|At a glance:|
|Builder:||Park Royal Vehicles (Abbey Road, London)|
|Original company:||Córas Iompair Éireann|
|Final company:||Iarnród Éireann|
|Arrived at DCDR:||2015|
6111 began life as one of 60 powered railcar vehicles built for CIÉ by Park Royal using traction equpment provided by the Associated Equipment Company (AEC) in May 1953. Originally, our example was numbered 2624 and was powered by underfloor engines – costing the equivalent of £500,000 each, the AEC railcars played a key role in the dieselisation of Irish railways and were quite revolutionary for their time. At first, they sat twelve first class passengers and thirty-two seconds, and were very popular with passengers. This is unsurprising, as the AECs were a stark contrast to the Victorian and Edwardian coaches that made up most of CIÉ’s stock! All of the railcars had new quick-release brake systems, wiring for multiple working, toilets, a guard’s/luggage compartment, and even-numbered units had a Spanner ‘Swirlyflo’ steam heating boiler.
The AECs were capable of hauling around non-powered trailers which were converted from existing carriages by CIÉ, like our buffet coach 2419. The standard consist was made up of two powered cars and two trailers, but this resulted in a poor power/weight ratio which reduced the working lives of their engines. 2624 was therefore withdrawn in 1973.
However withdrawal did not last long and in April 1974, 2624 emerged from Inchicore Works as 6111. The engine and boiler having been removed – it had been converted into a driving trailer for use with CIÉ’s former ‘C’ Class diesel locomotives. The AEC fleet had been re-purposed to work with the ‘C’s on push-pull suburban trains in the Dublin area, which would tide the city over until the electric DART system was opened in 1984. As part of this new role, 6111’s capacity was increased by removing the low-density railcar seats and replacing them with plastic stacking chairs. The AECs had now come full circle – originally luxurious and ultra-modern, they were now grubby, uncomfortable, and unpopular with the public!
6111’s last run took place in 1986 and it was officially withdrawn the following year, after being replaced by both the DART and our very own 80 Class No. 69, which was on loan to Irish Rail at the time. Though the rest of the AECs were scrapped, 6111’s historical importance was fortunately recognised before it was too late and it was set aside in Inchicore Works for preservation. After many years, it was acquired by us and we moved it to Downpatrick in February 2015. Though stored in the Cathedral Siding under protective tarps for now, 6111 has a lot of potential as an operational carriage and is a strong contender for our next ‘big’ restoration.