Class 207

The class 207 is the last incarnation of the BR MkI design diesel electric multiple unit. Unlike most diesel multiple units (which have mechanical drives) the power cars on DEMUs are effectively mini diesel-electric locomotives with final drive by electric traction motors. This was the Southern's preferred form of multiple unit away from the third rail juice, governed by commonality with the EMU fleet of many components for maintenance purposes.

The entire class of 19 three car units were built in 1962 for the Oxted line. They were originally formed motor brake second saloon (MBSO), trailer composite lavatory (TCL) and driving trailer second semi-saloon (DTSO). The MBSO contains a 8ft 2in guard's and luggage compartment. They are similar to the earlier 3H units although there are a number of differences. The cab ends made of steel reinforced fibreglass are similar to contemporary EMUs such as 4 Cigs. The driver's desk is also to a revised design. Being built to run between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells West, a route notorious due to its Somerhill Tunnel with restricted clearance, the bodywork is built to 8ft 6in width. Although their engines are of the same type as other Southern Region DEMUs their mounting arrangements are different and thus they are not readily interchangeable.

There have been reformations over the life of the class. In recent years they have been reformed as standard class only 2 car sets (class 207/0) and 3 car (207/2) containing a former refurbished 4 Cep trailer second (TS) released by withdrawal of the Cep units and reformation to 3 Ceps. In this latter case the difference between body widths is obvious. With the diminution of work for DEMUs on the former Southern Region their sphere of operation has also increased to take in the Ashford to Hastings "Marshlink" line. In terms of surviving in quantity the 207s have fared slightly less well than the earlier 205 DEMUs with only 4 units (one 205/0 and three 205/2) - 21% of the original fleet - remaining by 2001.

Nº1317 at Buxted in 1963.

photograph by Keith Harwood

1302 Displaying headcode number one, three car DEMU unit Nº1302 at Groombridge.

photograph by Keith Harwood

Unit 1314 at Rowfant bearing the more normal black triangle on yellow rectangle.

photograph by Keith Harwood

BR built one later design of DEMU, the experimental class 210, to a Mk3 design. Only two such units were built and tested, the intention being to replace heritage DMUs particularly on the Western Region. The design proved too expensive for mass production and what eventually emerged were the "Sprinter", and later "Turbo", DMU classes.

The only other widespread use of DEMU traction in the British Isles is in Northern Ireland where NIR use DEMUs originating from BR Mk2 and Mk3 designs. The NIR 450 class DEMUs, to a Mk3 design, demonstrate what could have happened on the mainland - there is more than a slight resemblance to a Southern class 455 EMU and the class 210.

1310 1310 pulling away from Withyham.

photograph by Ray Soper

1319, at Hever station, exhibiting both a tail lamp and red blinds.

photograph by Ray Soper

1302 1302 arrives at Hastings with the 12:25pm ex Ashford on 16th September 1972. The driver has already wound his blinds to red!

photograph by Glen Woods

Unit 1318 is seen here in blue livery at the old Uckfield station in June 1977.

photograph by Michael Taylor


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This page was last updated 11 January 2004

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