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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 / Set 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.


June 16th

Official GRC&W photographs of the Class 122s have been added.

June 3rd

The minutes of the 82nd Diesel Trains Committee meeting (March 1961) have been added.

May 27th

Rolls-Royce works photographs and Driving Instructions for 50000/56000 have been added.

May 25th

Official photographs of the Class 107 Refurbishment (October 1978) have been added.

May 24th

Official photographs of the Class 116 Protoype Refurbishment (January 1976) have been added.

May 5th

The minutes of the 81st Diesel Trains Committee meeting (February 1961) have been added.

April 29th

A list of DMU lot numbers has been added with images of worksplates.

April 24th

A look at another DMU accident - a collision between a Class 108 and an engineer's wagon at Carnforth in 1988.

April 14th

A new search option has been added for set data. This will find any formation details so far added to the database for that particular set number, and display any images.

April 7th

The allocations for the twenty-one driver-trailer Class 108 sets delivered to the ER (50599-50619 + 56190-56210) have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

April 1st

A look at the introduction of set numbers on the ScR in 1966.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

55000 and 50239 in Brechin station with the "Farewell to Brechin" railtour on May 2, 1981. S Saunders.

New DMU photo

50245 in Brechin station on May 2, 1981 with the "Farewell to Brechin" railtour. S Saunders.

New DMU photo

A condemned Cravens vehicle in Millerhill Yard circa 1980. S Saunders.

New DMU photo

A Class 116 with Greater Glasgow markings on Haymarket depot circa 1981. S Saunders.

New DMU photo

Swindon Cross-Country power car 53708 on Haymarket depot circa 1987. S Saunders.


On This Day:

104 DMU

M53487 + M53421 are seen in Leyland station during their stop with the 06:20 Preston - Liverpool Lime Street service on June 20, 1987. Hamish Stevenson.

115 DMU

Class 115 DMBS M51871 at Bletchley on the 20th June 1985. Kevin Law.

118 DMU

A two-car suburban unit (probably a Class 118) in Bere Alston station on June 20, 1970. Steve Davies Collection.

118 DMU

A two-car suburban unit (probably a Class 118) enters Bere Alston station on June 20, 1970. Steve Davies Collection.

118 DMU

Thought to be a Class 118, in Bere Alston station on June 20, 1970. Note the buffers - one oval and one 'cut'. Steve Davies Collection.

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