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Diesel Multiple Unit Stock




NB The sketches used for illustration are NOT scale drawings - Illustrations, where provided, are sketches not scale drawings and were intended to show the various livery changes, so matters below the solebar tend to get rather impressionistic. I am deeply indebted to the members of the uk.railway and uk.rec.models.rail newsgroups who have provided a great deal of the information and, sadly, many corrections for the text.

Pre-BR Diesel Multiple Units

The Diesel Multiple Unit or DMU served a different need from the 'suburban' EMUs, they were seen as a viable low cost alternative to a loco and coach for branch line working or as a high speed inter-city unit. In the early 20th century several experimental machines were built with petrol engines, the NER and the LBSCR each had at least one 4-wheel petrol railcars, I have not yet traced any details on these units (other than the number for an NER car which was No.3768).

The LMS tried a diesel electric four car unit (converted by English Electric from two two-car electric multiple units built for the L & Y Bury to Holcombe Brook branch in 1928), the service operated between Blackpool and Lytham for about a year (1928-1929).

Several conversions based on commercial bus chassis were employed on the light railways and naturally there were experiments with this form of traction on the major lines as well. The LMS purchased a small fleet (I think it was three) of four wheeled railcars from Leyland in about 1933, numbered 29950 to 29953. Two sources suggest these were used mainly in Scotland but correspondence in the HMRS Journal suggests at least three of these LMS Leyland units worked in the North West, apparently two units were allocated to Lower Darwen shed and a third to Hamilton. The Darwen units 'operated on the Bolton-Blackhum-Hellifield line, between Spring Vale and Gisburn, but most turned back at Clitheroe or Chatburn'.

Fig___ 1930s LMS Railbus
Sketche LMS railbus unit

I believe these units ended services in about 1945 although some sources suggest they lasted into the early BR era (possibly at another location), however they did not survive long enough to receive a TOPS class number. The LMS roundel may have been on the door rather than on the side, the only photograph I was able to find was too small to make out the exact details of the livery. The picture below was kindly forwarded by Mr Keith Swallow, it shows his Grandfather, the driver, on the left. Mr Swallow commented that:
I thought you might be intersted to see the attached photo. It shows the railcar at either Ansdell, St Annes or Lytham station. My Grandfather was a steam engine driver and was asked to do the test runs of the experimental railcar. My father always used to say he thought it was luxury after the steam engines.


Fig___ 1930s LMS Railbus
Photo showing LMS railbus unit

It was the 1930s before diesel engines and transmission systems were up to the job of shifting something similar in weight to a standard railway passenger coach and the GWR introduced a series of successful single and double coach units operating on lightly used but long haul services. These units used AEC bus engines and direct mechanical transmission via a 'crash' gearbox. The Graham Farish GWR rail-car is the un-streamlined 1941 version, these supplemented an existing streamlined type (with a lot more curve to the lines of the front end) dating from the 1930's.

Later examples of the original 'curvey' single car type were re-geared to pull trailing loads of up to thirty tons, this allowed them to pull an additional coach if required but the only 'freight' connection would be the hauling of the occasional van or horse box down a branch line. As I understand it these vehicles used electric lights on the front to show the correct 'headcode' but certainly after the re-geared versions appeared a standard white oil lamp with red lens was added to the rear (hanging just below the centre divide of the drivers cab windows). This rear lamp allowed the signalmen to check that nothing had come adrift and been left behind in the section.

The GWR found these machines useful and built some as single car express parcels machines with three pairs of side doors.

Fig___ GWR diesel passenger and parcels units
Sketches of GWR diesel passenger and parcels units

The sketch shows the original passenger type with the curves, and a subsequent 'express parcels' unit based on the later angular type built in 1936. This original parcels unit No 17 was later joined by two conversions of the 'angular' passenger cars, numbers 13 and 14 and a second purpose built parcels unit was added later, number 34. Both these alternative types and the larger two car unit are available as white metal kits from Langley. One odd point regarding the earlier single car units, not geared to haul a trailing load, operated with the buffer heads removed (the shanks were still in place).

A total of thirty eight units were built, including the four parcels cars, and they remained in use until 1962, ending their days in BR lined green livery.

In 1938 the LMS built a very substantial three-car articulated unit (four bogies, the centre car sharing bogies with the inner ends of the outer two cars). Each of the cars carried two engines, mounted under the floor which supplied power via a hydraulic linkage and had a top speed of 75mph, which was very respectable for its time. The set had very modernistic styling, pneumatic sliding doors, operated by the guard, and skirts were mounted on the sides to give a very streamlined look. In use the skirts caused overheating problems and were subsequently removed. Both first and second class accommodation was provided and the seats had backs which could be moved from front to back so the 162 passengers could face forwards, or arrange them for a group to face each other.

The livery was red lower panels and cream upper sides with a black line between the two and a red line with thin black line above and below at the cantrail. The roof was apparently white. Some sources suggest that the red may not have been LMS maroon but a brighter red similar to that used by the Post Office. (Thanks to Tony Cane and Mick Bryan for help sorting out the livery. )

Fig___ LMS articulated three car unit
Sketche LMS articulated three car unit

Note that when in service there would be a white oil lamp on the bracket above each of the front buffers and a single red lensed lamp on the centre bracket under the drivers window at the rear. The LMS numbered the coaches 80000, 80001 and 80002 and the service operated between Oxford and Cambridge and later on runs from London to Nottingham. During World War Two the unit was withdrawn and after the war it was converted to a two-car unit for use on overhead wire maintenance on the Altrincham to Manchester 1500v DC line.




BR era diesel and electric multiple units

The British Transport Commission favoured the use of diesel multiple units for short-haul, branch line passenger traffic and electric multiple units for suburban commuter traffic. Electric multiple units were already in widespread use throughout the country in the more built up areas, some of these services dated back to the 1890s although most of the existing stock dated from the 1930s.

