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Derby Lightweight (early) M79018

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Class DL Diesel Railcar Driving Motor Brake Third (class) 79018

The Derby Lightweight class of DMU were the first to be designed by British Railways in the 1950s. They were built by Derby Works and called “Lightweights” due to their all aluminium construction. The success of these vehicles paved the way for the mass production of the many varieties of classes that came about.

79018 was one of the earliest batches of these vehicles to be built, to Lot No. 30123 diagram 503. Weighing in at just 27t, it features 61 third class seats and a guards area. Delivered new to the Midland region in 1954 as a power twin set, the vehicle operated passenger services around the West Cumberland area until the late 1960s when the Derby Lightweight class were withdrawn due to becoming non-standard. Derby Lightweight vehicles were built with the Yellow Diamond electrical system and the standard was Blue Square (the two are incompatible).

Fortunately, a use was found for the vehicle in Departmental service where it was paired with 79612 and the vehicles became the ‘Ultrasonic Test Train’. The set was painted in Departmental livery and could be seen all over the network. 79018 was renumbered to RDB975007. The set was heavily modified for this use and included test equipment and staff accommodation. Eventually displaced, the Derby Lightweight Preservation Group purchased the set for preservation and the set was moved to Doncaster Works for asbestos removal.

The set arrived at the Midland Railway Butterley in 1997 as two gutted shells. The restoration of 79018 leaped forwards after the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £49,000 for the restoration of this vehicle due to it being so rare and important. The restoration was completed enough for the vehicle to be exhibited in all its glory at the Railcar50 event at the Severn Valley Railway in 2004. Since then, the vehicle has not seen any services (except for two test specials when it was first done) due to waiting for the partner vehicle to be restored. 79018 retains its Yellow Diamond electrical system but it is proposed to modify this in the same way as single car M79900 so that it can operate with other preserved railcars.

After spending nearly 10 years standing idle, 79018 will require some work to bring it back to the condition it deserves, but when the set is operational, all the surviving members of this class will be able to run together once again.
Builder: Derby Works Built: 1954
Class or Type: DL Works No: 30123
Weight: 27T Running No: 79018
Brake Type: Vacuum Operational Status: Not Operational
Owner: DLPG Arrived: 24/11/2014
Remarks: Received Heritage Lottery funding
WyvernRail PLC, Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. Wirksworth Station, Coldwell Street, Wirksworth, Derbyshire. DE4 4FB. 01629 823076. © 2017