British Railways Mark 2

British Rail Mark 2

In service 1964–present
Manufacturer British Rail Engineering Limited
Built at Prototype: Swindon Works,
Production: Derby Carriage and Wagon Works
Constructed 1963–1975
Entered service 1964
Number built 1,876
Operator(s) Abellio Greater Anglia
Caledonian Sleeper
Abellio ScotRail
DB Cargo UK
Direct Rail Services
Network Rail
Riviera Trains
West Coast Railway Company
Car body construction Steel
Car length 64 ft 6 in (19.66 m)
Doors Hinged slam, centrally locked
Maximum speed 100 mph (161 km/h)
Train heating Pressure Ventilation
Air Conditioning (1971 onward)
Bogies B4 or B5
Braking system(s)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) (NIR )
1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) NZ TR
1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge (KRC)

The Mark 2 family of railway carriages were British Rail's second design of carriages. They were built by British Rail workshops (from 1969 British Rail Engineering Limited) (BREL) between 1964 and 1975. They were of steel construction.


Prototype Mk2 13252 at the Mid-Norfolk Railway in April 2009
Mark 2A Tourist Standard Open (TSO) 5278 "Melisande" at Cheltenham Spa on 18 September 2004 on a charter service to Swindon
Mark 2 coaches 5174, 5132 and 9102 at the Northampton & Lamport Railway on 26 January 2008
Arriva Trains Northern Mark 2F TSO 6035 at Carlisle on 27 August 2004
Mark 2C TSO 5541 at Cheriton in BR blue/grey livery in 1994

The Mark 2 has a semi-integral construction, giving it more strength than a Mark 1 in the event of an accident, although a key driver of the changed construction method was to overcome the serious corrosion problem point in the Mark 1 at the base of the body, where it was attached to the underframe. Other changes of design, such as the window units, were for the same reason, which had become a serious problem in Mark 1 vehicle maintenance costs. Revised painting methods were also part of this, which coincided with the change of livery from maroon (dark green on the Southern) to the blue and grey that Mark 2 coaches wore for much of their lives (some of the earliest Mark 2 coaches had the old livery at first).

The Mark 2 coach was one of the mainstays of the InterCity network, but new rolling stock introduced in the post-privatisation era has resulted in most being withdrawn.

Since their withdrawal from most main line duties, Mark 2 coaches have played an increasing role on private rail tours, charter trains, and on heritage railways. Since 1996, over 140 Mark 2 carriages have been exported to New Zealand, where they are still in mainline service (as of 2013).


The prototype Mark 2, FK 13252, was built in 1963, now preserved by the National Railway Museum and located at the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

Design Built Features
Mark 2 (later 2z) 1964–66 The basic model, with pressure ventilation and wood panelling. Fitted with vacuum brakes, so they could run with Mark 1 stock. Dual heating steam/electric. Originally fitted with folding gangway doors but these proved troublesome and were replaced with Mk1 style swinging or sliding doors (depending on coach type). Later some were fitted with air disc brakes for Edinburgh - Glasgow Push-Pull services with class 27s, which replaced Inter-City Class 126 DMUs.
Mark 2A 1967–68 Adoption of more features from the XP64 set. Air braked so had to run in dedicated sets. Green folding plastic gangway doors and vestibule ends.
Mark 2B 1969 Centre door omitted and wide wrap-round doors at the ends. Space saved by removal of the centre vestibule used to move toilets to one at each end instead of two at one end, as previously. Red folding plastic gangway doors and vestibule ends.
Mark 2C 1969–70 As Mk2b, with lowered ceiling with provision for ducts for air conditioning (never fitted). Red folding plastic gangway doors and vestibule ends.
Mark 2D 1971–72 Air conditioned so no opening windows in the seating area, glass area reduced, windows tinted. Electric heating only from here onward. Mk2d FKs and BFKs were the last locomotive-hauled side-corridor compartment coaches constructed for British Railways, other than sleeping cars. Red folding plastic gangway doors and vestibule ends.
Mark 2E 1972–74 Luggage racks fitted opposite toilet cubicles, which were reduced in size. Cream folding plastic gangway doors and vestibule ends.
Mark 2F 1973–75 Interior panelling made of plastic, new-style seating (IC70 seats) in most but not all coaches - some TSO had same seats as earlier Mk2s, lower bodyside heaters. These features had debuted on the Mark 3 prototypes. Cream folding plastic gangway doors and vestibule ends.