There had been less experience of diesel traction although the GWR experience and developments abroad suggested there was merit in the idea. Trials began in the early 1950s with units such as the ACV (see below) and the first series production passenger sets (Derby Lightweight units, using hydraulic transmission) were put into service in Yorkshire in 1953. These proved a great success, popular with the travelling public as well as with the crews, and a whole series of multiple units was produced ranging from single coach units for branch lines up to multi-coach units for high speed intercity services. In the event it was decided that the DMU would also serve for busy commuter lines where electrification would cost too much, hence some units featured doors beside each set of seats, resembling compartment coaches (although in the BR era the interiors were open). These were usually referred to as 'high density units'.

One curiosity of the early DMUs was the retention of oil lamps, even though most of the units were equipped with electric lights (the Scottish Class 100s had only a single light mounted in the roof). I remember in the 1960s my father was late home from a meeting in London because the oil lamp on the rear of the Blue Pullman express diesel multiple unit had blown out during the 90mph trip. This had been seen by a signalman who had to stop the train to check it had not left any coaches behind, which meant it had missed its slot in the diagram and had to complete the rest of the journey with several stops. Oil lamps, particularly tail lamps, remained in occasional use on multiple units well into the 1980s.I have yet to see an oil lamp on a second generation DMU (these all have red electric tail lights built in), and there is as far as I am aware no lamp bracket to mount one, but doubtless someone somewhere will e-mail me an example.



Early BR era 'Railbus' lightweight units

The two options for diesel passenger units at the time were light weight low powered units using direct mechanical transmission or rather heavier but higher capacity, higher speed, units using a diesel engine to drive a generator for electric motors or a pump for hydraulic motors. In about 1950 Leyland Motors came up with a new approach, called a 'fluid flywheel' for their new heavy lorry. As I understand it (and I could be wrong) this consists of two plates fitted with vanes, facing each other in a sealed bath of oil. The engine drives one of the plates and as it spins it carries the oil with it, the oil then acts on the vanes of the second plate causing it to revolve. This provides an elastic cushion between the engine and the drive. Developed for a heavy lorry they were building the fluid flywheel proved itself as a viable coupling between engine and wheels for diesel powered passenger vehicles.

The lightweight idea found favour on the basis of cost and early experiments under BR were based on bus parts. There was a single three car 'multiple unit' of four wheelers, complete with gangway connections - The A.C.V. Lightweight Diesel Railcar. This lightweight train, in a shades of grey livery, was used for trails for a time on various branch lines around the country during 1953 (probably remaining in trials service for a year or two later). One driving car had two cabs for testing as a single car unit, coupled with the second driving cab vehicle it formed a two coach set and with the centre car it operated as a three car unit. I believe this unit employed direct mechanical transmission via a gearbox.

Fig___ ACV Lightweight Multiple Unit
Sketch ACV Lightweight Multiple Unit

The single-car four wheeler 'rail bus' units that actually entered service with BR in 1958 (after the larger and heavier DMUs had started services) were intended to offer a low cost solution to providing passenger services on branch lines. Five firms, four British and one German, were each contracted to supply five machines. Only the German company had experience of building such machines, examples of their type being in use in several countries. The twenty five machines were allocated to four regions for trials - Eastern Region got 5, London Midland Region 4, Western Region another 4 and Scottish Region got 9.

The first unit to enter BR service was a single four-wheeler, built by AC Cars, with a nineteen foot wheelbase delivered in 1958 and used in Scotland with the number SC79979. This was the basis for the well known 4mm scale Airfix kit. The remaining four of this type were then used on the Tetbury & Cirencester branches in Gloustershire. The nineteen foot wheelbase proved rather long for some of the curves on the line (a fact which appears to have been forgotten by BR when they built the Class 14x four wheelers 1981). The Gloucestershire rail-buses were numbered W79975 to W79778. Each company had a different design, the sketch below shows the Airfix type on the left and a Wickham type (generally considered the most successful) on the right.

Fig___ Early BR Railbus types
Sketch of two early railbus types

The sketch above shows two designs of rail bus, on the left is a tracing from an old Airfix Magazine advert from (I think) the later 1960s and shows the original BR livery for diesel passenger units with the distinctive 'speed whiskers' on the front. The example on the right is a Wickam type, traced from a photo of a preserved example, the livery is taken from a photograph of the vehicle in service Note that although the Wickham type has speed whiskers it does not have bodyside lines or a BR roundel logo, they were only used in Scotland but were considered the most successful of the five types of railbus. Most of these small machines ended up on the Scottish Region but they had a comparatively short life, the first withdrawal came in 1963, and the last were withdrawn in early 1969.

The preserved Wickham four wheeler vehicle is not an original railbus, it began life as the 'Elliott Track Recording Coach' DB999507, introduced in 1957 and had a heavier chassis that the railbus, however this was simplified when it passed to the Railway Test Centre and from the photographs I have found the sketch looks close enough to the railbus chassis.

Fig___ Wickham track recording coach liveries
Sketch of Wickham track recording coach liveries

The preserved Wickham has been rebuilt as a railcar and is based at the Middleton Railway in Leeds but I believe it is currently (2005) outbased with the DMU Group at the Llangollen Railway




BR built DMUs and DPUs

During the later 1950s BR introduced a large number of diesel multiple units, or DMUs, with body designs based on the new (and for its time advanced) BR Mk 1 coach. These 'first generation' passenger DMUs were mostly two-car units but there were quite a few three-car and a few four-car sets and a few 'single' car types. All but the Class 112/113 units had two engines on each power car, feeding power through a fluid flywheel to cardan shafts driving one axle on the adjacent bogie. The 112 and 113 units had only a single engine but they operated as two car sets with two power cars.

