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Class 121 Pressed Steel Single / 2-car DMUs


The vehicles appeared in lined green, and then progressed through rail blue, blue grey and even NSE. 55023 was given green again in 1994 to mark it being the last of the Class to receive a full works overhaul.

55020 achieved fame by being painted in chocolate and cream livery by OOC for the GWR 150 celebrations. About 1986 55033 was painted in MidLine colours (two-tone blue with a red band) and was seen mainly on the Stratford-upon-Avon to Leamington Spa route.

For details of other liveries carried in departmental use see the non-passenger use page.

Examples of Liveries - DMBS's:

Green with whiskers

The livery as delivered. 55027 is working the 3.36pm Didcot - Newbury when seen on the Newbury line at Didcot, September 22nd 1961. Michael Mensing.

Green with yellow panel

55027 at Wargrave. Note the 'cut' buffers. Stuart Mackay Collection.

Blue with yellow panel

An unidentified member of the class is seen at Bridport carrying one of the early versions of the rail blue livery, with just a yellow panel, red buffer beam, the logos on the cab doors and smaller 3" numbers. John Vaughan / Steve Davies Collection.

Rail Blue

55034 is seen at Bridport on the 4th April 1975. It was common for the set number to be in 'Gill Sans' font. Neil Cannon.

Standard Blue/Grey livery.

Here 55028 is at Oxford while working the 16:45 Banbury - Didcot, 24/2/84. Hamish Stevenson.

Blue/Grey with Valley Trains branding

Although no longer working in Wales in this 1987 image, 55032 still carries Valley Trains branding. The ex-C132 is seen at Stourbridge Town about to work the 13:55 to the Junction in 1987. Gazza Prescott.

Blue/Grey with Highland Rail branding

Here 55026 has a little extra in the form of a Highland Rail sticker, normally used on locos based at Inverness depot. 55026 is seen a long way from Inverness at Bristol TM on a working to Parkway 12/8/86. Hamish Stevenson.

Blue/Grey with NSE branding

55029 is seen at Didcot on the 27/11/87. Note window surrounds are black by this time. Hamish Stevenson.

Network South East

This is the original style which has the stripes raised at the ends. This is W55024 seen at Didcot on the 16:43 Oxford - Didcot, 30th August 1988. Hamish Stevenson.

Network South East (revised)

On this version the stripes stay horizontal. 55025 is at Paddington, 16/3/89. Hamish Stevenson.

Network South East with Thames branding

As above, but without the black cab window surrounds, and with Thames branding. 55031 at Paddington, 17/6/91. Mike Cooper.

GWR 150 Celebrations

55020 is seen at Reading on 30/4/87. Hamish Stevenson.

Midline 121


55033, by Peter, Lincolnshire & East Yorkshire Transport Review. Note the replacement roof dome.

Retro Green

55023 was painted back into green in 1994 to commemorate it being the last of the Class to receive a full works overhaul (as things stood at the time). John Law.


In 1999 55027 appeared in Silverlink livery, as did 55029 in April 2000. The pair are pictured at Millbrook on the 15th April 2000. Ian McDonald.

Chiltern 121

Chiltern Railways

55020 was painted into a Chiltern Railways livery in 2003. It is seen passing Aylesbury depot on the 1st September 2004. Stuart Mackay.

Arriva Trains Wales

55032 is seen at Cardiff in 2006. Tom Clift.

Some examples of liveries - DTS's:

Rail Blue

DTS L285 is seen at Windsor Central, 27/4/74. Hamish Stevenson.

Network South East

54287 is seen at Didcot working the 16:03 Didcot to Oxford. Note how the stripes only lift at one end. Hamish Stevenson.

By careful sanding of a vehicle, the history of it's liveries can be found. The following was found on 55028 in Nov. '01. The lining details could also be presumed to be relevant to Class 117 cars, although it is not unusual to find variations within a Class.
Green: the top lining was 1" wide, the bottom edge of this being 3/4" from the top edge of the windows. The waist line began 5" below the bottom edge of the windows, formed of 1/16" black, 1 3/4" cream, 1/16" black. This line was 1/4" below the cab windows, and there was a 1 1/4" gap between this and the yellow panel. The cream used was very yellowish.
Blue: there was plenty of evidence of rail blue on the cab, and we found a yellow panel painted above the blue. This was backed up by Umber Brown on the solebars, indicating that this vehicle was once in the early blue livery. When Rail Grey was applied, the top of the white lining was 6 1/4" below the bottom edge of the window frames.
NSE: The livery the vehicle was in at the time of the survey. The blue bands started 9" below the windows and 3 1/2" above the windows, although an earlier application of this showed a slightly different position.
Railtrack: In Dec. '01 the vehicle was painted into the Railtrack Lime Green / Blue to match the earlier vehicle so treated, 977859.

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