British Rail Class 438

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British Rail Class 438 (4-TC)
Weymouth Quay railway station 1986.jpg
Class 438 unit at Weymouth Quay
In service 1966–1988
Manufacturer BR/BREL York
Family name BR Mark 1 EMU
Number built 34 sets, 1 spare DTSO
Formation 4 car sets - DTSO-TFK-TBSK-DTSO
Fleet numbers 401–434, later 8001–8034
Capacity 42 First, 160 Standard
Operator British Rail
Depot(s) Bournemouth TMD
Specifications
Car length DTSO: 19.70 m (64 ft 8 in)
TFK/TBSK: 19.65 m (64 ft 6 in)
Width 2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)
Maximum speed 90 miles per hour (145 km/h)
Weight DTSO: 32.5 tonnes (32.0 long tons; 35.8 short tons)
TFK: 35.4 tonnes (34.8 long tons; 39.0 short tons)
TBSK: 33.6 tonnes (33.1 long tons; 37.0 short tons)
Total: 134 tonnes (132 long tons; 148 short tons)
Train heating Electric train heating
Bogies B5
Braking system(s) Air (EP/Auto)
Safety system(s) AWS
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

The British Rail TC (Trailer Control) multiple units were un-powered fixed formations of 3 or 4 carriages with a driving position at each end of the set, converted by BR at York Works from locomotive-hauled Mark 1 carriages in 1966-1967 and 1974. The units built on experience gained from the prototype 6TC unit. In time the 3 car units (3TC, numbered in the series 3xx) were reformed into four car units (4TC numbered in the series 4xx) to match the rest of the fleet and later classified as Class 442. This was later changed to Class 491, under which they spent the majority of their working lives. Shortly before withdrawal they were reclassified Class 438 and the units were renumbered to 8001-8034.

Operation[edit]

The units were primarily employed on services between London Waterloo and Weymouth. One or two 4TC units would be propelled from London to Bournemouth by a 3200 HP 4REP unit, controlled from the leading cab. At Bournemouth, one or both 4TCs would continue over the un-electrified line to Weymouth, hauled by a Class 33/1 diesel locomotive, leaving the 4REP at the London end of Bournemouth station. Up trains from Weymouth would follow the same procedure in reverse: the Class 33/1 locomotive would propel its train to Bournemouth (controlled from the 4TC leading cab). There the 4TCs would couple to the waiting 4REP which would then power the whole formation to London, leaving the Class 33/1 locomotive at Bournemouth to await the next such service. 4TC units were occasionally seen on other duties such Waterloo to Salisbury, the Clapham Junction to Kensington Olympia shuttle before that line was electrified and surplus units were also used on Sundays to operate Portsmouth Harbour to Reading direct services during the late 1970s & early 1980s. They were pressed into general service as needed, often deputising for electric trains when the power was switched off and occasionally on inter-regional Southern Region services. They ventured further afield on special duties or rail-tours, including Birmingham, Cardiff, Barnstaple/Meeth & Meldon Quarry. Until the closure of the Swanage branch, a small number of through 4TC workings to/from Waterloo were operated, also using class 33/1 locomotives in similar style to the Weymouth trains.

The spare DTSO number 76331 was equipped with a modernised interior - the seats were replaced with Inter-City style individual bucket seats (as used in the contemporary Mk2A/B/C carriages) and fluorescent lighting to match. This modified car was then placed into unit 417 from the early 1970s, and the displaced 76302 was kept spare at Bournemouth Traction Maintenance Depot. No general refurbishment was ever undertaken on the units and they ran with their original incandescent lighting until withdrawal. A feature of a journey in a 2x4TC/4REP train with the 4REP pushing, was severe jolting at station restarts; this upset many a hot drink over the years. This was particularly prevalent at stations on a descending gradient such as New Milton (down trains). There would be sometimes several jolts of varying intensity until the couplings were fully compressed. The Units were fitted with a motor-generator set for lighting supply and a single compressor; these drew power from the REP or loco through the ETH jumpers.

In 1986, two 4TC sets were temporarily converted to 4TCB (Trailer Control Buffet) by removing the TFK coaches and inserting buffet coaches from withdrawn 4REP units. They were designated as the class 492/8 and numbered set 802 and 807. This was in part to compensate for the loss of the Buffet in TC+REP formations as those units were withdrawn over a period of time for scrapping to give up their traction equipment for the new Mk3 based Wessex Electrics.

In December 1987, the two 4TCB sets and four other 4TC sets were converted to 4TCT (Trailer Control Trolley) sets. The buffet coaches in the 4TCB sets and TFK coaches in 4TC sets were replaced with TFK coaches from redundant 4TC sets modified to take catering trolleys. They were designated the class 438/1 and numbered sets 101-106.

Following the withdrawal of the 4REP units, three temporary 5TCB sets were formed in 1988 by inserting REP buffet cars into 4TC sets. They were also designated as the class 492/8 and numbered sets 804, 807 and 809.

On occasion class 33/0 locomotives were substituted for unavailable 33/1s; in this event the loco had to run-round at Weymouth and the starting bell/loudaphone system could not be used, the guard having to resort to the use of a green flag to start the train at station stops.