These diesel units proved successful and many of the units built at this time remained in service into the 1990s, a few made it into the new Millennium (I understand that some had their engines removed for use in the 'second generation' Class 142 rail-bus units of the 1980s). The individual types are described according to BR Class number below.

The first sets delivered were the Derby Lightweight and Metropolitan-Cammell lightweight two car units, both introduced in 1954. Both these were non standard in various ways so they were withdrawn from service by 1969 and never received a TOPS class number. Detailed descriptions will be found below. Both the Derby and the Metropolitan-Cammell lightweight units were equipped with four white electric lights on the front, replicating the four position headcode disks used on locomotives. In practice as neither was geared to haul a trailing load they would normally have only used the two outer lamps above the buffer beam (stopping passenger train).

The later BR DMUs were equipped with couplings and vacuum braking to allow them to pull trailing loads, typically a four wheeled CCT van or a bogied Goods Utility Van (GUV) might be tagged on the tail. This was common practice in the early years although by the 1960s four wheeled wagons were banned from passenger trains so the bogie types predominated. This restriction did not apply to parcels trains however, so one might see a four wheeled CCT towed behind a parcels carrying unit. One of the early series was a fleet of five Class 128 and three Class 129 single car parcels carriers, classified as DPU or Diesel Parcels Unit. These proved a success and additional units were converted from passenger sets, but retaining the original class number. In many cases the 'converted' units simply had the seats removed and some did not even have new doors fitted when first converted (making them difficult to spot in photographs). The purpose built DPUs had large side doors fitted, scaled to suit the British Railways BRUTE parcels trolley. The Class 128 and 129 units had pairs of sliding doors, in the later 1980s converted units, which had hinged doors, had these replaced with roller shutter doors.

Fig___ Class 128 (WR) Parcels Railcar in early 1960s BR livery

Sketch of Class 128 Parcels Railcar in early green livery

The first generation DPUs were delivered in the standard BR lined green livery with Parcels Service in white toward the bottom of the side. When the yellow panels appeared in the early 1960s units with an end gangway had the gangway cover painted yellow, I believe the lower front remained green. In the late 1960s the livery changed to blue with the white double arrow logo under each cab door and Parcels Service in white toward the bottom of the side. In 1987 BR closed down its own door-to-door parcels service but these units continued in service for Royal Mail traffic. Some had a red stripe about ten inches deep with a white line above and below added along the sides between the doors in the later 1980s (I believe this started in 1986). In 1989 these vehicles became part of BR Parcels Sector and a red livery was adopted, in 1990 yellow lining was added to this livery (see Class 128 entry below). These first generation DPUs remained in service on Post Office traffic until 1990 (in 1995 Class 325 multi-voltage DPUs appeared but these were purpose built for the job).

In 1960 6 and 8 car Class 251 Blue Pullman multiple units were built by Metropolitan Camel for high speed inter-city work. For details see the listing under the Class designation below. These were replaced by loco hauled services for a time after withdrawal.

In 1976 the new High Speed Trains (HST's or IC125's) appeared on Western Region and were widely seen as a great advance as they reduced journey times on longer hauls considerably. The HST's replaced the loco hauled services and were originally designed as fixed rakes and designated as 'Class 253 diesel multiple units'. They were later reclassified as Class 43 locomotives and standard Mk.3 coaches (loco hauled coaches used a different electrical supply and were classed Mk3 a and b). As of 2005 some refurbished HST sets are being described as 'Class 255 diesel multiple units'.

From the mid 1980s the so called 'second generation' diesel multiple units appeared, all featuring sliding doors and many offering air conditioning. This tranche of locomotives mutated into a range of designs for specific requirements, many being very similar in appearance.

To replace the HST BR ordered the Class 91 Bo-Bo locomotive which entered service in 1989 or 1990. Developed for multiple unit passenger working on the ECML these are single-ended loco's. Coupled with upgraded Mk 4 coaches they were run in Intercity livery initially, now they are used by GNER for their 'Mallard' services.




First Generation DMU Classes

There is a web site devoted to the British DMU which is well worth a visit and contains a lot more information than I was able to find myself. Click on this link to open the site in a new window - The Railcar Association .

Derby Lightweight 2 car sets. Introduced in 1954, all withdrawn by 1969 used on ER.
Later variants included 1, 2 and 4 car sets but their non standard hydraulic transmission meant they were withdrawn after a comparatively short operational life. These units had the fold-over seat backs, allowing the passengers to travel facing forwards (something that had proved popular on trams for many years), or to set up facing each other when in a group.

Sketch of a Derby Lightweight single car unit

The sketch shows one of the early single car Derby Lightweight units in original livery, these later had the V shaped 'speed whiskers' added to the lower front. The two car unit was identical but did not have the twin exhausts to either side of the front window (they were positioned between the two cars). I understand the 'lion on a unicycle' logo remained in place for their entire service life. One of the two car sets was adopted for equipment testing by the Railway Testing Centre (RTC) at Derby, named Ultra and painted in the red and blue RTC livery. A single car unit was also adopted for testing purposes, named Isis this retained green livery but gained the yellow panel on the lower front and appears to have lost the early BR logo, this seems to have been replaced by the circular 'coach' logo. The Derby sets had an almost Victorian styling, with very tall cab windows on the three flat panel front. One odd batch were built for use on the old Maryport & Carlisle line in West Cumberland which had a very restricted loading gauge and required a special narrow bodied version (3 inches smaller than standard) to serve this line.

Metropolitan-Cammell lightweight 2 car sets. Introduced in 1954, all withdrawn by 1969, allocated to London Midland Region and Eastern Region
I believe these units employed the Leyland fluid flywheel transmission. I am not aware of any Metropolitan-Cammell Lightweight single car units, there may have been some but I have not seen any photographs of them.

