Class 117

L400 Box Tunnel 11 April 1982

L400 (51332, 59484 & 51374) emerges from the west portal of Brunel's Box Tunnel on 11 April 1982. Quite what it is doing traveling between London and Bristol is a mystery, as its usual area of operation would be London and the Thames Valley. Possibly a short term transfer to Bristol? This impressive view of the ornate tunnel entrance is not so easy now as the amount of vegetation on the right hand cutting side has increased considerably.

L400 Hinksey 28 July 1983

In pristine condition, after a recent works overhaul, L400 (51332, 59484 & 51374) passes Hinksey Yard on 28 July 1983 with the 2A13 13:40 Oxford to Paddington. During refurbishment the former headcode box has been permanently blanked off, rather than featuring a black insert that this unit carried after the cessation of headcodes in the late 1970s. Nearly three decades after this picture was taken this viewpoint has changed little, except that the trees in the background have grown considerably. Oxford's former power station, seen here on the extreme left is no longer visible from this spot. The forthcoming electrification will ruin this well known photographic vantage point forever.

L400 Charlbury 27 August 1983

L400 (51374, 59484 & 51332) arrives at Charlbury on 27 August 1983 with the 2B60 16:33 Reading to Moreton-in-Marsh service. Quite why it is displaying Salisbury in the destination blind is a complete mystery. Class 117s would not normally go anywhere near Salisbury, and the London allocated ones definitely not. It is almost as if someone with too much time on their hands has deliberately wound the blind around until he found the most unlikely destination to display, just for a laugh!

L400 Evenlode 25 April 1984

The doyen of Class 117 Pressed Steel units, L400 (51332, 59484 & 51374) passes Evenlode with the 2B60 16:33 Reading to Moreton-in-Marsh service on 25 April 1984. This and a similar service in the morning were the only trains to call at the smaller Cotswold Line stations: Combe, Finstock, Ascott-under-Wychwood & Shipton. Note that there is some slight inattention to detail here, as the destination blind displays Oxford, through which the unit had already passed nearly an hour previously!

L400 Charlbury 16 May 1986

Despite this being a picture of a humble DMU, this is one of my favourite Cotswold Line pictures. From a vantage point seldom used by other photographers, and with an uninterrupted view of Charlbury station in the background, L400 (51332, 59484 & 51374) pulls slowly away from the station with the 07:45 Moreton-in-Marsh to Reading (or Reading General according to the 1960s destination blind) service on 16 May 1986. This was one of two early morning up local services calling at all stations.

L400 Moreton-in-Marsh 18 October 1986

L400 (51332, 59484 & 51374) arrives at Moreton-in-Marsh station on 18 October 1986 with the 2C72 09:23 Oxford to Hereford service. Although the bullhead track has gone, along of course with the Class 117 DMUs, virtually everything else in this view is largely unaltered, with just a few modern additions, such as travel information screens.

L400 Oxford (Walton Well Road) 13 May 1989

L400 (51374, 59484 & 51332) passes Walton Well Road, Oxford on 13 May 1989 with the 2C19 07:59 Bicester Town to Oxford Network SouthEast service. This was the first time that I saw this particular unit sporting its new NSE livery, which judging by the clean condition (especially of the roof) hadn't long been applied. Nowadays this train would use the relief line on the extreme right, therefore completely keeping clear of the main line. As Oxford North Junction is located just past Aristotle Lane footbridge in the background, I'm surprised it took them another two decades after this picture was taken to implement this simple improvement.

L400 & L207 Islip 13 May 1989

Islip station, on the Bicester to Oxford line was reopened by Network SouthEast on 13 May 1989. L400 (51374, 59484 & 51332) & Class 101 L207 (51221 & 54396) are pictured departing from the station with the first up service - the 12:27 Bicester Town to Oxford. The station has probably never been as busy since, with numerous local people gathering on the platform to witness the event, which included several stalls and a group of Morris dancers! The station was originally opened by the LNWR, but closed on 30 December 1967, when all passenger trains on the route were withdrawn. Network SouthEast had reinstated the Oxford to Bicester service in 1987, but Islip had to wait a further two years before their station was reopened.

