British Rail Class 117

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British Rail Class 117
BR class 117 007.jpg
117 007 at Maiden Newton, 1975
DMU carriage interior on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway.jpg
Interior of a Class 117.
In service1959–2000; one unit used in departmental use until 2015
ManufacturerPressed Steel Company
Family nameFirst generation
ReplacedSteam locomotives and carriages
Constructed1959–1961
Number built123 cars (42 DMBS, 42 DMS, 39 TCL)
Number preserved35 cars (17 DMBS, 16 DMS, 23 TCL)
Number scrapped88 cars (25 DMBS, 26 DMS, 16 TCL)
FormationDMBS-TCL-DMS
Operator(s)British Rail
ScotRail
Silverlink
Line(s) servedWestern Region
London Midland region
Scottish region
Specifications
Car body constructionSteel
Car length64 ft 0 in (19.51 m)
Width9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
Height12 ft 8+12 in (3.87 m)
DoorsSlam
Articulated sectionsSingle car (2)
Maximum speed70 mph (113 km/h)
WeightPower 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), of 150 hp (110 kW), (both types), two per power car
Power output600 hp (450 kW) per 3-car set
TransmissionMechanical
Train heatingOil burning air heater
Braking system(s)Vacuum
Safety system(s)AWS
Coupling systemScrew
Multiple working Blue Square
Track gauge4 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. It was a licence-built variant of the British Rail Class 116.[1]

Original work[edit]

A total of 123 Class 117's were built by Pressed Steel between 1959 and 1961. The Class 116 was ordered in large numbers which Derby Works could not fulfil, so the work was sub contracted. When first introduced in 1960, these three-car units were all based with the similar Class 121 single carriage (railcar) units on British Railways Western Region for suburban work out of London Paddington. The units were largely based at Reading and Southall depots. The units remained here for many years working these services.[2]

The type was used for a railtour from Paddington to the south west on 31 May 1969.[3]

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. The Regional Railways units were refurbished at Tyseley Locomotive Works.[4]

In the early 1990s, several units were named: 701 (51350/92) was named 'Marston Vale' and 705 (51358/400) was 'Leslie Crabbe'.[5]

They were replaced on the lines out of Paddington when the Class 165/1 'Network Turbo' units came into service by 28 November 1992.[6]

They soldiered on in the former Western Region until replaced by Class 150 and Class 153 DMUs by 21 May 1993, although the type could be found running Penzance - Looe services until 1997. An attempt was made to remove them from Cornish work using Class 142 "Skipper/Pacer" units, but these fixed wheelbase 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.[7]

The type was used in Scotland between Edinburgh - Perth, Cowdenbeath and Markinch using the Forth Bridge and continued to work in Scotland until 12 January 1998, where they were replaced with Class 156s.[8] The final day of 117s running in Scotland was 27 November 1999.[9]

For many years, passenger services on the Birmingham Cross-City Line were worked by Class 117, along with Class 115, 116, 118 and 121 diesel multiple units[citation needed], 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.[10]

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) .

Table of orders and numbers
Lot No. Type Diagram Qty Fleet numbers Notes
30546 Driving Motor Brake Second (DMBS) 534 42 51332–51373
30547 Trailer Composite with lavatory (TCL) 601 39 59484–59522
30548 Driving Motor Second (DMS) 535 42 51374–51415

Gallery[edit]

Preservation[edit]

Due to the type's longevity, 12 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 Fully operational, owned by Cotswold Diesel Railcar Ltd.
117204 51365 - 51407 BR Green Plym Valley Railway
117301 51353 - - ScotRail Wensleydale Railway Bought by a local community group.[11] 51395 Scrapped March 2013
117310 - - 51381 Regional Railways Mangapps Railway Museum -
117311 51352 - 51376 Yellow DMBS, Green with whiskers DMS South Devon Railway Currently Under Restoration to run with W55000.[12]
- 51371 - 51413 BR Green MOD Long Marston Preserved June 2015 [13]
117313 51339 59506 51382 BR Green East Lancashire Railway
L702 51356 59492 51392 Network SouthEast Swanage Railway 51356 restored to main line standard.[14]
- 51342 - 51384 BR Green Epping Ongar Railway Repainted into BR green from EOR dark blue livery
- 51346 59486 51388 BR Green Swanage Railway Overhauled & Mainline Registered.
117444 51360 BR Blue Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Has recently been refloored inside, expected to return to BR green in due course.
- 51347 59508 51401 BR Green Gwili Railway
- 51367 59511 51402 BR Green Strathspey Railway 51402 and 51367 both now repainted, 59511 being restored
L432 51370 - 51412 BR Green Mid-Norfolk Railway -
- 51372 - - BR Blue Private site; Titley junction station [15] -
- - 59509 51400 BR Green Wensleydale Railway Main-line certificated by RESCO
- 51351 - 51397 Green Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway
L720 51354 - 51396 BR Green Peak Rail
- - - 51375 BR Green Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway Rebuilt as an intermediate car by Chiltern Railways for use as a water jetting van. Sold in 2015 to its current owner
- - 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
- - 59507 - Chocolate and Cream Paignton and Dartmouth Steam 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
- - 59511 - BR Green Strathspey Railway
- 51366 - - - - parts survive [16]
- - 59505 - BR Green Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Under restoration, owned by Cotswold Diesel Railcar Ltd.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://preserved.railcar.co.uk/Class116.html
  2. ^ https://www.igg.org.uk/rail/00-app3-4/ap3-dmu.htm
  3. ^ https://www.tauntontrains.co.uk/photos/gallery/ttcollection/1
  4. ^ http://www.scot-rail.co.uk/page/Class+117
  5. ^ https://www.flickr.com/photos/rpmarks/2852257351
  6. ^ http://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/222626/manuals/BR%20Class%20117%20Manual.pdf?t=1418633400
  7. ^ https://glostransporthistory.visit-gloucestershire.co.uk/North%20from%20Toddington.htm
  8. ^ http://www.scot-rail.co.uk/page/Class+117
  9. ^ https://www.railcar.co.uk/type/class-117/
  10. ^ Marks, Roger (15 February 2015). Heritage DMUs: The Final Years. ISBN 9781445640297.
  11. ^ http://preserved.railcar.co.uk/51353.html
  12. ^ http://preserved.railcar.co.uk/51352.html
  13. ^ http://preserved.railcar.co.uk/51371.html
  14. ^ http://preserved.railcar.co.uk/51356.html
  15. ^ http://preserved.railcar.co.uk/51372.html
  16. ^ http://preserved.railcar.co.uk/Class117.html
  17. ^ http://preserved.railcar.co.uk/59505.html
  • 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