Sketch of a Metropolitan-Cammell Lightweight two car unit

Metropolitan-Cammell had a distinctive house style, the lightweight unit is clearly the antecedent of their later Class 101.

Class 100 Gloucester 2-car sets. Introduced in 1958 - Allocated to ER and ScR.
The early Class 100 units, supplied for use in Scotland, had only a single electric light, mounted in the roof above the cab, and relied on oil lamps carried on lamp brackets to display their headcode and tail light.

Sketch of a Class 100 DMU


Class 101 and 102 - These units were seen everywhere on branch line duties
These Met Cammel 2/3/4-car sets were geared to pull trailing loads and in the early years, up to the 1960's, they often had a parcels van attached. The 101s and 102s appear identical but have different engines. The sketch (taken from a poor photo taken at Hale station one late evening) shows the vehicle in late 1980s Regional Railways livery.

Sketch of a Class 101 DMU
The sketch shows a unit in its final condition, note the high intensity spotlamp mounted centrally on the front, added in the later 1980s. A model of the 101 is available from Graham Farish in both two and three car versions and a range of liveries. The original Farish model had the power supplied by a bogie hidden in the guards compartment, more recent models have a full-length chassis and hence no seat detail in the powered unit. An OO model was produced by Triang in (I think) the 1960s. One of the last to go was 'Daisy', a two car 101 unit repainted in its original BR green livery (but with yellow ends and the required high intensity headlamp) which operated in the South Manchester area until late December 2003. The photo taken in poor evening light shows 'Daisy' at Hale level crossing a couple of days before final withdrawal.

Photo of a Class 101 DMU


Class 103 Park Royal 2-car sets, introduced 1957 withdrawn 1982. Allocated to LMR some were later transferred to WR.
These units had a distinctly curved front to the cab. In the BR blue period the two digit headcode windows were plated over but the roller blind headcode indicator remained in place.
Sketch of a Class 103 DMU
The sketch shows the original livery, by the time they were withdrawn they were all blue with an all yellow front.

Class 104 BRC&W built 2/3/4-car sets, introduced 1957, withdrawn 1983 - Allocated to LMR and ER
Supplied to Eastern Region and London Midland Region, as with the Class 103 these units had a distinctly curved front to the cab.

Sketch of a Class 104 DMU
The original livery was as shown, this was followed by BR blue with full yellow ends, in the 1990s some received Network South East livery whilst others were painted in Regional Railways livery. By this time the two digit route indicator on the cab front had been plated over, the roof mounted roller blind type destination indicator remained in place but appears not to have been used.

Class 105/6 Cravens built 2/3-car sets, introduced 1956 - Allocated to LMR, ER and ScR
The 105s were built for use in East Anglia, however the closure of many branch lines saw them displaced to other parts of the country. The 105s and 106s were externally identical but had different engines, the same body was also used for the Class 112 and 113 (the latter having a roof mounted four digit headcode box in place of the destination indicator). A kit is available from BH Enterprises

Sketch of a Class 105 DMU


Class 107 Derby 3-car sets, introduced 1960 - Allocated to ScR
Known as the Derby heavyweight sets these units operated from Glasgow but did occasionally venture south onto LMR lines. They started in BR green livery then all-blue. From the later 1970 the local PTE subsidised a number of rail services, initially these trains were in BR blue with PTE branding, in 1983 a number of PTEs were merged to form Strathclyde PTE and the livery changed to dark grey and orange as shown in the sketch.
Sketch of a Class 107 DMU
The sketch shows the PTE livery used from 1983 until the later 1990s. From about 1997 the dark grey changed to cream and the lower sides to crimson.

Class 108 Derby built 2/3/4-car sets - Allocated to LMR, ER and WR
Very similar to the Class 107 units but had an aluminium body based on original lightweight cars. As built these had either a two digit headcode box (used on Eastern Region and North Eastern Region and in the Liverpool area) or a four digit headcode box (used on London Midland Region and Western Region). These were plated over in their later life and the sketch shows a two car unit in BR blue and grey livery in the 1970s with the headcode box plated over (as operated from Manchester Victoria) beside the original lined green livery with headcode in place. A kit is available from BH Enterprises for both the early type end and the later type end.

Sketch of Class 108 DMU



Class 109 Wickham built 2-car sets introduced 1957
The five Wickham Class 109 sets used an all steel frame of monocoque design with lightweight frame members to save even more weight. As they were of non standard construction, and difficult to maintain, the last two were withdrawn by 1972. Two early withdrawals were passed to Trinidad in the early 1960s, and the remaining set became an Eastern Region managers train in 1967.

Sketch of a Class 109 DMU
The sketch shows the original green livery, this had speed whiskers added in the later 1950s, from 1962 these were replaced by a yellow panel. In 1967 the change over to rail blue began and by the time these units were withdrawn from UK service the full yellow end was standard.

Class 110 BRC&W 3-car sets introduced 1961 - Allocated to the NER and LMR
The subject of an OO model from Hornby, these three car sets were based on the Class 104 with a slightly different cab and window fittings. They were used extensively in Yorkshire and parts of Lancashire for suburban and cross country services on the former L&Y lines (often referred to as Calder Valley sets).

Sketch of Class 110 DMU

One curious feature was in the 'speed whiskers' on the early green livery which are thickest at the bottom centre and taper as they arch upwards to blend into the waist line body stripe. When I saw this on a photo of a preserved unit I thought they had got it wrong but I am told that in fact these units did have that arrangement. As they operated as Intercity units they received the blue and grey livery in later life although on the only photo I was able to find there was no BR double arrow logo on the body side.

Class 111 Met Cammel built 2/3-car sets introduced 1957 - Allocated to LMR and NER
Essentially the same as the Class101/2 sets but with a new engine. The last batches were fitted with roof mounted four digit headcode boxes so the destination indicator roller blind was moved down above a reduced height central cab window. The example in the sketch has the headcode box plated over although its location could still be discerned.

