British Rail Class 504

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British Rail Class 504
Class 504 M77170 and M65450 (crop).jpg
A southbound Class 504 at Bury in British Railways blue and grey livery in 1982.
In service 1959–1991
Manufacturer BR
Order number
  • 30477 (DMBS)
  • 30478 (DTC, as built)[1]
Built at Wolverton Works
Family name 1959 EMU
Replaced LYR electric units
Entered service 1959[2]
Number built 26 sets
Number preserved 1 set
Number scrapped 25 sets
Formation 2 cars per trainset
  • EB204 or BR407 (DMBS)
  • EE215 or BR443 (DTS)[3]
Fleet numbers
  • M65436-M65461 (DMBS)
  • M77157-M77182 (DTS)[4][5]
  • 84S (DMBS)
  • 94S (DTS)[1]
Operator(s) British Rail
Depot(s) Bury[6]
Line(s) served Bury Line
Car body construction Steel[3]
Train length 133 ft 3 12 in (40.627 m)[4]
Car length 64 ft 0 58 in (19.523 m) (over body)[3]
Width 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m) (over body)[3]
Height 12 ft 7 in (3.84 m) (over vents)[3]
Entry 3 ft 9 in (1.14 m)[3]
Doors Slam[4]
Articulated sections 2
  • 46 ft 6 in (14.17 m) (bogie centres)
  • 8 ft 9 in (2.67 m) (bogies)[3]
Maximum speed 65 mph (105 km/h)[3]
  • 82 long tons (83 t; 92 short tons) (total)[4]
  • 49 long tons 8 cwt (50.2 t; 55.3 short tons) (DMBS)
  • 32 long tons 9 cwt (33.0 t; 36.3 short tons) (DTS)[1]
Traction motors Four EE[1]
Power output 4 × 141 hp (105 kW)[1]
Total: 564 hp (421 kW)[4]
Train heating Electric[3]
Electric system(s) 1,200 V DC side contact third rail[4]
Current collection method Contact shoe
Bogies Gresley[4]
Braking system(s) Air (EP/Auto)[4]
Coupling system
Multiple working Within class only[4]
Headlight type Tungsten[3]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 504 was a unique type of electric multiple unit that ran on 1200 V DC third rail with side-contact current collection. All other UK third rail has the electric "shoe" on top of the rail. The type was used only on the Bury Line between Manchester and Bury. They were built in 1959, and the body was a standard type used for several electrification schemes of the time, but the high DC voltage through a side-contact third rail was unique in Britain. The trains replaced the previous 5-car units built by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway for the route, which had inaugurated this electrification scheme in 1916.

All units of this type were withdrawn in 1991 when the line was closed for conversion to form part of the Manchester Metrolink light rail system. One unit, no. 65451+77172, is preserved at the East Lancashire Railway (ELR).


British Railways numbers were:

For an explanation of terms, see British Rail coach designations


All maintenance was conducted by the constructing workshops of Wolverton. The units were diesel hauled from Bury to and from Wolverton.

In 1986 a condemned vehicle (77169?) was given (on temporary bogies) to the newly formed ELR. The carriage was used for a mock fire emergency exercise in Bury Tunnel (at Bolton Street station) with local fire services, British Rail Staff, and soon-to-be volunteers of the new ELR. After the exercise this carriage was sold to a local scrap merchant in Bury and cut up early in 1987. The bogies were returned to the Bury BR depot. The bogies themselves were of interest, being a set of the original Lancashire and Yorkshire EMU unit bogies, which after the scrapping of L&Y 1920s EMUs were retained to move objects around Bury Depot. These bogies were cut up into parts and dumped in a skip at Bury depot on its closure in 1991.

A northbound Class 504 train in northern Manchester shortly before closure for conversion to the Metrolink light rail system. The preparatory earthworks for Metrolink's overhead wire supports can be seen on both sides of the tracks.
A Class 504 train at Manchester Victoria station in GMPTE livery just weeks before withdrawal and replacement by the Metrolink light rail system.

Withdrawal from service[edit]

Substantially more units were built than were soon required, and the unique electrical system prevented redeployment. By the 1966 LMR timetable, only 6 to 7 years after the units were introduced, the peak hour service was down to a 10-15 minute interval, requiring only five 4-car trains in service, so only 10 units from the fleet of 26 were required each day by this time. The reduced service (off peak was down to a 30-minute interval, requiring just two 2-car units) was responsible for much business being driven away to the frequent parallel bus services on this quite short urban route.

By the early-1970s only 18 sets remained in use, reduction in demand on the service resulting in years of storage for the first seven sets from the late 1960s onwards (65436-65442; 77157-77163). Additionally Driving Trailer 77164 was transferred in 1970 to the Tilbury lines of the Eastern Region to replace car 75292 in 302244, which had been written off in an accident. Its running mate 65443 was thereafter a spare car at Bury depot. 65436 and 65437 were for a time used as the depot shunting set, they had some front wiring and internal fittings removed, were repainted in plain blue with yellow ends and was known locally for its speed and power over a normal power-trailer set.[citation needed]

Many of the early stored vehicles were still in BR Green with small yellow warning panels (inc 65438/439 and 77157-77160), with others in early versions of BR blue with; full yellow ends (inc 65436/437 - see above); wrap round yellow ends (65443); or even with small yellow warning panels (65442, 77162 and 77163).