L700 Kempston 24 December 1996

After being replaced on Thames Valley services by Class 165 & 166 Turbo units in 1992, L400 (51374, 59484 & 51332) found further employment working on the Bedford to Bletchley route. For this purpose it lost its centre car and was renumbered as L700. In this condition it is seen passing under the A421 Bedford by-pass at Kempston with 51374 leading on the 09:40 Bedford to Bletchley service on Christmas Eve 1996. Luckily the impending holiday ensured there wasn't the usual procession of lorries crossing the bridge! The redundant centre trailer car was scrapped at Gwent Demolition at Margam in 1995, and the two remaining vehicles pictured here were both withdrawn in April 1999 and almost immediately cut up at MC Metals, Glasgow.

L401 Goring 13 September 1986

Still accelerating away from Goring station (just around the curve in the background), L401 (51375, 59485 & 51333) heads up the Thames Valley on 13 September 1986 with the 07:49 Paddington to Didcot Parkway service. The next hourly local service did indeed go to Oxford, but the destination blind on L401 is a little optimistic!

L401 Cholsey 31 January 1987

There is still a little of the previous week's snow lying next to the tracks at Cholsey on 31 January 1987, as L401 (51375, 59485 & 51333) rattles along the up relief line with the 14:21 Oxford to Paddington Network SouthEast service. This train would run non-stop from Oxford to Didcot, and then become an 'all stations' service for the rest of its journey, taking over two hours to reach the capital. In contrast, the Class 50 hauled express services at the time did it under an hour!

L401 Hinksey 14 March 1987

It wasn't much use taking any notice of DMU destination blinds in the Oxford area in the 1980s! However this was probably understandable here as L401 (51333, 59485, & 51375) is forming a hastily organised Oxford to Reading relief service due to the late running of 47515 on an inter regional service. Even in normal circumstances it was quite common to see units displaying a destination that they had either just come from or was at least in the opposite direction! 14 March 1987.

L401 Oxford 20 August 1989

L401 (51333, 59485, & 51375) pulls away from a deserted Oxford station on Sunday 20 August 1989. Note the framework for the new station building being constructed on the right. This is a bit of a mystery working, and I can only assume it is a last minute DMU substitute for the 1F04 09:30 Oxford to Paddington loco hauled service, presumably cancelled due to a loco failure. In this instance the Didcot destination blind is correct, because it certainly didn't go the capital, as it was back in Oxford in time to work its next booked train - the 11:00 to Didcot.

L401 Oxford 20 August 1989

Oxford is justifiably world renowned for its fine architecture, but until the 1990s rail travelers from London were greeted with this as their first view of the city as their train arrived at Oxford station. A Hillman Avenger, Morris Marina, Mini and other 1970s cars meet their end in the scrapyard on the site of the old goods yard, as L401 (51333, 59485, & 51375) leaves the station with the 2C23 11:00 Oxford to Didcot Network SouthEast service on 20 August 1989. The cars at this location nowadays are hopefully in better condition, as it is now the station car park.

L401 & L423 Bicester Town 2 May 1992

L401 (51333, 59485 & 51375) & L423 (51361, 59513 & 51399) approach Bicester Town station with the Oxon & Bucks Rail Action Committee 07:00 Oxford to Spalding (via Fenny Stratford and Bedford) special on 2 May 1992. In addition to a day out which took a pair of Class 117s well away from their home territory, this train was run to highlight the possibility of reopening the Oxford to Milton Keynes line for through passenger services. Finding a clear viewpoint that shows the whole train at 07:20 in the morning on the Oxford to Bicester line is not as easy as it would seem, and although this location from the then newly completed A41 Bicester southern bypass does provide an excellent position, it does unfortunately include Bicester sewage works in the background!

117724 Ridgmont 4 June 1997

In the last rays of the setting sun, 117724 (51333 & 51375) arrives at Ridgmont with the 18:40 Bedford to Bletchley service on 4 June 1997. Formerly Thames Valley set L401, it was ousted from its Paddington duties by the arrival of the Class 165 Turbos in 1992. AT this point it lost its centre trailer and was renumbered 724. At the very end of its career, it was obviously decided to incorporate the class designation in the number, in a similar way to the units that had moved to the Provincial sector, therefore becoming 117724.

117724 Forders Sidings 12 December 1997

The level crossing barriers lift behind 117724 (51375 & 51333) as it passes Forders Sidings on 12 December 1997 with the 10:40 Bedford to Bletchley North London Railways service. 117724 was London allocated three car set L401 in a previous life.

