A Blue Pullman set is seen standing in Coventry's new platform two on an up Birmingham to Euston express service. With their distinctive Nanking Blue livery, the Blue Pullmans were an iconic train from the early 1960s. BR marketed them as Britain's attempt at a exclusive luxury train in the mould of the continental TEE. Just five units were built, technical problems meant that they lasted a mere thirteen years in service, and sadly none survive in preservation. The first set appeared from the Met-Camm works in Birmingham on the 18th October 1959 for what became a very extended period of testing and trials. It's first outing was via Castle Bromwich to Aldridge and at the time the set was still due to enter LMR traffic just ten weeks later on the 4th January 1960 during the major winter timetable alterations.
The Blue Pullman story is as intriguing as the units themselves. Without a doubt the most luxurious DMUs to run in this country, with many innovate features, it seems that few people actually wanted these trains. Many questioned their usefulness- particularly the amount of usage they would get and level of patronage, and the amount of trains ordered to operate the services. There were also staffing issues that had to be overcome before they could enter traffic.
The design of the bogies, the heavy insulation in the bodysides, the suspended flooring in passenger accommodation, the wide air-sealed gangways between cars, and the double glazing meant that there was an isolation from all fatiguing sensations of unpleasant sound and harsh vibration. Full air-conditioning was used for the first time, with controlled temperature and humidity. Armchair seats were deeply padded with foam rubber and were reclinable in the first class section. Table service included specially selected menus and wine list. A smooth pick up on starting and stable riding at high speeds were ensured by a new type of permanent coupling which absorbed both buffing and drawing loads. A two-stage brake system ensured the ability to stop quickly and safely from the maximum 90 mph. The power and transmission set up was a development of the arrangement used on the SR DEMUs.
Five sets were built, and with only one vehicle type used on both batches their production costs must have hugely outweighed their actual usage, and their time in service was know to be limited, particularly on the LMR. The LMR received two six-car sets in 1960 to work just one service from Manchester to St Pancras and return Monday to Fridays, although when introduced there was a short lived fill-in turn. Upon completion of the Euston electrification scheme they moved to the WR to join their eight-car sets on workings to South Wales and Birmingham. The Birmingham route was also soon dropped, and the five sets operated South Wales services until 1973. Courtesy railcar.co.uk.