In the late 1970s some cars including 65439/443 and 77158/160 were stored at Croxley Green to supply spares to Class 501s. In February 1982, 65436/437 and 77157/158/163 were noted at Watford Junction as their Southern tour continued. Some finally went on to Wolverton (inc 77158) for further spares recovery.

Following stripping for spares at their southern locations three cars (Blue 65436/443 and Green 77158) were dumped at Cockshute in Stoke-on-Trent in sight of the West Coast Main Line.

The eventual disposal of the early losses saw 65440 and 77161 cut up at Bury in 1970/71; 65438 sent to C F Booth in 1979; 65437 and 77157/163 disposed of at Horwich Works in 1982/83; 65439/441/442 and 77160/162 to Bird Group at Long Marston in 1983; and 65436/443 together with the final green vehicle 77158 to Vic Berry at Leicester for disposal in 1985. Of note was that despite the years of storage none were officially withdrawn until just before disposal.

77164 retained its place in 302244 until 1985 when a replacement Class 302 driving trailer was located. The class 504 vehicle was sent for scrap in June the same year to Marple and Gillott.

Apart from two vehicles, 65448 and 77169 withdrawn in the mid 1980s, no further significant withdrawals began until the closure of the line in the 1990s.

The first batch of latter day redundant Bury Class 504 units were hauled from Bury to Warrington before going to MC Metals of Glasgow for scrapping in early 1991. After this point the reduced Bury–Crumpsall service was operated in four-car formation. In August 1991 the entire line was closed. The next day a Class 31 diesel (31306) hauled all the units from Bury to Warrington in two trains of units. From Warrington, the entire collection was towed to MC Metals in Glasgow.

Two units remained at Bury, one purchased for the East Lancashire Railway, and another bought, reputedly as a joke, for £504 by Harry Needle. The latter was sold to the East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society (ELRPS). Much debate took place amongst ELR volunteers as the Class 31 pushed the units over the Buckley Wells crossing to a waiting Class 40. (The Bury Depot side of the crossing was still owned by BR until midnight that Saturday and the ELR was prevented from using its own locomotives to collect the units). From the Sunday after closure, the ELR moved over the crossing and took possession of the (BQ) Bury Depot Complex.


The ELR found itself with two unique Class 504 Units, having only expected one. One unit was refurbished in the late 1980s, with modern strip lighting, and complete running boards outside. The other unit was refurbished in the 1970s, and has incandescent bulbs and individual running boards to each door. The unit was eventually gifted to the ELRPS.

In October 1991 at the ELR annual diesel gala, Harry Needle, with his then owned Class 25, (25262) placed his locomotive in the centre of the two units. The units were through wired to have the diesel in the middle and the capability to be driven from both ends of the units in a push pull mode. This was a major success for the October diesel gala, and pointed numerous possibilities to the future for having two units. This weekend saw a Class 504 Unit running north of Bury station for the first time.

One unit has since been scrapped and the parts stored in a container at Buckley Wells. The remaining unit is still awaiting restoration but is now (November 2015) in danger of being scrapped as well.[7]

A new Class 504 preservation society was launched on 8 November 2015[8] and work on restoring the units began on 24 January 2016.[9]

Besides the Class 504 at Bury, an example of the unique side contact third rail gear and a section of electric rail was retained for the National Railway Museum at York; this is now restored and on display.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Longworth 2015, pp. 148, 201
  2. ^ Marsden 1983, p. 112
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Vehicle Diagram Book No.210 for Electrical Multiple Units (including A.P.T.)" (PDF). Barrowmore MRG. BRB Residuary Ltd. EB204, EE215. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Class 504". The Railway Centre. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  5. ^ Longworth 2015, pp. 19–20
  6. ^ Anon. 1983, p. 50
  7. ^ Coward, Andy (11 November 2015). "Death warrant close to being signed on last 504 EMU". RAIL. No. 787. Peterborough, England: Bauer Consumer Media. p. 30. 
  8. ^ "The Class 504 Preservation Society". The Class 504 Preservation Society. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  9. ^ "Recent Activity". The Class 504 Preservation Society. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 


  • Longworth, Hugh (2015). British Railways Electric Multiple Units to 1975. Oxford Publishing Co. ISBN 9780860936688. OCLC 923205678. 
  • Marsden, Colin J. (1983). British Rail Motive Power Combined Volume. Ian Allan. ISBN 0711012849. 
  • Anon. (1983). British Rail Locoshed Book (Spring 1983 ed.). Ian Allan. ISBN 0711012954. 

External links[edit]