L402 Yarnton Junction (site of) 15 April 1983

L402 (51377, 59487 & 51335) has just passed the site of Yarnton Junction on 15 April 1983, and is heading up the Cotswold Line with the 2B60 16:33 Reading to Moreton-in-Marsh service. An idea of just how remote Yarnton Junction station was can be gauged from this view, as in the 1980s the area was relatively clear of trees. The Scots pines in the background mark the site of the station, and it is immediately apparent that there are no buildings anywhere near it. The station was purely an interchange point for the Fairford Branch, the route of which diverged to the right on the far side of the long grass behind the electricity pole.

L402 & L415 Marshfield 27 October 1984

A pair of Reading allocated Class 117s well away from their usual patch on 27 October 1984. L402 (51377, 59487 & 51335) & L415 (51351, 59503 & 51393) pass Marshfield with the late running 08:48 Cardiff Central to Weston-super-Mare service. Both of these units would normally operate Thames Valley services out of Paddington, with Bristol or Cardiff units being more normal in South Wales. Obviously there would be a number of people going to Bristol on a Saturday morning, but six coaches through to Weston in the autumn is probably an extravagance!

L402 West Drayton 6 November 1986

In sparkling ex-works condition, after its repaint into Network SouthEast livery, L402 (51335, 59487 & 51377) accelerates away from West Drayton station on 6 November 1986 with the 2A33 09:26 Slough to Paddington 'all stations' service. Just behind the builder's yard on the right is an earlier form of transport - the Grand Union Canal.

L402 Didcot Power Station 20 February 1993

L402 (51335, 59487 & 51377) comes off the flyash loop at Didcot Power Station on 20 February 1993, after traversing the site with the Branch Line Society's 'Thames & Chiltern Rambler' railtour. At least one tour participant is getting a picture of 60069 Humphry Davy waiting to leave with the 6E13 12:15 Didcot to Barrow Hill MGR empties. The railtour had originated from Bishops Stortford (a very unusual location for a Reading based DMU such as L402), and then travelled to the West London area, for the first freight branch highlight - the Park Royal Guinness branch. It then travelled via the Chiltern Line to the UKF fertilizer depot at Akeman Street, before coming to Didcot via the Bicester to Oxford line.

L402 & L405 Winslow 1 May 1993

To mark the official closure of the already virtually disused Claydon Junction to Bletchley section of the Oxford to Bletchley route, the Oxford & Bucks Rail Action Committee in association with the Bucks Herald newspaper, ran a special train from Princes Risborough to Spalding on 1 May 1993. Although the destination was the famous flower festival, the main reason for the crowds seen here at Winslow was that local people were taking advantage of the last chance to travel by train from their local station. Unfortunately the station building, which had been derelict for a long time, was demolished just a few weeks previously. The tour was also billed as a Class 117 DMU farewell, as the units were rapidly being ousted by the newly built Class 165 & 166 Turbos. At 08:05 on a slightly mist morning, L402 (51335, 59487 & 51377) & L405 (51381, 59491 & 51340) arrive to pick up the waiting passengers.

L403 & L572 Culham 5 May 1984

L403 (51336, 59488 & 51378) & L572 (51082, 59540 & 51054) approach Culham on 5 May 1984 with the 2A36 13:01 Paddington to Oxford service. There was obviously some rostering variation in operation on this day, as instead of returning directly with the 2A21 from Oxford, that job was entrusted to L411. Also, while the formation of L572 is technically correct for the period, a quick glance at the original Kodachrome slide reveals too many door hinges on the centre trailer! Therefore it looks like 59540 has been temporarily replaced by a Class 117 trailer.

L403 Froxfield 20 June 1984

A misty morning at Froxfield on 20 June 1984, as L403 (51336, 59488 & 51378) runs alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal with the 2A08 06:39 Paddington to Bedwyn. As the canal was not yet open to through navigation at this time, there is little to disturb the rampant growth of the native Yellow Water Lily (Nuphar lutea).

