Class 115

51652 Thame Junction 9 July 1988

The Hertfordshire Railtours 1Z22 09:25 Marylebone to Chinnor and Thame 'Chinnor Tonic' railtour approaches Thame Junction on 9 July 1988, on what is now the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway, but what at the time was still a BR line open for freight traffic to Chinnor Cement Works. After having traversed the whole length of the branch, 51652 leads the Class 115/108 combination (51652, 54500, 54222, & 51654) tworads the junction with the Thame branch, which was also still open for freight at the time.

51654 Thame 9 July 1988

The Hertfordshire Railtours 1Z22 09:25 Marylebone to Chinnor and Thame 'Chinnor Tonic' railtour arrives at Thame on 9 July 1988, but not content with stopping at the recently reinstated platform, carries on past the loop, towards the far end of the headshunt, in order to please the track bashers on board. 51654 leads Class 108 vehicles 54500 & 54222, with Class 115 51652 bringing up the rear. Apart from the bridge, everything in this view has now gone, and where the wagon on the right stands is now somebody's back garden.

51652 Thame 9 July 1988

Proceeded by a railman carrying a point clip, the Hertfordshire Railtours 1Z22 09:25 Marylebone to Chinnor and Thame 'Chinnor Tonic' railtour very slowly makes its way back to the site of Thame station on 9 July 1988, after having travelled to the very end of the line in the background. 51652 is leading Class 108 vehicles 54500 & 54222, with Class115 51654 bringing up the rear. The trackbed here is now a cycle track, and yet more houses have been built on the left of this picture, with their gardens occupying the site of the rusting siding in the foreground.

51652 Thame 9 July 1988

The Hertfordshire Railtours 1Z22 09:25 Marylebone to Chinnor and Thame 'Chinnor Tonic' railtour stands at Thame on 9 July 1988. An unusual DMU combination was used for this tour, with two Class 115 vehicles on the outer ends and two Class 108 vehicles in the centre, all four being driving coaches! 51652 (nearest the camera), 54500, 54222, & 51654 bask in the sun next to the grass grown platforms, which last saw passengers in 1963. This scene has now been completely transformed. The rails and platforms have gone, replaced by a road, with a large industrial estate built on the land to the right, and houses on the land beyond the bridge.

51663, 51485 & 56121 Blue Anchor 11 March 1995

In atrocious light and pouring rain on 11 March 1995, 51663 leads Class 105 unit 51485 & 56121 into Blue Anchor station with the 14:35 Bishops Lydeard to Minehead service. Unfortunately being used on a preserved railway does not mean an item of rolling stock is safe forever. Although the West Somerset Railway retains several Class 115 vehicles, 51663 is not one of them, being scrapped at the start of the new decade. It does currently survive as an underframe only, as a source of spares for the other vehicles.

51665 Princes Risborough 29 August 1987

The Chiltern Line, when it was still a rural backwater, complete with semaphore signalling. The 2G34 08:25 Banbury to Marylebone Network SouthEast service leaves Princes Risborough station on 29 August 1987, led by 51665. Despite this line being relatively local to me, I took very few photos of the route in the days when the staple traction was these Class 115 four car DMUs.

51668 Beaconsfield 22 June 1991

Beaconsfield station, pictured on 22 June 1991, with the 16:24 Marylebone to Aylesbury Network SouthEast service leaving, led by 51668. The removal of the through lines in 1974 as part of the downgrading of the former GWR London to Birmingham route, has left the station with an extremely open and desolate look. The Class 115s, for so long the staple rolling stock on this line, would be replaced shortly after this picture was taken by the then new Class 165 Turbo units.

51668 Ardley 29 December 1984

With the temperature well below freezing, 51668 leads the 07:27 Marylebone to Banbury service past Ardley on 29 December 1984. 51668 was withdrawn in December 1991, having spent all its working life rattling up and down the Chiltern Line on trains such as this. It was replaced, along with all its classmates by Class 165/0 Turbo units. Only a few months after being removed from service it was sent to oblivion at MC Metals, Glasgow.

51671 Kings Sutton 20 June 1989

Graphically illustrating the change over to Network SouthEast liveried stock, 51671 leads the 17:25 Marylebone to Banbury service past Kings Sutton on 20 June 1989 with the front half of the train in freshly applied NSE colours and the back half still in blue and grey. You would have thought that they would paint a complete unit at one time! There were several instances of half and half Class 115 sets around this time.

51676 Stenson Junction 2 June 1984

This is definitely something out of the ordinary - a Class 115 railtour! 51676 leads 59654, 59753, & 51671 past Stenson Junction on 2 June 1984 with the RESL 1T08 07:00 Marylebone to Crewe 'Midland Engineer' railtour. DMU railtours have certainly declined in popularity in favour of loco hauled traction based tours, and nowadays are very unusual. In the 1960s and 1970s however they were relatively common as they suited the branch line 'track bashing' type tours which were common before most such branches were closed.

