The Class 151 Metro-Cammell DMU's
In early March 2000 it was announced that the two original Class 151 prototype 3-car Sprinter units, which had been stored out of service at the RTC sidings for a number of years, had been sold. Built by Metro-Cammell in 1985 they were intended as alternatives to the then BREL (later Adtranz now Bombardier) prototypes known as Class 150, which were chosen by BR as the fore-runners to the extensive Class 150 range. The units underwent extensive testing on various routes from Derby during 1985 and 1986 and also saw service alongside the BREL units on the Matlock branch.
The two Class 151 DMU's were built about the same time as the BREL Class 150 prototypes and 151001 was delivered to Derby in Spring 1985,151002 following in the summer. Both units had the same Cummins NT855 285HP engines as fitted to the present day Class 150 series of Sprinters combined with Twin Disc 1330 hydraulic 'hot shift' gearboxes giving them a maximum speed of 75 mile/h.
Here are a few pictures of the 151's in their early days under test and in traffic.
Click on the image for the bigger picture - All photos are the author's unless otherwise stated.
Each of the three vehicles of the units were powered and had Twin Disc 'hot shift' gearboxes with Gmeinder final drives fitted to the inner bogies. The engine drove the leading axle of the innermost bogie via the gearbox with a short cardan shaft connecting to the trailing axle in the same manner as present day Sprinters.
The vehicle bodies were unusual being made from aluminium extrusions and left in the natural colour with the livery of a broad light blue waist stripe. Being lightweight they were very quick off the mark when in service.
The Driving Motor Second Lavatory (DMSL) had 68 seats the Motor Second (MS) 84 and the Driving Motor Second (MS) had 80. However the 3 +2 seating left a lot to be desired by the standards of the day, being more like the bus seats fitted to some of the original Class 142's.
The units had one or two unusual features including hydraulically-driven alternators and cooling fans. The main cooler group and radiators were fitted in a pod on the roof of each vehicle. The bogies were non-standard and this combined with several other unique features lead ultimately to their premature withdrawal but not before they were re-numbered 003 and 004. Before being purchased by Railtest (later Serco Railtest) the units spent a number of years stored at Llandudno Junction carriage sheds.
During their acceptance testing in the summer of 1985 the Twin Disc 1330 gearboxes proved to be rather troublesome. Their 'hot shift' characteristic imparted unacceptable longitudinal shocks to the train and hence to the passengers and made for an uncomfortable journey.
This problem was addressed by the company the first unit spending a few weeks at BR's Mickleover test track near Derby where the Twin Disc engineers carried out numerous adjustments until an acceptable gear change characteristic was achieved. However it was never really very smooth during the life of the 151's. There were plans to fit a David Brown gearbox to one car but these never materialised.
However a Twin Disc box was fitted to one car of the upgraded 150 002 BREL prototype unit (later known as the Class 154) during its various guises and with a new control software performed quite acceptably. Unfortunately it was too late for both Metro Cammell and Twin Disc as neither the units nor the gearboxes had any further development.
|Unit 151 001 in 2-car formation is pictured approaching Bromsgrove on 17th April 1985. The unit is just about to cross over to the Up line prior to entering the (then) single platform.
|Unit 151 001 sits in the platform at Matlock in the summer of 1985 after a run from Derby whilst engineers investigate a brake problem. It was on this route that the 151's were to spend most of their early life.|
|Unit 151 001 pictured on a wet
day in Swansea. On 21st September 1985 the unit was shuttling between
station and Landore depot as part of the GW150 celebrations.
|An HST passes 151 001 at Landore
depot on its way down into Swansea in September 1985
|Another picture at Matlock on 1st
October 1985 shows 151 002 in passenger service having arrived from Derby about 2 p.m.
|Another view of 151 002 at Kidderminster in early 1986|
|151 001 is pictured on Way
& Works sidings at the RTC in the company of 154 001 - the former
150 002 - sometime in 1986
|Unit 151 002 in 3-car form sits
in Platform 2a at Derby.
|An unidentified 151 drifts down the main line between Ambergate Jcn and Belper on a Matlock-Derby service||
Unit 151 001 in 3-car form sits in Platform 2b at Derby with the Matlock service in 1986
|A close up of vehicle 52203 at
Derby on a Birmingham New Street service
|By way of a change here's a view from a Class 151 unit as it swings round London Road curve at Derby passing a newly re-furbished Class 20 with ECS.|
|151001 passes St Mary's yard
North of Derby with a Matlock service with 20104 & 20132 on the right in the
yard. 21st July 1986
|151 001 passing Wetmore near
Burton on 18th October 1987
Martin Loader - see Martin's excellent site here
|151 002 is pictured after leaving Milford Tunnel, between Duffield and Belper, on its way from Derby to Matlock on 6th February 1988.|
The units were renumbered by 'Regional Railways' around 1987 to 151 003 and 151 004 to avoid confusion with the prototype sprinters 150 001 and 150 002. If you wish to see these prototypes in action then have a look at the Class 150 or Class 154 pages.
However their life was extremely short and they were withdrawn from traffic in March 1989 due no doubt to their being non-standard. Thoughts were given to replacing the bogies with the standard 'Sprinter' type but this was not practical. The units were stored in the old LNWR Carriage sheds at Llandudno Junction for a number of years until being moved to Blackpool. They were then bought by Serco Railtest with a view to their conversion to test vehicles at some time in the future. However that time never came and they languished in the Way and Works Sidings, adjacent to the Derby to London line for many months until their rescue by Endeavour Rail in summer 2000.
Since Endeavour Rail purchased the two units they were stabled at Crewe LNWR Sidings where it was planned that they would be re-furbished by Pete Waterman's company and made fit for traffic. Once completed the parent company were hoping to hire them out to TOC's who may have required additional resources. However four years since they left Derby they were dumped at Crewe LNWR Sidings stored outside, vandalised and covered in graffiti.
|The class 151 units were stored
at Llandudno Junction carriage sheds for a time in the late 1980's
|A close up at Llandudno Junction carriage sheds
|Here's 151002 at RTC on Way &
Works Sidings in 1998
|The 151 sets pictured at outside the LNWR site at Crewe on 2nd June 2003. The photo reveals the units to be vandalised and graffiti covered and looking unlikely ever to see traffic again.|
In the spring of 2004 the two units were scrapped having being cut up on site at Crewe.
If anybody has any photos of the Class 151's in former days especially the interiors and would wish them to be included then let me know - all credited to the photographer of course!
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