The first unit, 79076/79626, ran trials between Castle Bromwich and Aldridge during Sep 55.
On 19/12/55 LMR set 79082 + 79632 went from Met - Camm to London for an official inspection. From Euston it did a demonstration run to Watford. Mr JW Watkins, the LMR General Manager was one of the special party of passengers on board, and he mentioned the Regions plans for the sets. It returned the same evening to Birmingham before going on later to Bury for trials. Braking tests were also apparently done between Euston and Watford.
The sets allocated to Bury worked regular trial trips to Manchester Victoria during Dec 55 & Jan 56, in preparation for Manchester to Bacup services on the 6th Feb 56.
On the 5th Jan 56 79047/79623 and 79048/76264 travelled from Met Camm to Norwich via Coventry and Peterborough.
The first seven sets (to be delivered, not numerically) were allocated to the LMR and based in the Manchester area for use primarily on the Bury-Bacup service. A demonstration run was made on the 31st Jan '56 from Manchester to Bacup and return to Bury. Mr TW Polding, District Passenger Manager, Manchester addressed the guests on their hopes for the new services.
They took over the Bury - Bacup trains on the 6th Feb '56, with the weekday services doubled to 35-37 a day instead of the former 16 to 19, and cheap fares introduced, giving the line it's biggest transformation since it opened up the Rossendale Valley to trade and industry some 110 years previously.
From Bacup to Bury there were 35 trains on weekdays and 48 on Saturdays. In the reverse direction there were 37 on weekdays and 47 on Saturdays. There was a 30 min frequency at normal periods, stepped up at peak periods and on Saturdays. Many services started and finished from Bury Knowsley St. as well as Bury Bolton St. The sets also replaced steam on nine services in each direction between Manchester Victoria and Bury Knowsley St via Newton Heath, Moston and Heywood, one service between Rochdale and Knowsley St via Heywood, one between Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton St via Clifton Jct, two services between Manchester Victoria and Royton via Oldham and two between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge.
The LMR announced that in the first six days of operation some 23,000 passengers used them, compared with about 8,000 in the same period by steam the previous year. The first month of use on the line saw passenger journeys increase from 37,000 to 85,000 for the same period the previous year, an increase of 120% (tickets issued were 49,060 against 21,263). Figures released by the LMR in July 56 showed 156,317 passengers had travelled on the Bury - Bacup line since 6/2/56, an increase of 135%. In Oct '56 the LMR announced that since the units were introduced between Bury and Bacup, 523,822 passengers were carried between the two points, a 300% increase over the comparable period of 1955.
During summer 1956 the Bury sets worked regularly to north Wales on summer excursions. Other excursions that year was on Mon 2/4/56 when three twin sets ran from Bury to York, covering areas which had yet to see a DMU.
Twenty-nine units were allocated to the Eastern Region for service in East Anglia. They were used on secondary and branch lines from Cambridge to Yarmouth, serving such places as Hunstanton, Wells, Fakenham East, Swaffham and Melton Constable to name just a few towns no longer rail connected. They joined the Derby Lightweights which had been introduced on Mon 19th Sep '55.
During Feb 56 the newly delivered sets took over two Norwich to Ipswich return trips per day.
79057/79273 and 79058/79274 had been delivered to Stratford by the 8th April 56. Both units were on trial between Romford and Upminster on 22/3/56 and were due to be trailed on the Wickford - Southminster branch soon after.
A privately organised charter was run on the 12th May 56 from Ipswich to Doncaster Works by the father of an RCTS member. On the return journey the Derby Lightweight set showed signs of possible overheating so Met Camm Lightweight set 79062/79278 was provided at Lincoln for the remainder of the journey.
In the summer of 56 some cars were allocated to Lincoln, and were noted crew training to Boston and Peterborough. The vehicles 79059-64/79275-80 and 79067-74/79283-90 went on to work around the County including the Grantham, Louth, Grimsby and Burton-on Trent areas along with Lincoln allocated Derby Lightweights. The Met Camms would be moved to East Anglia when 3-car sets were delivered to Lincoln.
The summer '56 timetable saw further services change to the DMU services. The Swaffham - Thetford branch changed over to a Met Camm based at Dereham. This allowed the closure of the sub shed (actually only a pit) at Swaffham where the branch steam loco had been shedded. Norwich 2-car sets also started that timetable on the branch from North Walsham to Mundesley, and on certain trains over the Yarmouth - Vauxhall line.