L403 Chinnor 11 June 1988

A scene that is now history. Chinnor cement works in the background has now been demolished, and the former Chinnor station has been rebuilt near the passing loop in the middle distance, as the route is now a preserved line operated by the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway. On 11 June 1988, when the branch was still open for coal traffic to the cement works, L403 (51336, 59488 & 51378) & Class 121 trailer L289 (54289) leave the site with the RCTS 'Chinnor Railtour', which also visited the Brentford GLC Refuse Transfer branch and the Morris Cowley line at Oxford. Strangely, the two unpowered vehicles here (the Class 117 centre car and the Class 121 trailer) have survived, whilst both DMU power cars have been scrapped.

L404 Cassington 16 May 1986

L404 (51379, 59489 & 51337) passes Cassington on 16 May 1986 with the 2B60 16:40 Reading to Moreton-in-Marsh service. It will shortly being calling at Hanborough station, and will then stop at all the Cotswold Line stations, therefore taking nearly 50 minutes to cover the 28 miles from Oxford to Moreton. The large white building visible in the distance is Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital.

L404 Kingham 18 June 1989

Class 117s had effectively been ousted from the Cotswold Line in 1988 by the arrival of the Class 155 Sprinters. It was therefore a surprise to see L404 (51379, 59489 & 51337) back on its old stamping ground on 18 June 1989. There was obviously a problem with the rostered 155, as L404 was noted working the 15:20 Great Malvern to Oxford service, running an hour late. It had managed to half that late running by the time it arrived back at Kingham with the 17:30 Oxford to Great Malvern return working, but obviously in the hurry to regain some lost time, changing the destination blind had been forgotten!

L405 Hinksey 14 June 1983

Shortly after sunrise on 14 June 1983, L405 (51340, 59491 & 51381) passes Hinksey Yard with the 2A35 05:50 Oxford to Paddington service. Early bird travellers on this train had a much better deal on a weekday, as the train completed the journey thirteen minutes quicker than it did on a Saturday. This was not due to additional stops being made at the weekend, but rather to the additional ten minutes wait at Reading, due presumably to some pathing requirement, but obviously very frustrating if you were waiting to get to London!

L405 Hanborough 30 August 1987

L405 (51381, 59491 & 51340) passes Hanborough station, on the Cotswold line on 30 August 1987. These units were a regular sight on local trains on the line at this time, but here it is strangely working one of the few normally loco-hauled trains - the 16:10 Paddington to Hereford service. Note that the disused down platform makes an excellent vantage point for photography. This view would now be dominated by the Oxford Bus Museum which took over the former yard area, behind the train.

L405 Lower Basildon 17 May 1992

Although nearing the end of its long career working local services along the Thames Valley, L405 (51381, 59491 & 51340) has had a repaint into Network South East livery and positively gleams as it passes Lower Basildon on 17 May 1992 with the 2C66 18:00 Reading to Didcot Parkway service. Within a few months it would be replaced by Class 165 & 166 Turbo units. The lead vehicle has found a new life in preservation at Mangapps Farm Railway Museum, but the other two vehicles were not so lucky, both being cut up in the late 1990s. Strangely, as if to emphasise they had finally fled the Western Region, one was broken up in Scotland, the other in Wales!

L406 Finstock 22 August 1985

L406 (51383, 59493 & 51341) slows down for the Finstock stop whilst working the 2B60 16:35 Reading to Moreton-in-Marsh service on 22 August 1985. This was the only down train to call at the station on a weekday at the time, a service pattern that remains much the same today. Although it still just about possible to take pictures from this bridge, you can no longer stand in this exact spot for a nice wide view. During the intervening years those little bushes on the right of the picture have grown considerably, and now the angle of view is much more restricted.

L406 Kingham 29 August 1985

Just a very slight trace of weak sunlight remains as L406 (51383, 59493 & 51341) pulls away from Kingham station on 29 August 1985. It is working the 2B60 16:35 Reading to Moreton-in-Marsh 'all stations' service. As often happens after a hot summers day, the light just faded out into thin hazy murk, and this is only early evening!

L406 Oxford North Junction 20 July 1990

Viewed from the footpath leading to the Trap Ground allotments, L406 (51383, 59493 & 51341) passes under the Aristotle Lane footbridge and approaches Oxford North Junction as it works the 2C70 19:23 Oxford to Banbury all stations local Network SouthEast service on 20 July 1990. It will be calling at Tackley, Heyford and Kings Sutton en-route. The Aristotle Lane footbridge gives access from the Oxford suburbs to Port Meadow.