The final Mark 2 carriage was departmental 999550, in 1977. As of 20 July 2009 it is still in service with Network Rail as a Track Recording Coach.[1] The later versions (2D onwards) look somewhat similar to the later Mark 3 design. The Mark 3 is longer (75 feet as opposed to 64 feet 6 inches), has a large skirting between the bogies to conceal the ancillary equipment, and has a ridged roof as opposed to the smooth roof of the Mark 2. The development of the High Speed Train overlapped with that of the final production run, and the Mark 2F "previewed" many features incorporated into the Mark 3, such as new seating, plastic interior panelling, and floor-sensor-operated automatic gangway doors.

Unlike Mark 1 coaches, built by a wide range of manufacturers, both BR workshops and private builders, all production Mark 2 (and Mark 3) coaches were built on a single assembly line at the BR carriage works at Derby.

Manchester Pullman

Mark 2 carriages were used on the Manchester Pullman service from 1966 until withdrawal in 1985. These luxuriously-appointed first class carriages had several unusual features, such as inward opening doors and some interior walnut panelling. Only 29 carriages were built. The livery was pearl grey with blue window surrounds, a reversal of the standard British Rail blue and grey livery of the late 1960s and 1970s. A Liverpool Pullman service was also operated, using the same type of carriages, until 1974.

Current uses

As of August 2016, Mark 2 coaches are still in use on some services on the UK rail network.

Multiple units based on the Mark 2

Unlike the Mark 1, few multiple unit classes were based on the Mark 2 bodyshell. Most were electric multiple units with British Railways, and which operated under AC using overhead wires. The first of these were Class AM10 in 1966 operating commuter services from London Euston and in the West Midlands. The introduction of TOPS saw these units reclassified Class 310. The other type was Class 312, a derivative of, and almost identical to, the Class 310, introduced in 1975, primarily used on commuter services from London King's Cross and London Liverpool Street, the last slam-door multiple units built for British Railways. Northern Ireland Railways used the Mark 2 bodyshell as the basis for the 80 Class DEMU, which entered service in 1974. Thirteen 5 car electric multiple units were built in 1976 for Taiwan (and withdrawn in 2009): the Taiwan Railway EMU100 series.

Sales to other rail operators

Northern Ireland Railways and Iarnród Éireann purchased various types from new, and a number of ex-BR vehicles have been sold for further use outside Great Britain and abroad. Electric Multiple Units based on the Mark 2 design were also exported to Taiwan.

Northern Ireland

Mark 2Bs hauled by a NIR Class 111 at Adelaide in 1988.

In 1970 Northern Ireland Railways purchased new Mark 2Bs for the Enterprise train service between Belfast and Dublin. These were initially painted in an attractive maroon and blue livery and worked by maroon BREL-built Hunslet Bo-Bos of the NIR 101 Class. A pale grey livery with a blue stripe below the windows was introduced in the 1980s. This rake included No 547, the only Mark 2B dining car. This carriage was restored in 2008 by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI). The Mark 2B carriages were replaced on the Enterprise service by new carriages built in France by De Dietrich Ferroviaire in 1996.

NIR purchased eight British Rail Class 488 electric multiple unit coaches in 2001 that been converted from Mark 2F coaches for the Gatwick Express service from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport.[6] They were renumbered 8941-8948, The worked with NIR Generator Van 8911 They were withdrawn on 19 January 2005, having been replaced by new C3K units. They were reintroduced in September 2006 to provide extra capacity on the Portadown to Belfast (Central) service, making one trip every morning, hauled by a Class 111 locomotive but last ran on 18.06.2009 and have now been withdrawn.

The RPSI also acquired some Mark 2s for use in its steam hauled train in Northern Ireland in the early 2000s (decade). These are normally based at the RPSI's Whitehead depot, as well as being steam hauled they are also occasionally hired out for diesel hauled railtours. They also have some ex-NIR and ex-CIE Mk2 stock, some of which formerly operated on the Dublin to Belfast Enterprise service.

The RPSI bought the withdrawn Gatwick Express Mk2 coaches and generator van from NIR, which are currently (2016) in store at Dundalk and Lisburn. They will be used to augment and to replace some of the RPSI's current Mk2 fleet that work out of Whitehead.

