British Rail Class 508
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|British Rail Class 508|
Class 508 at Liverpool Lime Street
Class 508 interior
|In service||1979 - Current|
|Family name||BREL 1972 "PEP"|
|Refurbishment||27 Merseyrail sets 2002 - 2004
Alstom Eastleigh Works
|Number built||43 trainsets|
|Formation||3 cars per trainset (originally 4 cars)|
|Capacity||320 seats (as-built)
234 seats (508/1)
222 seats (508/1 modified, 508/2 & 508/3)
192 seats (Merseyrail refurbished)
|Car length||19.8 m (65 ft)|
|Width||2.82 m (9.3 ft)|
|Height||3.58 m (11.7 ft)|
|Maximum speed||75 mph (121 km/h)|
|Weight||104.5 tonnes (102.8 long tons)|
|Power output||656 kW (880 hp) from 8 x GEC G310AZ electric motor (82kw each)|
|Electric system(s)||750 V DC Third rail|
|Multiple working||within class and Class 507|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) Standard gauge|
British Rail Class 508 electric multiple units (EMUs) were built by BREL at York works in 1979-80. They were the fourth variant of BR's standard 1972 design for suburban EMUs, eventually encompassing 755 vehicles and five classes (313/314/315/507/508). They have mostly worked on the Merseyrail network since 1983, and continue to do so, now refurbished by Alstom's Eastleigh Works. The fleet is ageing, and Southeastern and London Overground have completely replaced them; as of 2012, the youngest Class 508 unit is now 32 years old, making them among the oldest units still in service on the UK mainland rail network, after the Class 313.
The class was developed for Merseyside following extensive trials and testing of the 4Pep/2Pep stock built in the early 1970s. Testing of Class 313 took place on the Northern Line on Merseyside, using 313003/005/013/063 loaned from Great Northern line of Eastern Region to Hall Road depot. However, following planning and building, British Rail decided to divert the 508s to work alongside much older first-generation 4Sub EMUs in the London Waterloo area. Based at Strawberry Hill depot, they soon became very unpopular due to their being non-standard. Once a new build of Class 455 EMUs were complete the 508s were slowly sent to their originally intended home on the Merseyrail network, to work alongside the already well-established fleet of Class 507 EMUs working there since 1978.
All 43 508s are now formed of three cars, although they were four-car sets on the Southern Region: before being sent to Merseyside one of the trailer cars was removed and incorporated into class 455/7 EMUs. The individual passenger door controls were plated over before they were sent north. Original plans were drawn up for 58 508s to be constructed, although costing issues limited the eventual number to 43. Carriage numbering is as follows:
- 64649-64691 - DMSO
- 71483-71525 - TSO
- 64692-64734 - BDMSO
- Southport - Hunts Cross line
- Ormskirk line
- Kirkby line
- New Brighton line
- West Kirby line
- Chester line
- Ellesmere Port line
Connex South Eastern leased 12 508s freed up by controversially cutting back Merseyrail's Wirral services in 1996 (508101/105/106/107/109/113/116/119/121/129/132/133), for operation on specific Kent services. They were used due to lack of Networkers (Class 466s), particularly on the Medway Valley Line and the Sheerness Line. In September 2006 new operator Southeastern announced that a cascade of rolling stock would see Class 466 units replace the 508s on the Sheerness and Medway Valley lines in the December 2006 timetable. Following this timetable change there were only six units left, based at Gillingham Depot.  There were five units in 'warm store' at Ashford Chart Leacon, and one unit, 508212, was heavily robbed to keep the surviving service units in operation, including the swap of its TSO coach with one from a unit that ran into a tree on the Redhill-Tonbridge line. With the transfer of the Tonbridge to London via Redhill services to Southern, Southeastern placed its remaining 508s in store in December 2008.
