The Bus Replacement Rail Service (yes, that’s the right way round)

The Bus Replacement Rail Service (yes, that’s the right way round)

In Britain, the words “rail replacement bus”
are not good words to hear. It means the train you wanted to take isn’t
going anywhere, and instead everyone is going to have to get
on a slow and lumbering bus that will take at least twice as long and
be so much less comfortable. If you’ve already left the first station, then the rail company is required to get you
to your destination… but there’s no rule to say how fast. Rail replacement buses are the
train traveller’s nightmare. Which is why I was surprised to learn that,
for just a few days, things were happening the opposite way around: here, between two remote villages
in the lowlands of Scotland, there is a very rare sight:
the bus replacement train. The normal schedule here is to run every weekend,
usually from Easter to the end of September. The bus replacement service was an idea that
was born out of some discussions between some villagers and the volunteers
on the railway, and then once we realised there would be enough
volunteers to run this week, we devised a timetable, and we’ve now got
a daily service for this week. The B797, the tiny road between Leadhills
in South Lanarkshire and Wanlockhead in Dumfries and Galloway, is shut for resurfacing. The diversion takes
about 45 minutes by road… but by luck, there happens to be a volunteer-run,
narrow-gauge railway between the two. There’s all volunteers, there are no paid
employees at Leadhills at all. We all just give up our time for free. Tomorrow, I’ll be the guard,
but today, I’m the driver. And we cover all of the different roles. It’s being used by people
going to the doctor’s surgery, for people commuting to work
at the Museum of Lead Mining. And a few other places besides. And yes, it looks a little bit ridiculous. But you know what? It works. And it’s not often you’ll find that a disruption
to your journey can actually make your day better. The response has been great so far this week. The villagers are enjoying it, and we’ve also
had a few extra tourists that we wouldn’t normally get on a weekday
coming to see us. So it’s good publicity for the line, and it helps the villagers! Thank you to everyone at the Leadhills and
Wanlockhead railway! If you’re watching this video on the day or
so after it goes up, there may still be time to travel on this
service! Details and a link are in the description, along with the dates when they’re running
steam trains on the track this summer. [Translating these subtitles? Add your name here!]

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Last night, in Stockholm, due to Heavy snowfalls, all bus services were fell apart and shut down. that included the night buses that usually runs when the metro was not in service. But due to the bus network not working, they decided to run the metro all night long as a "Bus replacement metro services", going once an hour, just for that night! If i was able to, I could report that in "Tom Scott"-style or something, but i couln't go anywere as my local bus service – was shut down! (I would be stuck anyways as my local bus services doesn't run on the nights.)

  2. When there was flooding in Cumbria that destroyed a road bridge, they quickly built a temporary train station on each side and ran a shuttle train over the surviving rail bridge. This was a few years ago and lasted a few months.

  3. That train and the people who keep it going deserve an impromptu party. Donations can go to it's upkeep. Just saying over the pond people.

  4. Something similar is happening right now in Slovakia.

  5. The obvious question is why do they have a bus service? Is that train really that slow. No bus would make the train profitable maybe or at least covering the mechanical costs better.

  6. In Austria they had the same thing on the Donauuferbahn in the Wachau region. Because they had a flood and the road was closer to the Danube than the rail. The railway had been abolished a few months before but was set on service again.

  7. Bus replacement rail… The train actually does me better because I actually know where it's stopping. On the bus, you sometimes don't know whether it's coming or going.

  8. Wait! What?! You are saying train replacement busses are even less comfortable than trains? Is that possible?
    I only used British trains from Stansted to Birmingham and back and it was quite bad, you are saying busses are even worse? Oh dear…

  9. Talyllyn is currently doing this to replace buses reduced in number by construction on the B4405! (June 2019)

  10. This year (2019), there is bus replacement rail service between Slovakia and Czech Republic because of reconstruction a road bridge across the border river Morava. The rail line has not been previously used for some years, so this year the traffic there will come alive for a few months.

  11. Takes me back when I was a schoolboy, went to a summer camp for a week with the former Lanarkshire Education Committee , stayed in Leadhills school and explored the area, at twelve years of age it's brill.
    Climbed Green Lowther hill.

  12. Not entirely true that Rail Replacement is a nightmare! Took one in London on Sunday (no traffic!) and took exactly the same time as the train 🙂

  13. We've actually had underground/light rail replacement trams once. Seeing the "replacement service" sign on a tram was quite confusing…

  14. There used to be passenger trains that ran from Chicago to Green Bay Wisconsin. They were discontinued because a lack of passengers. It occurred to me wouldn't it be great if the sea of drunken football fans plaguing the highway on Sundays during the football season had a "Game Day" train instead?

  15. The volunteer-run, narrow gauge Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway bus replacement rail service train engine thingy, looks like a kids tiny toy train, train engine, taken fresh out of Thomas the Tank Engine's teams television show.

    If those sheep in the nearby paddock turned feral and nasty, they could gang up on the railway bus replacement rail service tiny train engine thingy, headbutting it, causing a catastrophic derailment of the railway bus replacement rail service train.

    Toot toot toot.🐑🐑🚂🐑🐑

  16. Like McDonald's restaurants in the States, people will settle for lower quality service as long as it is consistent and reliable.

  17. (At the end of the video)
    *Goes into description*
    *Sees date*
    Today’s date: Sunday 6th October 2019
    Video’s upload date: Thursday 7th July 2016
    Me: oh

  18. They should try running it a couple of times times a week or month just for fun. I bet it would continue bringing in more tourists. I'd certainly go out of my way to ride it. Looks like more fun than my local bus system. Probably a smoother ride too & I literally mean that. I went on Tulsa's 201 yesterday & the road was so bouncy & loud we couldn't talk even if we yelled.

  19. This is awesome, Id love to volunteer for something like this in my area.. Im gonna build my career around the railways if I can manage it.

  20. Increasing how often the rail drives on a existing route for temporary situations is not that uncommon. With my definition of "temporary" going all the way up to (and including) school days.
    If I look at any train plan in Germany, a whole host of the sheduled times (as well as for busses) will be marked with "only on Schooldays".
    We also get increased service during stuff like larger festivities or blocked roads (for demonstations or roadwork, etc.). If it is known in advance only, of course.
    And while the service is very nice and I would never punch a gift horse in the mouth, I do think that in comfort that trains is propably still a downgrage from a bus. So at least that old ruled holds 🙂

  21. If you ever need a new rail motor, QLD Australia has a fleet of retired class 2000 ‘silver bullet’ rail motors that run on narrow gauge and would be perfect.

  22. From my experience the replacement coaches are just as comfortable.
    Adds about an hour on to an hours journey though…

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