L406 Shottesbrooke 5 September 1992

Even during their final months in the Thames Valley someone obviously cared enough to authorize the repainting of a number of Class 117 units. L406 (51383, 59493 & 51341) ambles along the relief line at Shottesbrooke with the 10:12 Reading to Paddington Network SouthEast service on 5 September 1992. By this date Class 165 Turbo units were rapidly being introduced to replace these elderly Pressed Steel units which had held sway on the route since the early 1960s.

L407 Shipton 12 June 1982

L407 (51384, 59494 & 51342) arrives at Shipton station on 12 June 1982 with the Cotswold Line Promotion Group's Oxford to Matlock 'Cotswold - Derwent Special'. This was the second of the CLPG's very successful railtours, and while the sight of a Class 117 unit stopping at Shipton was commonplace at the time, the same could certainly not be said of Matlock! The diminutive waiting shelter with its slightly over the top awning disappeared shortly after this photo was taken, as did the GWR concrete name board posts. Although impossible to see from this angle, the one on the left still retained the large 'Shipton for Burford' sign at this time.

L407, L121 & L413 St Georges 20 April 1985

L407 (51342, 59494 & 51384), Class 121 L121 (55021) & L413 (51391+59501+51349) pass St Georges on 20 April 1985 with the Monmouthshire Railway Society 'Maerdy Gras' railtour. As the name suggests, this tour visited Maerdy Colliery, a well as Cwm Colliery, Blaengarw, Onllwyn, Aberpergwm and Cynheidre. This is a type of railtour that has all but disappeared from the national network. The use of lengthy DMU formations to traverse branch and freight only lines was an ideal low cost solution, although of course not very popular with haulage enthusiasts!

L407 Aldington 3 October 1987

L407 (51342, 59494 & 51384) passes Aldington with the 12:26 Oxford to Worcester Shrub Hill service on 3 October 1987. This is one of the very few railway pictures that I took on what was at the time regarded as the finest quality 35mm colour transparency film - Kodachrome 25. Apart from the fact that ISO 25 is a ridiculously slow speed for use with a moving subject, I could only detect the tiniest improvement in quality over the much more usable Kodachrome 64. Of course if you really wanted an improvement in quality in those days, you used a large format camera, which is why a lot of the pictures on this website are taken with a Pentax 6x7.

L408 Moreton-in-Marsh 7 August 1988

L408 (51343, 59495 & 51385) waits for passengers at Moreton-in-Marsh on Sunday 7 August 1988 prior to working a revised shuttle service to Oxford, the line to the north of Moreton-in-Marsh being closed for engineering work. Someone obviously is a keen gardener here. The well stocked flower border and the GWR seat in the background adds to the nostalgic scene, although the Network SouthEast livery of the DMU brings the scene back to the 1980s!

L409 Hinksey 28 November 1981

L409 (51386, 59496 & 51344) passes the south end of Hinksey Yard on 28 November 1981 with the 2A57 11:55 Oxford to Paddington service. This wide view shows just how open the view towards Oxford was in the 1980s. The footbridge across the yard visible in the background can barely be seen from this location now.

L409 Lyneham 4 April 1986

L409 (51344, 59496 & 51386) passes the resident Shetland Ponies at Lyneham on 4 April 1986, as it accelerates away from its last stop at Shipton station with the 2B60 16:35 Reading to Moreton-in-Marsh 'all stations' service. Although the ponies in the foreground make for an ideal photographic composition, the fact that they are black, and standing in an unfortunate area of shadow does not really help! I would have liked to have taken this picture with my Pentax 6x7 for improved quality, but there is no way that the medium format camera's limited depth of field would have allowed me to get both the train and the foreground in focus!

L409 Oxford 24 July 1990

L409 (51386, 59496 & 51344) slowly moves off from platform 2 at Oxford on 24 July 1990 with the 2C66 17:35 Reading to Bicester Town Network SouthEast service. All three vehicles of this set are no more, although each met its end at a different location. 51386 was initially preserved, but was cut up at Dereham in 2002, likewise 59496 was at first saved, but then was cut at Rotherham as late as 2008. 51344 was disposed off at MC Metals, Glasgow in 1999. Note the newly completed station building and footbridge (which replaced the original subway).

