NIR Class 80

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Northern Ireland Railways Class 80
York Road station, Belfast (2) - - 995115.jpg
80 Class Unit 8095 York Road station in 1991.
In service 1974–2012
Manufacturer BREL
Family name Mark 2
Number built 22 power cars, trailers see below
Formation 2, 3, 4 or 6 cars per set
Capacity Variable depending on trailer capacity, most 3 car sets 210
Operator(s) Northern Ireland Railways
Line(s) served Belfast-Derry
Maximum speed 70 mph (113 km/h)
Prime mover(s) English Electric 4SRKT
Safety system(s) AWS, TPWS
Track gauge Irish gauge1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)

The Class 80 is a type of diesel electric multiple unit formerly used by Northern Ireland Railways. They were affectionately nicknamed 'Thumpers' by rail enthusiasts due to the thumping noise their engines produced.


By the early 1970s the MEDs and units inherited from the GNR(I) had been in service for 20 years, and the MPDs for 10 years. To replace these increasingly life-expired units, Northern Ireland Railways placed an order with BREL for 9 new DMUs. These were to be built as four 3-car and five 2-car sets and were delivered in 1974/75. Structurally, the new trains were based on the British Rail MK IIb bodyshell, which NIR was already using for the Enterprise service. The new trains were named as the Class 80.

The power cars were fitted with an English Electric 560 HP diesel engine, with electric transmission to two traction motors mounted on the rear bogie. The seating capacity of the power cars was 45, however after providing for wheelchair accommodation, this was reduced to 42. The vehicle also incorporated a guards/parcel compartment. The intermediate coaches were fitted with an additional door on each side to aid passenger flow and had a capacity of 87. The driving trailers had a small cab built at one end, which necessitated the removal of six seats. This cab was set to the left to preserve the gangway connection, so that two train sets could be coupled together and still allow passengers to travel between the trains. All three types are of integral construction, however the power cars, because of their weight, also have an underframe. They were similar to the UTA 70 Class, both mechanically and electrically.

The Class 80 was intended to replace the aging MED, MPD and ex-GNR AEC and BUT railcars on the NCC services and the suburban service between Bangor and Portadown. The railcars proved so successful that a second series was ordered in 1975, entering service in 1977/78.

Each vehicle was numbered individually, with power car numbers running from 67 to 69, and 81 to 99. The Intermediate Trailers were numbered 761 to 780 and the Driving Trailers were numbered 731 to 756. Power cars 81 to 89 were built between 1974/1975, while 67 to 69 and 90 to 99 were built between 1978/1979. Intermediate Trailers 761 to 764 were also built between 1974/1975, with 765 to 773 being completed between 1978/1979. Likewise, the Driving Trailers were also completed in batches, with 731 to 739 built between 1974/1975 and 740 to 751 built between 1978/1979. The additional coaches were conversions from BR or old NI Railways loco-hauled coaches, and were not original Class 80 vehicles. These were Driving Trailers 752 to 756 and Intermediate Trailers 774 to 780. During the mid-1990s the surviving vehicles were all renumbered by Translink, by adding 8000 to their numbers to avoid duplication with the bus fleet operated by Ulsterbus and Citybus, also Translink subsidiaries.

Use by Iarnród Éireann[edit]

Diesel train standing in station with passengers boarding
An unidentified 80 class set carrying the then Iarnród Éireann logo at Dún Laoghaire in 1988.

Three 3-car sets were leased by Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) from NIR in October 1987 for use on, respectively, the BrayGreystones shuttle (previously operated by a push–pull set rebuilt from CIÉ 2600 Class railcars), the Dublin ConnollyMaynooth route, and the Cork–Cobh line. They were originally intended as a short-term measure until Mark 3 push–pull sets became available.[1] The sets entered service on 2 November. In addition to their regular services, they were employed on a variety of other workings, including a nine-car All-Ireland hurling special from Cork to Dublin. However, although the sets were fitted with Continuous Automatic Warning System and IÉ train radio in March 1990 and "for a while it appeared as if the units were going to be purchased by [IÉ]," NIR required them back when the lease expired at the end of October 1990. A brief "stay of execution" for the Greystones shuttle lasted until 26 November.[2]


8082 at Belfast Central (2004)
8090 At Helen's Bay (2015)
8069 At Lisburn (2015)

