|Transport for Wales
153 303 = 52303
Each car has one Cummins NT855R5 diesel engine of 213 kW (285 HP) driving both axles of the bogie at the end with the new cab, through a Voith hydraulic transmission and Gmeinder final drives, identical to the drive equipment of Class 150 and 156. Maximum speed is 75 mph. Air suspension units are provided for each bogie, the three-step air-operated brakes have a variable load feature, and public address equipment is fitted. Length of each car is 23.71 metres.
Class 153 have BSI (Bergische Stahl Industrie) couplers, and can work in multiple with Classes 142, 150, 156 and 158.
Transport for Wales (TfW) has eight of these single cars. No longer common in North Wales, they can be found on the 'Heart of Wales' line (Shrewsbury - Llandrindod - Llanelli) and the stopping trains between Crewe and Shrewsbury.
Class 153 came about when Regional Railways resolved in the early 1990s to split their BREL / Leyland National Bus-built two-car Class 155 units into two independent single cars. Hunslet Barclay of Kilmarnock were charged with rebuilding the inner ends with new cabs and adding a toilet to the 52xxx vehicles which did not originally have one. All the 155s were converted, except for seven two-car units which were bought new by West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and still work for Northern Rail in that area in original two-car form.
In the privatisation area they have been shared between various companies with requirement to operate rural services, with some shuffling and swapping of fleets having taken place.
They are controversial and unloved vehicles, especially with train crews who complain about the extra cab created during the rebuild, which is smaller that the original design at the other end, and uncomfortable, as well as often being too hot. Cyclists and pushchair-owners also find the entrance vestibule behind the new cab hard to negotiate. Their construction, based on body units originally designed for the Leyland National bus, sitting on an underframe built by BREL leaves something to be desired, too - a slight sag towards the centre of the body can often be detected. Unlike most of the other late-BR railcars, they have gained a variety of unofficial nicknames, usually derogatory: 'tin rockets' and 'dogboxes' are two that can often be heard.
153s were among the very last passenger vehicles on the National Rail roster to carry a British Rail livery: this is 153 326 at Shrewsbury in 2006.
Compiled by Charlie Hulme.