British Rail Class 442
|British Rail Class 442 Wessex Electric|
|In service||1988–2007, 2008–|
|Built at||Derby Works|
|Family name||Mark 3-derived|
|Number built||24 trainsets|
|Number in service||24 trainsets|
|Formation||5 car set: DTS-TSO-MLC-TSW-DTS|
|Capacity||SWT: 266 standard, 50 first
GatEx: 322 standard, 24 first
|Car length||DTS - 23.15 m (75 ft 11.4 in)
TSO/TSW/MLC - 23 m (75 ft)
|Width||2.74 m (9 ft)|
|Height||3.81 m (12.5 ft)|
|Maximum speed||160 km/h (100 mph)|
|Weight||Trainset total 202.84 t (199.64 long tons; 223.59 short tons)|
|Traction system||4 x English Electric 546 of 300 kW (402.31 hp) each|
|Power output||1,200 kW (1,600 hp)|
|Power supply||Third rail electric|
|Electric system(s)||750V DC|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The British Rail Class 442 Wessex Electric (or 5WES) electrical multiple units were introduced in 1988 on the South Western Main Line from London Waterloo to Southampton Central, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth. Twenty-four of these 5-car units were built in 1988/89 by BREL at its Derby works. Their introduction coincided with the completion of electrification from Bournemouth to Weymouth. Post-privatisation, the entire fleet was operated by South West Trains up until February 2007, when the Class 442 services were replaced by Class 444 and Class 450 Desiros.
In 2008 Southern began refurbishing the units for the Gatwick Express service from Brighton to Gatwick Airport and London Victoria. The Southern refurbishment and overhaul programme meant by May 2011 the fleet had replaced all the Class 460 Juniper units, although 2 Class 460 Junipers were reinstated in October the same year.
The Class 442 Wessex Electric is based on the British Rail Mark 3 carriage bodyshell, and has a number of features which distinguish it from the slam-door units it replaced:
- Vehicle length is 23 m (75 ft), as opposed to 20 m (66 ft).
- All vehicles are air-conditioned, and have powered internal doors and external plug doors.
- Units consist of five vehicles, and operate as 5-car or 10-car trains, replacing 4-car units which operated as 4-, 8- or 12-car trains.
- Maximum permitted speed is 100 mph (160 km/h).
As was common on the British Rail Southern Region, many electrical components – including traction motors and electrical control gear – were salvaged from the Class 432 units they replaced. For this reason the older 4REP and 4TC units had to be withdrawn before their replacements were built.
The Class 442 "Wessex Electric" was one of the first types to make extensive use of plastics in construction, earning them the nickname among staff and rail enthusiasts of "Pigs" or "Piggies". When they were first introduced the units were plagued by minor technical failures, but they have subsequently become among the most reliable EMUs operating in the UK. Their generous accommodation made them some of the most luxurious long-distance commuter trains anywhere.
The increased top speed of the Class 442, combined with timetable changes, resulted in some minor journey time improvements, for example a non-stop service reaching Southampton Airport Parkway from London Waterloo in 58 minutes, over a journey of around 70 miles (110 km). The timetable change of December 2004 meant that the down non-stop train from London Waterloo took an hour to reach Winchester.
The units were initially used solely on the Weymouth line, but through the 1990s began to be used on the London Waterloo to Portsmouth direct line. Upon privatisation the whole fleet passed to the South West Trains franchise. Unit 442402 soon had an orange stripe added to its Network SouthEast livery, which looked very similar to Stagecoach Group's corporate image. From 1998 the units began to receive the new South West Trains Express livery of white, red and blue as they underwent overhaul at Crewe Works. Unit 442404 was the first to be so treated.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s the fleet continued to operate express services from London to Weymouth and Portsmouth. However in 2004, when the Class 444 "Desiro" trains had been brought into service, the "Wessex Electrics" were again used solely on the Weymouth line.
In early 2006 the fleet began to receive overhauls, with units emerging in a slightly revised livery which conformed with the Disability Discrimination Act. By January 2007 14 of the 24 units had received overhauls.
Withdrawal by South West Trains
Despite their recent overhauls, South West Trains withdrew the entire fleet in 2007. They replaced them by Class 444s, which were in turn replaced by Class 450s spare from the re-introduction of Class 458s into traffic after modifications to their destination displays.
The last class 442 Weymouth to London Waterloo operation was on 24 January 2007 with the final service on 3 February 2007. The lease expired on 4 February 2007 at 0200. The units were moved from Bournemouth Traincare Depot to Eastleigh Works for warm storage.
Leasing by Southern
Southern originally leased 17 of these units to operate the extended Gatwick Express service which began in December 2008. Originally some units were kept out of service for spare parts. In October 2008 unit 442414 became the first unit to be fully refurbished inside and out, 442412 and 442421 following shortly afterwards.
The new extended Gatwick Express service was introduced on 15 December 2008. The new service, operating Monday to Friday, comprises six services in the morning from Brighton and six services to Brighton in the evening with an additional service terminating at Haywards Heath.
In April 2009 Southern took an extra two units from Eastleigh Works to make up for the shortfall in units caused by their use on other services.
When Govia retained the Southern franchise, it was announced that the off-lease 442s would come back into use after mechanical overhaul as well as internal and external refurbishment. In turn, Southern began withdrawing its Class 460 units from service, with the last unit being withdrawn after the London 2012 Olympics.
