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


Volunteers 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.


May 6th, 2016

Further formation listings have been added: NSE 11/92, NSE 11/93, Regional Railways 11/92 and Regional Railways 11/93.

May 5th, 2016

Further destination blinds added: London (ER) 1960s; London (WR) 1950s; London (WR) 1970s; ER (Anglia) 1950s; and ER 1960s.

May 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 60th Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (December 1958) have been added.

April 16th, 2016

Further formation listings have been added: East Anglia in 12/86; Summer 1986 for East Anglia, LMR, ScR and WR; also ScR for August 1986 and 1988.

April 9th, 2016

Another page on data panels, this time on Class 121 bubble cars.

April 8th, 2016

In response to questions from modellers I've added a page looking at the data panels on Class 122 bubble cars.

April 1st, 2016

The minutes of the 59th Lighweight Trains Committee meeting (November 1958) have been added.

March 31st, 2016

A Western Region booklet for operating staff on heaters added, courtesty of Steve Carter.

Latest Images:

New DMU photo

The Warwickshire Railway Society South Wales Railtour No.3 is seen at Blawa. The tour ran from Newport High Street on the 5th October 1968. Stuart Mackay Collection.

New DMU photo

A Central Wales line DMU arrives at Llandeilo 1978. John Law.

New DMU photo

A Central Wales line DMU awaits departure at Shrewsbury in 1975. John Law.

New DMU photo

M50651 at Derby on the 9th June 1979. M59257 is behind. Malcolm Clements.

New DMU photo

Class 120 Swindon Cross-Country centre car M59257 seen at Derby on the 9th June 1979. The power car on the right is M50651. Malcolm Clements.


On This Day:

101 DMU

With plates over the top / centre marker light positions, 53169 is seen at Battersby on the 27th May 1985. Jerry Glover.

115 DMU

Sitting in Quainton Road are 51671 + 59649 + 59675 + 51872 while working the Quaintonian shuttle to Aylesbury on 27/5/85. Robert Frise.

115 DMU

Working the Quaintonian on 27/5/85 are 51872 + 59675 + 59649 + 51671. Seen at Quainton Road. Robert Frise.

118 DMU

B477 on the 12:08 ex-Bristol at Blatchbridge Jct, 27/5/75. Adrian Vaughan.

110 DMU

46439 moves a Class 110 unit to the station yard after it caught fire in Castleton station, 27th May 1964. Richard Greenwood.

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