Fascination with double deckers – something for the holidays

As it it still the holidays, there is time for some hobbies and investigations into model railways again. One of the things that has struck me recently is the apparent love affair with double-decker (bilayer) trains all over the world from Canada to India, and across Europe to Australia. But not apparently in the UK.

The photo below shows four double decker n gauge models from four different countries:


From the left to right:

A Czech Railways “Doppelstockwagen” made in East Germany (by Piko)

A German “Görlitz” double decker unit (by Fleischmann)

A Japanese “E4 MAX” Shinkansen (by Kato)

An American Amtrak “Superliner” (by Kato)


The advent of double decker carriages is not new. The Czech coaches seen at the front here date from the 1950s, and there are numerous photos of these carriages in use in eastern Europe available on the web.


The more contemporary German wagons in blue and grey are typical of an urban mass transit system, whilst the Japanese high speed trains are as sleek and streamlined as you would expect of a bullet train. The Amtrak coaches are just big.

So why no British double deckers? I understand there are issues with the British rails (loading gauge) and potential problems with low bridges that would have to be rebuilt along the lines. Comment is also made in the literature about “increased dwell times”. It would take longer for people to get on and off. This is not something that appears to be a problem in France where the double decker TGVs I have taken in the summer between Paris and Marseille seem to keep good time.

Evidently there was one “experiment” with double decker trains in the UK between 1949 and 1971. The so called 4DD class trains that ran on the Dartford line, designed by Oliver Bulleid who was the Chief Mechanical Engineer on Southern Railways between 1937 – 1948.  Various images of these carriages are available by following the links below.

Amazing what you find out when you start digging.

Back to academic work after the weekend.






One thought on “Fascination with double deckers – something for the holidays

  1. Paul Stevenson

    Interesting! You’d think — if privitisation had any merit — that at least one of the private companies would have tried to bid with double-deckers in mind. I didn’t know that there were experiments with double-deckers in the BR days



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