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The history of First Generation DMUs

The Railcar website provides information on the British Railways first generation DMUs (a.k.a. diesel multiple units / railcars) introduced in the 1950s.

The six key sections of the website are:

  • Types - looks at each type of DMU in detail
  • Topics - features articles on differernt aspects of the vehicles and personal recollections
  • Technology - describes the technical details of how they work
  • Data - various lists of numerical details
  • Images - galleries featuring DMUs
  • Books - details the books and other printed materials made available over the years that have relevance

Details of railcars in preservation can be found on The Railcar Association website.

Vehicle Data


DMU Images Wanted!

Do you have photos of First Generation DMUs? The more images we have the better we can tell the DMU story and make it more useful to visitors. Images can be loaded directly onto the site - just register as a user and upload! Alternatively if you have images on flickr or another website I can do the uploads for you - just let me know.


This website contains details about the First Generation DMUs. This includes the 4-wheel diesel railbuses, ACV / BUT railcars, the Battery Multiple Unit (BMU) and Blue Pullmans. It covers the period from their introduction to British Railways in the 1950s till their withdrawal and disposal from main-line use, but NOT preservation.

Because of the vast amount of data that this covers and the amount of information I have still to process I cannot include the DEMUs introduced on the Southern Region in the same era, nor Second Generation or later types.


November 30th, 2016

The minutes of the 64th Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (April 1959) have been added.

Nov 26th, 2016

Comments can now be made on images. You must be register as a user to do so.

Nov 13th, 2016

With the increasing number of images on the site (now over 4,500), a new advanced search is available allowing searches by specific dates, regions / areas and liveries.

Nov 6th, 2016

Two official allocation lists are now available - Western Region from 1962 and London Midland Region from 1967.

Oct 28th, 2016

The allocations for the three DMU classes withdrawn in the 1970s - the Class 109 Wickhams, the Orange Star Class 125s, and the Yellow Diamond Class 129 parcel vehicle have been added to the individual vehicle pages.

October 15th, 2016

The minutes of the 63rd Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (March 1959) have been added.

October 1st, 2016

The allocations for all Derby Lightweights, and the Rolls-Royce powered Cravens vehicles (51681 - 51780) have now been added to the individual vehicle pages.

September 25th, 2016

A new Class 119 page looking at the liveries that they carried.

September 13th, 2016

Further allocations for Derby Lightweights power cars have been added to the individual vehicle pages, covering all the vehicles to 79188. Also some example formations have been added to the Derby Lightweight and Met-Camm Lightweights vehicle pages numbered up to 79188.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

977753 at Tyseley TMD on the 26th September 1992. S Gaskell.

New DMU photo

The number panel on 977752 - the former 51306 - taken at Tyseley TMD on the 26th September 1992. S Gaskell.

New DMU photo

977554 at Buxton TMD on the 15th February 1992. S Gaskell.

New DMU photo

975540 - the former 55016 - at Bristol Bath Road TMD on the 29th June 1991. S Gaskell.

New DMU photo

977052 at Bletchley TMD on the 27th March 1991. S Gaskell.


On This Day:

127 DMU

A four-car class 127 "Bed-Pan" hydraulic DMU set led by 51646 heads for St. Pancras at Flitwick on 6/Dec/1980. Robert Chilton.

104 DMU

CH616 M53516 + M53442 on Longsight TMD's 14X road after another hard days work! 6-12-89. Kevin Dowd.

Random Images:

108 DMU

A 2-car 108 entering Bedford Midland Station from the north. Undated, photo by Jim Lawrence. Ian McDonald Collection.

117 DMU

The Glamorgan Freighter railtour seen at Pantyffynon, 51348 leading set B439 with 59479 behind. Chris Lings.

120 DMU

A view of Swindon-Cross country set 534 at Stirling. Undated. Tom Clift.

© 1998 - 2016