British Rail Class 153
|British Rail Class 153 Super Sprinter|
|In service||1991 – present|
|Manufacturer||Leyland Bus as Class 155s|
Converted to Class 153s by Hunslet-Barclay
|Built at||Kilmarnock (conversion)|
|Replaced||First generation DMUs|
|Capacity||66, 72 or 75 seated (PRM modified: 59 seated)|
|Car body construction||Steel.|
|Car length||23.208 m (76 ft 1+3⁄4 in)|
|Width||2.700 m (8 ft 10+1⁄4 in) (over body)|
|Height||3.746 m (12 ft 3+1⁄2 in) (over body)|
|Doors||Single leaf sliding plug|
|Articulated sections||Single car|
|Maximum speed||75 mph (120 km/h)|
|Weight||41.2 t (40.5 long tons; 45.4 short tons)|
|Prime mover(s)||one per car, Cummins NT855R5|
|Engine type||14-litre 6-cylinder turbo-Diesel|
|Power output||285 hp (213 kW) per engine|
|Train heating||Warm air, hot water radiators|
|Multiple working||Classes 14x, 15x, 17x|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Converted from 35 × Class 155 sets|
The British Rail Class 153 Super Sprinters are single-coach railcars converted from two-coach Class 155 diesel multiple units in the early 1990s. The class was intended for service on rural branch lines where passenger numbers do not justify longer trains, or to boost the capacity on trains with high passenger volume.
In 1987/88, Regional Railways took delivery of 35 two-coach Class 155 units built by Leyland Bus at its Workington factory to replace older DMUs. In 1989 the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (WYPTE) took delivery of seven two-coach units for use in Yorkshire. After the Class 155s entered service, it became an emerging requirement for ageing rural and branch line trains to be replaced. In the early 1990s, British Rail decided to convert the Regional Railways Class 155 fleet into single-coach multiple units and to replace its fleet of Class 121 and 122 diesel railcars.
In 1990, British Rail awarded a contract to Hunslet-Barclay with the work completed at its Kilmarnock plant in 1991/92. Seventy single-coach Class 153 multiple units were created and numbered 153301-335 and 153351–385. Individual coaches are numbered 52301-335 and 57351-385 (originally 57301–335). The seven WYPTE Class 155s were not included in the project.
The layout of the original non-cab ends was different from the original cab end, so the ends are noticeably distinct, and the vehicles are not symmetrical. Their maximum speed is 75 mph (121 km/h) and they generally operate less busy local services. They are fitted with standard BSI couplers and are able to work in tandem with other multiple units fitted with them - Class 142, 143, 144, 150, 155, 156, 158, 170 and 172s.
The new cab is smaller than the original Leyland cab and encroaches on the door vestibule area, providing cramped conditions for drivers and guards. All have gangway connections at either end to allow passengers and staff to walk between units working in multiple. These units also have the benefit of passenger door control panels at either end of the cars.
Transport for Wales Rail has a fleet of 24 Class 153s. They are normally used on rural branch lines – such as the Heart of Wales Line from Shrewsbury to Swansea and on local stopping services from Crewe to Shrewsbury via Nantwich – but are also used on some mainline services. One is used daily on the short Cardiff Queen Street to Cardiff Bay shuttle.
Following a timetable change in December 2006, Arriva Trains Wales lost three of its then-11 Class 153 units, leaving it with eight. Two were transferred to East Midlands Trains with the other going to First Great Western. In October 2018 all eight passed with the franchise to Transport for Wales, who acquired a further five from Great Western Railway in April 2019, five from Abellio Greater Anglia in December 2019, four from East Midlands Railway in January 2020 and another two from EMR in November 2020, bringing the total number now up to 24.
As at February 2020, Transport for Wales was the only train operating company to have modified 153s to comply with the Equality Act 2010 which came into effect on 1 January 2020. In June 2021 TfW purchased eight outright for continued use on the Heart of Wales line after plans to replace them with Class 170s were cancelled with the 170s to move to East Midlands Railway.
East Midlands Trains inherited many examples of Class 153 units, receiving six from Central Trains, three from National Express East Anglia and four former First Great Western units that had been stored at Eastleigh Works. In December 2007, East Midlands Trains received two from Arriva Trains Wales and two from Northern Rail. All passed with the East Midlands franchise to East Midlands Railway in August 2019. In January 2020, four were transferred to Transport for Wales. At one point in April 2020, only 3 EMR Class 153s were in service, following the implementation of an emergency timetable due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with all others being stored out of use as surplus to requirement, with 5 going off-lease on the 1 July 2020, those being 153302, 318, 368, 372, 374 and 382. As of July 2020, 5 are in service.