Sketch of a Class 111 unit

Class 112/3 Cravens built 2-car sets introduced 1960 withdrawn 1969 - Allocated to LMR
Supplied to London Midland Region and often running across the border into NER (Yorkshire) territory on the former L&Y lines. Both classes used a standard Cravens body, as used on the Class 105s, but with different engine arrangements, in this case all ran as two-power-car sets. They got two TOPS numbers because of differences in the transmission system, the 113s were also fitted with 4 digit headcode box.

Class 113
The sketch shows a class 113, with the four character headcode box. The headcode displayed is taken from a model on the DC Kits website - I have not seen such a code displayed on a BR unit myself, it may have been done in the London area where two character codes were widely used. The Class 112 looked (I believe) very like the 105s, the difference being under the solebar where only a single engine was fitted.

Class 114 Derby built 2-car sets introduced 1956, all withdrawn by 1992 - Allocated to LMR and ER
A Derby heavyweight set supplied to Eastern Region and later to London Midland Region. Several were converted into parcels units in 1986, initially only the seats were removed, later roller shutter doors were added and some windows were either replaced by sheet metal or possibly just painted over. A kit is available from BH Enterprises. The sketch shows a DPU variant.

Sketch of a Class 114 DP unit

The two car DPU version of the 114 was regularly coupled with Class 128 DPU, a typical rake being a 128 leading with two 114 two-car units trailing behind.

Class 115 Derby built 4-car sets introduced 1960 for North London suburban workings, withdrawn about 2000. Some worked Liverpool-Manchester services
These were updated Class 114 units, externally the same the interior was rather more stylish and less 'bus like' than the 114s. They worked services on the 'Chiltern Lines' operating from Marylebone, a few went north for the Liverpool-Manchester service. These units had a four character headcode box on the roof and (when new at least) a roller-blind destination indicator in the upper part of the central window. In later years the hesadcode box was plated over and the roller blind removed (as shown in the sketch below).

Class 115

The sketch shows a set in Network South East livery, the inset in the lower left is the logo displayed on the front of the unit, this appeared on all NSE multiple unit fronts.

Class 116 Derby built 3-car 'high density' sets introduced 1957 - All regions except SR
Initially ordered for WR they saw service on all regions except the Southern. In the 1970s some became parcels cars with the centre car replaced by a GUV, they were then returned to passenger services but in the 1980s a few were again altered for parcels use. In both cases the alteration consisted simply of the removal of seating.A kit is available from BH Enterprises

Sketch of a Class 116 DMU


Class 117 Pressed Steel built 3-car sets introduced 1959 - Allocated to WR
These high density units operated mainly from Paddington but were also used in Wales and the Midlands (notably being the mainstay of the Birmingham cross city line). In the mid 1970s they were refurbished, the roof mounted four character headcode box was plated over but remained in place and they were repainted in the white with blue band livery. By the mid 1980s they were seen all over the country, notably in the Edinburgh area providing suburban services, by which time they were in regional railways livery (as shown on the Class 101 above). By this time a high intensity headlamp had been fitted to the centre of the front.A kit is available from BH Enterprises. A model of this type was produced by Lima in OO.

Sketch of a Class 117 DMU


Class 118 BRC&W built 3-car sets introduced 1960 - Allocated to WR
Delivered in green livery, this changed to blue after 1967. In the mid 1970s they were refurbished and repainted all over white with blue trim (this livery was applied to a number of refurbished units from 1974). The first class accommodation (indicated by the yellow cant rail band) was toward the near end of the centre car.A kit is available from BH Enterprises

Sketch of a Class 118 DMU


Class 119 Gloucester Cross-Country 3-car sets introduced 1958 - Allocated to LMR, WR and ScR
The original three-car make up was subject to changes in service Used on Western Region, London Midland Region and Scottish Region. On western region some sets were built up to seven car units with Hawksworth coaches converted to run as part of the set, these ran from Cardiff to Oxford.A kit is available from BH Enterprises

Class 119

Class 120 Swindon built Cross-Country 3-car sets introduced 1958 - Allocated to WR (with regular working onto LMR) and ScR
Thanks are due to David Parry for correcting the original text with regard to the headcode boxes used on these units
These appeared in several guises, the original build W506xx to W507xx had steam type headcode discs. In about 1962/63 a batch was built with a four character headcode box under the centre cab window, these units worked in the Plymouth/Exeter area and also ran out onto some ex-SR lines in the South West after about 1964. Mr Parry also advised that all the 1963 build (W420xx series) were built with the then standard split four character headcode box under the windows. In the later 1970s they were blanked off showing two white dots, in the 1980s these were removed to give a flat front as shown in the sketch below. I believe some were converted into two car parcels units but I am not sure of the details. A kit is available from BH Enterprises

Sketch of a Class 120 DMU
The sketch is based on a photograph taken by Chris Tolley in 1982 and shows a unit in BR blue-grey livery.

Class 121 Pressed Steel built single and two-car sets introduced in 1960 - Allocated to WR
Known as the Bubble car due to the extensive glazing. These were actually additional units built to a similar design as the 122 but by the time they were built the four character headcode had been introduced. This meant the top ends of the exhausts on the single car unit had to be bent outwards to clear the roof mounted headcode box. The two car sets had the exhausts between the cars. A kit is available from BH Enterprises. An OO model of the single car unit was produced by Lima in green livery as shown in the sketch.

Sketch of a Class 121 DMU

Class 122 Gloucester single and two car sets introduced 1958 - Allocated to WR
Also knows as Bubble cars due to their extensive glazing. The sketch shows a single car unit in BR 'Corporate' blue and yellow livery, the twin exhaust pipes (one end only) were light silvery grey in colour. The single cars proved a great success, resulting an a further order which became Class 121. BR(WR) built trailer cars to run with the single car units during peak periods.A kit is available from BH Enterprises

Sketch of a Bubble car 122 unit

At least one of these Class 122 units was converted to a single car parcels unit.