51677 Didcot North Junction 31 July 1992

Strange goings on at Didcot North Junction on 31 July 1992. It was commonplace to replace a defective driving car from one of the Western Region Class 117 three car units with a Class 121 'Bubble Car', and indeed that's what I thought this was as I took the picture. However, this is in fact half of a Chiltern Line four car Class 115 set (led by 51677), working in multiple with 55024 (L124). The 115 (complete with Chiltern Line branding) is well off its normal route here as it works the 2C64 16:43 Didcot to Oxford 'all stations' Network SouthEast service.

51855 Beconsfield 22 June 1991

Under a threatening sky, the 16:51 Aylesbury to Marylebone Network SouthEast service arrives at Beaconsfield station on 22 June 1991, led by 51855. Although I obviously didn't notice it at the time, this appears to be something rather different to the usual four coach Class 115 set. Note the yellow ends visible on the second and third vehicles, indicating that they are also driving cars. Presumably this is some kind of temporary lash up. Anybody remember seeing this combination in 1991?

51857 Ludgershall (Buckinghamshire) 11 November 1989

The 2G46 10:20 Banbury to Marylebone Network SouthEast passes service Ludgershall (Buckinghamshire) on 11 November 1989, with 51857 leading. This mix of different liveries was fairly common on the Chiltern Line at this time, unlike on the nearby Paddington to Oxford route, where barring short term individual vehicle substitution, the Class 117 sets would have all three vehicles in the same livery. This line is now double track, with a massively increased level of patronage.

51869 Oxford 25 September 1987

The majority of DMUs in the Oxford area during the 1970s & 1980s were the ubiquitous Pressed Steel Class 117s, supplemented by Class 121s and Gloucester RCW Class 119s. However, the occasional inter-regional working brought other types to the area. Such a train was the 09:10 Birmingham New Street to Reading service, which is pictured here arriving at Oxford on 25 September 1987 with Class 115 Tyseley set T414. 51869 leads the four coach rake, which also includes 59661, 59613 & 51144.

51875 Dorton 5 September 1984

51875 leads the 13:33 Marylebone to Banbury service past Dorton on 5 September 1984. A sleepy backwater at the time, with the majority of trains only reaching Princes Risborough and a very infrequent service on this section to Banbury, the Chiltern Line has subsequently been completely transformed. This section is now double track again, and a frequent fast service extends to Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon. 51875 was not so lucky, being withdrawn in 1992 and cut up at Gwent Demolition, Margam.

51877 Bramshall 12 August 1989

51877 leads the 14:47 Crewe to Derby service past Bramshall on 12 August 1989. There is a slight mystery here. 51877's number was noted at the time, and can be read off the original Fujichrome slide. However, the set number T405 should indicate that this would be 51854. The '05' of the set number does appear to be half obliterated. Information anyone?

51888 Princes Risborough 29 August 1987

On a very dull and misty 29 August 1987, 51888 leads the 07:30 Banbury to Marylebone Network SouthEast service away from Princes Risborough. A full year after the introduction of NSE in a blaze of publicity, there is no evidence at all of their ownership of this stock. Note the abandoned HTV coal wagon in the siding, presumably a faulty wagon removed from one of the coal trains heading for the cement works at Chinnor.

51890 Kings Sutton 17 March 1990

This has got to be someone's idea of a joke. Even allowing for the gradual change over from blue and grey to Network SouthEast liveried stock in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the alternating colours in this Class 115 unit must be deliberate! 51890 leads the 14:20 Banbury to Marylebone Network SouthEast service as it accelerates away from Kings Sutton on 17 March 1990. Unfortunately this location is no longer quite as clear as this, as the young ash trees on the left are now fully grown.

51895 Chinnor 6 August 1988

A scene that has now changed out of all recognition. On 6 August 1988, the Hertfordshire Railtours 1Z22 'Chinnor Tonic' railtour pulls way from Chinnor along some very rickety track as it heads back along the branch towards Princes Risborough. The train is formed from an unusual Class 115/108/115/108 combination, with 51895 leading 54213, 51893 & 54224. The tour, which had started from Marylebone, would later visit Thame and Morris Cowley. At the time this picture was taken the Chinnor Cement Works was still in production and still receiving coal via the line. In fact, a rake of HTV coal hoppers can just be seen on the siding directly above the roof of the DMU. Now of course, the works and its distinctive chimneys have gone, and the line has reopened as the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway, with the rebuilt Chinnor station now occupying the area that is just a grassy bank next to the 20mph sign in this view.

51897 Desford 31 May 1987

Dog chases train - train wins. A dog enthusiastically and noisily runs after one of the Leicester to Coalville Open Day DMU shuttles (led by 51897) at Desford on 31 May 1987. It would have been interesting to have seen what it would have done with the DMU if it had caught it! 51897 was at this time part of Tyseley set TS821 (just visible behind the windscreen). It was withdrawn six years after this picture was taken, and cut up at MC Metals, Glasgow within a couple of months.