British Rail Class 315

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British Rail Class 315
315858 at Romford.jpg
315858 in One livery at Romford
315830 D Interior.JPG
The refurbished interior of a Class 315
In service 1980 - present
Manufacturer BREL York
Family name BREL 1972 "PEP"
Constructed 1980 - 1981
Refurbishment All 61 sets 2004 - 2008[1]
Bombardier Derby
Number built 61 sets
Formation 4 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers 315801 - 315861
Capacity 318 seats
Operator Abellio Greater Anglia
Car length 19.80 m (65 ft 0 in)
Width 2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)
Height 3.58 m (11 ft 9 in)
Maximum speed 75 mph (121 km/h)
Weight 127.5 tonnes (125.5 long tons; 140.5 short tons)
Power output 656 kW (880 hp)
Electric system(s) 25 kV AC Overhead
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

British Rail Class 315 alternating current (AC) electric multiple units (EMU) were built by BREL York works from 1980 to 1981. They were the fifth and final variety of British Rail's then-standard 1972 design for suburban EMUs, which eventually encompassed 755 vehicles and five Classes (Class 313/314/315/507/508). Like the Glasgow-based Class 314 units, they are only able to operate from the 25 kV overhead line. The fleet works inner-suburban services on the Great Eastern Main Line and the Lea Valley Lines run by the train operating company Abellio Greater Anglia out of London Liverpool Street.


315808 in the original British Rail blue and grey livery, with the addition of the Network SouthEast logo at Liverpool Street
West Anglia Great Northern liveried 315857 at Cheshunt in July 2004, in a non-standard livery promoting Hertfordshire transport partnership Intalink
Refurbished 315857 at White Hart Lane

Each Class 315 unit is formed of four vehicles, some vehicles are attached to another set of four vehicles to make 8 vehicles and some maybe attached to another four to make 12 vehicles on long distance journeys, such as ones to Southend Victoria or Southminster (Greater Anglia). The vehicles include: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO), Pantograph Trailer Standard Open (PTSO), Trailer Standard Open (TSO), and Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO). Each DMSO carries four traction motors (315801-841 originally had Brush TM61-53 and 315842-861 had GEC G310AZ but these motors are interchangeable and nowadays any type can be found on any unit) rated at 110hp each and a main compressor and air reservoir which carries air for the brakes and suspension. The door system which was pneumatic has been replaced by an all electric door system. The PTSO carries the main and auxiliary transformers, batteries and battery charger, Stone Faiveley AMBR Mk.1 pantograph, vacuum circuit breaker and auxiliary compressor. The TSO carries no equipment other than that which is standard to all coaches.

The coaches only contain standard seating and have no toilet facilities. Car numbering is as follows:

  • 64461-64582 - DMSO
  • 71281-71341 - PTSO
  • 71389-71449 - TSO

Each 4-car set is able to seat 318 passengers.

A refurbishment programme commenced from mid-2004, when National Express East Anglia (then 'one' Railway) contracted Bombardier to carry out the refurbishment of all 61 units, starting with the ex-First Great Eastern examples. The low-back 3+2 seating is retained, so the capacity stays the same.[2]

The Class 315 units replaced the life-expired Class 306 units. They will be displaced from Shenfield Metro work as part of Crossrail, and from Lea Valley services after they are taken over by London Overground.

Current operations[edit]

Following the privatisation of British Rail, the Class 315s were divided between First Great Eastern (43 units) and West Anglia Great Northern (18 units). The leasing company HSBC Rail has owned the entire Class 315 fleet since privatisation, though it has since been renamed Eversholt Rail Group.[3]

From 1 April 2004, National Express East Anglia (NXEA) won the inaugural Greater Anglia rail franchise, which combined the previous operations of both First Great Eastern and WAGN, meaning the two Class 315 fleets were combined. The franchise was initially known as 'One' but was rebranded National Express East Anglia (NXEA) by its parent company, National Express Group in February 2008.[4]

The current operator of the 315s is Abellio Greater Anglia, which replaced National Express from February 2012. They are replacing the old livery on all of these trains and are refreshing the interiors to include a Passenger Information System and a flexible space for wheelchairs and cycles which includes tip-up seating and 'call to aid' buttons.[5]


The Class 315s operate local services out of London Liverpool Street to Shenfield (the popular Shenfield Metro service) on the Great Eastern Main Line and Cheshunt, Enfield Town and Chingford on the Lea Valley Lines. They are also seen on the Hertford East Branch Line and Upminster Branch Line between Romford and Upminster, a duty shared with Class 317s and Class 321s.

However a number of them can be found running further afield, running on the Great Eastern and West Anglia Main Lines at peak times only to Bishop's Stortford, Broxbourne, Southminster and Southend Victoria. They also cover for unavailable Class 360s, Class 321s or Class 90s on these services as often 315s are the only spare trains available. During National Express' operation of the franchise, it was rare for 315s to run beyond Shenfield, but since Abellio began running the railway, the practice has become more common. These units only run to Cambridge, Ely, Kings Lynn, Stansted Airport, Braintree, Colchester, Clacton-on-Sea, Walton-on-the-Naze, Harwich Town and Ipswich when the normal units used on these services are not available.

Initially, the Shenfield Metro and Upminster Branch Line services used only sets 315801-843 and the Lea Valley Lines only 315844-861, reflecting the allocations of the former franchises. All 61 sets are now used interchangeably, operating out of Ilford depot.


On 31 May 2015, the fleet will again be divided with 44 (315818-315861) moving to TfL Rail (MTR Crossrail) with the Shenfield Metro services[6] and the other 17 (315801-315817) to London Overground with the Lea Valley services.[7] As most duties of the 315s will be taken over by new Class 345 Aventra trains once Crossrail is built, it has been suggested that the 315s could be cascaded to the Wales and Borders passenger franchise to be used on Valley Lines services in the Cardiff area following electrification.[8][9]


Five Class 315 sets have now been named:

  • 315812 - "London Borough of Newham Host Borough 2012 Olympics Bid" (denamed)
  • 315817 - "Transport for London"
  • 315829 - "London Borough of Havering Celebrating 40 Years"
  • 315845 - "Herbie Woodward"
  • 315857 - "Stratford Connections"

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos.
Class 315 Abellio Greater Anglia 61 1980–1981 4 315801 - 315861


  1. ^ "News Desk". Railway Herald (125). 2008-03-21. p. 4. Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  2. ^ National Express invests in upgrade of class 315 fleet - National Express East Anglia. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  3. ^ Class 315 Electric Multiple Unit - Eversholt Rail Group. Retrieved 2013-12-24.
  4. ^ New brand, new name, new era - National Express Group. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  5. ^ First refurbished Class 315 units enter service - Greater Anglia. Retrieved 2013-12-24.
  6. ^ Franchise Agreement - Greater Anglia Department for Transport 21 July 2014
  7. ^ AGA to maintain 44 Class 315s until new 345s arrive Rail issue 746 16 April 2014 page 23
  8. ^ Haigh, Philip (19 March 2014). "Nationwide railway investment on an unprecedented scale". RAIL (744): 34–37. 
  9. ^ Ove Arup & Partners Ltd (June 2012). "Valley Lines Electrification - Outline Business Case - June 2012". pp. 4.4.1 – Rolling Stock & Table 4.2 – Proxy Rolling Stock Types.