Slam-door train

Some slam-door train designs featured doors that could only be opened from the outside, so it was common for passengers to lean out of the window to reach the outside door handle.

Slam-door trains had many more doors than newer trains (which tend to have only two sets of doors per coach); some designs featured a door for every individual seating bay. Some units had individual compartments, each with its own door and no access to any other part of the train; however, these were unpopular due to security concerns and the lack of access to toilets for longer journeys and many were later converted to standard corridor saloon design.
A slam-door train or slammer is a set of diesel multiple units (DMUs) or electric multiple units (EMUs) that were designed before the use of automatic doors on railway carriages was common. The name came about because of the characteristic noise passengers slamming the doors made when the train was about to depart.
The term “slam-door” could also refer to locomotive-hauled railway coaches that did not have automatic doors, but this usage is less common. The term “slam-door train” generally applies to BR Mark 1 EMUs and DMUs.

History
Slam-door EMU and DMU trains were commonplace ever since the introduction of electrification. While there were early examples of the type, which are beyond the scope of this example, they became commonplace on the Southern Railway in the 1930s when it electrified its main routes around the South of London at 750 VDC (third rail), in particular, the line to Brighton.

Slam-door diesel multiple units became common in the 1950s when British Railways (BR) sought to modernise its network and do away with steam locomotives. Many one, two and three coach units were built for non-electrified lines all around the country, in particular, these were popular on branch lines where it was uneconomic to electrify. These units were later classified in the Class 101 – 129 series, dependent on the design.

In the Southern region, the early units were replaced in the 1950s and 60s with new slam-door third-rail electric units, first of all the compartment commuter units ‘4-SUB’ and ‘4-EPB’ (BR Class 415) and later the much more comfortable longer distance trains which survived in use until the early years of the 21st century. These included the ‘4-CIG’ British Rail Class 421), ‘4-CEP’ (British Rail Class 411) and ‘4-VEP’ (British Rail Class 423); the former two being fairly similar while the latter was designed with more crowded seats and more doors to enable faster unloading and loading of passengers.

Finally, also on the Southern division of British Rail, new slam-door diesel multiple units were introduced in the late 1950s, these were classified as British Rail Class 201 and similar and were affectionately named ‘Thumpers’ due to the distinctive noise they made.

Slam-door diesel multiple units became common in the 1950s when British Railways (BR) sought to modernise its network and do away with steam locomotives. Many one, two and three coach units were built for non-electrified lines all around the country, in particular, these were popular on branch lines where it was uneconomic to electrify. These units were later classified in the Class 101 – 129 series, dependent on the design.

by simon schofield

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