Class 127 ( Stabled in Butterley Station)
The class 127 DMUs were built at Derby in the late 1950s (30 4 car sets) they were designed for intensive use on the midland mainline between Bedford and the London terminus of St Pancras, this service is believed to be the most intensive diesel powered commuter service to ever run on the UK network. The service operated until 1983/4 when electrification meant the service could be operated by electric units, this wasn’t the end though, for the power cars some 22 of them were identified as suitable for conversion to parcels cars, these operated in pairs generally in the north west for a number of years and were all withdrawn by 1990. The centre cars also survived beyond initial withdrawl some of the centre cars were transferred to the west midlands (Tylesley) and added to the pay train fleet.
The original format of the 127 was a 4 car unit, 2 identical power cars, and 2 intermediate trailers, one of which had 2 toilets, note the train did not have any gangways so you couldn’t walk through the train!
The drive train of the 127 was unusual, although it’s the standard arrangement for DMUs today, this being hydraulic, through a torque converter, effectively like an automatic car, the driver simply selects ‘D’ for drive and pulls back on the throttle, the engines will rev high at slow speed, unlike a mechanical gearbox set, giving the 127 the unmistakable departure.
The engines on the 127 are rolls Royce C8 engines, an 8 cylinder engine with all cylinders in line, this 18.3L engine was rated at 238HP when built but to gain reliability they were derated at several times in their life. These units spent their lives based at Cricklewood depot.
One vehicle M51591, was identified for preservation with the National Collection after its passenger service days, however for whatever reason this failed to happen and the vehicle was added to the parcels car conversion scheme, happily though it was eventually preserved after that.
Relaibility of the 127s was always an issue, the complex equipment associated with the torque converter and the large engines meant maintenance underneath wasn’t easy, the depot not trusting the vehicle electrics used to leave them running at night to mak sure they could depart first thing in the morning!
M51591: the first of the build of power cars, purchased for initial use by the railway to form a train to assist with Pway and S&T tasks in the early days of the railways extension to Pye bridge, the vehicles in parcels car configuration with roller shutter doors making it ideal for transporting tools, heavy equipment and people in relative comfort.
With its use on the Pway no longer needed in the early 1990s,consideration was given to restoring it to passenger use, and Mr Chris Lings (IRIS/DLPG fame) restored the vehicle to traffic in the mid 1990s. The interior was returned to original arrangement with 2 separate compartments and the guards van again being separate.
Present status; repainted just before covid, one of the engines was rebuilt in 2019 following a dropped valve, to be recommissioned into service when funds and labour are available.
M51625: another power car that was part of the parcels car project and purchased at the same time as M51591, this was restored to be mechanically operational yet retained its parcelsconfiguration for a number of years, in 2009, it needed significant attention to the bodywork and the decision was made that the time had come to restore the interior, this was done over the next 2 years with a slight adjustment to its interior layout, during the parcels conversion a hole was cut between brake van and passenger area, this was retained and an area provided for wheelchair accommodation by omitting a few seats this enabled wheelchairs to access the vehicle via the guards double doors, additionally the partition that separated the interior into 2 was not refitted.
Present status; repainted just before covid, transfers and numbers were not fitted due to lockdown the day before it was planned to happen, its hope to fit them in the near future and to be recommissioned when funds and labour are available.
M51625 was an exhibit at the railcar 50 event at the Severn Valley Railway in 2004.
M59609: a centre car designated as a TSL, the L being lavatory, purchased from Tylesley after a period of use in the west midlands, during which time gangways were added, upon arrival at the railway it was restored to original arrangement and the gangways were removed and sold to fund the restoration. This vehicle has been used in recent times as hauled stock, its seating capacity of approx. 96 being very useful for events such as bonfire night trains when large amounts of people need moving, something the 127 was designed to do.
Present status: in service, the seats are now showing their age it is hoped to start a rolling programme of replacement in the coming years.
M59659: not strictly a 127 centre car but an identical vehicle built from the class 115 DMU fleet, there we no 127 TS vehicles that survived after initial passenger use, M59659 being initially preserved after its use on the Chiltern lines out of Marylebone at the South devon railway and predominately used as hauled stock and was painted in lined marron liveryalthough it had been stored unserviceable for a number of years prior to being put up for sale.
