British Rail Class 201

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British Rail Class 201
Hastings set 1004.jpg
Set 1004 prepares to leave Cannon Street station on 14 May 1984
In service 1957–1986
Manufacturer Eastleigh and Ashford Works
Number built 42 vehicles (7 units)
Number preserved 1 unit
Operator(s) Southern Region of British Railways
Car body construction Steel
Car length 17.67 m (58 ft 0 in)
Width 2.74 m (9 ft 0 in)
Height 3.82 m (12 ft 6 in)
Doors Hinged slam (now centrally locked)
Maximum speed 75 mph (121 km/h)
Weight 55 long tons (56 t; 62 short tons)
Traction system DEMU
Prime mover(s) English Electric 4SRKT Mark II
Power output 1,200 hp (890 kW)
Transmission Electric
Bogies Commonwealth or B4
Braking system(s) Air/EP
Coupling system Drop-head buck-eye[1]
Multiple working with Classes 201 to 207
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 201 (or 6S) six-car diesel-electric multiple units (DEMUs) were built in 1957-1958 at Eastleigh and underframes were built at Ashford.

The Southern Region Class 201-207 DEMUs are nicknamed 'Thumpers' due to the noise they made while in motion.[2][3]

These units were built with a narrow body profile to accommodate the restricted tunnels on the London-Hastings line, for which they were built.

Technical details[edit]

Power car (two per six-car set)

  • Introduced: 1957
  • Weight: 55 long tons (56 t; 62 short tons)
  • Engine: English Electric 4-cylinder type 4SRKT Mark II of 600 shaft horsepower (450 kW) at 850 rpm (Equivalent to 1,000 bhp or 750 kW per 6-car set)
  • Transmission: Electric, two English Electric type EE507 traction motors rated at 186 kW (249 hp) each.
  • Maximum tractive effort: 12,500 lbf (56 kN) per car; 25,000 lbf (110 kN) per unit
  • Driving wheel diameter: 40 in (1,016 mm) Driving Bogie; 42 in (1,067 mm) Trailer Bogie
  • Coupling code: 'Buck-Eye' Type allowing coupling to any BR(S) 20x,4xx Units
  • Train heating: Electric

Fleet details[edit]

Key: Preserved Departmental Use Scrapped

Original 6S Units

Unit No. DMBSO TSOL TSOL TFK TSOL DMBSO Withdrawn[4] Status
New Old
201001 1001 60000 60500 60501 60700 60502 60001 5/1986 Preserved
- 1002 60002 60503 60504 60701 60505 60003 5.1986 Sandite unit 1066
- 1003 60004 60506 60507 60702 60508 60005 11.1964 Disbanded, vehicles later scrapped
- 1004 60006 60509 60510 60703 60511 60007 4.1986 Scrapped
- 1005 60008 60512 60513 60704 60514 60009 4/1986 Scrapped
- 1006 60010 60515 60516 60705 60517 60011 4/1986 Scrapped
- 1007 60012 60518 60519 60706 60520 60013 4/1986 Scrapped

Departmental Units

Unit No. DM T DM Withdrawn Status
New Old
1066 1002 977376 (ex-60002) 977379 (ex-60504) 977377 (ex-60003) 1994 Scrapped (1994)


Some units were disbanded during the mid 1960s to provide stock for the Class 206 'Tadpole' Units and to reform other 'Hastings Sets' after the Hither Green rail crash. Set 1002 was later reformed to its original formation in 1979, but set 1004 was reformed with only its original power cars and some trailers from sister Class 202 and 203 Hastings Sets. Set 1003 was reformed only for the last few months of Hastings DEMU service after its power cars were used for spares, again with none of its original trailers. Set 1007 also suffered a reformation in 1969 but it remained as a full six coach set until withdrawal in 1986.[5]


1001 at Minehead while working a railtour from Hastings

Most units were withdrawn and scrapped following electrification of the route in 1986. However, one complete unit, no. 1001, was preserved by Hastings Diesels Ltd., which is based at St Leonards-on-Sea. Vehicle no. 60000 has been named Hastings after the town which it previously worked to. This was mainline operational from the unit's revival in 1996 to 2006, but this motor coach was not prioritised when it needed fitting with Central Door Locking (CDL) & On-Train Monitoring Recorders (OTMR). 60000 also needed an overhaul to its bodywork and because of the costs involved, both financial and manpower, this work has not been carried out yet, which means it is currently in storage at St Leonards Depot. The two mainline certified motor coaches that are currently in use on the Hastings Diesel and are fitted with CDL and OTMR are 60116 Mountfield (certified in 2003) and 60118 Tunbridge Wells (certified in 1996). The unit operates several mainline railtours a year, starting from Hastings and going to various destinations; mainly across the South of England, but sometimes further afield.

Additionally, the unit has been used in some unusual non-passenger workings. In July 2015, a crash-damaged Southeastern Class 375 Electrostar EMU was dragged very slowly at 5 mph by HDL's 2 motor coaches from Canterbury West to Ramsgate Depot using a special Dellner coupling-adapter, having collided into a herd of cattle that had strayed onto the line between Wye and Chilham.[6][7] In August 2015, the 2 motor coaches spent a week at Thameslink's new depot in Three Bridges shunting some of the new-built Class 700 Desiro City trains.[8]

Hastings Diesels Limited owns thirteen non-mainline certified vehicles which are in various states of readiness. Two of these are part restored trailer 60527 and unrestored motor coach 60001, which formed the motive power for the original unit 1001. They have said that there will be no serious work done to 60001 until work to motor coach 60019 is completed, as this one apparently needs less work done to it, which is cheaper, and returning 60000 Hastings to front line service is also finished. [9]

One other vehicle survives, the former buffet car 60750, the only survivor of the Hither Green crash. It was taken into BR's Research division as RDB 975386 and heavily modified to test the tilt and suspension systems for the APT-P. It is currently under restoration at the Electric Railway Museum in Baginton by Coventry airport.


  1. ^ Marsden, Colin (2011). Traction Recognition. Hersham: Ian Allan Publishing Ltd. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-7110-3494-5. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Withdrawal Dates from H. Longworth, British Railways First Generation DMUs, Oxford Publishing Company 2011 ISBN 978-0-86093-612-1
  5. ^ M. Welch, SOUTHERN DEMUs, Capital Transport 2004
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Marsden, Colin (2011). Traction Recognition. Hersham: Ian Allan Publishing Ltd. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-7110-3494-5. 

External links[edit]