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Society buys NNR’s “Eastern DMU”

Press release

April 16 2020

The Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society is pleased to announce the acquisition of the North Norfolk Railway’s Eastern Region Class 101 Met Cam diesel multiple unit.

This is part of the package of support which Society Trustees have made available to the Railway, designed to bring a much-needed cash injection at a time when trains cannot run. It is the second major capital element – the purchase of Hunslet 0-6-0ST Ring Haw was announced two weeks ago.

Chairman Neil Sharpe, speaking yesterday, said “We are pleased that the NNR Board has now agreed the sale. Together with other elements in the support package, the Society’s Trustees believe this will contribute significantly to securing the future of the Railway during this “down time” and as it plans for the restoration of services once the emergency passes.“

“This is an important acquisition for the Society. ‘Met Cam’ units feature large in East Anglia’s rail history during the second half of the 20th Century, first in the form of the visually similar “Met Cam lightweights” [until 1969] and then the Class 101s.”

The Class 101 was one of the largest and most successful of the first generation diesel units. They were certainly the longest lived. Over 600 vehicles in all were built at Metropolitan Cammell’s Washwood Heath plant in Birmingham between 1956 and 1959. The final five units continued in service until the end of 2003

Initially concentrated in the East of Scotland, the West Midlands, West Yorkshire and the North East, during their long careers they were used across much of the network. Their close association with East Anglia came in their final two decades, with two and three car sets based at Norwich and Cambridge and regular use seen on Sheringham trains.

46 vehicles survive in preservation with 5 on the NNR: Eastern Set E51228, E56062, NRM owned LMR set M51188, M56362, and spare DBMS M51192 from Ecclesbourne.

Staff on the NNR usually refer to 51228/56062 as “the Eastern Set” to distinguish it from the former LMR set owned by the National Railway Museum which is also resident on the line.

Closer investigation, however, reveals that E51228 and E56062 did not actually become ‘a set’ until they arrived on the NNR in 2003 and that their careers are quite different. Trailer E56062 entered traffic in August 1957, spending much of its life in the North East. It later moved to Norwich and finally to Manchester. Power car Sc51228 began life in Scotland where it remained for 30 years before moving South of the Border to the Midlands and finally to the North West.

On arriving at the NNR, after 9 months work, it was quickly pressed into traffic in June 2004. Until 2010 it was the main stay of Yellow and off-peak services on the line, regularly covering between 5,000 and 10,000 miles running per year.

Initially carrying BR corporate blue livery, it received BR green livery in 2010 and both cars were “back dated” to near original, pre-refurbished internal condition.

It was taken out of service between 2013 and 2017 to receive major works and the NRM owned Met Cam set was brought in to work services.