At the time that the Clapham Junction - Kensington Olympia service was being run by Network South East with Class 73 traction DTSO number 76327 was part equipped with a modernised interior. The driving end was fitted with 4CEP style windows, ceiling (with fluorescent lights and luggage racks but with 3+2 Class 319 seating.

Interior of refurbished end of 4TC coach 76327
A BR Class 73 in Intercity livery with part refurbished 4TC at Clapham Junction showing one window of non-refurbished section.

Description[edit]

The units were built in two batches. In the first batch, a total of 123 locomotive-hauled Mark 1 carriage were converted comprising 63 TSO to DTSO on Lot 30764, 32 BSK to TBSK on Lot 30765 and 28 FK to TFK on Lot 30766.

In the second batch, 14 locomotive-hauled carriages were rebuilt comprising 2 BSK to TBSK on Lot 30855, 6 FK to TFK on Lot 30856, and 6 TSO to DTSO on Lot 30857. This work included converting the three 3TC units to 4TC. The 1974 build units were fitted with double-glazed windows (except for the sliding toplights) as fitted to contemporary CIG/BIG stock. They also differed from the 1967 units in having the contemporary CIG/BIG style of seating throughout, as all coaches were new-build.

Individual vehicle numbering is shown in the table below.

Phase Class Type Unit Nos. DTSO TFK TBSK DTSO
Phase 1
(1966–67)
Class 491 4TC 401-428 76270, 76271-76323 (odd) 70844-70871 70812-70839 76332, 76272-76324 (even)
Class 492 3TC 301-303 76325-76329 (odd) - 70840-70842 76326-76330 (even)
Spare 76311 - 70843 -
Phase 2
(1974)
Class 491 4TC 429-431
(ex-3TC units)
- 71162-71164 - -
Class 491 4TC 432-434 76943-76947 (odd) 71165-71167 70843 (ex-spare),
71160-71161
76944-76948 (even)

Further use[edit]

Following withdrawal from passenger service, several vehicles were sold for further use with London Underground. They were used primarily for special excursions trains on the Metropolitan Line, hauled by either steam locomotives, or the preserved electric locomotive No. 12 "Sarah Siddons".

Details of the vehicles sold to London Underground are given below. For further information, see London Underground coaching stock.

4TC vehicles in use on the Metropolitan Line
Unit Number Type Phase DTSO TFK TBSK DTSO
302 430 8030 4TC Phase 2 - 71163 - -
412 8012 - 4TC Phase 1 - 70855 70823 -
413 8013 - 4TC Phase 1 - - 70824 -
415 8015 - 4TC Phase 1 76297 - - 76298
427 8027 - 4TC Phase 1 76322 - - -
428 8028 - 4TC Phase 1 76324 - - -

Six 4TC vehicles were formed into a test train in 1994 for use by Eurostar to test the third rail pick-ups for use by the Class 373 EMUs. This train consisted of two DTSOs, three TFKs and a TBSK, combined with a Class 73 locomotive and converted Class 33 Driving Van.[1]

Preserved set 417, running with only three coaches, and preserved class 33/1 33103 were hired to Silverlink for a short time in August 1999 for use on the North London Line.

Preservation[edit]

Two complete units and several other vehicles have been preserved. One of these, unit no. 417 (highlighted orange) was one of the final two units in service with British Rail. The unit (highlighted pink) was one of two used by London Underground, and will ultimately be based on the Swanage Railway, And the unit (highlighted blue) is used on the London Underground on special charters.

Details are given below.

Unit Number
(current in bold)
Type Phase DTSO TFK TBSK DTSO Livery Location Notes
401 8001 8010 - 4TC Phase 1 - - 70812 - BR Blue Dartmoor Railway Scrapped September 2009
404 8004 3169 3582 4TC Phase 1 76275 - - - Connex Privately owned Operated in 4Vep unit 3169/3582 between 1992-2004.
405 8005 - - 4TC Phase 1 76277 - - - Serco Railtest Dartmoor Railway Operated as DB 977335 in departmental service.
412 8012 8010 - 4TC Phase 1 - 70859 - - BR Blue Strathvithie railway station -
412 8012 "413" - 4TC Phase 1 - 70855 - - LT Maroon Midland Railway - Butterley Operated by London Underground 1992-2003. Now owned by the Swanage TC Group
413 8013 - - 70824 -
415 8015 76298 - - -
427 8027 - - - 76322
417 8017 - - 4TC Phase 1 76301 70860 70826 76302 BR Blue Dartmoor Railway TBSK 70826 was originally in unit 415.
428 8028 - - 4TC Phase 1 76297 71163 70823 76324 LT "Fake Wood" Vinyl London Underground Depot West Ruislip 76297 was originally in unit 415, 71163 was originally in unit 302 and 70823 was originally in unit 412

References[edit]

  • Marsden, Colin J. (1983). Southern Electric Multiple-Units 1948–1983. Shepperton, Surrey: Ian Allan Limited. pp. 73–84. ISBN 0-7110-1314-4.