British Rail Class 141

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British Rail Class 141 Pacer
141108 at Colne Valley Railway.jpg
141108 at the Colne Valley Railway
Interior of a Class 141.
In service 1984 - 2005
Manufacturer British Leyland
Family name Pacer
Refurbishment 1988 - 1989
Formation 2 car
Operator British Rail 1984-1997
Islamic Republic of Iran Railways 1997-2005
Line(s) served West Yorkshire
Maximum speed 75 mph (121 km/h)
Prime mover(s) Leyland TL11
Safety system(s) AWS
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 141 was the first production model of the Pacer diesel multiple units. Its lifespan in the UK was 14 years, and in Iran its lifespan was 8 years, for a total lifespan of 22 years.


In the early 1980s British Rail were looking to replace the remaining 1950s first generation diesel multiple units on lightly used branch lines. Financial pressures precluded them ordering more heavyweight second generation units (the business case could not be made to balance) so were looking for a cheaper alternative.

British Rail engineers looked at the Leyland National bus, then in widespread usage, with its modular design as a basis for the design. Several single and two car prototypes were built before an order was placed with Leyland Bus for twenty class 141 two car units in 1984.

The units were notoriously unreliable, but reliability improved when the units were modified by Hunslet-Barclay between 1988 and 1989. At the same time the railway couplings (which was a Buckeye coupling) were replaced with the type fitted to the later Class 142, for more flexible working.

The driving axles (one per coach at the inner end) were fitted directly to the chassis rather than being mounted on bogies, leading to a rather rough ride especially over pointwork, and because of this the units were generally less popular with passengers.

The units were based mainly in and across West Yorkshire on routes radiating from Leeds, where they worked up until 1997 when they were replaced by Class 142. They were sponsored by West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, and were initially painted in the PTE's Verona green and buttermilk livery with "MetroTrain" branding, later receiving the red and cream "Metro-Train" livery.

The units were numbered from 141001 to 141020. After modification they became 141101 to 141120, although not in order, since the opportunity was taken to match the final digits of the unit numbers with those of the vehicle numbers.


In 1984, an unidentified Class 141 unit was converted to metre gauge and shipped to Thailand and Malaysia for trial running. However, the trial running wasn't successful.[1] The vehicle was different from the twenty British trains having only longitudinal seating for 120 passengers and space for another 140 standing. Only 1 car was powered with the other being a trailer vehicle. After the unsuccessful trial in Thailand the Pacer went to Malaysia and then to Indonesia for further evaluation. It was last seen outside the Ulu Yam station, on a railway siding, in Malaysia in fairly derelict condition in 2000.

At the end of their career with British Rail, most members of the class were sold to Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and were exported during 2001/2002.[2] These units have since been withdrawn and replaced by new DMUs. Two units were also exported to the Netherlands but they are not currently being used. However, some units did remain in the United Kingdom. Three units are operational in preservation:- 141103 at the Weardale Railway, 141108 at the Colne Valley Railway, and 141113 at the Midland Railway – Butterley. 141110 is also at the Weardale Railway, but is not in operational condition (spares donor) and one vehicle has been scrapped.

12 units are known to have been exported to Iran,[3] with two spotted in service in 2005,[4] whilst another 2 (106+112) have survived in the Netherlands. The whereabouts of these two units are currently unknown.

Unit details[edit]

Set Number (as built) Set Number (following modifications) Vehicle Number(1) Vehicle Number(2) Status Current location Comments
141 020 141 101 55521 55541 Scrapped
Scrapped -
141 001 141 102 55502 55522 Exported Iran -
141 002 141 103 55503 55523 Preserved Weardale Railway -
141 003 141 104 55504 55524 Scrapped
Scrapped 141104 was involved in a head-on collision with a Class 156 Sprinter (156476) at Huddersfield at around 10pm on 6 November 1989. 33 people were injured, 3 seriously. The railbus was withdrawn, probably being stripped for spare parts for the rest of the fleet. 156476 was returned to service after repairs that lasted until March 1990. It was repaired at BRML Doncaster and was transferred to Haymarket upon release.
141 004 141 105 55505 55525 Exported Iran -
141 005 141 106 55506 55526 Exported Netherlands Last known whereabouts were at Moerdijk in August 2005, along with 141112.[5]
141 006 141 107 55507 55527 Exported Iran -
141 007 141 108 55508 55528 Preserved Colne Valley Railway Operational but waiting for new transmission. Only drivable one end.
141 008 141 109 55509 55529 Exported Iran -
141 009 141 110 55510 55530 Spares donor Weardale Railway One vehicle known to be scrapped.
141 010 141 111 55511 55531 Exported Iran -
141 011 141 112 55512 55532 Exported Netherlands Last known whereabouts were at Moerdijk in August 2005, along with 141106.[6]
141 012 141 113 55513 55533 Preserved Midland Railway – Butterley Unit fitted with Cummins L10 engines and Voith hydraulic transmission.

Owned by the Llangollen Railcar Group, though usually based at the Midland Railway – Butterley.
Loaned to the Weardale Railway between June 2010 - May 2012.

141 013 141 114 55514 55534 Exported Iran -
141 014 141115 55515 55535 Exported Iran -
141 015 141116 55516 55536 Exported Iran -
141 016 141117 55517 55537 Exported Iran -
141 017 141118 55518 55538 Exported Iran Was named 'FLOWER' when owned by SERCO was the weedkiller unit.
141 018 141119 55519 55539 Exported Iran -
141 019 141120 55520 55540 Exported Iran -

Non-passenger use[edit]

Unit number 141118 was modified for use as a weedkilling unit by Serco. It gained a grey and red livery and black wrap-around window surrounds. It was among the units later exported to Iran. A photograph of this unit, in SERCO livery, at Huddersfield is shown on page 36 of Modern Locomotives Illustrated - August/September 2012.



  1. ^ "The Leyland Experimental Vehicle". 
  2. ^ "Rolling Stock of Iranian Railways". 
  3. ^ Multiple Units
  4. ^
  5. ^ Railways Illustrated, November 2005, pg 34
  6. ^ Railways Illustrated, November 2005, pg 34

External links[edit]