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DMU Tail Loads


Ian Dobson: "Visiting relations in Bishop Auckland in the late 1970s/early 1980s I recall Met-Camms hauling parcels vans to/from Darlington. I seem to recall that they were usually left in the Weardale line platform all day for loading/unloading."

Class 122 tail load

The image was taken near Haymarket, the 2x3-car 101 formation has a Class 131 parcels conversion as well as a van heading to Edinburgh. In 1968 55015 was converted and based at Leith Central and was regularly noted attached to the 13:20 Dundee to Edinburgh service. GM Staddon.

Alan Rintoul notes that it was quite common during the late 1960s and early to mid 1970s to see ScR 3 car Metro Cammell DMUs with a CCT van in tow. Services from Stirling and Dundee to Edinburgh quite often conveyed a van, particularly in the run up to Christmas.

Jeremy Hunns asks - "In the early 1980's (up until probably 1982 - 3 or thereabouts), the Sunday evening Cambridge - Ipswich via Newmarket service regularly conveyed a tail load in the form of a BR 4 wheel CCT. Was this the last example of regular tail traffic? It was usually worked by a Cravens set which used to leave Cambridge at around 6pm , and I'm not aware of a return working."

Class 105 with tail load

This image show an Express Parcels Class 105 set hauling a BG past Silt Road Crossing (which is about a mile south-east of March station in Cambridgeshire) in 1988. Chris Lockwood.

Brian Shaw notes - "When I was a guard at Saltley TMD, one our link turns was to relieve a Banbury guard at Leamington Spa and work the same as far as Birmingham New St., where it terminated. The train was worked as a parcels train with an empty DMU towing a tail load, usually a GUV. I well remember being told in no uncertain terms by an "old hand copper band " driver that my place was in the guards compartment and not up the front with him!!! I think the departure time was around 19:30 and would have been 1978/79."

Dave Harrison was a secondman in the late 70's/early 80's. "We, as a train crew, often caught the 00:21 (IIRC) Tues-Fri Reading - Birmingham New St which was something of a celebrated local DMU working, always throwing up a Midlands-based unit, breaking the monotony of 117/118's in the Thames Valley, having worked up earlier in the evening (I cannot recall the timings of the up working) but booked arrival at New St. was 03:15. It stopped at Didcot, Oxford, Banbury, Leamington, then fast via Solihull to New St. Regular performers were Swindon 120's, mainly Etches Park units, but Class 100's were also to be seen, and this service almost always towed a GUV, especially the workings later in the week."

Eric Stuart found the following notes in Railway Observer: Dec. '62 - "On 26th October E8727E was hauled from Exeter to Tiverton Junction behind a cross-country diesel set ..." (This was one of the Thompson BSs that had come to releive the antidiluian Barry Rly BSs on the Hemyock branch for the last year it operated.) Jul. '63 - "BLETCHLEY - On 18th May ... M77900, the usual single-unit railcar on the Buckingham branch came in on the 3.11pm arrival towing a delapidated cafeteria car M261M."

Geoff Hood remembers that in 1970/71 the DMU used for the Moorgate - Luton service. It used to return south after the evening journey to Luton, normally as an empty stock journey with a single parcel van it picked from Luton Parcel Dock, anything from a Mk1 or LMS BG to a stove R or ex-SR PMV. He often use to see it standing a a signal on the slow line at near Scratchwood motorway service station going south as he drove up the M1 home at night.

David Hick remembers in the mid-1970’s the 8pm Scarborough to York conveyed mail in CCT’s as a tail load-as, recalling there were at least 2 vans attached, possibly three, though there were generally at least two three-car units to provide the power.

Keith Bathgate notes that "while most fish traffic ceased about 1968, BR carried fish traffic between Wick and Aberdeen until 1981. It seems a VFW 'Blue Spot' Insulfish van would be dispatched from Wick on the evening passenger train to Inverness and taken onwards to Aberdeen on the first train next morning. North of Inverness was Type 2 territory at the time (the van was marshalled immediately behind the locomotive(s)), but the Inverness-Aberdeen service was usually operated by Class 120 DMUs. A picture of the second leg of this journey (dating from 1979) is on page 188 of Brian Morrison's book 'British Rail DMUs and Diesel Rail Cars: Origins and First Generation Stock' (Ian Allan 1998). It shows a blue/grey class 120 set and a blue class 122 single car, with the fish van bringing up the rear".

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