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.


August 24th, 2016

On the image page you can now do a caption search.

August 21st, 2016

Scottish Region set formations for February 1981 have been added.

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.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

A Class 107 set at Shields Junction on the first day of operation of the new Shields Junction - Paisley Canal line connection, 27th June 1966. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

Class 120 set 534 (Sc53686 + 59281 + Sc53732) are amongst many other DMU vehicles stabled at Thornton on the 16th April 1987. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

Class 128 DMPV 55992 in ex-works condition in Reading station on the 24th February 1988. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

116 387 displays the headboard carried on ScotRail shuttles that ran to Meadowbank during the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games 24th July - 2nd August 1986. Hamish Stevenson.

New DMU photo

Seen leaving Brightside station is E52067 + E59250 + E51840 - a Class 110 / 108 / 110 hybrid set. It's working the 09:17 Sheffield - Leeds on January 29th 1988. Hamish Stevenson.


On This Day:

101 DMU

With 51428 nearest, the 13:37 to Deansgate is seen at Crewe on the 31st August 1993. Gazza Prescott.

101 DMU

54063 & 53134 at Ravensthorpe, 31/8/87. Malcolm Clements.

115 DMU

The Quaintonian shuttle at Quainton Road, 31/8/81. Vehicles not recorded. Robert Frise.

115 DMU

The Quaintonian shuttle on 31/8/81 at Quainton Road. Vehicles unknown. Robert Frise.

101 DMU

51188+55268 arrive at Stockport on the 10:24 Manchester Piccadilly to Chester, 31/8/00. Kevin Dowd.

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