British Rail Class 109

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British Rail Class 109
BR Class 109 Llangollen.jpg
Preserved unit 50416+56171
In service1957–1971
ManufacturerD. Wickham and Company
Family nameFirst generation
ReplacedSteam locomotives and carriages
Number built5 sets
Number preserved1 set
Formation2-car sets: DMBS-DTCL
CapacityDMBS: 59 second,
DTCL: 16 first, 50 second
Operator(s)British Rail
Car length57 ft 0 in (17.37 m)
Width8 ft 3 in (2.51 m)
Height12 ft 4+12 in (3.77 m)
Maximum speed70 mph (113 km/h)
WeightDMBS: 27 long tons 0 cwt (60,500 lb or 27.4 t)
DTCL: 37 long tons 10 cwt (84,000 lb or 38.1 t)
Prime mover(s)2 x British United Traction Leyland
Engine type6 cylinder horizontal
Power output2 x 150 bhp (110 kW)
Transmissionfluid coupling and air operated 4-speed epicyclic gear box
UIC classification1A′A1′+2′2′
Bogiesstandard Derby 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m) wheelbase
Braking system(s)Vacuum
Coupling systemScrew-link; British Standard gangways
Multiple working Blue Square
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 109 is a class of 2-car diesel multiple units built in 1957 by D Wickham & Co. Five two-car units were built featuring an unusual body design. The design, first used in 1936 for South American railways, aimed to minimise weight. It had no underframe, but the whole body was formed into a welded stress-bearing box girder made of 18 inch (3.2 mm) solid drawn steel tube. Aluminium was used for panels, luggage racks, window frames, vacuum pipes and fuel and vacuum tanks. The corrugated steel floor was filled with sprayed asbestos and covered with asbestos-filled flame-proofed hardboard and rubber sheet.[1]

The units soon became non-standard and two were sold back to the manufacturer who exported them to Trinidad and Tobago. Another unit was converted into departmental service, and survived in BR ownership until the early 1980s.

Vehicle numbers[edit]

Orders and numbers of Class 109 cars[2]
Lot No. Diagram Car Type Qty Fleet No. Seating Weight Notes
30288 606 Driving Motor Brake Second (DMBS) 5 50415–50419 59 second 27 long tons 0 cwt (60,500 lb or 27.4 t)
30289 607 Driving Trailer Composite with lavatory (DTCL) 5 56170–56174 16 first (2+2), 50 second (2+3) 22 long tons 10 cwt (50,400 lb or 22.9 t)

Further use[edit]

One two-car set (50416+56171) was extensively overhauled in 1967 at Doncaster, revamping the interiors and adding kitchen facilities to 50416. After repainting, the set was used as the ER General Managers special train, numbered 975005 / 975006.[3]


One two-car unit, (see above) the former departmental unit, formed of vehicles 50416 and 56171, has been preserved and restored to working condition at the Llangollen Railway. It was restored using lottery money.[4]

Set number Vehicle numbers Livery Location Notes
- 50416 56171 BR Green Llangollen Railway Operational


  1. ^ Railway Magazine September 1957 pp. 606-608
  2. ^ "Numbering of the Class 109s". The Railcar Association. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Non-passenger use of the Class 109s". The Railcar Association. Archived from the original on 13 October 2008.
  4. ^ "Preservation of the Class 109s". The Railcar Association. Archived from the original on 5 September 2008.

External links[edit]