W55024 is a class 121 DMU built by pressed steel in 1960. The unit entered service with the Western Region of British Rail, operating London suburban and branch line services.
The unit was displaced along with the other first generation DMU’s on the Thames and Chiltern lines when the class 165 Turbos entered service. It was converted into a route learner and ‘Sandite’ unit for rail-head treatment during the leaf fall season. It was later allocated to Aylesbury where is was outshopped in BR maroon, displaying departmental number 960 010. The unit was frequently spotted on the network bearing the words ‘Railtrack Clearing the Way’ along both sides in white.
Sandite treatment was eventually replaced by special high-pressure water jet trains rendering the unit surplus to requirements. Now under the ownership of Chiltern Railways the unit was moved to Tysley, where it remained until being purchased by the C&PRR.
The ‘bubble car’ (to use its colloquial name) has under gone heavy refurbishment since being at Chinnor. Internally, the Sandite equipment has been removed (water and mixer tanks, pumps, heaters and generator, plus associated wiring and control gear). All the internal panelling has been replaced, along with most of the hard wood window surrounds. The strip lights have been replaced with energy efficient LED lighting, a new floor has been installed, replacement seats sourced and refurbished with new upholstery. A servery has been built in what used to be the smaller passenger compartment, along with seats installed in the former luggage area.
The engines and control gear have been overhauled along with all the underframe equipment. We decided to outshop the unit once again in BR Maroon livery, this time with its original W55024 being proudly displayed. We expect the unit will be returned to traffic at the start of services in 2019.