Since 2012 the branding on the units has been modified to read simply 'Express' rather than 'Gatwick Express' to avoid passenger confusion when used on fast Brighton mainline services that do not call at Gatwick.
Units are numbered 442401–424 and are formed of two outer driving trailers, two intermediate trailers, and an intermediate motor vehicle. In accordance with Southern Region practice, the units only carried the last four digits of their unit numbers when in service with South West Trains. Units refurbished for Southern now carry the full six digits.
Individual vehicles are numbered as follows:
- 77382–77405 - DTS - Driving Trailer Standard (formerly DTFo (Driving Trailer First Semi-open) )
- 71818–71841 - TSO - Trailer Standard Open
- 62937–62960 - MLC - Motor Luggage Composite (formerly MBLS (Motor Buffet Lounge Standard) )
- 71842–71865 - TSW - Trailer Standard Wheelchair
- 77406–77429 - DTS - Driving Trailer Standard
The motor buffet vehicles were all modernised in a works programme at Crewe in 1997/98. At the same time units were repainted from their original Network SouthEast livery into South West Trains' Express livery. During 2006 South West Trains sent some units to Bombardier at Ilford, where the livery was modified to make it Disability Discrimination Act friendly; however, not all trains were modified as it was later announced that the trains were to be withdrawn from service. In 2008, units started to go to Wolverton works for refurbishment. The refurbishment included the removal of the buffet from the motor coach, all new seats, and the removal of first class from the front of the train to the motor coach. Door controls were also placed in the driving cabs so doors could be released and closed by the driver, although Gatwick Express intends on only using this for door release.
The description of this formation is DTS+TSO+MLC+TSW+DTS.
During the years of Network SouthEast and South West Trains various units have received names. Most of these were towns or places along the routes that they worked, but a few were for publicity purposes. When the South West Trains lease expired all nameplates were removed.
The complete fleet list is shown below, with details of vehicle numbers, former names and livery.
|Unit number||Former name
(Removed after the South
West Trains lease expired)
|Livery||Individual coach numbers||Date withdrawn
|442401||Beaulieu||Gatwick Express||77382||71818||62937||71842||77406||22 January 2007|
|442402||County of Hampshire||Gatwick Express||77383||71819||62938||71843||77407||16 February 2007|
|442403||The New Forest||Gatwick Express||77384||71820||62941||71844||77408||17 January 2007|
|442404||Borough of Woking||Gatwick Express||77385||71821||62939||71845||77409||15 January 2007|
|442405||City of Portsmouth||Gatwick Express||77386||71822||62944||71845||77410||15 February 2007|
|442406||Victory||Gatwick Express||77389||71823||62942||71847||77411||15 January 2007|
|442407||Thomas Hardy||Gatwick Express||77388||71824||62943||71848||77412||22 January 2007|
|442408||County of Dorset||Gatwick Express||77387||71825||62945||71849||77413||17 January 2007|
|442409||Bournemouth Orchestras||Gatwick Express||77390||71826||62946||71850||77414||12/01/2007|
|442410||Meridian Tonight||Gatwick Express||77391||71827||62948||71851||77415||24 January 2007|
|442411||The Railway Children||Gatwick Express||77392||71828||62940||71858||77422||29 January 2007|
|442412||Special Olympics||Gatwick Express||77393||71829||62947||71853||77417||12/02/2007|
|442414||Gatwick Express||77395||71831||62950||71855||77419||24 January 2007|
|442415||Mary Rose||Gatwick Express||77396||71832||62951||71856||77420||10/11/2006|
|442416||Mum in a Million 1997 - Doreen Scanlon||Gatwick Express||77397||71833||62952||71857||77421||31 December 2006|
|442417||Woking Homes||Gatwick Express||77398||71834||62953||71852||77416||19 January 2007|
|442418||Wessex Cancer Trust||Gatwick Express||77399||71835||62954||71859||77423||24 January 2007|
|442419||BBC South Today||Gatwick Express||77400||71836||62955||71860||77424||12/02/2007|
|442420||City of Southampton||Gatwick Express||77401||71837||62956||71861||77425||12/01/2007|
|442421||Gatwick Express||77402||71838||62957||71862||77426||26 January 2007|
|442422||Operation Overlord||Gatwick Express||77403||71839||62958||71863||77427||11/01/2007|
|442423||County of Surrey||Gatwick Express||77404||71840||62959||71864||77428||18 April 2007|
|442424||Gerry Newson||Gatwick Express||77405||71841||62960||71865||77429||22 January 2007|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to British Rail Class 442.|
- Hentis-rail - Tribute to the Wessex Electrics
- "More trains arriving on busy rail routes" (Press release). Department for Transport. 4 April 2007. "Extra carriages for the service will be provided by Southern probably leasing some of the class 442 fleet which is currently not in use."
- "Gatwick service benefits Brighton" BBC News. 14 December 2008.
- For a short while the DTS vehicles from units 442413 and 442418 were swapped following problems with these units. The DTS from 442413 had a broken windscreen, and the motor coach in 442418 had suffered a failure. A complete working unit, numbered 442413, was thus created. The four coaches from the original 442413 carried the new livery, having just undergone overhaul, while the DTS (still numbered 2418) carried the old livery.
- De-named by Sally Taylor (BBC South Today Presenter) on 9 January 2007.