Hastings DEMUs

When in 1957/58 it became time to replace steam hauled stock on the non-electrified line from London to Hastings via Battle the Southern Region opted for diesel electric multiple units (DEMUs). 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. Because the route between Tonbridge and Bo-Peep Junction had tunnels with clearance restrictions (the existing steam hauled stock was narrower than normal) the Hastings DEMUs were constructed 8 feet 2.5 inches wide with flat sides.
The Hastings units originally appeared in three formations:
6S (class 201) "short" 6 car units built on 57 feet underframes
6L (class 202) "long" 6 car units built on 63ft 6in underframes
6B (class 203) "buffet" 6 car units which had a buffet in their formation replacing one TSO.
In 1964/65 two 6B units were converted to 6L by exchanging their buffet cars for a TSO and in 1980 the all but one remaining 6B units were downgraded to 5L (class 203) by the removal of their buffet cars. Also in 1964 three 6S units were disbanded to provide six MBSOs and six TSOs which were then mated with six adapted 2 EPB driving trailers to form six "new" 3R units (class 206) for the Reading to Tonbridge services. In 1979 and 1980 two 6S units were reinstated following the disbanding of five of the 3R units and withdrawal of one 6B unit.
Today a privately preserved Hastings DEMU is available for excursions and for hire by TOCs for service trains.
6B unit 1033 at Tonbridge on 22 March 1976 on a service train between Charing Cross and Hastings.

photograph by David Smith>

1013 Hastings DEMU unit 1014 on an up service climbing from the River Rother bridge between Etchingham and Stonegate in early May 1982.

photograph by Mark Westcott

This photo was taken at Waterloo around 7:30pm on the evening of 11th September 1982 at the end of the 'Hastings Diesel Wanderer' railtour. This had taken 1014 from Charing Cross to Portsmouth, Fawley and Ludgershall via Greenwich, the Windsor Lines and Woking, before returning via Wimbledon and then the Windsor Lines again.

photograph by Mark Westcott

1011 A 12-car, two-set formation headed by by 6L unit 1011 approaches West St Leonards on a Charing Cross - Hastings service in November 1985. In less than six months, such scenes would be history.

photograph by Mark Westcott

Unit Nº1012 photographed at West St Leonards on 2nd May 1986.

photograph by Ian Fossey>

1018 A few weeks prior to the commencement of electric services on the Hastings line in May 1986, unit 1018 pulls into Etchingham with a train from Charing Cross, bearing the traditional '22' headcode.

photograph by Keith Harwood

Unit 1013, surrounded by diesel fumes, arrives at St Leonards Warrior Square on 1st March 1986.

photograph by John Lewis

1013 The same unit leaving a short while later.

photograph by John Lewis

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This page was last updated 24 October 2003

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