NIR Class 450

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Not to be confused with British Rail Class 450.
Northern Ireland Railways Class 450
A Passing train - - 395636.jpg
8459 passing the site of Barn Halt.
In service 1985-2012
Manufacturer BREL
Family name BR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Entered service 1985–1987
Number built 9 sets
Number scrapped 8 sets
Formation 3-car sets (DM-T-DT)
Fleet numbers Originally: 451–459,
Now: 8451–8459
Capacity 184 seats
Operator(s) Northern Ireland Railways
Line(s) served At time of withdrawal:
Maximum speed 75 mph (121 km/h)
Prime mover(s) English Electric 4SRKT
Safety system(s) AWS, TPWS
Track gauge 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
8458 at Hilden

The Class 450 is a type of diesel multiple unit (DMU) formerly used by Northern Ireland Railways. They were affectionately nicknamed 'Thumpers' and 'Castles' (Also known as the Castle Class) by rail enthusiasts.


In the mid 1980s, Northern Ireland Railways was in the process of upgrading its rolling stock. Having already purchased three new locomotives, it then proceeded to purchase replacements for its Class 70 diesel multiple units. A total of nine three car trains were constructed by BREL between 1985 and 1987 intended to supplement the existing Class 80 DMUs then in service. The trains were constructed using underframes of existing Mark 1 coaching stock, altered to 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) and new Mark 3 bodyshells. Because of this, they bear a strong resemblance to the British Rail Class 150, British Rail Class 210 (based on), British Rail Class 317, British Rail Class 318 and British Rail Class 455, as they use Mark 3 bodyshells. These were combined with refurbished power units and traction motors from the withdrawn Class 70 units (there were only eight Class 70 units available to be salvaged, so the equipment for the ninth train came from a withdrawn Class 80 train, powercar 88).

The power cars of the Class 450 units are named after various Northern Irish castles.[1] They entered service in a cream, orange, and red livery.

On 9 March 1995, a 450 Class train was used to form a royal train when Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the Dargan Bridge, composed of two cars from 455 coupled to two cars from 459.

The Class 450 operate on the same principle as the prototype Class 210 DMUs on the British network, in that they consist of a single power car containing the traction and generating equipment (numbered 45x), an intermediate trailer car (numbered 79x) and a driving trailer (numbered 78x) as permanently formed 3 car sets. An additional "8" was added to the start of all the cars so that they can be used by Translink's computer system.

In 2005, the entire fleet underwent an extensive refurbishment to bring them up to a similar standard to the newly introduced Class 3000 units, enabling them to remain in service for at least another 5 to 7 years.[2] This would take them up to the point where they are expected to become "life-expired."[3]

In 2011, the entire Class 450 fleet, together with the remaining Class 80 units, was listed by NI Railways for disposal.[4]

Current status[edit]

The entire Class 450 fleet has now been withdrawn from service, following the arrival of enough Class 4000 units to displace the 450 units serving the Larne Line and Portrush branch. Eight out of the nine units have been cut up for scrap. The sole remaining example has been purchased for preservation by the Downpatrick and County Down Railway.

Key: Scrapped Preserved
Number Power Car Name Intermediate Number Driving Trailer Number Status Notes
8451 Belfast Castle 791 781 Scrapped Cut up at York Road. Scrapped in Ahoghill, April 2012.
8452 Olderfleet Castle 792 782 Scrapped Cut up at York Road. scrapped in Ahoghill, April 2012.
8453 Moiry Castle 793 783 Scrapped Cut up at Adelaide Depot. Scrapped at Ahoghill, 21 May 2013
8454 Carrickfergus Castle 794 784 Scrapped Cut up at Adelaide Depot. Scrapped at Ahoghill, 13 May 2013.
8455 Galgorm Castle 795 785 Scrapped Cut at Ballymena and scrapped at Ahoghill, 31 Jan - 1 February 2017.
8456 Gosford Castle 796 786 Scrapped Cut up and scrapped in Ballymena, 1 May 2013.
8457 Bangor Castle 797 787 Scrapped Cut up at Adelaide Depot. Scrapped at Ahoghill, 20 May 2013.
8458 Antrim Castle 798 788 Preserved Preserved at the Downpatrick & County Down Railway.
8459 Killyleagh Castle 799 789 Scrapped Cut up at Adelaide Depot. Scrapped at Ahoghill, 15 May 2013.


453 & 457 At Adelaide prior to scrapping
Date Event
September 2011 Units 8451 and 8452 withdrawn with camshaft failure.
22 January 2012 Units 8453 and 8457 withdrawn and moved to Bangor centre siding. Units 8454 and 8459 withdrawn and moved to Belfast Central parcels siding.
18 February 2012 Unit 8455 worked a MRSI farewell tour for the 450 Class, visiting areas such as Dundalk and Antrim.
2 March 2012 Unit 8458 works the last 450 Class passenger service with the 18:45 service from Larne Town to Belfast Central.
30 March 2012 Units 8455 and 8456 moved to Ballymena railway yard, Unit 8458 moved to Belfast Central parcels siding. All three units remained in stock in case of an emergency requirement, but were not called upon.
22 April 2012 8452 Cut up at York Road and later scrapped at Ahoghill.
29 April 2012 8451 Cut up at York Road and later scrapped at Ahoghill.
1 July 2012 All Class 450 units officially withdrawn from stock.
3 February 2013 Unit 458 moved from Belfast Central parcel siding to York Road
May 2013 Unit 456 Scrapped at Ballymena
12 May 2013 Units 454 and 459 moved from Belfast Central parcel siding to Adelaide Depot, and scrapped a few days later
19 May 2013 Units 453 and 457 moved from Bangor to Adelaide Depot, and scrapped a few days later
27 September 2014 458's Driving Trailer moved by road from York Road depot, Belfast, to the Downpatrick & County Down Railway
28 September 2014 458's Intermediate and Power Car moved by road from York Road depot, Belfast, to the Downpatrick & County Down Railway
31 January 2017 455's Driving Trailer and Intermediate scrapped at Ballymena.
1 February 2017 455's Power Car scrapped at Ballymena.


Class 450 unit at Belfast Great Victoria Street in 2009

Originally they operated on suburban services on the Larne and Bangor Lines, occasionally serving the Newry Line as well, with occasional appearances on the Derry line.

With the arrival of the Class 3000 trains in 2003, the 450s still had to be retained, as the 3000s were only a like-for-like replacement of the old Class 80 units. By the year of their withdrawal, the Class 450 units had mostly been relegated to weekday services on the Larne Line and the Portrush Line shuttle, however at weekends there were enough Class 3000 trains to operate these services.

The gradual entry into service of the Class 4000 trains in 2012 saw the Class 450 units each displaced by a new Class 4000 unit as one became available, until they were all finally withdrawn.

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos.
Class 450 Northern Ireland Railways 9 1985 3 8451 – 8459

In Preservation[edit]

One example of the class has been preserved, by the Downpatrick & County Down Railway. Unit 458 Antrim Castle was moved by road from York Road Depot, Belfast, over the weekend of 27–28 September 2014. During a two-day operation, the set was split into Driving Trailer, Intermediate and Power Car at Belfast and then, one-by-one, the carriages were taken by lorry to Downpatrick where they were reassembled. The Driving Trailer arrived on 27 September 2014, with the Intermediate and Power Car arriving the following day. The complete 458 Successfully ran under its own power on 11 October 2014, and one week later on 18 October 2014, made a surprise appearance at the Irish Traction Group's Diesel Gala—the first time the unit had carried passengers since withdrawal by NIR in 2012.

The DCDR stated that it planned to convert 458 into a standby buffet train.