Sign In

  Remember Me

Not registered?

The history of First Generation DMUs

The Railcar website provides information on the British Railways first generation DMUs (a.k.a. diesel multiple units / railcars) introduced in the 1950s.

The six key sections of the website are:

  • Types - looks at each type of DMU in detail
  • Topics - features articles on differernt aspects of the vehicles and personal recollections
  • Technology - describes the technical details of how they work
  • Data - various lists of numerical details
  • Images - galleries featuring DMUs
  • Books - details the books and other printed materials made available over the years that have relevance

Details of railcars in preservation can be found on The Railcar Association website.

Vehicle Data


DMU Images Wanted!

Do you have photos of First Generation DMUs? The more images we have the better we can tell the DMU story and make it more useful to visitors. Images can be loaded directly onto the site - just register as a user and upload! Alternatively if you have images on flickr or another website I can do the uploads for you - just let me know.


This website contains details about the First Generation DMUs. This includes the 4-wheel diesel railbuses, ACV / BUT railcars, the Battery Multiple Unit (BMU) and Blue Pullmans. It covers the period from their introduction to British Railways in the 1950s till their withdrawal and disposal from main-line use, but NOT preservation.

Because of the vast amount of data that this covers and the amount of information I have still to process I cannot include the DEMUs introduced on the Southern Region in the same era, nor Second Generation or later types.


November 16th

The minutes of the 76th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (August 1960) have been added.

November 11th

Three new destination blinds have been added, from Chester in the late 1980s, from the Scottish Region in the early 1980s, and from the North Eastern Region circa late '80s/early '90s.

October 31st

The minutes of the 75th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (July 1960) have been added.

October 29th

The allocations for the Derby Class 107s have been added to the individual vehicle pages. Also the Class 107 operations page has been re-written.

October 27th

A new destination blind, from Marylebone in the 1970s has been added.

September 21st

The minutes of the 74th Diesel Trains Committee meeting (June 1960) have been added.

August 28th

The allocations for the Derby Class 114s have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

July 18th

A more detailed look at the Class 114s in parcel use has been added.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

This Swindon Class 120 cross-country set (M50688, M59274, M50737) is seen at Derby waiting to work the 17.18 to Lincoln, doors open in welcoming fashion. 20/9/81. Gerard Fletcher.

New DMU photo

On the bright afternoon of September 20th 1981, a variety of dmus grace Sheffield station. The identity of the Class 108 in the middle background is unknown,on the left in the shadows is a Trans-Pennine set with E51964 at the front, while out in the sun is a sparkling Metro-Cammell Class 111 three car set : E51552 + E59106 + E51542. Gerard Fletcher.

New DMU photo

On arrival at Sheffield, I made my way to the other end of my unit and found the leading car was a genuine Trans-Pennine beast. The full set formation was : E51964 (seen here) + E59765 + E59767 + E52087. What a sad state E51964 presents here, it reminds me of a WD 2-8-0 in the final days of steam. These units ran in pristine condition in the early years. I do recall to this day though, the comfortable ride I enjoyed that day. 20/9/81. Gerard Fletcher.

New DMU photo

One of my very few encounters with a Trans Pennine dmu set was that day, 20/9/81. Here I am waiting at Doncaster as the 12.45 from Manchester Piccadilly arrives with Class 123 E52087 leading. Now this was not one of the genuine Trans Pennine cars of course and was a 1977 transfer from the WR. I recall these units when I lived at Kingsbury in 1964. They were then in green livery but with the end connecting doors painted yellow which gave rise to my nickname for them of 'Ironing Board Units'. I think they worked Derby to Cardiff trains or something similar in those days. Anyway this terminating service was to form my train forward to Sheffield at 15.10. Gerard Fletcher.

New DMU photo

The 12.38 Doncaster - Cambridge dmu passes Whitemoor Jn on December 13th 1980. Class 114 Derby 'heavyweight' set E56013 + E50039 is leading a hybrid Norwich set no. 79 consisting of Class 104 BRCW motor car E50597 and Cravens built Class 105 trailer E56131. Many of the Lincoln allocated class 114s had been repainted and refurbished by this time, but this set is still in BR standard blue. Gerard Fletcher.


On This Day:

122 DMU

Class 122 55012 is seen at the front of a north bound Class 120 working at Saltley in the snow on 12.12.1983. Andy Cole.

108 DMU

Class 108 53630 is seen at Barnsley on December 12, 1987, with the 13:53 Leeds - Sheffield service. The vehicle would be transferred to Scotland by the end of the month. Stuart Mackay Collection.

116 DMU

Class 116 unit arriving at Stourbridge Junction on 12th December 1979. Ian Buck.

116 DMU

Class 116 set at Birmingham New Street on 12th December 1979. Ian Buck.

116 DMU

Class 116 set at Birmingham New street on 12th December 1979. Ian Buck.

© 1998 - 2017