of internal transport in Ireland and his report, published later that year, suggested that diesel traction alone would not be the answer to Córas Iompair Éireann’s problems. Deemed inadequate to meet the needs of the population, Milne’s report highlighted that the average age of CIÉ’s coaching stock was 47 years old, with 155 vehicles being over 60 years old and that a large proportion of the vehicles had not had a general repair for over 10 years, with some not being overhauled since 1929.
Milne noted that, as at January 1, 1948, coaching stock (exclusive of the Drumm Battery trains), amounted to 1325 vehicles and of these, 1251 were broad gauge, with 369 bogie passenger carriages and 394 non-bogie passenger carriages, while other coaching vehicles amounted to 29 bogie vehicles and 459 non-bogie vehicles. Six-wheel stock was prevalent and of the 763 passenger vehicles, 155 still had no heating, and two even had no form of artificial lighting. There were only 34 coaches of what could be considered as modern design and all these vehicles were at least 11 years old.
Something needed to change.
On January 1, 1950, Córas Iompair Éireann was nationalised and within a couple of years the board of CIÉ had approved a capital expenditure programme of almost £1 million on new coaching stock under the direction of Oliver Bulleid. In September 1949 Bulleid had retired from his role as Chief Mechanical Engineer of British Railways Southern Region and was well placed to assist with the CIÉ’s move towards modernisation, having been one of three further technical assessors to Sir James Milne during his reporting phase. Bullied became a consulting mechanical engineer to CIÉ at the invitation of T. C. Courtney, the new chairman of CIE, and succeeded to the post of Chief Mechanical Engineer in February 1950, becoming the architect of the major construction programme that saw almost 500 new coaching stock vehicles entering service over the following 14 year period.
The bulk of these new vehicles were constructed of a steel-clad, wooden framed body, mounted on a steel underframe, but there were notable exceptions to this method of construction; the first of these being two sets of coaches that were supplied by Park Royal during 1955 and 1956, in which the timber framing of the body was replaced by a metal frame, and was mounted on an all-welded triangulated 61’ 6” underframe, running on Commonwealth bogies. These underframes were made in the United Kingdom, by the Wolverhampton firm of John Thompson Pressings Ltd.
Supplied in component form, the use of prefabricated components supplied by Park Royal allowed for volume construction using a semi-skilled workforce and a single bodyshell type was used for both suburban and main line use, to diagrams 176 and 177 respectively, but with different interior layouts. The body was built integral with the frame and bus pillars (unsurprisingly, given Park Royals coach building credentials) gave support, with the roof being carried on closely spaced hoopsticks, three to a bay. The bodyside was only as thick as it needed to be to carry the window frames and was sealed inside, before plywood lining panels were fitted direct to the frames. Lateral support came from two channel sectioned, externally fitted waist rails on each side, giving the Park Royals their distinctive external appearance.
The coaches made full use of the Irish loading gauge, being 61’ 6” inches long and 10’ 2” wide, this width reducing by 8” at each end, necessary to maintain gauging on curves. Due to their aluminium and steel construction, they only weighed 26 tons tare for the D176 suburban and 27¼ tons tare for the D177 main line type. Initially, two seating layouts were offered; the D176 suburban seating 82 passengers in a 2+3 arrangement, with 6 seats in each vestibule area, and the D177 main line seating 70 passengers in a similar 2+3 arrangement, but with toilet facilities at each vestibule end.
Initially both diagrams were supplied with inward opening ‘bus’ type doors, however these proved unpopular and confusing to the passengers and so the coaches were fitted with conventional outside opening doors as they next passed through Inchicore, the door window position being lowered in the process. This work was carried out by 1958 and there were no more changes to the coaches until the Train Lighting conversions during 1972, the Park Royal’s lighting initially being generated on-board via dynamo and battery.
There were, eventually, several variants in service, with two main conversions giving rise to ‘Snack Cars’, and then Brake Standards. Six main line vehicles were converted to ‘Snack Cars’ in 1968, with one vestibule end incorporating a small counter and serving area and the seating reduced to 56, before being either reconverted to main line standards or Brake Standards in 1984. In all, eight vehicles were converted to Brake Standards at this time, being drawn from Snack Car, suburban and Ambulance vehicles; the latter conversions being the creation of two Ambulance vehicles from existing suburban coaches, to convey invalided pilgrims to Knock Shrine in County Mayo. Two suburban vehicles also found use on the Waterford & Tramore Railway, one having bus seating installed to act as a 93 seat trailer, the other (No. 1408), being converted for use as a Driving Vehicle Trailer on the branch until 1960.
