North Eastern Railway electric autocar No.3170 is captured at Holywell Halt on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway in April 2019.

Electric Autocars

Chief Mechanical Engineer of the North Eastern Railway, Sir Vincent Raven was an advocate for electric traction. In 1903, he had built two petrol driven "autocars", numbers 3170 and 3171. They were the World's first ever use of an internal combustion engine in a passenger carrying railway vehicle and would be the forerunner to the diesel multiple unit which would be developed some fifty years later.

The two autocars were ideal for light traffic services, one such being that between Scarborough to Filey. Several photographs exist of No.3170 at both Scarborough and Filey and it was recorded at least once that it operated a Scarborough to Forge Valley service. One such working was in 1906 when the autocar did not have enough capacity for the Filey train and was used on the Forge Valley instead.

No.3170 was withdrawn in 1931 and No.3171 the year before, by which time the Sentinel Steam Railcars were entering service. Incredibly, the body of No.3170 survived as a holiday home near Kirkbymoorside until 2003 when it was rescued by Stephen Middleton who took it to the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Stem Railway. Following a painstaking restoration over 15 years, No.3170 was commissioned and entered service at Embsay in October 2018 with some modifications including the use of a modern diesel powered engine.

Now operating regularly, North Eastern Railway petrol autocar No.3170 is almost certainly the only surviving example of motive power which once operated on the Forge Valley Railway. More information can be found about the autocar at