All of the East Midlands Trains Class 153 units were repainted into the local lines livery of the company.
East Midlands Railway's fleet of Class 153s are used on rural routes:
- Nottingham to Worksop (one diagram uses two units)
- Nottingham to Matlock via Derby
- Nottingham to Skegness
- Leicester to Lincoln
- Peterborough to Lincoln and Doncaster
- Newark North Gate to Grimsby Town (to Cleethorpes after 1900 and during summer)
- Derby to Crewe via Stoke-on-Trent
The Northern Rail franchise started operations in December 2004. It inherited the fleets previously operated by Arriva Trains Northern (ATN) and First North Western (FNW), whose routes the new franchise incorporated. Northern Rail's successor Arriva Rail North at one point operated the largest fleet of Class 153 units.
Northern Rail inherited a fleet of eight units from FNW, which were used on local services around Manchester, Chester and on Lancaster and Barrow-in-Furness to Carlisle and Preston to Ormskirk services. The fleet was repainted in the now obsolete North Western Trains blue and gold livery. Prior to becoming part of Northern, four former FNW units were transferred to the Arriva Trains Wales franchise, since the lines operated by FNW in Wales were transferred to this new company.
A larger fleet of 12 units were inherited from ATN. They are used on various local services around Leeds, Doncaster and Sheffield. One regular job is the Cleethorpes to Barton-on-Humber services, which see a unit stabled at Cleethorpes overnight and Sunday. Other jobs are the Lincoln to Scunthorpe via Retford and Sheffield, and the Saturday only Sheffield to Cleethorpes via Retford.
In December 2007, two units were taken off lease from Northern and transferred to East Midlands Trains.
In the first half of 2018, five units were transferred from Great Western Railway on a temporary basis to boost capacity until the new Class 195 units enter service; three of these then moved to Abellio ScotRail in 2019, with the remainder to follow in 2020. On 1 March 2020, Northern's Class 153 units transferred to new operator Northern Trains.
In 2019/2020, five former GWR 153s moved from Northern to Abellio ScotRail for use on the West Highland Line attached to Class 156s. The first refurbished carriage was unveiled in late 2020.
The carriages can carry up to twenty bicycles or other large items of sports equipment or luggage. There are spaces for tandem bicycles and a socket for charging an electric bicycle. This is an addition to 24 seats - 20 of which are around tables.
The first unit began service on 19 July 2021.
Regional Railways operated Class 153s on many branch lines throughout the Midlands, Wales and Northern England. They were initially allocated to Heaton (15), Cardiff Canton (9), Plymouth Laira (10), Crown Point (16) and Tyseley (20). Due to their multiple working ability, Class 153s were often seen with other classes of Sprinter units such as Class 150 and Class 156s. Class 153s were often found working services from;
- Newcastle to Carlisle
- Peterborough to Lincoln
- Nottingham to Birmingham New Street via Leicester
- Crewe to Derby
- Ipswich to Lowestoft and Felixstowe
- Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Sheringham
The class was a common sight in Regional Railways areas.
In the lead up to privatisation of British Rail, ownership of the fleet passed to Angel Trains (30) and Porterbrook (40) in April 1994. Upon privatisation, they were initially operated by Anglia Railways, Central Trains, First North Western, North Spirit and Wales & West.
South West England
Units were used on local services in Cornwall, Devon, and around Bristol. They were also used on Bristol Temple Meads to Weymouth, Southampton Central, and Worcester Foregate Street services, and the Swindon via Melksham to Southampton Central service.
In mid-2004, Wessex Trains received a further two units from Central Trains to allow it to lengthen some services.
Following the introduction of a new timetable in December 2006, four units were taken off lease and stored at Eastleigh Works. After a period in storage these four units were pressed into service with East Midlands Trains.
In December 2007, First Great Western received an additional Class 153 from Arriva Trains Wales, bringing its total to 12. This unit arrived in the blue with gold star livery of former operator First North Western.
For summer 2011, two London Midland Class 153s were allocated to the South West for strengthening purposes, based at Exeter TMD for the duration. This allocation was eventually made permanent as a result of London Midland keeping three Class 150 units after the new Class 172s entered service. This brought First Great Western's number of Class 153 units up to 14.
