Class 104 DMU
M50455, M50517
Status: Operational
Livery: BR Blue
DMBS M50455
Driving Motor Brake Second
Built: 1957 BRCW Lot 30293
Traction Type: Diesel-Mechanical
Transmission: 2x Wilson 4-Speed
Epicyclic Gearbox
Power Unit: 2x BUT Leyland
Power Output: 2x 150 HP
Max Speed: 70 MPH
Train Brakes: Vacuum Only
Train Heating: 2x Smiths Heater
Weight: 31 Tons
Length: 57' 6"
Height: 12' 9"
Width: 9' 3"
DMCL M50517
Driving Motor Composite with Lavatory
Details as M50455 other than:
Built: 1957 BRCW Lot 30294
M50455 and M50517 both entered traffic in (separate) Class 104 3-car sets in 1957; delivered to British Railways' London Midland region to replace steam operated suburban services in the North West of England.

Up until the 1980's, M50455 & M50517 had very similar histories, being allocated first to the North West depots of Longsight and Crewe respectively. Carrying green livery, the two vehicles ran reliably and uneventfully, receiving BR Blue colours during the late 1960's after approximately 10 years in service.

Both were overhauled in the 1970's, being stripped of their lethal asbestos insulation and the obsolete two character route indicators removed from the front ends, changing their outward appearance markedly. The interior fittings and decor remained original as the Class were never included in the DMU life extension programme.

M50455 & M50517 were renumbered M53455 & M53517 in February & May 1983 respectively as part of the 'TOPS' system. By the 1980's Class 104's were also being superseded by new 'Pacer' and 'Sprinter' trains. This is where the histories of M50455 & M50517 diverge.

53455 (M50455)
53455 migrated South to the London area to operate outer suburban lines which were still to be electrified. In 1988 the vehicle was one of eight Class 104's (four 2-car sets) selected for refurbishment and emerged from Doncaster Works in the striking multi-coloured Network SouthEast livery as part of set L702.

L702 was later split up and 53455 became part of set L730 with other vehicles, being used mostly on the Gospel Oak to Barking route. In January 1992 the service was given over to Class 115 units, seeing 53455 transferred to the Reading area, working 'Thames Line' trains until finally being displaced by Class 165 DMUs. With more thoroughly refurbished vehicles, such as Class 108s, still available, 53455 was taken out of service in September 1992.

53517 (M50517)
53517 headed in the opposite direction during the 1980's, being transferred to Scotland where it became part of a 3-car set numbered '456'. In 1989, 53517 returned South of the border, back to North West England, being formed in 2-car 'power twin' set CH611. Initially this saw a return to the Manchester area with a further transfer to Chester Depot, the last place to see 104s in the North. 53517 was taken out of service in May 1990.

M50455 & M50517 were secured by the Birmingham Railcar Workgroup in 1992 and moved to the Churnet Valley Railway where they were selected as the best pair of vehicles in the group's care and therefore most worthy of restoration. Both vehicles were painstakingly restored to 1960's condition over the following 12 years, entering CVR service in September 2004.

Ten years of successful operation followed before the set was relocated to the ELR in November 2014 to join the DMU fleet there. The 104 set made a brief debut at the ELR DMU Theme Day on 14th March 2015 before being taken back out of service for bodywork repairs and repaint.

M50455 & M50517 returned to service, outshopped in BR Blue, at the DMU Gala Weekend, 4th and 5th of November 2017.

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See the Birmingham Railcar Workgroup Website for more details
www.brcw.co.uk

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