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British Rail Class 455

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British Rail Class 455
455905 455853 D London Waterloo.JPG
A pair of South West Trains 455905 and 455853 at London Waterloo in 2014
Guildford railway station MMB 16 455863.jpg
Interior of a South West Trains Class 455
In service1982–present
ManufacturerBREL York
Family nameBR Second Generation (Mark 3)
BREL 1972 "PEP" (Class 455/7 intermediate)
ReplacedClass 405
Class 415
Class 508
Number built505 carriages + 43 from 508 sets
Number in service137 sets
Formation4 cars per set
Capacity316 seats (as built)
272 seats (South Western Railway)
307 seats (Southern)
South Western Railway
Network SouthEast
Network SouthCentral
Connex South Central
South West Trains
Train length81.16 m (266 ft 3 14 in)
Car length19.83 m (65 ft 34 in)
Width2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)
Maximum speed75 mph (121 km/h)
Weight135.95 tonnes (133.80 long tons; 149.86 short tons)
Electric system(s)750 V DC third rail
Current collection methodContact shoe
Braking system(s)Air (Westcode)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 455 is an electric multiple-unit passenger train built by BREL York in the early to mid 1980s. They are operated on suburban services in South East England by South Western Railway and Southern.

The SR-style classification 4HIT (HIgh density, Tightlock coupling[1]) was proposed for the class, but was rarely if ever used.[2]


The Class 455 was originally to be classified as the 510 class, at which point they were planned as a 750 V DC version of the Class 317. However, as the chopper control system at the time was not considered robust enough for the electrically rougher third rail Southern Region, they were fitted with second-hand camshaft control systems and thus classified as the 455 class.[3]

A total of 505 carriages were built by British Rail Engineering Limited's Holgate Road carriage works and together with 43 existing trailers from Class 508s, formed 137 four-car sets. The 455s allowed the Class 405 and Class 415 to be withdrawn, as well as allowing the Class 508s to be transferred to the Merseyside network for which they were originally intended. They also allowed other stock to be cascaded to the North London and Oxted lines.[3]

There were three batches of Class 455s, all consisting of four cars: driving carriages at each end, an intermediate trailer vehicle and an intermediate motorised vehicle (powered by four EE507-20J of 185 kW carried on the bogies of the MSO vehicle, some recovered from Class 405s), all originally built to the standard class 3+2 seating arrangement with 316 seats. Technically, they are formed DTSO+MSO+TSO+DTSO.[4] They have the same bodyshell as the Class 317 and Class 318, but as they were designed for inner suburban services they do not feature first class seating, air conditioning or toilet facilities and are restricted to 75 mph (121 km/h).[5] Like the Class 317/318, as well as the diesel Class 150, they are based on the British Rail Mark 3, with a steel construction, unlike the earlier PEP based Class 313, Class 314, Class 315, Class 507 and Class 508, which had an aluminium alloy body.[5]

Class 455/8[edit]

The Class 455/8s were built between 1982 and 1984. These include all 46 Southern units (allocated to Stewarts Lane depot) and 28 allocated to South Western Railway (at Wimbledon depot).[5][6]

Class 455/7[edit]

The Class 455/7s were built in 1984/85. There are 43 four-car units, all allocated to South Western Railway at Wimbledon depot. They differ from the 455/8s in having a revised front end (air horns relocated next to the coupler and revised headlamp clusters) that was later used on the Class 317/2 and Class 318.[7]

The 455/7s are easily distinguished from 455/8s as each TSO car is taken from a Class 508 and has a noticeably different profile.[8] The Class 508s transferred to Merseyrail were originally four-carriage trains but were reduced to three cars when transferred.[8]

Class 455/9[edit]

The Class 455/9s were built in 1985. These 20 units are all allocated to South Western Railway at Wimbledon depot.[9] These are similar to the 455/7s, except that they had new-build TSOs;[9] except for 455912, which has a TSO formerly part of the prototype Class 210 DEMU (which also had the same bodyshell). 455913's MSO 67301 was formerly a Class 210 driving vehicle, with the one good end of damaged vehicle 62838 mated with the former cab end. The rest of 62838 was scrapped.[10][11]


British Rail[edit]

Network SouthEast Class 455/8 5856 approaching Waterloo

Deliveries commenced in 1982 to Strawberry Hill.[12] On 16 November 1982, 455805 was unveiled to the press at Waterloo station. The first entered service on 28 March 1983. All were initially allocated to Wimbledon depot working services on the Central and South Western divisions. The Central Division 455/8s were transferred to Selhurst in 1986 after modifications to the depot were completed. All were delivered in British Rail blue and white livery; it had been anticipated that some or all 455/9s would be painted in a green variant of the 'Jaffa Cake' London & SouthEast livery, but this was overruled by the BR Design Panel[13][14]. From 1986 all 455s were progressively repainted in Network SouthEast white, blue and red livery. In May 1991, 455743 was renumbered 455750 and renamed Wimbledon Traincare depot in recognition of the depot obtaining BS5750 quality services accreditation.[3]

