British Rail Class 117

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British Rail Class 117
Rail-class-117-51402-amoswolfe.jpg
51402 at Northampton & Lamport Railway. This vehicle, along with 51367 has since moved to the Strathspey Railway.
In service 1959–2000
Manufacturer Pressed Steel Company
Number built 123 cars (42 DMBS, 42 DMS, 39 TCL)
Formation DMBS-TCL-DMS
Operator British Rail
Specifications
Car length 64 ft 0 in (19.51 m)
Width 9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
Height 12 ft 8 12 in (3.87 m)
Maximum speed 70 mph (113 km/h)
Weight Power cars: 36 long tons 0 cwt (80,600 lb or 36.6 t),
Trailer cars: 30 long tons 0 cwt (67,200 lb or 30.5 t)
Prime mover(s) BUT (AEC) then BUT (Leyland), two per power car
Power output 150 hp (110 kW), all engines
Transmission Mechanical
Safety system(s) AWS
Multiple working Blue Square
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The British Rail Class 117 diesel multiple units (DMUs) were built by Pressed Steel from 1959 to 1961.

When first introduced, these three-car units were all based with the similar Class 121 single carriage (railcar) units on British Railway's Western Region for suburban work out of London Paddington, as well as South Wales (specifically Cardiff) and Cornwall. The units were largely based at Southall, Cardiff Canton TMD and Plymouth Laira depots. The units remained here for many years working these services.

Later operations[edit]

In the 1980s, expiry of other DMUs facilitated moves for some units from the Western Region to Birmingham, as below, and Scotland, prior to the delivery of new units to replace them. They were given refurbishments.

The first shake up in ownership occurred in the late 1980s, when the Scottish, Welsh, Cornish and Birmingham based units were transferred to Provincial Services, later Regional Railways, in the sectorisation of British Rail, while the Southall based units transferred to Network SouthEast.

They were replaced on the lines out of Paddington when the Class 165 'Network Turbo' units came into service in the early 1990s.

They soldiered on on the former Western Region until replaced by Class 150 and Class 153 DMUs. An attempt was made to remove them from Cornish work using Class 142 "Skipper/Pacer" units, but these non bogie units proved to be a liability on the tight Cornish branchline curves, increasing rail and wheel wear, moving to the North of England instead. They were finally replaced with the advent of more Class 150s and Class 153s freed up from other areas. They continued to work in Scotland until the turn of the millennium, where they were replaced with class 156s and Class 170 Turbostar DMUs.

For many years, passenger services on the Birmingham Cross-City Line were worked by elderly Class 117, along with Class 115, 116, 118 and 121 diesel multiple units, but all were withdrawn from service by 1995.

In 2000, Class 150 Sprinter units replaced the Class 117 units on Silverlink, finally bringing to an end decades of service on Britain's rail network in front line service.

Once in preservation it has since been discovered that the units had all sorts of Leyland 680 engine variants.[original research?]. For example one unit was noted as having a Leyland 680/1 (150 BHP) and a Leyland 680-1595 (180 BHP) .

Gallery[edit]

Preservation[edit]

Due to the type's longevity, several units have been preserved on heritage railways.

Set number Vehicle numbers Livery Location Notes
DMBS TCL DMS
L721 51363 59510 51405 BR Green Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway used to be MHR. Fully operational, owned by Cotswold Diesel Railcar Ltd. Carries the headcodes A113 and 2M65 in the Doctor Who episode "Flatline"
117204 51365 - 51407 BR Green Plym Valley Railway
117301 51353 - - Regional Railways Swanage Railway Currently in store at private location. 51395 Scrapped March 2013
117310 - - 51381 Regional Railways Mangapps Railway Museum -
117311 51352 59505 51376 BR Green West Somerset Railway Currently stored at Minehead, awaiting restoration.
117313 51339 - 51382 BR Green East Lancashire Railway
L701 - - 51392 Network SouthEast Swanage Railway Currently in store at private location
L702 51356 59492 - Network SouthEast Swanage Railway Currently in store at private location, 51398 Scrapped January 2012
- 51342 - 51384 BR Green Epping Ongar Railway Repainted into BR green from EOR dark blue livery
- 51346 59486 51388 BR Green Swanage Railway Currently at Eastleigh under overhaul to allow eventual use on the mainline connection to Wareham.
117444 51360 BR Blue Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Just had roof repaint
- 51347 59508 51401 DMS car BR Blue/Grey. DMBS car BR Green. TCL being repainted. Gwili Railway Being repainted into BR Green
- 51367 59511 51402 BR Green Strathspey Railway 51402 and 51367 both now repainted, 59511 being restored
- 51370 - 51412 BR Green Chasewater Railway -
- 51372 - - BR Blue Chasewater Railway -
- - - 51400 BR Green Mid-Hants Railway Main-line certificated by RESCO
- 51351 - 51397 Green Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway
- 51354 - 51396 Network South East Peak Rail
- 51375 - - BR Green Birmingham Railway Museum
- - 59488 - Green and Cream Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway
- 59493 - BR Green West Somerset Railway
- - 59494 - Green and Cream Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway
- - 59500 - Green and Cream Wensleydale Railway
- - 59501 - BR Green Great Central Railway
- - 59503 - Chocolate and Cream Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway
- - 59506 - BR Green
- - 59507 - Chocolate and Cream Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway
- - 59509 - Blue and Cream Wensleydale Railway
- - 59513 - Chocolate and Cream Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway
- - 59514 - BR Green Swindon and Cricklade Railway
- - 59515 - Blood and Custard Yeovil Railway Centre
- - 59517 - Chocolate and Cream Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway
- - 59520 - BR Green Dartmoor Railway
- - 59521 - Scotrail Helston Railway
- - 59522 - BR Blue and Grey Chasewater Railway

References[edit]

  • The Railcar Association
  • Motive Power Recognition: 3 DMUs. Colin J. Marsden
  • British Railway Pictorial: First Generation DMUs. Kevin Robertson
  • British Rail Fleet Survey 8: Diesel Multiple Units- The First Generation. Brian Haresnape
  • A Pictorial Record of British Railways Diesel Multiple Units. Brian Golding