Republic of Ireland

In 1972 CIÉ placed an order with BREL for 72 coaches based on the Mark 2D. With air conditioning as a principal feature they became known as "AC Stock" and ran on type B4 bogies, with vacuum brakes. The order consisted of six First Class coaches (5101–5106), nine Composites (5151–5159), 36 Standard Class (5201–5236), eleven Restaurant/Buffet Standard Class (5401–5411) and eleven Generator Vans (5601–5611). Internal fit-out was done in Inchicore, and was quite different from the original BR design, using bench seating rather than individual seats and with extensive use of wood veneer panelling.

Their electrical system differed from the BR and NIR versions. The generator van contained two engine/generator sets, each supplying 220/380 V 50 Hz AC to two separate electrical buses in the train. The air conditioning loads were divided in half, each half fed from a separate bus. In the case of failure of one generator set, the other set automatically supplies both buses. Air conditioning output power would then be halved, but all other loads including cooking, lighting and battery charging would continue to be supplied. This later remained the model for the electrical power supply on all subsequent IE coaches.

To accommodate changes in traffic, five of the Composites (5153–5156, 5158) were re-classed as Standards, and Restaurant/Buffet Standard 5408 was converted for use as the Presidential Coach.

An Iarnród Éireann Mark 2D at Limerick Colbert Station in 2006

Iarnród Éireann purchased fifteen carriages from a UK scrap dealer during 1989, in exchange for a similar number of scrap diesel locomotives. Older Mark 2A/B/C carriages were scrapped in 2004, as they were heavily corroded. A few were preserved (minus bogies) at certain heritage railways in Ireland.

The remaining Mark 2 carriages (the 1972 vintage Mk2d sets) were phased out during 2007 and 2008, with the last set operating its final service, the 0505 Athlone–Heuston, on 31 March 2008. Two of these coaches, 5106 and 5203, were preserved by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland. The Presidential Coach, 5408, has also been preserved by the RPSI.

New Zealand

The ex-British Rail Mark 2 Capital Connection set on an excursion hauled by WAB 794 in the North Island of New Zealand.

New Zealand operates 140 refurbished former Mark 2D, 2E, and 2F First Open and Tourist Standard Open carriages on its railway lines. The first 16 were exported in January 1997.[7][8] Although New Zealand railway lines have a narrower rail gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in), the country has a similar loading gauge, allowing regauged BR carriages to run on most lines. The first carriages were imported in 1996 by then rail operator Tranz Rail and heritage operator Mainline Steam. The first seven refurbished carriages entered regular service on 15 November 1999, on the Capital Connection service between Palmerston North and Wellington.

Today, the former BR carriages run virtually all carriage regional commuter services. Most of them (104) operate in Auckland, classified SA (81) and SD (23), in push-pull commuter trains, with three to five SA carriages, a SD driving carriage (similar to the original Mark 2 DBSOs), and a DC class (four- and five-car) or DFT class (six-car) diesel-electric locomotive. Other BR Mark 2 carriages operate on the Capital Connection (8× S class), and the Wairarapa Connection between Masterton and Wellington (18× SW class). There are also 6 SE class carriages, which were used with electric locomotives on Wellington commuter services between 2008 and 2011 as a temporary measure until new EMUs were delivered. The carriages were reassigned to the Wairarapa Connection in June 2013, where peak service patronage was starting to exceed the capacity of the SW carriage fleet. Mainline Steam also own four refurbished carriages, classified ML, which are based in Plimmerton (north of Wellington) and are used for its steam-hauled excursions.

All New Zealand Mark 2 carriages retain their original BR running numbers.

Taiwan (Republic of China)

Following a decision to electrify Taiwan's busy West Coast Main Line, thirteen 5 car electric multiple units based on the Mark 2 design were built by BREL in York for the Taiwan Railway Administration in 1976, but following problems with the electrical equipment and excessive weight could not enter service until 1979 following the completion of remedial works. They used GEC electrical equipment and were built for 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) track gauge. They were used on the Tze-Chiang Limited Express service. They were withdrawn from service in 2009.


