British Rail BEMU

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British Rail BEMU
In service 1958–1962
Built at Derby Works - converted to battery at Cowlairs
Family name Derby Lightweight
Constructed 1956 - converted 1958
Number built 1 set (2 cars)
Number preserved 1 set (2 cars)
Formation DMBS-DTC
Capacity 12 first
105 second (initially 31 + 86)
Operator(s) British Railways
Maximum speed 60 miles per hour (97 km/h)
Weight DMBS: 37 long tons 10 cwt (84,000 lb or 38.1 t)
DTC: 32 long tons 10 cwt (72,800 lb or 33 t)
Prime mover(s) 2 x 100 kilowatts (130 hp) nose-suspended motors
Power supply Chloride Batteries Ltd
Electric system(s) 216 lead-acid cells, 440 V, 1070 A·hr
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The Battery Electric Multiple Unit was an experimental two-car battery electric multiple unit, converted from the prototype Derby Lightweight Diesel multiple units. As each set of batteries weighed about 8 tons, the underframe needed strengthening.[1]

The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board initiated the design and was a joint sponsor. They supplied the 6,600v supply to the recharger at Aberdeen's platform 1 and 11kv to the Ballater recharger.[1]

It was powered by large lead-acid batteries and was used on the Royal Deeside line from Aberdeen to Ballater in Scotland from 1958. The unit was equipped with a new type of battery in the early 1960s but subsequently suffered a series of small fires in the battery areas and was withdrawn from service. It is believed to have returned to use for a period before closure of the line in 1966.

It then spent a short time in storage at Inverurie Works, and at Hyndland Shed in Glasgow before being transferred to departmental use as test train "Gemini" (or Lab 16) for use at the Railway Technical Centre, at Derby. It lasted in this role until it was withdrawn in 1984, and was eventually bought for preservation at the proposed West Yorkshire Transport Museum. The museum placed it on loan to the East Lancashire Railway who restored it and used it on services. The museum went into liquidation and the unit was purchased by the Royal Deeside Railway in 2001 and is now back in Scotland, where it is undergoing refurbishment. Details are as follows:

Vehicle Nos. Location Comments Departmental Nos.
79998 79999 Royal Deeside Railway Used as test train "Gemini" (Lab 16). 975003 975004


  1. ^ a b Railway Magazine June 1958 pp. 419-420 First Battery Railcars on BR

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