L410 Ascott-under-Wychwood 6 June 1979

A late summer evening at Ascott-under-Wychwood with the setting sun giving an orange tint to the clouds. L410 (51387, 59497 & 51345) comes off the double track section after being held for the 1C74 18:00 Paddington to Hereford service, worked by 50038. The unit is working the early running 5A09 19:15 Moreton-in-Marsh to Oxford (not Paddington, as displayed in the windscreen!) empty stock, with the guard obviously enjoying the view from the front! It had earlier worked to Moreton-in-Marsh as the 2B48 15:29 ex Paddington, which at the time was an unbalanced working. The date is 6 June 1979 and this is one of my very few pictures of a Class 117 (or any other type of DMU!) in the short lived white with blue stripe livery.

L410 Honeybourne 22 June 1985

The guard already has his door open as L410 arrives at Honeybourne on 22 June 1985 with the 2A62 09:01 Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill service. Normally this unit would comprise vehicles 51345, 59497 & 51387, but quite clearly the centre car has been replaced by a Class 101 trailer. These substitutions were usually only very temporary, often lasting no more than a couple of weeks, until the defective coach could be repaired.

L410 Oxford 16 May 1990

L410 (51345, 59497 & 51387) arrives at Oxford on 16 May 1990 with the late running 2C66 17:35 Reading to Bicester Town Network SouthEast service. This view has now been completely obliterated by trees. Even in 1990 the vegetation along the edge of the graveyard on the right was becoming a nuisance. In the early 1970s there was a clear low angle viewpoint from the cemetery of trains leaving the station and passing under the footbridge. Unfortunately this was before I took up photography!

L410 Islip (Mill Lane) 7 September 1991

The old order at Mill Lane, Islip on 7 September 1991. L410 (51387, 59497 & 51345) passes over the little used level crossing with the 3C35 11:52 Bicester Town to Oxford Network SouthEast service. The venerable Class 117 units were replaced by Turbo units the following year, but the road user operated level crossing survived for another couple of decades. With the rebuilding of the line as a through route to London via Bicester, this crossing will be permanently closed, and a footbridge provided a short distance to the north.

L411 Culham 5 May 1984

L411 is pictured at Culham on 5 May 1984, with just 51346 of 51346, 59498 & 51388 visible in this view. It is working the 2A21 14:50 Oxford to Paddington service, which should in theory have been formed of L403 & L572. Although this picture might give the impression of a local train stopped in the station, it is in fact a non-stop service, so considerable luck was required to press the shutter at exactly the right moment, with very little warning of its approach!

L411 Didcot North Junction 31 July 1992

L411 (51388 & 51346) passes Didcot North Junction on 31 July 1992 with the 2C56 16:30 Reading to Oxford Network SouthEast service. It is unusually running without its centre trailer (59498), and for some reason has had the front set number over painted in non-standard white characters.

51388 & 51346 Sheringham Golf Course 2 May 1998

The former Western Region set L411, minus the centre trailer composite coach is seen here in use on the North Norfolk Railway on 2 May 1998 with DMS 51388 leading and DMBS 51346 at the rear. It is passing Sheringham Golf Course with the 16:00 Sheringham to Holt service. Subsequently the unit moved to the Swanage Railway. It is pictured here repainted into late 1960s condition with a small yellow warning panel replacing the original 'speed whiskers' and the roof all over black instead of the original white ends.

L412 Hinksey 8 February 1986

On a bitterly cold 8 February 1986, L412 (51347, 59499 & 51389) passes the site of Hinksey North signal box at the north end of Hinksey Yard, near Oxford with the 09:01 Paddington to Oxford 'all stations' service, while in the background L416 (51353, 59505 & 51395) heads towards the capital with the 10:15 Moreton-in-Marsh to Paddington service, also an 'all stations' train. It is worth noting that despite the atrocious weather both these trains were running exactly to time, something which is very unlikely to happen on today's railway in such conditions! Note the crudely applied spot welded panel on the former headcode box on the front of L412.

51347 & 51401 Castor 19 March 2000

The Nene Valley Railway's Class 117 DMU is formed from vehicles from two different former Western Region sets. DMBS 51347 (seen leading here) came from set L412, and DMS 51401 came from set L421. Whereas the other two vehicles from set L412 have been scrapped, all three vehicles of set L421 are still in existence, although not likely to work together again, as in addition to the Nene Valley Railway, they are at the Northampton & Lamport Railway and the Strathspey Railway! 51347 & 51401 are pictured passing milepost 42 near Castor with the 10:40 Wansford to Peterborough service on 19 March 2000.