Class 123 Swindon Inter-City 4-car sets introduced 1963 withdrawn 1984 - Allocated to (N)ER and WR
Used on Western Region and North Eastern (later Eastern) Region. These inter-city units had fibreglass cab fronts with wrap-round windows and gangway doors, very similar to the Class 309 EMU but without the recessed jumper cables. This allowed up to three sets to operate together, or, more commonly, a buffet car to be sandwiched between two sets. They arrived in green livery but with the gangway covers painted yellow (in operation the gangway covers were not always fitted, which must have been draughty). In the 1980s they were in blue and grey intercity livery, during this period at least some had 'Trans Pennine' branding (as shown on the sketch of the Class 124 below). Curiously they do not appear to have had headcode boxes fitted. A kit is available from BH Enterprises

Class 123

Note - In the only photo I was able to find showing the early livery no lining was visible, however this photo was of very poor quality and the lining may have been present.

Class 124 Swindon built Trans-Pennine 6-car sets introduced 1960 for LMR operating into ER
Built for services between Liverpool and Manchester in the west and Leeds, Bradford and Hull in the east, the standard set included a buffet car. I believe some were operated as five car sets at some point, I am not sure of the details on that but I think this was with the buffet car removed. Four car sets were photographed in the 1980s. One odd point is that the cab fronts were fibreglass. The design of the front was based on a corridor-less version of the Class 309 EMU, but without the recessed jumper cables, and featured wrap round cab end windows and a 4 position numeric/alpha route indicator box below the windscreen. The original livery was Brunswick green with speed whiskers on the front and a grey roof but with a section of white roof above the driving cabs.

Sketch of a Class 124 DMU
The Trans-Pennine branding was only applied for a period, I believe in the early 1980s.

Class 125 Derby built 3-car sets introduced 1958 withdrawn by 1977 - Allocated to ER
Used on the former Great Eastern Lea Valley line. They had hydraulic transmission and an unusual control system which meant they could not operate in multiple with other types of unit (note the jumper cable on the drivers side, other units had them on the right).

Sketch of a Class 216 DMU

Class 126 Swindon built Inter-City 3-car sets introduced 1956 - Allocated to ScR
Operated an Edinburgh - Glasgow service as six car sets, later batches (delivered in 1960)operated as three car sets in Ayrshire. I gather that the bogie design on these units gave a rather rough ride, worse than the LNER Gresley coaches they replaced but they were clean and offered a restaurant car as standard in the set and they proved popular with the public.

Class 126

Class 127 Derby built 4-car sets introduced 1957 - Allocated to ER
Built for working out of St Pancras to Bedford, earning then the nickname Bedpan units. I have read that the St Pancras - Bedford service (which used 127 sets until 1983) was the most intensified DMU service in Europe. Withdrawn in 1983 some of the cabbed end coaches from these sets were converted for parcels work in 1985. They received roller shutter doors and operated as two car sets. The sketch below shows a set converted in this way, the livery is BR blue with the post 1986 red and white band on the sides. There were variations in the placement of the roller shutter doors, some had the door at the cab end, others centrally, this may have been two sides of the same coach. The example shown is branded Newspapers and operated in that traffic in the later 1980s.

Class 127 DPU



Class 128 Gloucester Single Parcel Cars Introduced in 1958, withdrawn 1990 allocated to WR and LMR
Ten of these single car parcels units were built in 1958 or 1959 (sources differ) for Western and London Midland Regions. The WR version was fitted with a gangway connection, the LMR design had a central third window, however the WR type spent much of their working life on the LM region. The 128s were the first BR DPUs to enter service and intended for use carrying Royal Mail letters and parcels and BR parcels. As built the Western Region units had gangway ends to allow multiple working with a drivers door on each side of the drivers cabs and three pairs of recessed sliding doors along each side. The headcode was posted in a two-digit box under each of the driving cab front windows. The LMR units had no gangway connector but had a central third window and the four digit headcode box mounted beneath this.

Class 128 showing WR and LMR versions DPU

The sketch shows both the WR version with gangway and spilt headcode boxes (upper) in the original 1958 livery and the LMR version with the central four character headcode and window in BR blue livery circa 1970. In later years the headcode boxes were plated over and on some of the WR units the gangway connection was removed and the opening plated over (at least one retained its gangway until the end). A kit is available from BH Enterprises

Class 128 DPU

The sketch shows the final livery used on these units before their eventual withdrawal in 1991. The mid 1960s green livery is shown above in Fig ___.

Class 129 Cravens built Single Parcel Cars - Introduced 1958 - allocated to LMR
I believe these appeared in 1958, only three were built, all for London Midland Region. The original livery was lined green with speed whiskers on the front above a red buffer beam, curiously for a LMR order these units had only a two digit headcode box. In or after 1962 the lower part of the front was painted yellow. In the later 1960s they were painted all-over blue with an all-yellow front. One car was transferred to departmental use at the Railway Testing Centre in Derby for testing hydraulic sub systems, this was renamed Hydra and was painted in the red and blue RTC livery. A kit of the Class 129 is available from BH Enterprises

Class 129 DPU

The sketch shows a unit in BR 'Corporate blue livery and branded for working Red Star parcels service. The 'brand' in this case being a stick-on label, show in detail in the bottom right. I believe the unit may have retained the Parcels Service marking in white on the lower sides but I am not certain on this.

