Birmingham New Street - Southern Approaches: mrbhm_sa2324
A three-car cross country DMU set on a Derby to New Street
service is seen approaches Landor Street signal box on 3rd August 1969.
Classified later by British Railways as a Class 120 Multiple Unit, these units
were designed for cross country services in three-car formations and were
primarily built at Swindon works. A total of 194 cars were built in three
batches: forty-nine sets for the Western Region in 1958; seven sets for the
Scottish Region in 19 59 and a further nine sets for the Western Region in
1961. British Railways placed the order with British United Traction in summer
1956 for the equipment required for the ninety-eight power cars and forty-seven
trailers of the first batch. The order, along with equipment ordered by Cravens
for sixty-six power cars and three parcels cars, was valued at £830,000.
The first batch was ordered for the Western Region's West Country dieselisation
scheme, which it hoped to complete by the end of 1959. The sets were expected
to work between Bristol & South Devon.
Their general reliability and good braking characteristics made
them popular with drivers. In February 1959, the British Transport Commission
placed an order with British United Traction for the equipment for the seven
Scottish Region sets, along with equipment for Class 108s and 127s being built
at Derby. These 120s were to work mainly on the Aberdeen to Inverness line
although appearances at Oban were not unknown. Otherwise the cars worked mainly
in the Western and Midland Regions. Some cars had a trial refurbishment but
this was found to be too expensive, meaning an early withdrawal for most of the
class. Some of the London Midland Region's units were transferred to Scotland
in the mid-1980s, mainly finding use on local services from Edinburgh (notably
to North Berwick). The final vehicles survived until 1989 with one trailer car
surviving at the Great Central Railway.