55533 - Class 141

Class 141

The Class 141 set works regularly at the Midland Railway, it is seen here accelerating away from Riddings in the direction of Swanwick during 2005. 55533 is now at the uphill end of the train, the opposite way round to its early years in preservation. Photo By Evan Green-Hughes

BR History

This class 141 vehicle is identical to 55513 except that it is fitted with a toilet. They have run as a pair since new.

When the class 141 was originally built it was fitted with a Leyland TL11 engine - which was the uprated and turbocharged version of the engines fitted in units like the class 108 and 104. These engines were never satisfactory in service and neither were the gearboxes which were manufactured by SCG and again were an updated version of the traditional design. In this case the automatic gear change gave problems - in particular with the electronics and failures in lubrication led to gearboxes refusing to work. There were also issues with the brakes as cables had been used between the air cylinders and the brake blocks which tended to stretch and give reduced efficiency. The class 141 as built was also fitted with Tightlock couplers which were unique to the class.

A decision was taken to rework classes 141-144 and as an experiment 141113 (of which 55533 is part) was fitted with a Cummins L10 engines and Voith hydraulic transmission. At the same time the whole of the class was modified to have the Davies and Metcalfe air brake system with direct acting cylinders and the BSI couplers so that they could be coupled to the later classes 142-144.

The experiment was successful and all the 142/143 and 144 types were converted but yet 141113 remained the only member of the class to receive the uprated engines. The unit became a depot favourite at Neville Hill in Leeds and was popular with the drivers due to its outstanding performance.

When the Aire Valley lines were electrified some of the class 141s were placed in store and the rest followed as more new trains became available. 113 was one of the last two (119 being the other) but it was finally taken out of service on May 23rd 1998. It, too, went into store at Doncaster before passing into preservation in 2001. Along with its sister it was restored at the Midland Railway Butterley over a five year period, making its debut in service in 2007.

Class 141

Originally this unit was painted in West Yorkshire’s Metro green and cream livery but this was changed to red when it was rebuilt. 141113 (then numbered 141012) is seen when brand new at Leeds Station on 11th May 1984. Photo By Keith Long

Early Preservation

141113 is not the only one of the class to have passed to new owners. Several were in service in Iran but have recently been reported as being out of service and stored while two have been exported to Holland (though are not in use). One Leyland-engined example is preserved at the Colne Valley Railway and another is laid up at the Weardale Railway with gearbox problems. Weardale had a second unit which was used for spares but one vehicle has now been dismantled. Two of the 20-strong class have been scrapped.

Class 141

When we first obtained the Class 141 it was in very run-down condition. It is seen here in store at Swanwick Yard at the Midland Railway in 2003. Photo by Evan Green-Hughes

Class 141

As the Midland Railway is mainline connected the 141 has worked in multiple with other units from time to time. It is seen here in September 2008 heading East Midland Trains’ 156405 and approaching Swanwick Junction. Photo By Evan Green-Hughes

Class 141

From 2010 to 2012 and again for a short period at the end of 2013 the 141 unit was loaned to the Weardale Railway. It is seen on 16th June 2010 passing Witton-le-Wear with a Bishop Auckland bound service. Photo By John Lewin

This train is based at the Midland Railway Centre-Butterley, though operated at the Weardale Railway from June 2010 to May 2012 where it assisted in providing a new community service between Bishop Auckland and Stanhope.

Current Preservation

This train is preserved in the later pattern of West Yorkshire Passenger Transport "Metro" livery and retains its West Yorkshire interior and period posters. It was based for the whole of its working life at Leeds Neville Hill Depot. It is based at the Midland Railway Butterly and sees use there throughout the year.

Class 141

The 141 has visited Llangollen only once during its preservation career – for a period in June 2012. It is seen here with 55533 leading departing Berwyn. Photo By Paul Dawson


The interior of the 141 vehicles looks more modern than that of the first generation units in the fleet. The now infamous "bus seats" made there first appearance on these units. The centre doors where designed to be used by the passengers, and had internal and external buttons to allow passengers to open them once released by the guard. The doors just outside each cab is a slam door, the units came with safety bars to prevent passengers using these doors.

Class 141

Saloon looking towards the cab. Photo By Karl Latham.

Class 141

Passenger door controls. Only active once the guard has given the door release. Photo By Karl Latham.


One of the biggest difference from our other units is the cab layout. The amount of extra equipment is almost immediately obvious when you compare it to our first generation units. From left to right: The red and black switches control the saloon lights, and various auxillary electrical functions. The large white box is the Door Key Switch (DKS) used to liven the door controls at that end of the train for the guard to use. The minature circuit breakers (MCBs) (Much easier to reset than changing fuse wire!). The tail light and headlight controls are just to the right of the seat back. Then the reverser and master key switch. The brake control is the handle underneath the side window. The air gauge, speedo and AWS reset button are mounted in front of the driver along with the coupling controls. The throttle and horn are on the right in front of the AWS sunflower. The handset on the left handside allows communication between cabs, or to broadbast over the public address equipment. The right hand handset is for use with the NRN radio equipment.

Class 141

Drivers cab. Photo By Karl Latham.