BEMU The Ballater Battery Unit - Introduced in 1958, withdrawn 1962 (see text) - Allocated to ScR.
This was an experimental unit made up of an original Derby Lightweight two car set (see above for an illustration) fitted with about thirteen tons of batteries for use on the Ballater line in Scotland, where hydro electric power was being introduced. The set resembled the original Derby Lightweight vehicles but lacked the diesel engines slung underneath (replaced by a lathe battery compartment) and the small grille on the front of the cab. The unit entered service in 1958, had occasional periods of withdrawal for fitting different batteries etc and was withdrawn in 1962 but may have operated again subsequently (possibly as late as 1965). It operated in standard lined BR green DMU livery and carried a single 'lion on wheel' BR logo one each side for its entire service life.

Fig___ Ballater Battery Unit
Ballater Battery Unit
After they were withdrawn from service the unit was stored for a time before being passed to the Railway Technical Centre at Derby. There the set was repainted in blue then received the blue orange and white RTC livery for trial of BRATO (British Rail Automatic Train Operation). This livery is shown in an illustration in Appendix Four- Locomotives - Introduction. In 1987 the set was sold into preservation and has been restored for use on a preserved line in Scotland in its original green livery.




Second Generation DMU Classes

The Pacer series This was a series of four wheeler designs, Classes 140/1/2/3/4, of 2-car and 3-car units intended for short haul suburban working. They were built at the governments urging using bodies built by British Leyland bus division running on four wheeled chassis built by BREL. Later versions used bodies built by other firms. The only real problem with the type is the ride quality, described as being a bit like an inflatable bouncy castle on wheels. I believe they were deployed at some point to Cornwall but were found to suffer from severe flange wear on the tight curves on those lines, in the Manchester area flange-oilers have appeared in large numbers on routes used by these machines.

Class 140 Pacer
This was the original 2-car prototype for the Pacer series which had a very rectangular body made up using available bus parts where possible. The front end had two windows either side of what appears to be a connecting door (not something that appeared on later types). It was in BR Blue and grey livery with yellow ends, it was used for trails but was very much a one-off.

Class 141 Pacer (introduced 1981, all withdrawn by mid-1990s)
The first production 2-car machines, with rather more railway like outlines. These had a three part windscreen with roller-blind destination panel above and a single set of folding doors mounted centrally on each side of each car. They featured a bulge in the centre of the roof of each coach, the purpose of which I am unsure of.

Class 142 Pacer and Skipper(introduced 1985 still in use in 2005)

Class 142 DMU

The first of the 2-car Class 142 sets were sent to the Manchester area and were delivered in GMPTE orange and brown livery with full yellow ends. The photograph shows a unit in Merseyrail livery although this was photographed on the Altrincham to Chester line in 2005. The 142s have a set of folding doors on each side at the cab end with a single set on one side at the inner end (when back to back the single doors are on either side). They were fitted with a BSI combined coupling that also carried power and air lines for multiple working (ie a two car set could be marshaled with another set or even a set of a different type but with similar couplers).

Driving position of a Class 142 DMU

Brian Stanway (who drives such a beast)supplied this photograph showing the drivers position on the Class 142 and provided the description of the controls.
A - Brake. B - Cab heater controls, lighting controls, windscreen wiper controls. C - DRA unit (Drivers reminder appliance), a signalling aid (see below) D - Top three lights are the gearbox local, Engine Stopped, Gearbox train lights. The gauge on the left is the brake gauge showing main res on the left with brake cylinder on the right, and the gauge on the right is the speedometer. E - Top: Couple button, uncouple button (covered), engine stop button, engine start button. Bottom: Compressor Speed Up switch, Windscreen wash. F - Top: AWS horn speaker. Bottom: AWS "sunflower" yellow & black indicator. G - AWS reset button to cancel the signal on anything other than a clear signal. H - Horn. I - Throttle. Just out of view to the right is the control box for the NRN Radio.
The positions on the brake you can almost read are Emergency, full service, 2, 1 and off. The sign above the couple button reads "press button for 5 secs with controller in neutral. The controller is referring to the DKS or drivers key switch which is to the left of the drivers seat and below it. This is where you insert your key and you turn the DKS from "off" to either forward, neutral or reverse a bit like selecting a gear on your car. To start the train engines, couple or uncouple this switch has to be in neutral. The "flag" you can see raised is the EBS flag (emergency bypass switch) which is used when you cant the brakes off the train due to a fault with the pass comms, emergency door release or doors etc. By raising the flag it reduces the safety circuit to inside the cab only, meaning if someone opened a door or pulled the emergency cord then the brakes would not apply. The red and white stripes you can see reflecting in the cab window are a warning to the signaler and other train drivers that the train is running with its safety systems reduced. The big round knob on the left panel is the windscreen wiper switch and the black box on the dash board with the red switch is the DRA unit (Drivers reminder appliance), it is used when stopped in a station or at a red signal to remind the driver to check the signal. To the left of the red rotary switch you can just make out the DRA isolation switch which is protected with a glass seal.


Class 143 Pacer (introduced 1985, still in use in 2005)
These units were sent to the North East but subsequently transferred to the South Wales area. Broadly similar in appearance to the earlier types they lack the central roof bulge.

Class 144 Pacer (introduced 1985, still in use in 2005)
This variant came in both two and (in later versions) three car formations and are visually similar to the Class 143s. They operate in Yorkshire centered on Leeds.

Class 150/151 Sprinters
3-car (150-0, only two built) and 2-car (150-2 and 150-3) units introduced in the mid 1980s for longer haul services and known as Sprinters, this class was based on the Class 455 electric multiple units and were built by BREL (150) and Metro-Cammell (151). Only two 151 units were built and they were retired early as they were non standard. The photo below shows the 152-1 version in service in 2006.

Photo of Class 150

The Sprinters have performed well, originally in BR Blue Grey livery, then in BR 'Provincial' sector livery and currently they operate in a range of post privatisation liveries. Well appointed and comfortable they have proved popular with passengers. A subsequent order was placed with BREL for 2-car sets using a longer chassis (see class 155).The photo below shows the 150-2 variant, the original 150-0 and 150-1 designs did not have the gangway connection on the end.

