The West Somerset Railway are pleased that the popular diesel railcar train is now back in service. The train has been subject to a full mechanical overhaul and will be good for some years to come.
The dark green train consists of four coaches joined together with the engines underneath the coaches. It can be driven from either end and is technically known as a diesel multiple unit (DMU). The trains were mainly first introduced in the 1950s (although their experimental history goes back to the 1930s). They were cheaper to run than the previous steam trains and were common on the Minehead Branch from the early 1960s onwards. The West Somerset Railway DMU was originally built over 60 years ago in 1960, and its technical designation is a Class 115. It was built by British Railways in Derby, mainly for London suburban use.
One of the big attractions of our DMU is that – at the front – passengers can sit right behind the driver, separated only by a glass screen and look ahead down the track. At the back you see the track receding behind you! DMUs were a critical step in railway train development and these days modern DMUs are the type of train you will likely travel on, when you travel on the main line - or maybe the electrically powered cousin, the EMU or electric multiple unit.
The DMU has been operating it’s first passenger services this weekend, taking passengers from Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren for the annual West Somerset Railway Association Steam Rally. It will also operate a shuttle service between Minehead and Dunster for the Forties Weekend on 10th and 11th September.