Class 150 BREL prototype Sprinters

In 1984 British Rail Engineering Ltd (BREL) (later Adtranz and now Bombardier) built two prototype second generation DMUs both of which consisted of three powered cars. One of them, 150 001, was fitted with Cummins NT855 285HP engines and Voith transmission and the other, 150 002, had Rolls Royce engines (later Perkins) and Self Changing Gears transmission. Both units had Gmeinder final drives.

Following delivery the units underwent extensive testing based at the Railway Technical Centre at Derby and later entered service on the Matlock branch. Unit 150 001 was eventually chosen by BR as the fore-runner to the extensive Class 150 range. Its sister unit suffered a number of problems during its time under test particularly with the RR engine and SCG gearbox but later was reformed, fitted with Twin Disc gearboxes and re-numbered 154 001 and was used as the test bed for the Class 158 air conditioning and a new control system for the gearboxes following problems with the Class 151.

Here are a few pictures of the 150 prototypes in their early days under test, on promotional trips and in traffic. 

All destinations

Click on the image for the bigger picture- All photos are the author's unless otherwise credited

Prototype Sprinter 150001 arriving at Derby from York Works on 26th June 1984

John Goodale

Prototype Sprinter 150001 heads for the RTC on 26th June 1984

John Goodale

Matlock 150001 is pictured at Matlock station on 21st September 1984. The destination blind reads 'Not for Public use' suggesting that the unit is under test. Ambergate Whilst on test on the Matlock branch 150001 pauses in the sunshine at Ambergate station on 21st September 1984
Bromsgrove As a 2-car set it is captured in the yard at Bromsgrove after a run from Lichfield City Four Oaks This is the unit at Four Oaks on the Cross City line

Author's collection

Etches Park Here's 150001 again sat at Derby's Etches Park depot between diagrams in the winter of 1984. St Pancras Station During a demonstration run on 17th October 1984 unit 150001 stands in Platform 7 at London's St Pancras station.
Shrewsbury The 'Cambrian Coast Express' headboard was dusted down and placed on the front of this Class 37 for the visit of 150001 to Shrewsbury en route to Aberystwyth during a promotional trip on 21st January 1985 Aberystwyth 150001 stands in Aberystwyth's main platform after arrival from Shrewsbury after the run on 21st January 1985
Machynlleth Crossing with a Class 101 on the single line at Machynlleth on 21st January 1985 New Street Towards the end of a long day 150001 stands under cover in Birmingham New Street station on its way home
Manchester Piccadilly Meanwhile sister unit 150002 makes ready to return to Derby from  Manchester Piccadilly after a run to Buxton and Chapel-en-le-Frith in January 1985 Cardiff Canton In February 1985 150001 is pictured alongside the re-fuelling road outside the shed at Cardiff Canton Depot. This visit was a trial run for the GWR 150 celebrations which were to be held later in the year
Queen Street The unit travelled around the Valley Lines to demonstrate its usefulness. It is pictured in Cardiff Queen Street Station Merthyr Tydffil On 3rd February 1985 150 001 stands at the Merthyr Tydfil terminus station during its visit to the area
Cardiff Canton Another picture at Cardiff shows the unit on Canton depot amongst its predecessors 150002 Cromford. 150002 arriving at Cromford on the Matlock service in the spring of 1985
150001 and 002 in Chester station on a special working

Tim Wright

150001 and 002 on Chester depot

Tim Wright

150001 and 002 on Chester depot

Tim Wright

150001 and 002 pass Waverton on the way home

Tim Wright

Duffield In 1985 it was planned to run a special  service to Wirksworth.

On a trial run in September 1985,150001 stands in the Wirksworth line platform at Duffield on its way up the Branch.

Wirksworth Later that day 150001 is pictured in the yard at Wirksworth whilst staff have a look round the area.

