British Rail Class 460

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British Rail Class 460 Juniper
460002 East Croydon.JPG
Gatwick Express 460002 at East Croydon in 2004
460002 Standard Class Interior.jpg
The interior of Standard Class aboard a Gatwick Express Class 460 EMU
In service2000 - 2012
Family nameJuniper
ReplacedClass 488
Class 489
Class 73
Constructed1999 – 2001
Number built8 sets
Formation8 carriages per trainset
Design code8-GAT
Fleet numbers460001 - 460008
(Gatwick Express)
Maximum speed100 mph (161 km/h)
Power output2,700 kW (3,620 hp)[1]
Electric system(s)750 V DC (third rail)
Current collection methodContact shoe
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

Class 460 (or 8Gat) was the designation of a fleet of 8-car electric multiple-unit passenger trains built by Alstom at Washwood Heath in 1999-2001. They were part of Alstom's "Juniper" family, which also includes the 334 and 458 classes.

From their introduction until the final units were withdrawn in September 2012, they operated Gatwick Express services between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport. All have since been converted to class 458/5 units (other than four surplus driving vehicles used as spares donors) for operation by South West Trains.


The interior of First Class aboard the Gatwick Express Class 460
Class 460 No. 460006 in Emirates livery

When National Express won the Gatwick Express franchise, part of the agreement was to replace the ageing Class 73/2 locomotives, British Rail Class 488 slam door coaching stock, and Class 489 motor luggage vans. Therefore, an order was placed with Alstom for the construction of eight Class 460 units.[1]

Deliveries of the new units began in 2000. The units featured sloping cab-ends, which earned them the nickname Darth Vaders among rail enthusiasts.[2] A Juniper coupler is located under the removable nose cone although only intended for emergency use.

Each 8-car unit was formed of a driving motor luggage van, two intermediate 1st-class/composite trailers, two intermediate 2nd-class motor carriages, an intermediate 2nd-class trailer, another 2nd-class motor carriage, and a 2nd-class driving motor (DMLFO+TFO+TCO+MSO+MSO+TSO+MSO+DMSO).[1][3]

They were mechanically similar to the Class 458s operated by South West Trains, but the "Darth Vader" nose cones on the Class 460s look very different from the Class 458s' flat cab fronts. The windows in the doors on the Class 460 were also smaller than on the Class 458.

On 22 June 2008 the fleet was transferred to Southern when the Gatwick Express franchise was incorporated into the Southern franchise.[4]

From December 2010 the Class 460s were gradually withdrawn from service in favour of refurbished Class 442s, with the final units going off lease in September 2012. The Class 460s were allocated to Stewarts Lane Depot.

Converted to Class 458/5[edit]

See also: British Rail Class 458 § Lengthening to form Class 458/5

A Class 458/5 which has been converted from a Class 460 at Clapham Junction

On 23 December 2011 the Department for Transport announced that the Class 460s would be split up and sixty carriages rebuilt to be incorporated with South West Trains' one hundred and twenty Class 458 carriages (30 4-car units), resulting in 36 five-car Class 458/5 sets. The remaining four carriages were stripped for spares and then scrapped. This £42m scheme was devised by Porterbrook the owner of both fleets.[5] The new 5-car sets were designated Class 458/5 and coupled together to form 10-car trains to provide extra peak capacity on suburban services into London Waterloo.[6][7]

Porterbrook signed the deal with South West Trains in January 2012.[8] The work was carried out by Wabtec's Doncaster Works and Brush Traction, Loughborough (Drive vehicles) on behalf of original builder Alstom.

The first two of the 5-car sets were delivered in October 2013, and underwent testing ahead of the introduction of the first 10-car train into service in December 2013. Passenger service started in March 2014.[9][10]

It involved replacing the existing retractable gangways and couplers between coaches. The cab ends both on Class 458 and on Class 460 driving vehicles were redesigned to be compatible with the Class 450 Desiro fleet. The "Darth Vader" nose cones were discarded. New Train Management System software was installed to improve reliability. Internal refurbishment included reconfiguring the seating layout to provide more standing room for passengers.[5]

Traction units on the Class 460 vehicles were to be re-geared from 100 mph (161 km/h) maximum, not required on the services for which the trains will be used, to 75 mph (121 km/h) maximum to avoid overheating. Automatic Selective Door Opening was installed for use at a few suburban stations where it is not practicable to lengthen platforms.[5]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 460 Southern
(Gatwick Express)
8 1999-01 8 460001 - 460008 Withdrawn for conversion to Class 458/5. (2012-2014)

The formation of the 8Gat unit is shown below. In normal circumstances, the luggage van (DMLFO) was at the 'London' end of the train (i.e. closest to the concourse at London Victoria).

460001 67901 74401 74411 74421 74431 74441 74451 67911
460002 67902 74402 74412 74422 74432 74442 74452 67912
460003 67903 74403 74413 74423 74433 74443 74453 67913
460004 67904 74404 74414 74424 74434 74444 74454 67914
460005 67905 74405 74415 74425 74435 74445 74455 67915
460006 67906 74406 74416 74426 74436 74446 74456 67916
460007 67907 74407 74417 74427 74437 74447 74457 67917
460008 67908 74408 74418 74428 74438 74448 74458 67918

Class 460 Gatwick Express Diagram.PNG


  1. ^ a b c Class 460 Gatwick Express - Southern E-Group - Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  2. ^ "Unwanted, unreliable - but these trains are the answer". Railnews. 20 April 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  3. ^ Other Juniper EMUs Archived 14 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine - Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  4. ^ "Gatwick Express service to remain". BBC News. 4 April 2007. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  5. ^ a b c Walmsley, Ian (February 2012). "Junipers United: Darth Vader goes suburban". Modern Railways. London. p. 40.
  6. ^ "£42m for longer Waterloo trains". Rail. Peterborough. 11 January 2012. p. 7.
  7. ^ "London commuters to benefit from longer peak time trains" (Press release). South West Trains. 23 December 2011. Archived from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  8. ^ "Porterbrook signs agreement for the future of Class 458s" (Press release). Porterbrook. 3 January 2012. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012.
  9. ^ "South West Trains prepares to introduce longer trains". Railway Gazette. London. 23 October 2013.
  10. ^ "Improving Your Railway - Longer Trains". South West Trains. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • West, Lee (2–15 December 1998). "'Darth Vader' look as Alstom's first Gatwick Juniper vehicle is unveiled". Rail. No. 345. EMAP Apex Publications. p. 14. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.