Nine of those 14 units later left the fleet, with the remaining five moving to Transport for Wales in April 2019 after being displaced by internal cascading.
Anglia Railways inherited a small fleet of seven units, for local services in Suffolk and Norfolk. Services operated by these units included Ipswich to Cambridge, Peterborough, Felixstowe and Lowestoft, and Norwich to Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Cromer. One set was also hired to First Great Eastern for use on the Gainsborough line.
In 2004, Anglia Railways became part of the Greater Anglia franchise operated by One which was subsequently renamed National Express East Anglia. Two units left the franchise to East Midlands Trains. During 2012, Porterbrook began refurbishing the body and interiors and repainting them in base white with red doors and Greater Anglia logos.
In 2014, a rolling refurbishment of Abellio Greater Anglia's Class 153s commenced, which included new interior panels, tables, carpets and lighting. All were replaced by Class 755s in late 2019. These then moved to Transport for Wales in December 2019 to cover for delays with its new rolling stock.
West Midlands Trains used eight Class 153 DMUs on commuter lines in the West Midlands including the Leamington Spa to Nuneaton line and the Marston Vale line between Bedford and Bletchley. After Class 172 from London Overground and Class 230s' deployment on those two lines, they were used with Class 170s and Class 172s on Birmingham-Hereford and Snow Hill Lines.
All eight were inherited from Central Trains in their livery. All were repainted into London Midland city lines livery upon refurbishment at Eastleigh Works. The Class 153s that were used on the Stourbridge Town branch line have been replaced by new built lightweight Class 139 railcars. This was due to take place in December 2008, but the delivery of the new units was delayed, and after several months of bustitution London Midland reintroduced diesel services from 15 March pending the completion of Class 139 testing. The Class 139 received passenger certification from Network Rail in March 2009 and the service finally began three months later. In December 2020 the final Class 153s were withdrawn from service and put into long-term storage. Before withdrawal, they mostly operated on the Birmingham-Hereford line.
|Abellio ScotRail||5 (3 in service)||153305, 153370, 153373, 153377, 153380|
|East Midlands Railway||6||153308, 153319, 153355, 153357, 153379, 153384|
|Network Rail||3||153311, 153376, 153385|
|Northern Trains||15||153301, 153304, 153307, 153315, 153317, 153324, 153328, 153330–331, 153351–352, 153358–360, 153378|
|Transport for Wales||26||153303, 153312, 153320, 153323, 153325, 153327, 153329, 153333, 153353, 153361, 153362, 153367, 153369, 153906, 153909, 153910, 153913, 153914, 153918, 153921, 153922, 153926, 153935, 153968, 153972, 153982|
|Pending transfer to Transport for Wales||6||153334, 153354, 153364–365, 153371, 153375|
|Stored (unallocated)||5||153356, 153366, 153374, 153381, 153383|
|Stored (allocated)||3||153316, 153332, 153363|
Some units have received names:
- 153306 – Edith Cavell
- 153309 – Gerard Fiennes
- 153311 – John Constable
- 153314 – Delia Smith
- 153316 – John "Longitude" Harrison - inventor of the Marine Chronometer
- 153322 – Benjamin Britten
- 153326 – Ted Ellis
- 153335 – Michael Palin
- 153362 – Dylan Thomas 1915–1953 (denamed)
- 153369 – Pamela Anderson
- 153376 – X24 – Expeditious
- 153383 – Ecclesbourne Valley Railway 150 Years
The Class 153 has been produced in OO gauge by Hornby in Central Trains, First Northern Star, Abellio Greater Anglia, Northern Rail, Regional Railways, East Midlands Trains, London Midland City, Arriva Trains Wales and Great Scenic Railways of Devon and Cornwall (Wessex Trains) liveries. These models have been praised for their detail.
Several 153s have also been produced for rail simulators. Making Tracks have a digital model available for the PC railway simulator Microsoft Train Simulator, whilst Just Trains had released the model for Railworks.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to British Rail Class 153.|
- Fox, Peter; Hughes, Barry (1994). DMUs & Channel Tunnel Stock. British Railways Pocket Book No.3 (7th ed.). Platform 5. ISBN 978-1-872524-59-7.
- Marsden, Colin J. (2011). Traction Recognition (2nd ed.). Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7110-3494-5.
- Marsden, Colin J. (2014). Traction Recognition (3rd ed.). Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7110-3792-2.