For more info look here and here for the new Ecclesbourne Valley Railway site

150002 Glendon Junction 150002 passes Glendon Jcn north of Kettering on a test run Cromford Tunnel 150002 heads into Willersley Tunnel Cromford in April 1985
150 002 Wirksworth Following the success of the previous years 150002 enters Wirksworth Station Yard with a special from Derby on Whit Monday 1986.

For more info look here

At Penmaenmawr in 1986

Tim Wright


Outing to the Valleys

In the summer of 1985 as part of the GWR 150 celebrations 150001 was used as a shuttle service between Cardiff Central and Cathays stations on the anniversary special weekend.

GW150 Cardiff Canton

After the end of its turn of duty the unit sits in the DMU shed at Cardiff Canton with the specially-made 'Sprinter Link' headboard.

Somewhere in the Welsh vallleys After its use during the GWR 150 celebrations in 1985, 150001 stayed in South Wales and ran around on the Valley Lines for a week. The unit is pictured here at Bargoed in the Welsh valleys.
Queen St 150001 stands in Cardiff Queen St station with a Valley Line unit

Ian Walmsley

The unit is pictured here passing Llanbradach just north of Caerphilly on its way back from Rhymney

Ian Walmsley

Carmarthen 150001 pictured on another promotional trip - probably Carmarthen. Ambergate Junction During passenger service on the Matlock branch in 1986 unit 150 002 joins the main line at Ambergate Jcn on its return trip to Derby
Approaching Belper A few miles further south 150001 is pictured in the snow on a Matlock to Derby service just north of Belper Driver's Manual

The early version of the Train Crew Manual describing the drivers static duties

By 3rd January 1986 the 150001 had moved north for more demonstration runs and took invited guests from Glasgow to Oban for the naming ceremony of 2 class 37s

Glasgow and Oban

150001 at Carlisle on its way to Glasgow

Eric Eades

Glasgow Queen Street 150001 awaits departure from Glasgow Queen St. with the special working for Oban
37401 with 150001 in the background 37403 and 37401 with 150001 in the background
Oban 150001 is pictured standing in the sunshine at Oban, with the old station building in the background.  Another view of the old station at Oban


The unit was maintained by the technical staff (me) at Inverness in the old Highland Railway loco depot and later in the new carriage shed. It spent six weeks at Inverness taking over services on the routes to Aberdeen, Wick and Kyle for a couple of weeks at a time before returning to Derby and more mundane duties on the Matlock line.

Inside Inverness Shed During its six week stay in the north the unit was stabled inside the former Highland Railway locomotive shed at Inverness where it is pictured on a Sunday afternoon Inverness

The unit was demonstrated on various routes from Inverness. Here it is alongside the Wick/Thurso loco-hauled service

Arriving at Inverness The unit is pictured arriving at Inverness station Wick

150001 stands in Wick Station after a long journey from Inverness where it was based for the first months of 1986. During this time it substituted for the class 37's and loco-hauled stock on a number of services

Nairn 150001 pauses at Nairn en route between Aberdeen and Inverness

37417 leaves Inverness with a service for the Far North

Somewhere in Scotland The unit is captured at Lairg on the Far North Line Aberdeen

150001 is about to leave Aberdeen for its return trip in passenger service to Inverness in January 1986

Special events and publicity

Valley Lines front Station openings featured the class 150 prototype - this is for Lisvane & Thornhill on the Rhymney Line Inside

Inside was the programme of events

Promo brochure front The class 150 'Sprinters' were advertised by the use of this fold out promotional brochure featuring 150001 Brochure inside Inside was a nice arty picture of 150001 at St Pancras and details of the new features of the trains

Still going strong

150001 24 years on but in an unfortunate livery -150001 at Kidderminster on 22nd March 2008

Now transferred away since the introduction of class 172s

150002 And its sister unit 150002 pictured at Kidderminster in September 2007

Now transferred away to GWR since the introduction of class 172s

150001 at Laira in 2012




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