British Rail Class 122

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British Rail Class 122
55006 at Bewdley.JPG
Class 122, no. 55006, at Bewdley on the Severn Valley Railway on 15 October 2004, whilst taking part in the Railcar 50 event. This unit is painted in original BR Green livery, and is preserved on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.
In service 1958–1995
Manufacturer Gloucester RC&W
Number built 20 motor, 9 trailer
Number preserved DMBS: 8
Formation Single car
  • DMBS: 539
  • DTS: 538
Fleet numbers
  • DMBS: 55000–55019
  • DTS: 56291–56299
  • DMBS: 65
  • DTS 95
Operator(s) British Rail
Car length 64 ft 0 12 in (19.52 m)
Width 9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
Height 12 ft 8 18 in (3.86 m)
Maximum speed 70 mph (113 km/h)
  • DMBS: 36.00 long tons (80,640 lb; 36.58 t)
  • DTS: 29.00 long tons (64,960 lb; 29.47 t)
Prime mover(s) Two BUT (AEC) then BUT (Leyland) of 150 hp (110 kW) (both types)
Power output 300 hp (220 kW)
Transmission Standard mechanical
Safety system(s) AWS
Multiple working Blue Square
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The British Rail Class 122 diesel mechanical multiple units were built by Gloucester RC&W in 1958. Twenty single-car, double-ended driving motor vehicles, nicknamed "Bubble Cars", were built, numbered 55000–55019. These were supplemented by nine single-ended trailer vehicles, numbered 56291–56299[1] (some of which were later renumbered into the 54291–54299 block).

Initial use[edit]

The Class 122s were built mainly for use on the London Midland Region of British Rail, although some were also used in Scotland. They were used on a variety of lightly used lines, many of which were closed during the Beeching Axe in the 1960s. Routes served included the Stourbridge Town and St Albans Abbey branch lines, as well as local services between Dundee and Arbroath. (The similar Pressed Steel Company built Class 121 single units were used on the Western Region).

Table of orders and numbers
Lot No. Type Diagram Qty Fleet numbers Notes
30419 Driving Motor Brake Second (DMBS) 539 20 55000–55019
30420 Driving Trailer Second (DTS) 538 9 56291–56299

Parcels use[edit]

Three Scottish Region cars (55013–55015) were converted to carry parcels traffic and were reclassified Class 131, though the vehicles themselves were not renumbered.

Usage after passenger service[edit]

Upon privatisation of Britain's railways, the Class 122 fleet has been withdrawn from normal service. However several units were operated by EWS and Network Rail (previously Railtrack) in departmental service, reclassified as Class 960.

number former number use disposal/current use cut up date
TDB 975023 55001 Route learning car Preserved
TDB 975042 55019 Route learning car / Sandite Stored on the Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr railway in Cynheidre, Carmarthenshire, set 960 015 / 55019 has now entered Preservation
TDB 975227 55017 Route learning car Vic Berry 2/89
975309 55008 Route learning car Mayer Newman 11/84
TDB 975310 55010 Route learning car Mayer Newman 6/84
TDB 975540 55016 Route learning car MC Metals 7/93
TDB 975994 55014 Test & stores car Vic Berry 10/88
975998 55013 unknown Mayer Newman 3/82
TDB 977177 55015 Route learning car MC Metals 7/90
TDB 977223 55007 Route learning car MC Metals 6/91
977941 55012 Route learner Loadhaul then EWS. Stored non-operational at Thornaby TMD from 1998. Purchased privately for preservation in 2009


"Bubble Cars" have proved popular for preservation on heritage railways.

Vehicle no. Unit no. Vehicle type Location Livery Comments
Original no. Departmental no.
55000 - 122100 DMBS South Devon Railway BR Green -
55001 975023 L101 DMBS East Lancashire Railway BR Blue -
55003 - P103 DMBS Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway used to be Mid Hants Railway. BR Green First preserved DMMU to gain main line certification.
55005 - P105 DMBS Battlefield Railway BR Blue/Grey -
55006 - P106 DMBS Ecclesbourne Valley Railway BR Green
55009 - P109 DMBS Mid Norfolk Railway BR Green -
55012 977941 DMBS Weardale Railway BR Green Joined the fleet on a permanent basis in December 2013 after visiting for contract repairs Took part in Railcar 50 in 2004. Required a modification back to single car unit after this D.M.B.S collided into the Stourbridge Town station buffer due to the driver's fault while working on the Stourbridge Branch Line so the one end is not the end which was surviving from the beginning. The real end was scrapped.
55019 975042 960015 DMBS Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway Network Rail Yellow Formerly owned by Network Rail, W55019. It will also be the 8th and last Class 122 brought into preservation.


Dapol have released models of the class 122 railcar in 00 gauge in both BR green liveries and BR blue liveries. [2]


  1. ^ Butcher, Roger (November 1993). Departmental Coaching Stock (5th ed.). Southampton: South Coast Transport Publishing. pp. 60, 75. ISBN 1-872768-10-5. 
  2. ^

External links[edit]

  • Entry at the Railcar Association for class 122