Class 108 DMU

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The DMUDiesel Multiple Unit operating as a four car unit.

BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 108 General Information

The BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 108 diesel multiple units (DMUDiesel Multiple Unit) were built by BRBritish Rail or British Railways at Derby between 1958 and 1961. They are mainly of aluminium construction, with steel cab ends. Typically they were operated in 2, 3, or 4 car sets. A total of 333 cars were built, comprising[1]:

Car type Description Number built Seating capacity as built SVRSevern Valley Railway Examples
Driving Motor Brake Second (DMBSDriving Motor Brake Second) Powered driving car 152 52 second class M50933, M51941, M51935 (scrapped)
Driving Motor CompositeCarriage having more than one class of seating, ie First and Third or latterly First and Standard. with lavatory (DMCLDriving Motor Composite with lavatory) Powered driving car 58 12 first 53 second M52064
Driving Trailer CompositeCarriage having more than one class of seating, ie First and Third or latterly First and Standard. with lavatory (DTCLDriving Trailer Composite with lavatory) Unpowered driving car 106 12 first 53 second E56208
Trailer Second with lavatory (TSLTrailer Second with lavatory) Unpowered centre car 11 68 second class NE59250
Trailer Brake Second with lavatory (TBSLTrailer Brake Second with lavatory) Unpowered centre car 6 50 second class

Withdrawal of the class from service began in 1990. Unlike some other early models of DMUDiesel Multiple Unit, the class 108 did not contain asbestos, making them suitable for preservation on heritage railways.

DMUDiesel Multiple Unit Group vehicles

The DMU group operates five cars. These can be used as separate three car and two car units, but are usually combined to form a five car unit for purposes such as the summer Scenic Cruises. From time to time maintenance requirements may result in operation as a four car unit.

The first 2 cars, DMBSDriving Motor Brake Second M51941 and DMCLDriving Motor Composite with lavatory M52064 arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway from Doncaster via Tyseley on 30 March 1990, initially on a two year loan. The 2-car set was formally commissioned on 13 October 1991. After a return trip from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, the MD of Regional Railways presented the key to officers of the DMUDiesel Multiple Unit Group.[2]

Unpowered centre car TSLTrailer Second with lavatory M59250 arrived on 7 June 1992 and entered service in November of that year to form a 3-car unit. The centre car includes the Group’s main bar facility, called 'The Travelling Tavern'.

A fourth car, DMBSDriving Motor Brake Second M51935, was purchased in June 1992 as a source of spares, but by 1993 had been restored and entered service.

In autumn 1996 the Group acquired a fifth car, unpowered DTCLDriving Trailer Composite with lavatory 56208 which arrived on 21 December, giving an additional 65 seats capacity.

M51935 was extensively damaged by fire in May 2008 in what was believed to be an arson attack. Subsequently it left the SVRSevern Valley Railway to be broken for spares elsewhere. The Group acquired DMBSDriving Motor Brake Second M50933 as a replacement. In 2010 alterations were made for the conveyance of wheelchair passengers.

Workings in preservation

  • In 2004, all five cars took part in the Railcar50 event, participating in a 12 car special which was the longest DMUDiesel Multiple Unit formation ever to operate in preservation[3].
  • For much of 2018 and 2019 the DMUDiesel Multiple Unit was unavailable for service for attention to various mechanical and electrical issues. It being the only diesel powered train capable of providing a heated train on the SVRSevern Valley Railway, a mixture of steam and hired-in diesel locomotives deputised for the winter services and the summer Scenic Cruises.
  • By June 2019 all five vehicles were out of service due to considerable repairs needed on some of the bogies and brakegear, and the SVRSevern Valley Railway mandating the units could not run. The repairs required the units to go to either the carriage repair works or diesel depot as the group lacked the resources and manpower to lift the vehicles.[4][5] In the event repairs fell to the carriage repair team, where it was held up by other work and COVID-19 restrictions. A two car unit of 50933 and 52064 became available for traffic in November 2020.[6]
  • In 2022 the owning group commissioned a third-party engineer to produce a report detailing repairs and maintenance work required in order to return the DMUDiesel Multiple Unit to traffic on the SVRSevern Valley Railway. Chief among the work necessary is overhaul of the bogies. An external contractor will carry out further bogie overhauls, with the intention of initially returning 52064 and 51941 to traffic as a twin power car set[7].


See also

DMU group
List of rolling stock
Diesel Locomotives
The Severn Valley Railway under GWR/BR ownership
Rolling stock currently under restoration


  1. BR Class 108 on Wikipedia
  2. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 102
  4. DMU Blue Square blog, 5 June 2019 (Retrieved 9 November 2020)
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News207
  6. SVR Diesels Official Facebook, 8 November 2020 (Retrieved 9 November 2020)
  7. [ Branch Lines October 2022)