Despite the increasing age and obselesence of the Class 80, the lack of available rolling stock has meant that NIR has been forced to retain a number of units, even in spite of the entry into service of the new Class 3000. As of 2009, NIR will maintain up to three 4-car units for use on passenger services. These will see a pair of 2-car units, a power car and driving trailer, coupled back to back. Six trailers will be refurbished and fitted with central door locking to enable them to remain in service until the new Class 4000 units enter service. [742 had been nominated for retention but was scrapped in May 2008 and replaced in the programme by 752]

The power cars are being overhauled at LH services in Staffordshire and the trailers at York Road works in Belfast

Set 89-733-738-69 remained in service until 24 May 2008

97 was converted to a Sandite spraying vehicle in 2006 and in 2006 and 2007 was used on these duties coupled to 89. On 1 October 2008 97 had a test run with refurbished 82 and this pair are being used for Sandite trains until December 2008

Set 93-754-749-94 has been sporadically on test since 23 July 2008. As of 3 November 2008, it has been reported than regular passenger services have been commenced with this set.

In 2009, 8097 was on Sandite duties again with 8082. During October 2009 while out on Sanditing Duties the engine in 8097 exploded. 8082 struggled with haulling dead 8097 so it was decided to add 8094 to back of the train to help it along.

On 17 December 2009, a second refurbished 80 class was deployed onto the Larne Line. The current sets on the Larne Line are 8090-8749-8752-8093 and 8094-8754-8747-8082. The third refurbished set is currently stored at York Road and it consists of 8069-8733-8738-8089.

On 26.1.10- 8089 entered passenger service with 8093, 8090 was taken off the set on Saturday 23 January 2010. 8090 is currently being stored at the south end of the south sidding at York Road.

It has been rumoured that 8082 has now been withdrawn from service following from an engine fire. 82 has been fixed and returned to working order after the fire in Larne

In 2011, the entire Class 450 fleet, together with the remaining Class 80 units, was listed by NI Railways for disposal.[3]

The final Class 80 units were withdrawn from passenger service on 25 September 2011. The 80s class sandite train for the 2012 Winter season - was formed of three power cars and one driving trailer. Winter 2013 sandite train will be done with formed of three power cars and one driving trailer.

Power cars 8069+8094+8090 and driving trailers 8749+8752 are to be overhauled and paint into all yellow livery

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. in service Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 80 Northern Ireland Railways 0 1974–1978 Varied in service, typically 3 or 4 8069-8097-8752-8090 Sandite Train

8749+8094 Withdrawn at York Road

80 Class Sandite due to be replaced by an MPV in 2017

Status Of Class 80 Units[edit]

Key: Stored Scrapped Refurbished Sandite Unknown

Power cars[edit]

Number Status Notes
8067 Scrapped Was involved in the derailment at Downhill in 2002, after colliding with a rockfall. Scrapped 6 December 2004.
8068 Scrapped Removed from Adelaide Yard and scrapped on 30 May 2008.
8069 Withdrawn Undergone refurbishment by LH Services at Barton under Needwood, England. Returned to York Road Works on 18 September 2009. Part of Sandite train

Withdrawn on the 9/12/16

8081 Scrapped Named The Boys Brigade in 1988. Bomb damaged in 1976 but re-built 2 years later. Scrapped as of January 2006.
8082 Scrapped Badly damaged in the arson attack at Lurgan, but repaired in 1999. Returned after refurbishment by LH Services on 15 September 2008. Returned to passenger service on 17 December 2009, after spending the last two years exclusively working on sandite duties. Engine block cracked. Scrapped in February 2012.
8083 Scrapped Damaged during 1992, rebuilt the following year and finally scrapped during July 2008.
8084 Scrapped Removed from Adelaide and scrapped in 2008
8085 Scrapped Removed from Adelaide and destroyed 11 July 2008.
8086 Scrapped Named Glendun in 1992. Removed and destroyed July 2008.
8087 Scrapped Rebuilt in 1979 after being damaged by a bomb at Londonderry. Scrapped in January 2006.
8088 Scrapped Scrapped after an accident at Hilden. Equipment was re-used in power car 8459, to make up the ninth Class 450 set.
8089 Scrapped Refurbished by LH Services at Barton under Needwood, England, and returned to York Road Works on 8 July 2009. Re-entered service on 26 January 2010 Engine block cracked. Cut at Ballymena and scrapped at Ahoghill.

2nd Feb 2017.

