Downpatrick bids to save the last NIR ‘Thumper’ set

AN EXCITING project has been announced by the Downpatrick & County Down Railway to preserve and operate one of the last Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) 80 Class railcar sets.

This development means the future of a significant part of Ulster’s railway heritage has been secured.

The 80 Class, or ‘Thumpers’ as they were nicknamed, were delivered to NIR from British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL) in 1974/75.

Wearing its original blue & maroon livery, 80 Class power car No. 68 (later 8068) leads a three-car set at Derry Waterside on June 23, 1979. JONATHAN ALLEN

They were an instant hit with rail users, replacing the ageing MED, MPD and ex-Great Northern AEC and BUT sets, and a second batch entered service between 1977 and 1979.

The ‘Thumpers’ ran as two-, three-, four-, or six-car sets, featuring a power car (Nos. 8067-8099), intermediate trailers (Nos. 8761-8780) and a driving trailer (Nos. 8731-8756).

The power cars were fitted with an English Electric 560hp diesel engine, while the driving trailers only had a small, offset cab built at one end to allow the gangway connection to be retained.

For almost a decade the units provided the mainstay of nearly all NIR passenger services until the arrival of the 450 Class Railcars; the two types held sway until the 3000 Class units entered service in 2005.

Read more in the April issue of The RM – on sale now!

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