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 images of First Generation DMUs (not preserved vehicles)? A handful of volunteers are needed to test out a prototype section of the website allowing users to upload their own images directly onto the site. If you are able to help please get in touch.


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.


ON HOLIDAY!!! updates will resume after August 18th.

July 23th, 2016

The allocations for the ER & NER Derby Lightweights have been added to the individual vehicle pages, also the original batch of West Cumberland Lightweights (79008-20, 79600-12).

July 16th, 2016

The allocations for the Met-Camm Lightweights have been added. To view type in a vehicle number (79047 - 79082, 79263 - 79291, or 79626 - 79632) in the vehicle data box above.

July 10th, 2016

The allocations for the railbuses have been added. To view type in a vehicle number (79958 - 79979) in the vehicle data box above.

July 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 61st Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (January 1959) have been added.

June 30th, 2016

A new option in the image section lets you look at the available images from any month / year. Useful for viewing what the DMU scene was like at a particular time period?

June 8th, 2016

The Class 116 livery page had been enhanced to include a more detailed look at the liveries carried over the years.

June 4th, 2016

The introduction page to formations has been revamped taking a look at the use of set numbers through the years.

June 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 18th Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (November 1953) have been added.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

A 6-car Class 126 formation arriving into its destination at Glasgow Central circa 1982. The leading vehicle in set 126 412 is SC51042. Ian MacDonald.

New DMU photo

SC51020 on the rear of a Class 126 set departing from Johnstone, circa 1982. Note the tail lamp, carried throughout the career of the Class. Ian MacDonald.

New DMU photo

Class 126 DMS SC51017. Seen at Corkerhill, where it was seen as part of set 126 408, circa 1982. The vehicle is now preserved on the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway. Ian MacDonald.

New DMU photo

Class 126 set 126 408 seen at Corkerhill depot, circa 1982. The set numbers were determined by the brake vehicle, this one being SC51038. Ian MacDonald.

New DMU photo

Swindon Inter-City DMS SC51029 in Ayr TMD. Date unknown, circa 1982. Ian MacDonald.


On This Day:

101 DMU

E56372 heads this 2-car Class 101 on the Shepreth branch towards Cambridge, 28th July 1981. Steve Davies Collection.

107 DMU

107 444 with another 3-car set rolls onto Holytown with the 17:22 Glasgow Central - Edinburgh on 28/7/87. Hamish Stevenson.

104 DMU

M53466 during the Doncaster Works open day on Saturday 28th July 1984. P.J. Evans.

105 DMU

E51271 at the Doncaster Works open day, 28th July 1984. Phil Evans.

108 DMU

Class 108 TCL M59388 sits on stands during an open day at Doncaster Works, Saturday 28th July 1984. Phil Evans.

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