Another milestone was reached in the history of the Telford Steam Railway (TSR) when on Weds 1st & Thurs 2nd July, 2020 we took delivery of and became the proud new owners of our latest acquisition Diesel Multiple Unit 144013. The “Pacer” as they were known on the National Network has had a long and varied working life and came to us from Porterbrook Rail Leasing Ltd after it had come of lease from Northern Rail.
The 144’s were built in 1986-87 by British Rail Engineering Ltd (BREL) in conjunction with Walter Alexander (bus builders) at the Litchurch Lane works Derby and entered service in 1986. The units are constructed of a steel under frame with an alloy body and fibreglass cabs making them extremely lightweight. They have a diesel hydraulic engine using a Voith hydraulic transmission.
Units 144001 to 144013 were built as 2 car sets and 144014 to 144023 were built as 3 car sets with 144013 being the last of the 2 car sets built. 144013 was last given a full overhaul in 2010 and a partial refurbishment in 2017. It then had further work undertaken when the tyres were turned in Nov 2019 with one wheel-set being replaced. Further work entailed all new brakes being fitted in Feb this year. Engines were up graded from 11.1ltr Leyland LT11 to more powerful and economical 10ltr Cummings engines during its first refurbishment sometime between 2002-2004.
Apart from a good interior clean and some very minor exterior blistering on the bodywork and an exterior repaint/freshen up the unit is ready for service.
Whilst a lot of people would not consider these units as heritage as they still look quite modern and were up to only recently running on the National Network, they are in fact now 33 years old and were part of the then new wave of 2nd generation DMU’s entering service.
The TSR purchased the set not just to preserve part of railway history but looking further ahead to our long-held ambition to return services to the Ironbridge Gorge. Class 144013 is an ideal train to operate services that are not suited to steam haulage. It also provides excellent views to fare paying visitors.
A lot of hard work has gone in to purchasing 144013 by our wonderful volunteers, especially Kevin Jones and Ian Heighway. We would also like to extend our thanks to our transportation experts Reid Freight Heavy Haulage for their prompt and excellent service.
However, we reserve special praise and thanks to Mark Merryweather and his team at Porterbrook for all their hard work, dedication and enthusiasm in allowing the deal to progress to a satisfactory conclusion for all parties involved. We very much look forward to working with them again in the future.
Whilst we at the TSR are still way off in reaching Ironbridge we are sure that the unit will prove to be popular and something different to our visitors and volunteers. We look forward to seeing it in service for many years to come.