The Southend Transport Service.
It has not just been open top busses that have operated a public transportation service along the Sea Front but there were also two attempts to operate a land train service.
The first of these launched in Summer 1994 and operated for two years before the operator Southend transport decided to stop the service due to rising costs and falling patronage.
The service saw two Southend Transport liveried blue and cream Dotto Castel Franco land trains operate between the Sea Life Centre on Eastern Esplanade to the Rossi Ice Cream Parlour on Western Esplanade below the Cliffs Pavilion. The first to arrive was registered as Q415 DPG and carried the Southend Transport indent of 415, the second was Q416 DPG and was numbered as 416. These two trains were acquired from Windsor Safari Park in June 1994.
The train had a Heavy duty rigid steel sectional chassis with a fibreglass body, power supply was a 4-cylinder Perkins diesel 82hp running at 2200rpm, this operated from a 24 speed mechanical gear box forward with 12 operating for reverse. The train was four wheel drive with Pneumatic disk brakes with oil bath lubrication on both axles, steering was power assisted the train pulled three coaches.
They were originally operated with two coaches per train this was soon added to with a further carriage added to both trains.
The 30 minute service operated between 10:00am & 5:30pm the route was as follows:
The two train operation only lasted for the 1994 season, the 1995 operating season saw a reduced service of a single train operating throughout the summer.
At the close of the 1995 season the service discontinued and both the trains were sold off.
The service did not operate under PSV regulations, but under the Vehicle Special Order Regulations under section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
The Private venture service.
A second attempt to run a land train service was launched by a private operator in July 1999 this operated two smaller Dotto P90 Land Train’s in a yellow and blue livery the service operated partly on the pavement and partly on the road, the two trains had three carriages each holding 10-12 people.
The P90 had a heavy duty rigid steel sectional structure with a fibreglass body the power came from a Perkins Diesel, 4-cylinder that gave 50 HP(SAE) at 2,800 rpm the gear box was a Ford synchronised, 5-speed + 1 reverse gear. With mechanical transmission going to the rear axle, the breaking system consisted of drum brakes steering was power assisted. These were registed as K350 LWK (seen left) and K27? JML (below)
However the high operating costs saw the re-launched service only operated for one season ending in September 1999.
Whenever one of the trains went for a service or was out of order a replacement would be used to keep the service at full strength, an unknown train is seen operating below.