HAMPSHIRE UNIT RUNNING DAYS
On selected days throughout the year the Hampshire Unit, affectionately known as Hammy, will be operating in addition to our standard steam service.
Running Days 2017
20th - 22nd October (Diesel Gala)
Running Days 2018
1st-3rd June Diesel Gala
15th-16th September Heritage Open Weekend
6th - 7th October
13th - 14th October
The Hampshire Units were one of several classes of Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) built by the Southern Region of British Railways, incorporating a 4 cylinder diesel engine coupled to a DC generator, which, in turn supplied power to two axle hung traction motors.
The DEMU’s came to the Mid Hants line in November 1957, taking over from M7 steam locomotives. The DEMU’s reduced the journey time by a staggering 22 minutes taking only 55 minutes from Alton to Southampton and saw an hourly service introduced on the line – even on Sunday’s. The units were so successful in arresting declining passenger numbers and arguable allowing the Mid Hants Railway line to survive long enough to be saved for what it is today.
The units had a design life of 15 years as it was envisaged that the lines over which they operated would have either been electrified or closed by the time that the units planned life cycle had been exhausted. In actual fact the units completed 47 years main line service with several examples passing into the hands of Heritage Railways and are now approaching 50 years old – a real tribute to British engineering.
The DEMU's acquired a nick name of 'Thumpers' due to the distinctive sound that the four cylinder English Electric engine made.