To economise and speed turn-round times,
‘motor-trains’ (or ‘push-pull trains’) were introduced from
about 1908. They were an important adjunct in the fight against the competition from electric
trams and road vehicles, a battle almost lost by 1909. A locomotive could travel almost
equally well forward or backward but had to be at the head of the train so the driver could
see the road ahead clearly. At the end of each journey it had to be moved to the other end
— unless the driver could sit at the front, leaving the engine pushing from the back,
or the middle.
So Motor Train carriage stock was developed with a small driving compartment at one end, large end windows and controls for the regulator and brake communicating control signals back to the engine. The fireman, who had to be left on the engine to tend the fire, had a much more lonely time! Motor train coaches were often converted from normal service vehicles: some were suburban compartment stock, and a few were converted open stock, of many different varieties. Conversion involved fitting a driving compartment to the brake van end of brake coaches or converting one (or two) end compartments of non-brake coaches. Trailer coaches needed fitting with the communicating control equipment but were almost indistinguishable from normal stock.
Motor trains were used mostly on country branch lines or in suburban areas, and were usually one to four coaches in length.