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Class 153s have been a familiar part of the UK railway scene for 30 years. Reaching almost every corner of the network, from Penzance to the Highlands of Scotland and Fishguard to Lowestoft, they are one of the few ‘go anywhere’ trains and the perfect single vehicle train for any layout.
Britains' railways experimented with diesel traction through the early part of the 20th century, trying out a number of single car railbus type units. The GWR put the first successful railcars into service in the 1930s, combining AEC bus diesel engines and streamlined bodywork by Park Royal with railway coach structural engineering to create stylish express railcars. Drive was arranged through a mechanical transmission via cardan shafts and axle-mounted final driver and reversing gearboxes, a mechanical layout closely duplicated by the British Railways DMUs in the 1950s.To replace the 1950s DMUs British Rail moved to a hydraulic transmission system to create the Sprinter generation of DMUs from the mid-1980s, from which Heljan is now bringing the single-car class 153 units.