Carriages based on the Mark 2 design were built by BREL for the Kenya Railways Corporation in the late 1970s.[9]

Numbers built (BR stock)

mark type quantity original numbers
mk.2 Pullman Kitchen First (PK) 8 500–507
mk.2 Pullman Parlour First (PC) 14 540–553
mk.2 Pullman Brake First (PB) 7 580–586
mk.2C Open First (FO) 18 3152–3169
mk.2D Open First (FO) 47 3170–3216
mk.2E Open First (FO) 55 3221–3275
mk.2F Open First (FO) 164 3276–3439
mk.2 Tourist Open Second (TSO) 59 5070–5228
mk.2 Open Second (SO) 28 5229–5256
mk.2A Tourist Open Second (TSO) 177 5257–5433
mk.2B Tourist Open Second (TSO) 64 5434–5497
mk.2C Tourist Open Second (TSO) 118 5498–5615
mk.2D Tourist Open Second (TSO) 128 5616–5743
mk.2E Tourist Open Second (TSO) 160 5744–5804, 5809–5907
mk.2F Tourist Open Second (TSO) 277 5908–6184
mk.2 Open Brake Second (BSO) 36 9381–9416
mk.2A Open Brake Second (BSO) 22 9417–9438
mk.2C Open Brake Second (BSO) 40 9439–9478
mk.2D Open Brake Second (BSO) 17 9479–9495
mk.2E Open Brake Second (BSO) 14 9496–9509
mk.2F Open Brake Second (BSO) 30 9510–9539
mk.2 Corridor First (FK) 71 13252, 13361–13406, 13410–13433
mk.2A Corridor First (FK) 42 13434–13475
mk.2B Corridor First (FK) 38 13476–13513
mk.2C Corridor First (FK) 48 13514–13561
mk.2D Corridor First (FK) 49 13562–13610
mk.2 Corridor Brake First (BFK) 28 14028–14055
mk.2A Corridor Brake First (BFK) 48 14056–14103
mk.2B Corridor Brake First (BFK) 9 14104–14112
mk.2C Corridor Brake First (BFK) 26 14113–14138
mk.2D Corridor Brake First (BFK) 34 14139–14172


OO gauge

Over the years the British Railways Mark 2 design has been manufactured by many of the British model railway manufacturers.

Hornby introduced Mk.2 BFK and TSO models in the late 1960s and these have remained in production intermittently ever since, sometimes being used to represent coaches of later variants (such as the Mk.2B BFK in the Royal Train). In 2013 (for the 2014 range) Hornby announced that it would produce the Mk2E variant. These are re-tooled versions and will be available in both their main range and their RailRoad range. Some from the main range will have interior lighting. Hornby are making 3 versions of the Mk2E i.e. FO, TSO and BSO.

Airfix introduced Mk.2D BSO, FO and TSO models in the late 1970s, these going on to be produced by successors Mainline, Dapol and ultimately Hornby. The Airfix Mk.2D was a high quality model for its day, being more accurately detailed than most contemporary products, and it is still being produced by Hornby.

Lima produced Mk.2B BFK, FK and TSO and mk.2E FO and TSO models. These were approximately 1 cm under scale length, and have not been produced since the Lima business was taken over by Hornby.

Bachmann introduced Mk.2 and Mk.2A BFK, BSO, FK and TSO models in the early 2000s, these being more detailed than the various older models. Bachmann have also announced new Mk.2F BSO, DBSO, FO, RFB and TSO models for production in 2013-14.

N gauge

Graham Farish produce Mk.2F BSO, FO, RFB and TSO models and have announced upgraded models including a DBSO for 2013-14. Mk.2A BSO, FK and TSO models were announced in 2012-13.


  1. "999550 - New Measurement Train High Speed Track Recording coach". 20 July 2009.
  2. DRS hauls passenger service for Abellio Greater Anglia Direct Rail Services 12 August 2014
  3. "ScotRail Mk2s move to Mothwell" Rail Magazine issue 772 15 April 2015 page 28
  4. "Refurbished Mk2s ready to start work in Cumbria" Rail Magazine issue 726 10 July 2014 page 30
  5. "Cumbrian top and tail 37s phased out" Rail Magazine issue 780 5 August 2015 page 22
  6. "Gex Mk2s sold to Northern Ireland Railways for £1m" Rail Magazine issue 403 21 February 2001 page 53
  7. "Sixteen coaches ready for export to New Zealand 1/97" Rail Magazine issue 298 February 1997 page 62
  8. "Export Mk2 for New Zealand start their journey down under" The Railway Magazine issue 1152 April 1997 page 60
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