L413 Ascott-under-Wychwood 2 January 1983

L413 (51349, 59501 & 51391) comes off the double track section of the Cotswold Line at Ascott-under-Wychwood on 2 January 1983 with the 2A75 09:32 Worcester Shrub Hill to Reading service. At this time the Cotswold Line was a relative backwater, with low passengers numbers and the sparse train service principally operated by these DMUs. Few could have foreseen the dramatic increases in passengers numbers in the following decades. 

L414 Windsor and Eaton Central 6 January 1991

Windsor Castle forms the impressive backdrop, as L414 (51350, 59502 & 51392) pulls out of Windsor and Eaton Central station on 6 January 1991 with the 2C37 13:01 departure for Slough. As it was a bitterly cold day, I can't quite see why the local youth population should be so keen to be hanging out of the windows! Unfortunately I took very few pictures on the Thames Valley branch lines in the first generation DMU era.

L414 Hinksey 5 July 1991

L414 (51350, 59502 & 51392) passes the south end of Hinksey Yard on 5 July 1991 with the 2C21 09:02 Bicester Town to Reading Network SouthEast service. DMBS 51350 seems to have had a window modification, with what looks like yellow paint applied to the upper section, presumably as some kind of permanent sun visor.

L415 Charlbury (Cornbury Park) 26 April 1984

L415 (51351, 59503 & 51393) accelerates away from Charlbury station on 26 April 1984 with the 13:30 Great Malvern to Oxford service. This viewpoint is from the road that leads to Cornbury Park, a large 17th century country house in extensive parkland on the edge of Wychwood Forest. Charlbury church can be seen on the horizon, and yes it does appear to have a slight lean to the right when viewed from this spot! Note the recently relaid track.

L415 & L425 Maidenhead 22 November 1986

A once commonplace Western Region suburban scene at Maidenhead, as a pair of Class 117 DMUs meet on 22 November 1986. L415 (51351, 59503 & 51393) waits in the bay platform with the 10:14 Maidenhead to Paddington 'all stations' service, while on the left L425 (51405, 59515 & 51363) & hidden from view on the rear, L130 (55030) arrive with the 09:54 Reading to Paddington, which will now only call at Slough and Ealing Broadway en-route to the capital. This is very early Network SouthEast days, with all the units still in blue and grey livery, but with the distinctive bright red lampposts already in evidence.

L416 Honeybourne 25 April 1987

L416 (51395, 59505 & 51353) approaches Honeybourne with the 14:28 Oxford to Hereford service on 25 April 1987. At this time there were only five trains in each direction on this line on a Saturday, something the single track railway could easily cope with. However, traffic levels increased over the years to the extent that in 2009 work was started to reinstate the double track at this point, although the scheme is bizarrely leaving sections of single track at either end of the route.

L417 Ascott-under-Wychwood 17 September 1983

L417 (51354, 59506 & 51396) calls at Ascott-under-Wychwood in dramatic lighting on 17 September 1983. It is working the 16:33 Reading to Moreton-in-Marsh local service, one of only two down trains to call at the station at that time. With such a complete covering of dark clouds I was fortunate that the unit's arrival corresponded with the sun dropping out of the cloud into a small gap just above the horizon. An excellent piece of timing, which given the infrequency of trains on the Cotswold Line (certainly in the 1980s) was very lucky indeed!

L417 Radley 1 December 1983

Bridge repairs at Radley on 1 December 1983 require traffic lights to be in place, but there are minimal signs of health & safety fencing alongside the railway, unlike what would be required today. L417 (51396, 59506 & 51354) passes through with the 2A39 09:55 Oxford to Paddington service

L417 Hungerford Common 3 September 1984

L417 (51354, 59506 & 51396) comes out of the shadows and into the light, as it passes Hungerford Common on 3 September 1984 with the 09:52 Bedwyn to Newbury service. Note the position of the former down loop on the left, which at this time had been truncated to the short siding visible in the background.

L417 Didcot 31 July 1992

L417 (51354, 59506 & 51396) departs from a seemingly deserted Didcot station on 31 July 1992 with the late running 2C62 17:21 Reading to Oxford 'all stations' Network SouthEast service. With the coming of the then new Turbo units, L417 would lose its centre trailer and become L720, and start working Gospel Oak to Barking services.