Sold to the Midland railway in 2009, this was a popular move amongst enthusiasts and ensured that a 4 car 127 could once again be recreated, when it arrived preventative maintenance was undertaken as resources were busy with other projects, it has in recent years had all the bodywork restored and the interior is midway through a full rebuild, all the seats (all 106 of them) are being recovered with new moquette this long term project will eventually see the 4 car unit operational, its last repaint surprised a few people as it was turned out in BR blue and not the usual dark green, this essentially as a result of a request from an individual who donated all the materials needed to enable this to happen.
Present status; project paused awaiting funds to continue with the interior restoration.
A third power car that was also part of the parcels car fleet, this one was initially preserved and taken to be used in Rogart(SLEEPERZZZ | Mysite) as sleeping accommodation, with a basic interior for use as such. When the time can it was obtained in a joint venture between 127 operators, it was never intended to be restored as obtaining the parts to enable this was not possible without having to purchase more vehicles from somewhere else, this vehicle has provided (and will continue to) provide parts to keep the 127 and others running for a good number of years.
Present status, used as a parts donor, it is expected that this vehicle will be disposed of in due course.
This vehicle is owned by The Midland Railway Trust Ltd and looked after by The MRT Railcar Group.
Class 114 (Stabled in Butterley Yard)
The DMU was classed as the original ‘derby heavyweight’being an all steel construction, as opposed to the derby lightweight being an aluminium bodied vehicle.
Built in derby in 1956 the fleet of 50 2 car sets were then based out of Lincoln for the vast majority of their working lives. Initially equipped with the common Leyland 680 engines, they soon gained a reputation as being significantly underpowered so were altered and a larger engine was fitted, that being the leyland Albion engine, a 230HP 6 cylinder engine, together with a larger gearbox (SE4 type) this proved to be much more successful, for some strange reason these engines never had an alternator fitted, instead relying on a dynamo to charge the batteries when moving.
These units spent their lives working across the east midlands serving the Lincolnshire coast and sometimes working the Matlock branch and most services in between. In later life some of the units were transferred to Tylesley but by 1992 there time was coming to an end.
A couple of individuals at the railway decided that a derby built DMU was needed and the plan to buy a class 108 began, fortunately those involved became acquainted with Mr Bill Lovell, the then shed master of Tylesley depot, he insisted that they look at getting a 114 instead. Eventually a 114 set was secured for preservation and indeed true to his word Mr Lovell ensured that the one we had obtained was looked after until collection was arranged, indeed, he made sure it was full of items being disposed of by the depot at the time, the 114 was delivered to the railway coming in hauled directly from Tylesley, the fee being £214!
Put to work I almost immediately it was repainted in the unusual white and blue livery, it remained in service until 1999 when the interior was beginning to crumble and needed restoration.
Restoration began slowly in 2001 with the trailer car being started first, this was the most thorough restoration undertaken by the newly formed DMU group and was a steep learning curve, new panelling, new ceilings with the original light fittings, new floor coverings, new seats, and a massive amount of rust removal, body repairs and mechanical attention.
The power car was in a bad way, while mechanically complete it was internally exhausted, the brake van floor rotted and several broken springs identified on the bogies, it wasn’t going to be quick or cheap to restore.
A small but dedicated team worked on this unit, there were various set back, some vandalism, theft of parts, some personal circumstance changes and other projects taking priority, the works are now finally coming to an end, restoration has been a long slog but the end is approaching.
In 2022/2023 both vehicles have been repainted in the original light green, both have been lined out and numbered accordingly.
Work remains to finish the restoration of the power car cab, along with a few mechanical issues to resolve.
E50019 (power car) externally restored, internally complete with new interior, minor modifications to enable wheelchairs to be accommodated in the passenger saloon, work continues to complete repairs to the gangway, the final rebuild of the drivers cab requires new flooring materials, the drivers seat can then be refitted and further work on the cab desk can be undertaken.
E56006 (trailer car)
Externally restored, internally restored, patiently awaiting the completion of works on the power car electrical repairs following vandalism complete and await testing.
Work continues of the power car cab, all seats are restored and fitted, it is hoped to get the paperwork and examination process started in the coming months with plans to ensure crew training can take place afterwards. This vehicle appears in a partially completed condition at the Railcar 50 gala at the Severn valley Railway in 2004.
Additionally the railway also has another 114 set(E50015/E56015), this being the former ATP demonstration unit that was used by BR, this predominately was obtained as a source of spares for the 114, it has in the past been operational, it is currently stored out of use and non-operational.
This vehicle is owned by The Midland Railway Trust Ltd and looked after by The MRT Railcar Group.