In April 1994 in the lead up to the privatisation of British Rail, 455801-455846 were allocated to the Network SouthCentral shadow franchise and sold to Eversholt.[4] The remainder were allocated to the South West Trains shadow franchise and sold to Porterbrook.[3][15]

South West Trains / South Western Railway[edit]

South West Trains refurbished Class 455/7 at Clapham Junction
Interior of a former Class 508 trailer from a South West Trains refurbished Class 455/7

In February 1996, all South Western division 455s were transferred to South West Trains (SWT). From September 1996, SWT began to modify the Network SouthEast livery with a Stagecoach orange brand added. In November 2004, SWT took delivery of the first unit refurbished by Bombardier, Ashford.[16] The work involved the replacement of the seats with high back Grammar seats as fitted to the Class 450 in 2+2 configuration, the doorways have modified so that the sliding doors can open further, and a predominantly red livery being adopted.[17] The last was completed in March 2008.[18]

In April 2013 it was announced that the SWT units would be fitted with new traction equipment provided by Vossloh Kiepe. As part of the re-powering of the fleet, the air operated camshaft and electrical resistance grids will be removed, as well as the EE507 traction motors. The new equipment consists of DC to AC inverters of the Insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) type.[19] This is needed as the replacement traction motors are AC rather than DC.[20][21][22][23]

Fitting new traction equipment both improves Miles per Breakdown values and overall reduces operating and maintenance costs.[20] As the trains will therefore be in the depot less, it will allow South West Trains to acquire additional rolling stock without the need to build a new depot.[24]

A manufacturing defect in the new traction equipment has caused three failures in service and five under test. Two of the failures in service involved unit 5726, the other involved unit 5901.[25] In the most serious incident, on 7 July 2017, fragments, described as "quite sizeable" by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, were scattered across platforms and an adjacent car park at Guildford station.[26]

All units passed to South Western Railway with the South Western franchise change in August 2017. Despite recent upgrades to the units, South Western Railway will replace the fleet with Class 701 Aventra units by December 2019.[27]

The South Western Railway units are used on most London commuter rail routes from London Waterloo to South West London and neighbouring areas.[28]

Connex South Central / Southern[edit]

455816 in Southern livery at Clapham Junction
Interior of a Southern refurbished Class 455/8

In January 1997, the Network SouthCentral shadow franchise was taken over by Connex South Central with 455801-455846. Between November 1999 and August 2001, 16 were repainted in Connex's white and yellow livery. In August 2002, the franchise passed to Southern with all 46 transferred. Some were repainted in Southern's white and green livery. Between February 2004 and February 2006, all were refurbished by Alstom, Eastleigh. New 3+2 high back seating as fitted to the Class 377 and the removal of cab end gangways to facilitate the installation of driver's air-conditioning were notable features.[29][30][31][32][33][34]

A refresh programme started for the Southern units in June 2012. This included a repaint and interior changes, such as changes to the grab rails on the top between each door. 455808 was the first completed, followed by 455812 in August 2012. The project was completed in December 2014, 455801 being the last unit.[35][36]

Another refresh programme begun in January 2018 for the 455s to become compliant with the PRM 2020 specifications with 455816 being the first one completed.[37]

Southern Class 455 units are used on inner and outer suburban services out of London Victoria and London Bridge to destinations in South London and Surrey.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 18 February 1990, unit 5820 collided with a fallen tree obstructing the line at Gipsy Hill and was derailed. Unit 5802 then collided with 5820.[38]
  • 2010 Oxshott rail accident: On 5 November 2010, a concrete mixer went over the edge of a bridge over the railway line near Oxshott station, landing on the 15:05 South West Trains service from Guildford to London Waterloo.[39] The train was formed of two Class 455 units, 455741 and 455913.[40] The end of the roof of the sixth carriage was severely crushed. Further damage was sustained to the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth carriages, with the latter being derailed at its trailing bogie, although the train remained upright. The lorry driver and one passenger suffered serious injuries; a further five passengers suffered minor injuries.[41] Unit 455913 was repaired at Wolverton railway works and returned to service in July 2013. It has been fitted with an ex Class 210 driving vehicle which has been converted to an intermediate vehicle whilst retaining its existing number of 67301. Original vehicle 62838 was damaged beyond repair in the accident and was scrapped.[42][43]
  • On 7 July 2017, an explosion occurred in and underframe equipment case of unit 5901 at Guildford station. Debris was thrown up to 230 feet (70 m) away. No injuries occurred. The cause of the explosion was a faulty capacitor which had been fitted when the units' electrical equipment was upgraded.[25]
  • On 15 August 2017, two Class 455 units formed part of a train with Class 456 unit 456 015 which was derailed at London Waterloo. The cause of the accident was errors made in the wiring of the signalling during work to increase capacity at Waterloo. Neither of the Class 455 units was damaged.[44]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator Number of Trains Built Cars per Set Unit numbers
Class 455/7[7] South Western Railway 43 1984–1985 4 455701 - 455742, 455750
Class 455/8[6] Southern 46 1982–1984 455801 - 455846
South Western Railway 28 455847 - 455874
Class 455/9[9] 20 1985 455901 - 455920

