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Pressed Steel Class 121 DB977975 (former W55027)

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Class 121 W55027 was built by Pressed Steel at their Paisley Works in 1958 to Lot No. 30518, diagram 512. Sporting 65 2nd class seats, the vehicle was allocated to the Western Region for the first 25 years of its passenger life where it was mainly used to strengthen services as required by being attached to other units.

The vehicle was outshopped in British Railways lined green livery and went through the usual changes to green with small yellow panels, BR blue with full yellow ends, as well as BR Blue/Grey livery. In 1993, quite far into the Network SouthEast era, 55027 received the corporate Network SouthEast livery and operated services around the London area based at Bletchley.

At privatisation, 55027 went with classmates to Silverlink. Based at Bletchley depot, they were mainly used on lines such as the Bedford to Bletchley line and the Gospel Oak to Barking line. In the late 90s, 55027 spent some time on loan with new Train Operating Company Great Eastern to operate services on the Sudbury branch. When the vehicle returned to Bletchley, they repainted it into the Silverlink livery of purple and green. It carried the name of "Bletchley TMD" whilst it was there.

Upon the conclusion of this work in the London area in 2001, 55027 was selected, along with classmate 55031, for conversion into special Severn Tunnel Rescue vehicles. The modifications were extensive. Now wearing the departmental number of 977975, all but the cab windows and the guards door windows were removed and in their place a large opening ramp was installed to allow easy boarding if there was an emergency in the tunnel. The guards van had a generator unit installed which provided 240v ‘hotel power’ to the vehicle with strip lights providing solebar level lighting and 16amp sockets were also provided at the same level to allow for equipment to be plugged in to the vehicle. Internally, the vehicles featured equipment for dealing with injuries as well as areas for passengers to ride standing up.

Retired from this work in the mid 2000’s painted in Network Rail’s corporate livery of bright yellow, the vehicle stood dormant. Eventually it was decided that the vehicle would become a source of spares to keep the ageing Chiltern Railways fleet operational. Eventually though, in the heavily modified and stripped state, the vehicle passed into preservation and moved to the Barry Island Tourist Railway in early 2014.

The vehicle was offered for sale once again in June 2014 and was acquired for use as a support vehicle. There are plans to restore this vehicle to working order and for it to be used by the railway's Permanent Way Department.
Builder: Pressed Steel Built: 1958
Class or Type: 121 Works No: 30518
Weight: 37.5T Running No: 977975
Brake Type: Vacuum Operational Status: Not Operational
Owner: WyvernRail PLC Arrived: 30/09/2014
Remarks: ex-Severn Tunnel Rescue
WyvernRail PLC, Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. Wirksworth Station, Coldwell Street, Wirksworth, Derbyshire. DE4 4FB. 01629 823076. © 2017