Option 1

All-Weather Carriage 


Build an all-weather railcar to the same style as the original railcars but with more modern mechanisms

Fully Accessible for 2 - 4 wheelchairs


Weatherproof providing protection and comfort for passengers & driver


Power-operated doors,  lighting and heating


Removable seats so it can also be used as a classroom for school visitors. 






·    Disabled access for 2 – 4 wheelchairs

·    Greater comfort and protection for passengers and the driver

·    Lower maintenance costs

·    Compliant with railway regulations.

·    Increased reliability and regularity 

·    Provides potential to extend the season (given increasingly warmer autumn and spring seasons) or for one off events such as Halloween and Santa Special services

·    A smoother ride and less wear and tear on the railcar mechanisms




·    High Cost 


·    Timescales for build 18 months from award of contract


·    Due to weight and turning circle not all disabled vehicles could be provided for



Budget allocated is £130K. Original quote was £442,700 in March 2022.


A budget shortfall of £312,700.



Option 2  – Rebuild Carriage 9 (Southend Train)


This carriage is a shell and has been kept in storage and will require significant work and cost to get it operational. The main disadvantage is that is a different design from the current VER carriages and has a different height than the platform. VERA have offered to raise funds to help finance this.

It is an open “toast rack” design which would have to be modified for wheelchair access and would provide no protection from the weather affording no advantage in extended running availability. The difference in hight means it could not be coupled to other cars and would need ramps at the stations to load wheelchair passengers.

·    Makes use of a genuine heritage carriage base


·         The cost is likely to be the similar as Option 1 – so expensive.

·         Running two carriages with different height levels makes it more difficult for access on and off the carriage.

·         Does not have platform accessibility so ramps may have to be supplied.

·         The carriage is fully open to the weather for both passengers and driver. Could not run during bad weather.

·         Open carriage so not all weathers

·         Difficult to see how it adds value to the VER

·         Unlikely to provide a safe and comfortable ride for wheelchair users

Similar cost to Option 1