During the 1980s, appearances began to change, and the distinction between suburban and main line versions became blurred in some instances. Many of the coaches lost the circular window at the vestibule ends, with the remaining windows sometimes being reduced in size. On other vehicles, the water pipes on toilet equipped coaches were sometimes arranged in different configurations as pipes were renewed, and passenger communication gear was adapted, or removed entirely from the vehicle ends.
The Park Royal coaches continued in service until the early-1990s, before being barred from certain routes due to their construction, with the last few Park Royal carriages being withdrawn following the delivery of the first Japanese 2600 Class DMUs in 1994. During their period in traffic, Bulleid’s coaches carried a full gamut of liveries; the 40 D176 suburbans carrying the lighter standard overall mid-green livery, with the thinner eau-de-nil stripe carried below the windows, on the waist channelling. Vehicle ends were observed as being the same colour but were prone to extreme discolouration by weathering, and so it is difficult to ascertain whether, in the later years of mid-green application, the body ends were green, repainted black, or just merely filthy.
The ten D177 mainline vehicles initially appeared in unpainted Aluminium, with red class designations and running numbers between 1955 and 1958, before this impractical arrangement was covered with the application of mid-green, with lined Eau-de-Nil class designations. In 1962 the mid-green scheme was replaced with black upper panels, roof and body ends, and deep orange (or golden brown/tan) lower panels with a 6” white band between the windows and the roof. In 1987, under Iarnród Éireann, the 6” band was dropped and replaced with two 3” white bands, either side of the black panel, although it was possible that some Park Royals carried a single white band, reduced to 3”.
This first run of Park Royal coaches concentrates on the D.176 suburban variants throughout their service life, but also includes a couple of ex-D.177 Snack Car vehicles. We will, in time, also add the D.177 mainline versions to the range, along with BSO conversions and the two Knock Ambulance cars; AM14 and AM15.
With an unrivalled specification list such as a wealth of separately applied parts, both plastic and etched metal, with also fully detailed Irish commonwealth bogies for the first time in ready-to-run format, detail variations, wire handrails, bespoke detailed interiors depending on coach type, full interior lighting with stay alive powerpack for flicker free lighting and a die cast underframe to ensure smooth running, they offer unbeatable value at just €69.99 per coach, with our usual 10% off when you buy two coaches or more!
We are delighted to time the announcement of these beautiful coaches with the Wexford Model Railway Show this weekend, where we will have a 3D print of the final CAD on view.
In the meantime, you can place your pre-order with no money down now via our website for a delivery date of Q2 2024. Expect to see a fully finished sample over the summer too!
Pre-order here below:
(Despite their widespread service, and longevity of service, good clear photographs of individual Park Royal coaches are rare, and so Irish Railway Models are grateful for the photographic contributions from the Irish Rail Record Society, Jonathan Allen, Colin ‘Ernie’ Brack, Neil Smith and Noel Dodd. Thanks must also go to John Beaumont for his valuable knowledge on livery issues, as well as Peter Rigney, but the final mention must go to Robert Gardiner and the volunteers at the Downpatrick and County Down Railway, who accommodated us on several survey visits.)
- Highly-detailed 00 gauge model, 1:76.2 scale on 16.5mm track
- Scale length of 246mm over body, width of 40.67mm across body
- Operation over a minimum radius of 438mm (2nd radius set-track)
- Die-cast metal chassis with plastic body.
- Accurate CIÉ Commonwealth bogies, with separate detailing where appropriate, that allows for the option of re-gauging to Irish Broad Gauge (21mm).
- Brake blocks aligned with wheels, allowing for the option of moving outwards for Irish Broad Gauge.
- 12mm wheels are blackened RP25-110 profile for 00 gauge, set on 2mm axles, 28mm over pin-points and with 14.4mm back-to-back measurement.
- NEM standard coupling sockets, with mini-tension lock couplers with a kinematic close-coupling system.
- Scale width wire handrails, water pipes, passenger communication gear.
- Headstock pipes and cabling included in accessory polybag for customer fitting, along with Kosan Gas Tank for the Snack Car.
- Fully detailed die-cast underframe with vacuum cylinders, battery boxes, dynamo and piping applied separately.
- Accurate interior layouts, with detailed seating and decorated where appropriate.
- Full guard’s compartment and kitchen/snack bar area detailing where appropriate, including use of etched metal detailing.
- Prism free flush glazing.
- Interior coach lighting with stay-alive capacitor, pick up from both bogies and a reed switch to control on/off via magnetic wand.
- Separate roof vent types, set in correct locations.