Photo of Class 150



Class 153
This single car unit is known by enthusiasts as the Super Bubble (in memory of the first generation single car Class 122s) or as the 'Dogbox'. They were converted from the Class 155 two-car sets, adding a driving cab to what had been the inner end of each car.

Sketch of Class 153

The Super Bubbles are not highly thought of my the traveling public and are the butt of many jokes amongst enthusiasts. I have not yet managed to get a good enough photograph to use, they run into Victoria station in Manchester but are almost impossible to get a decent photograph of due to poor natural lighting and many obstructions.

Photo of Class 153

The example above is the best I have managed so far, I am not sure as to the livery used here, this is the only example I have seen.

Class 155 Super Sprinters
Known as Super Sprinters these two car units were built by British Leyland in the later 1980s. They were based on the Class 150 but with a longer chassis and have served in several areas of the country (an OO model is available from Hornby). A large number of the original two car sets were subsequently modified into single car Class 153.

Photo of Class 155

The photo shows a unit in Manchester in 2006 on a service from Yorkshire and displays the West Yorkshire PTE 'Metro' livery.

Class 156 Super Sprinters
Also known as Super Sprinters this series of two car units was built by Metro-Cammell in the later 1980s .

Sketch of Class 156



Class 157

Class 158 Express
Known as Express (due to the branding on some early examples in BR's 'Provincial' sector) or just as Super Sprinters these were a further development of the Sprinter series of 'provincial' multiple units equipped with air conditioning and capable of 90 mph top speed. Introduced during the 1990's they replaced a number of loco hauled services in Scotland, notably on the Oban, Fort William, Mallaig, Wick, Thurso and Kyle of Lochalsh lines in the north of the country and are also seen in the North West of England. They are seen in both two and three car sets, a model of the 2-car set is available from Graham Farish. The photographs show a unit in First livery (upper) and one in Arriva Northern livery (lower), both photographed in 2005 in the South Manchester area.

Photos of Class 158

Class 159 Network Express
Introduced during the early 1990's to replace locomotives and Mk2 coaches with modern air-conditioned trains on Southern region, particularly the Exeter-Waterloo services. The example sketched below shows the Southwest Trains livery introduced in 1999 (replacing the former Network South East livery).

Sketch of Class 159


Class 165 Networker Turbo
Introduced by Network South East and branded Networker Turbo in the early 1990s these units are built from extruded aluminium, and hence sometimes referred to by enthusiasts as the 'Coke Can'. They are built to a slightly larger loading gauge than the standard, making use of the space provided on the former GWR lines. They are more widely known as a Thames or Chiltern Turbo (the name being the operating company - Thames Trains or Chiltern Railways). The 2 and 3 car versions have a top speed of 75mph. The photograph below shows the Chiltern Railways livery. Photo taken at Ashendon Junction, courtesy Guy Gorton (2005).

Photo of Class 165
The 165/0 maximum speed is 75mph and they are built to a wider than normal loading gauge as they were built for routes on former GWR territory. The Networker series was intended to be a complete replacement set for the 'heritage DMUs and EMUs on Network South East, financial constrants meant that only a few of the planned series of classes were built.

Sketch of Class 165 from photograph taken in 2006
The sketch above shows the First livery, the sketch was made from a phofo taken in 2006.

Class 166 Turbo Express
Known by enthusiasts as Turbo Express due to the Network South East branding. These are essentially the same as the Class 165 shown above and are also built to the slightly over-size GWR loading gauge. They are however slightly faster and fitted with air conditioning as standard. The sketch shows an example in Thames Trains livery.
Sketch of Class 166



Class 168 Clubman
Introduced during the late 1990's to replace older DMU types and locomotive hauled Mk2 coaches on outer suburban routes from London Paddington and Marylebone stations. They have no dangling pipes as the coupling carries single pipe for the electro-pneumatic brake system. The 168/0 four car version dates from 1998 (the first post privatisation multiple units to be ordered) have a top speed of 100 mph and were used on the London to Birmingham services. The 168/1 three and four car units date from the turn of the century and have a slightly different cab design. The 168/2, introduced in 2003, do not have the 'skirt' at the base of the cab front and they have a revised lighting cluster arrangement. These came in 2 and three car versions, the two car units were later altered to four car sets by adding new centre cars. A model of the 168/1 3-car set is available from Graham Farish. The sketch shows a 168/0 in Chiltern Railways livery.
Sketch of Class 168



Class 170 Turbostar Introduced 2003-4
Photo of Class 170

The Class 170 and 171 Turbostars were introduced in 2003 to replace existing DEMU 'Thumpers' on the Ashford-Hastings, Oxted-Uckfield and Uckfield-London Bridge services. By 2005 they were in use in other parts of the coutry, the photograph was taken at Stockport, south of Manchester and shows a unit in Central Trains livery. Models of this type in both 2-car and 3-car sets are available from Graham Farish. These units have also appeared in South West Trains livery (see Class 159 above), the sketch below shows the Anglia livery.
Sketch of Class 170



Class 171 Turbostar
See Class 170 above. If there are any visual differences between these units I was not able to see any in the photographs available to me.

Class 175 Coradia
The photo shows an example in First group livery photographed at Heald Green, south of Manchester, in 2005.

Photo of Class 175



Class 180 Adelante
A high-speed five car unit capable of 125 mph but they have proved unreliable in service. Photo of Class 180



Class 185 Desiro
Built by Siemens Transportation Systems these units, the diesel version of the successful Desiro class 350, 360, 444, and 450 electric trains, entered service in March 2006, initially on trans pennine routes.

Photo of Class 185








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