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European Railroad Discussion > Hastings Diesels

Date: 04/29/20 10:21
Hastings Diesels
Author: 86235

Three pictures from 1984 / 85 of the DEMUs beloved by the Southern Region of British Railways. Built in the late 1950s for lines for which electrification was not expected anytime soon. One such line was that from Tonbridge, on the former South Eastern Railway mainline 30 miles south of London to Hastings a seaside town, historic site and minor fishing port on the South Coast, some 35 miles from Tonbridge. It was a difficult line to build across the grain of the country, with a number of deep cuttings and, fatally, tunnels. The latter were insufficiently lined, consequently there were a number of tunnel collapses which required the SER to add additional layers of lining bricks, thus reducing clearances, in turn necessitating specially designed rolling stock, hence the gaunt, slab sided appearance of these DEMUs, known to all and sundry as Hastings diesels. There were three classes built, all interchangeable, which in the TOPS world became classes 201, 202 and 203. The 201s and 202s were six cars in length, the 203s five. The latter had once included a buffet car but they were withdrawn and the units reduced to 5 cars in length. All were powered by a pair of English Electric 4SRKT engines which sat behind the drivers cab in the leading and trailing Driving Motor Brake Seconds (DMBS). The motor compartment also included the generator which powered two EE traction motors on the rear bogies of the DMBS, to ensure an even distribution of weight. Unlike the mechanical units being built for use elsewhere on BR the three types of Hastings units were built to a more mainline standard, albeit one which exhibited all the hallmarks of the Eastleigh drawing offices fixation with pre-war design. They were heavy and noisy, which gave rise to another nickname, Thumper which was applied to all the Southern's DEMUs not just the Hastings sets. But despite the noise and the poor ride in the DMBS they were extraordinarily reliable. But by the early 1980s it was apparent that they were life expired, thanks to the proximity of their purpose built depot in St Leonards (outside Hastings) to the sea and the effect the sea air had on their steel body shells. To avoid more purpose built rolling stock BR took the decision to single the track through the narrow tunnels allowing the use of standard width slam door EMUs. The last day of service for the Hastings diesels was May 11th 1986 when the powers that be ensured the entire service was worked by the remaining units. After that a few were retained, supporting the other Southern designed DEMUs, classes 205 and 207 on the Oxted, East Grinstead and Uckfield lines. Today one of the Hastings diesels had been preserved and is mainline certified so it is still possible to see, hear and experience these characterful trains in the 21st century

Date: 04/29/20 19:09
Re: Hastings Diesels
Author: krm152

Excellent historical scenes along with a comprehensive narrative.
Thanks for the outstanding posting.

Date: 04/29/20 20:09
Re: Hastings Diesels
Author: dwatry

Love this era of BR!

Date: 05/01/20 10:10
Re: Hastings Diesels
Author: 86235

krm152 Wrote:
> Thanks for the posting.

My pleasure, glad you like it.

dwatry Wrote:
> Love this era of BR!

So do I, but it was so run-down. I've another shot taken on the Hastings line at Crowhurst when the station buildings were being demolished, to be replaced by the inevitable unheated bus shelter.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/01/20 10:12 by 86235.

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