L418 & L579 Sharpness 26 October 1985 L418 (51397, 59507 & 51355) & L579 (51065, 59424 & 51319) prepare to depart from Sharpness on 26 October 1985 with the Monmouthshire Railway Society 08:10 Cardiff Central to Portishead 'Sharpness Shunter' railtour. The rail employee walks back along the length of the train to unclip the points after it has left, before heading off home on his motorbike. I can't remember now why I only photographed this tour at Sharpness (unless it was the dire weather), as it also visited Sudbrook, Caerwent, Tytherington, Gloucester Docks and Portishead!
L418 Reading 22 November 1986

The driver of L418 (51397, 59507, & 51355) gives the window a quick clean whilst sat in the bay platform at Reading on 22 November 1986. The unit is about to work the 2A69 08:54 service to Paddington, which I rode on as far as Maidenhead. This of course is in the good old pre-privatisation days, which probably explains why the station lights are still on despite it being a bright sunny day. BR having as about as much financial accountability as the MoD!

L418 Ascott-under-Wychwood 30 June 1987

L418 (51397, 59507, & 51355) pulls away from Ascott-under-Wychwood station on 30 June 1987 with the 07:45 Moreton-in-Marsh to Reading local service. Presumably the unit later worked on to Paddington which would make the destination blind correct, and yet the timetable shows it as a Moreton-in-Marsh to Oxford service, with a separate working onwards to Reading. The prominent 75mph restriction sign applies to the double track section which commences near the signal box in the background. The single line from here to Oxford is cleared for 90mph running.

L418 Radley 11 December 1991

L418 (51355, 59507, & 51397) prepares to stop at Radley station with the 13:15 Banbury to Reading Network SouthEast service on 11 December 1991. At this time the station still retained its original GWR footbridge, although minus its canopy. In December 2007 a new footbridge was installed in a slightly different position, after an intervening period when an ugly temporary footbridge was in use

L419 Charlbury 27 August 1983

L419 (51398, 59508 & 51356) pulls away from Charlbury station on 27 August 1983 with the 2C78 16:25 Oxford to Hereford service. If you think displaying Oxford in the destination blind is stupid when you are going to Hereford, just look at this. A good selection of classic 1970s cars can be seen in the car park, which at this time had yet to be extended. In 1983 this probably represents very nearly the busiest that Charlbury station ever got. Nowadays it would never be this quiet!

L419 Kingham 19 January 1985

White out conditions at KIngham on 19 January 1985. L419 (51356, 59508 & 51398) arrives at the station with the 2B06 08:08 Oxford to Moreton-in-Marsh service. Note to modern train operators - despite the sub-zero temperatures and fog, along with the use of vintage rolling stock (even then), this train was running no more than a couple of minutes late.

L419 Moreton-in-Marsh 16 June 1985

L419 (51398, 59508 & 51356) pulls away from Moreton-in-Marsh station on Sunday 16 June 1985 with the 2A81 15:55 Worcester Shrub Hill to Oxford service. Surprisingly, a quarter of a century later not much has changed here, and although no longer working on the national network, all three vehicles of this DMU survive in preservation. Apart from the bushes in the background growing taller, the only significant changes are the replacement of the footbridge and the signal box windows. Even all this vintage bullhead track has survived!

L419 South Moreton (Didcot East) 8 November 1986

L419 (51398, 59508 & 51356) rattles along the up relief line at South Moreton on 8 November 1986 with the 10:21 Oxford to Paddington 'all stations' service. Although the Network SouthEast brand had been in use since the summer, virtually no DMUs had received the new colour scheme at the time this picture was taken. Most acquired the discreet stickers that can just bee seen on the centre trailer of L419, but it would be a long time before there were substantial numbers of units in NSE livery.

L702 Woburn Sands 29 August 1998

After its displacement from Thames Valley services in the early 1990s, L419 (51356, 59508 & 51398) had its centre car removed and acquired the set number L702. In this form it is seen accelerating away from Woburn Sands station with DMBS 51356 leading on 29 August 1998. It is working the 09:50 Bletchley to Bedford service. This picture demonstrates one of the main problems with the Pentax 6x7 camera when used with a 200mm lens. The unit is absolutely pin sharp, but the level crossing in the background isn't due to the very limited depth of field.