At 9/56 Norwich had 24 2-car sets - 13 Derby Lightweights and 11 Met Camms (79047-54/79263-70, 79065/79281, 79066/79282 and 79075/79291). Although allocated to Norwich Thorpe (32A) and maintained and serviced in the new diesel shop which was nearing completion there, they are regularly outstationed at East Dereham, Kings Lynn and Ipswich for working branches in these areas. There was no restrictions in mixing the two types into 4/6-car sets.
On Thu 8th Oct 56 Lincoln set 79063/79279 was sent to New Barnet from where it made a practice run to Harston the following morning before proceeding to Stratford. From the 22nd the set was used for crew training courses on the Hitchin to Cambridge branch on Mondays to Fridays. On the Monday morning the set would come down from Stratford via Cambridge to Hadley Wood, where the crews lodged while undergoing tuition, and then made a number of trips between Baldock and Harston before returning to New Barnet where the unit was stabled for the night. Further trips were made on the Tue, Wed and Thu, and on the Fri the set made one trip on the branch before taking the men back to Hadley Wood and then return to Stratford for servicing. At the end of the year the set was still operating this schedule, and apparently aroused considerable comment from the locals, particularly at Royston.
The ER sets allocated to Norwich shared duties with the Derby Lightweights. By '57 there were 38 twin units of the two classes and were used far and wide over East Anglia, reaching as far south as Chelmsford and the Bridlington Branch and to Kings Lynn in the west. In 1957 there were 30 diagrams for the 38 sets, 24 of them actual train workings and the other six used to strengthen peak services. While the diagrams were based on a day's working, they were grouped into eight cycles to fit in with the maintenance schedule for each set. There was a daily routine examination, and both the motive power and carriage & wagon depts, and both departments required more detailed servicing to be carried out after 1,250 - 1,500 miles running. As most of the daily diagrams were between 300 and 400 miles, most of the diagrams were grouped into a four day cycle which brought each unit back to Norwich for attention on the 4th day. On other nights of the cycle the unit could be stabled at one of the sub-depots such as Dereham, Ipswich or Yarmouth.
Providing no major work arises, the servicing could be completed during the night shift allowing the set to return to work on the fifth day, so no use was lost. At multiples of the 1,500 miles more intense servicing takes place. At 3,000 miles there was a more thorough inspection of the whole railcar, including it's oil and grease points. At 6,000 miles, amongst other tasks, the filters on all systems were renewed, engine oil checked and engine speeds and tappet clearances checked; at 12,000 miles the work included testing of the injector equipment, and examination of the final drives. Between 30,000 miles and 36,000 miles there was a major overhaul involving a thorough examination of the engine, regrinding of the valves, inspection of the transmission and drive and removal of the electrical equipment for checking. Engines were changed for overhauled units between 100,000 and 120,000 miles.
Two sets were loaned by the ER to the ScR for a period of 14 weeks. They arrived at Leith Central on the 13th April '56 and they started running on the Guldane branch (closed to passengers some 25 years previously) for crew training. They were placed in service on the 11th June to determine the suitability of using DMUs on certain routes. One set operated between Waverley and Galasheils, and the other on the Gleneagles, Crieff and Comrie line. This second line became completely diesel worked apart from the 06:00 Stirling to Crieff, the engine of which returned light. The set was stabled in the semi-roofless Perth North shed, from which it ran out empty in the morning to Comrie and returned light at night after working the 18:03 Gleneagles to Comrie. The set had a most favourable effect on both comfort and patronage. The set finished on the branch on the 21st July and ran light to Leith Central the following day. After six weeks they were both transferred to the Costorphine, Waverley and North Berwick line for the remaining eight weeks till 15/9, before returning to the ER. They formed part of augmented services introduced on the 23rd July on the North Berwick and Costorphine branches; with other services still steam operated. Example workings on the 8th Aug when set 79056/272 was on the 14:50 from Waverley and 15:55 return from North Berwick to Waverley. For the fourteen weeks the vehicles, 79055/6 and 79271/2 were allocated to St. Margarets, and were listed as transferred north on the 4 week period ending 21/4/56, and back south in the 4 week period ending 22/9/56.
In 1956 it was the turn of the Met Camm Lightweights to provide a service between Birmingham (New Street) and Castle Bromwich for visitors to the British Industries Fair, as the Derby Lightweights had done previously. The cars involved were 79061-3 and 79277-9, and the fair was open from the 23rd April to the 4th May. When it closed the sets were sent to Derby, and on the 7th May 79062/79278 were used to convey a special party between Stanton Gate and Crewe.