Livery Diagrams[edit]

455/8 in British Rail livery, 1982 - 1986
455/8 in Network SouthEast livery, 1986 - 1996
455/8 in original South West Trains livery, 1996 - 2004
455/8 in Connex South Central livery, 1996 - 2001
455/7 in South West Trains livery, 2004 - 2017
455/8 in Southern livery, 2001 - present
455/9 in South Western Railway transitional livery, 2017 - present


  1. ^ "Regional Review". Live Rail. Southern Electric Group. December 1982. p. 180. ISSN 0142-7326.
  2. ^ "Editor's Note". Live Rail. Southern Electric Group. April 1983. p. 231. ISSN 0142-7326.
  3. ^ a b c d "Class 455s: suburban workhorses" Today's Railways issue 66 June 2007 pages 48-55
  4. ^ a b Class 455 Electric Multiple Unit Eversholt Rail
  5. ^ a b c Llewelyn, Hugh (2016). EMUs: A History. Amberley Publishing Limited.
  6. ^ a b "Southern's 'Lean' Machine". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b "THE SIDING || 5868 & 5714 Waterloo 21-Oct-2003". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  8. ^ a b Class 455 2 Page. - Southern E-Group. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  9. ^ a b c ATOC Rolling Stock Requirements 2014-2019 (PDF). Association of Train Operating Companies. 2014. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Reshelling a 455". Rail Engineer. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Class 455 returns to South West Trains". Railways Illustrated. June 2013.
  12. ^ "Class 455 EMUs ready in March" Railway Gazette International March 1983 page 46
  13. ^ "Regional Review". Live Rail. Southern Electric Group. April 1985. p. 246. ISSN 0142-7326.
  14. ^ "Regional Review". Live Rail. Southern Electric Group. June 1985. p. 281. ISSN 0142-7326.
  15. ^ Class 455 - South West Trains Porterbrook
  16. ^ "SWT receives first overhauled 455" Rail Magazine issue 501 24 November 2004 page 26
  17. ^ Class 455 suburban EMU refurbished Railway Gazette International January 2005
  18. ^ "Final SWT 455 Class 455 returns" Rail Magazine issue 589 9 April 2008 page 62
  19. ^ Big order for Vossloh Kiepe UK Vossloh Kiepe June 2013
  20. ^ a b "South West Trains EMUs to get AC traction equipment". Railway Gazette International. London. 15 April 2013.
  21. ^ "New traction package fitted to first 455" Today's Railways July 2015 page 65
  22. ^ "DC to AC Switch for SWT 455s" Railways Illustrated issue 150 August 2015 page 10
  23. ^ "First AC traction Class 455s enter traffic with SWT" Rail Magazine issue 799 27 April 2016 page 30
  24. ^ UK, DVV Media. "South West Trains EMUs to get AC traction equipment". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  25. ^ a b "Explosion in an underframe equipment case at Guildford 7 July 2017" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  26. ^ "Rail experts probe South West Trains blasts after upgrade". BBC News. 25 July 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  27. ^ FirstGroup and MTR order 750 EMU cars for South Western franchise International Railway Journal 20 June 2017
  28. ^ Waterloo Station Through Time Revised Edition. Amberley Publishing Limited. 2015. ISBN 9781445650852.
  29. ^ "South Central 455 fleet to receive £20m upgrade" Rail Magazine issue 460 30 April 2003 page 4
  30. ^ "South Central to refurbish Class 455 fleet" Entrain issue 19 July 2003 page 47
  31. ^ "South Central upgrades 455s" Rail Magazine issue 479 21 January 2004 page 24
  32. ^ "First SouthCentral refurbished Class 455s re-enter service" The Railway Magazine issue 1238 June 2004 page 67
  33. ^ "Last Southern 455 leaves Eastleigh" Rail Magazine issue 537 12 April 2006 page 22
  34. ^ "Southern 455 Overhaul Latest" Railways Illustrated volume 4 issue 5 May 2006
  35. ^ "Southern completes its £7m diesel fleet refresh". Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016. Southern continues with its £9m refresh of its 46 Class 455 4-car trains which is due to be completed by December.
  36. ^ "Latest 455 is released" Railways Illustrated December 2013
  37. ^
  38. ^ McCrickard, John P (6 October 2016). "January 1990 to December 1990". Network South East Railway Society. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  39. ^ "Several injured as lorry falls on to a train". BBC News. 5 November 2010.
  40. ^ Clinnick, Richard (17 November 2010). "Lorry lands on train after plunging through bridge". Rail (657). Peterborough. pp. 6–7.
  41. ^ "Investigation into an accident involving a heavy goods vehicle and a train near Oxshott, Surrey, on 5 November 2010". Rail Accidents Investigation Branch. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  42. ^ "No Claims bonus lost as lorry accident causes £1.6m train repair bill |". Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  43. ^ "Repairs to 5913 completed" Today's Railways issue 138 June 2013 page 66
  44. ^ "Collision at London Waterloo, 15 August 2017" (PDF). Paragraph 24: Rail Accident investigation Branch. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 20 November 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to British Rail Class 455 at Wikimedia Commons