8090 Withdrawn Refurbished by LH Services at Barton under Needwood, England, and returned to Adelaide Yard on 14 December 2008. Part of Sandite Train

Replaced 8094 on the sandite train at the start of the 2015 season. Withdrawn on the 9/12/16

8091 Scrapped Scrapped 28 May 2008.
8092 Scrapped Scrapped during May 2009.
8093 Scrapped Damaged at Finaghy in 1980, but rebuilt the following year. Returned after refurbishment by LH Services on 12 May 2008 Electrical defect. Scrapped in February 2012.
8094 Scrapped Named Glenariff in 1989. Refurbished; returned on 2 April 2008.This power car was removed from the sandite train at the end of the 2014 season following an engine failure and was replaced by 8090.

Cut at York Road and scrapped at Ahoghill. 11th March 2017.

8095 Scrapped Withdrawn after fire damage on 4 November 2000 and scrapped at Belfast Docks on December 2001.
8096 Scrapped Named Glenshane in 1989. Scrapped as at January 2006.
8097 Withdrawn Named Glenshesk in 1990. Suffered irreparable engine damage and is hauled by 2 other power cars as part of the Sandite Unit. Withdrawn on the 9/12/16
8098 Scrapped Named Glenoe in 1989. Scrapped by Clearways 28 May 2008.
8099 Stored Named Sir Myles Humphreys in 1978. Damaged in an attack in May 1993, but repaired during 1994. Now converted to standard gauge and stored at the East Lancashire Railway in Bury, Greater Manchester, England

Intermediate Trailers[edit]

Number Status Notes
8761 ? ?
8762 Scrapped Scrapped in July 2008.
8763 Scrapped Scrapped during May 2009.
8764 Scrapped Removed from Adelaide Yard 29 May 2008 and destroyed by Clearways.
8765 Scrapped Removed from Adelaide Yard 29 May 2008 and destroyed by Clearways.
8766 Scrapped Destroyed during July 2008.
8767 Scrapped NI Railways destroyed this vehicle by fire.
8768 Scrapped Scrapped 6 May 2005.
8769 ? ?
8770 ? ?
8771 Stored As of May 2007, it was sited at Ballynure. Possibility of preservation.
8772 Scrapped Destroyed by arson on 6 July 1997.
8773 ? ?
8774 Scrapped Scrapped during May 2009.
8775 Scrapped Scrapped as at January 2006.
8776 Scrapped Scrapped during May 2009.
8777 Scrapped Scrapped 6 May 2005.
8778 Scrapped Destroyed by arson in July 1997.
8779 Scrapped Destroyed during July 2008.
8780 Scrapped Destroyed July 2008.

Driving Trailers[edit]

Number Status Notes
8731 ? ?
8732 Scrapped Scrapped as at January 2006.
8733 Scrapped Refurbishment not completed. Scrapped February 2012.
8734 Scrapped Destroyed May 2008.
8735 ? ?
8736 Scrapped Destroyed May 2008.
8737 Scrapped Destroyed in an arson attack in 1997.
8738 Scrapped Refurbishment not completed. Scrapped February 2012.
8739 Scrapped Scrapped as at January 2006.
8740 Scrapped NI Railways destroyed this vehicle by fire.
8741 ? ?
8742 Scrapped Destroyed by Clearways 30 May 2008.
8743 Scrapped Scrapped during May 2009.
8744 Scrapped Destroyed July 2008.
8745 Scrapped Scrapped during May 2009.
8746 ? ?
8747 Scrapped Returned to service on 3 November 2008. Scrapped February 2012.
8748 ? ?
8749 Stored Refurbished. Withdrawn at York Road. Spare driving trailer car for Sandite Train
8750 ? ?
8751 Scrapped Destroyed in an arson attack in 1997.
8752 Withdrawn Refurbished. Part of Sandite train. Withdrawn on the 9/12/16
8753 Scrapped Removed from Adelaide Yard 29 May 2008 and destroyed by Clearways.
8754 Scrapped Refurbished. Stopped 16 December 2010.Scrapped February 2012.
8755 Scrapped Scrapped 6 May 2005.
8756 Scrapped Scrapped 6 May 2005.


  1. ^ "Railcars". Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society. 16 (105): 360–1. February 1988. 
  2. ^ Whistler, A.J. (January 1995). "Greystones Shuttle". Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society. 19 (127): 54–67. 
  3. ^ Rail Vehicles for Disposal - Translink