British Rail regional multiple unit numbering

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Southern Region units are excluded from this page, as they perpetuated the four-digit numbering series commenced by the Southern Railway - see SR Multiple Unit Numbering and Classification.

Prior to the introduction of TOPS, electric multiple unit numbers were allocated by British Rail regions in their own series. Diesel multiple units did not carry unit numbers at first, but the Scottish and Western Regions later adopted their own series for these units, whilst elsewhere individual depots allocated unit numbers, often prefixed by their two-letter TOPS depot code (e.g. TS for Tyseley).

When TOPS numbers were applied to multiple units, the unit numbers were prefixed by the class number to make the new six-digit unit numbers. These regional series have been perpetuated since TOPS because it eases the description of individual units and avoids potential confusion if there is only one unit with a particular identifier working in a certain area.

Diesel Multiple Units[edit]

London Midland Region[edit]

There was no regional number series for DMUs: individual depots had their own series, prefixed by their two-letter TOPS depot code. The table below shows the series used by Tyseley depot (in the Western Region until 9 September 1963).

Range Classes
003-005 Class 128
012-014 / 050-062 Class 122
021-027 Class 114
301-315 Class 117
316-318 Class 118
319-342 Class 116 (Replaced 5xx/6xx Series)
401-421 Class 115
501-545 Class 116 (Non-gangwayed)
600-629 Class 116 (Gangwayed)

Scottish Region[edit]

The table below shows the broad arrangement of numbers, though a couple of Class 104 units took numbers in the 3xx series. Class 107 units were later renumbered twice, first to 7xx following introduction of the Class 156 with 4xx unit numbers in the Regional Railways Sprinter series, and then to 0xx following introduction of the Class 158 with 7xx unit numbers in the same series.

Range Classes
301-366 Class 101
385-396 Class 116
425-449 Class 107
450-453 Class 104
501-517 Class 120

Western Region[edit]

Unit numbers were prefixed by a letter (letters prior to 1970) to indicate which area (or depot) the unit was allocated to. The table below lists the prefixes used; Tyseley had transferred to the London Midland Region by the time the 1971 changes took place so was not included, though it did shorten its prefix to TS.

Prefix Area Depot
Post-1970 1958-1970
B BL Bristol Bath Road
C CAT Cardiff Cathays
CDF Canton
L RDG London Reading
- Old Oak Common
P LA Plymouth Laira
S - Swansea Landore
- TYS Birmingham Tyseley

The unit number ranges used were:

Range Classes
100-119 Class 122 (Driving Motor 55000-019)
120-135 Class 121 (Driving Motor 55020-035)
200-225 Class 101 (Motor + Trailer Units)
280-289 Class 121 (Driving Trailer 56280-289)
290-299 Class 122 (Driving Trailer 56291-299)
300-395 Class 116
400-450 Class 117
460-480 Class 118
500-560 Class 120 (not headlight fitted)
571-596 Class 119
600-622 Class 120 (fitted with headlight for Central Wales line)
700-709 Class 123
800-874 Class 101 (Power twin and 3-car units)
900-995 Class 108

Before 1970 unit numbers were not generally painted on the ends of the units, but at some depots were carried on boards visible through the driver's cab windows. Also, each depot used its own number range within the overall scheme outlined above, so that there could be (and was) a Bristol-based Cross-Country set BL516 and a Cardiff-based set CDF516 at the same time! Inter-depot transfers meant frequent renumbering of sets, so that in about 1970 the fleet was renumbered into a common Region-wide series and from about 1972 permanent set numbers began to be painted (or applied by transfers) onto the ends of units, beneath the right-hand driver's cab window (as viewed looking directly at the front of the unit).

Network SouthEast[edit]

NSE adopted the former Western Region series, and expanded it to include diesel multiple units used on the former London Midland Region, which took unit numbers in the 7xx series. This included units from classes 101, 104, 108 and 117.

Regional Railways[edit]

Sprinter (Class 15x) units carried the last three digits of their carriage numbers in the 52xxx and 57xxx series. The 6xx series was reserved for the aborted Class 157, and was adopted by refurbished Class 143 601-625 and 101 651-695. Refurbished class 117 and 122 kept their Tyseley 3xx and Laira (Western Region) 1xx unit numbers respectively.

Electric Multiple Units[edit]

Eastern Region[edit]

When introduced, Class 306 were numbered 01-92 and Class 307 01s-32s. These numbers were amended as they were converted from 1500 V DC to 25 kV AC operation. Parcels and departmental units in the 99x series have included Classes 308/4, 302/9, 316[disambiguation needed] and 937.

First Use Second Use
Range Class Range Class
001-092 Class 306
101-132 Class 307 101-121 Class 360/1
133-165 Class 308/1
201-312 Class 302/0 301-366 Class 321/3
313-321 Class 308/2
401-452 Class 305/1
453-455 Class 308/3
481-485 Class 322
501-519 Class 305/2
601-627 Class 309
701-799 Class 312
801-861 Class 315
990-999 Parcels & Departmental

London Midland Region[edit]

First Use Second Use
Range Class Range Class
001-045 Class 304
046-095 Class 310/0
101-113 Class 310/1
133-189 Class 501
201-204 Class 312/2 201-243 Class 323
301-348 Class 317/1
401-448 Class 321/4

Scottish Region[edit]

First Use Second Use
Range Class Range Class
001-091 Class 303 001-040 Class 334
092-110 Class 311
201-216 Class 314
250-270 Class 318
301-322 Class 320