Silverlink leased three 508s from Angel Trains in 2003 for operation on the Watford DC Line to assist its fleet of Class 313 EMUs. These were withdrawn following the delivery of Class 378 Capitalstar units. These three Class 508/3 units were modified by Alstom Eastleigh to designs provided by Interfleet Technology to make them inter-operable with Class 313 units.
- Originally numbered 508001-508043.
- When they moved to Merseyside they were renumbered 508101-508143 to avoid confusion with the Class 507s.
- The Merseyrail 508s were refurbished in 2003/04, the first unit to re-enter service being 508110. The final unit to leave for the works for refurbishment was formerly black-striped 508137.
- Southeastern units were renumbered 508/2 when they were refurbished in 1996. 508203/205/207/208/210/211 were further overhauled at Wabtec, Doncaster in 2007.
- Silverlink units were renumbered 508/3 when they were refurbished in 2003, modified to make them compatible with Class 313s for operation on Euston to Watford Junction services.
- Both Southeastern and London Overground have withdrawn their fleets for replacement - Southeastern has been able to cascade existing rolling stock to the Sheerness and Medway lines, while the London Bridge via Redhill service has been transferred to Southern; London Overground has fully introduced its new Class 378 units.
- 508/2 units 508202/4-6 have been scrapped at Eastleigh.
- All of the 508/3 units were scrapped at Eastleigh in 2013.
|Class||Operator||No. in service||Year Built||Cars per Set||Unit nos.||Notes|
|Class 508/1||Merseyrail||27||1979-1980||3||508103-508104, 508108, 508110-508112, 508114-508115, 508117, 508120, 508122-508128, 508130-508131, 508134, 508136-508141, 508143||Converted from 508/0|
|Class 508/2||--||12||508201-508212 (202/4/5/6 scrapped in 2013)|
|Class 508/3||--||3||508301 - 508303 (Scrapped in 2013)|
Network Rail's Route Utilisation Strategy for Merseyside has called for an expansion to Merseyrail's current fleet to allow for both additional services and lengthening of trains to six cars. In December 2009 it was reported by various sources that the former Southeastern and London Overground units would be transferred to Merseyrail. Two ex-London-Overground units were moved to Warrington Arpley yard in November 2009, but returned south soon after. Meanwhile the ex Southeastern 508s were moved to Telford Railfreight Terminal for storage between May 2010 and February 2011  before they moved to Eastleigh for further storage in late 2011. On 14 August 2012, 508212 was moved to the Fire Training College at Moreton-in-Marsh.
508s have appeared in many colours over their lifetimes, more so than any EMU of similar type.
- BR Blue and Grey (1979—1994): the initial livery lasted until well into their careers on Merseyside. The units also carried the MPTE "69" logo and Merseyrail branding on the driver's side of the outer ends of the driving vehicles.
- Merseyrail Original (1993—2001; repaints 2001—2004): yellow with white around the windows and black and grey stripes, exclusive to Merseyside EMUs.
- Merseyrail Revised (1999—2004): a lighter yellow, and no black stripe.
- Merseyrail Refurbished (2003—): silver with yellow stripes that resemble those of a tiger. 'M' branding on the front ends and on the sides, and a 'Merseyrail' vinyl. Because the vinyl was purchased without graffiti protection, it does not wear well if vandalised; several sets are running with their 'M' logos missing or worn away.
- Connex Yellow and White (1996—2006): white with yellow effects down the sides.
- South Eastern Trains (2005—2006): white with yellow and black side stripes. Unit 508208 was one of the first to receive this, in May 2005.
- Southeastern (April 2006—December 2008): white, black and grey as carried by the 465/466 fleet, with the doors in corporate lilac.
- Silverlink Metro (2004—): purple, green and silver, applied when they were modified in 2003.
- Capital of Culture advertising livery (2008—2009): one of the four sets in the promotional Capital of Culture liveries is 508134, with the theme of creativity with a purple background. Photographs depicted focus on some of the weird and wonderful innovations from Liverpool, such as the SuperLambBanana. The colourful liveries met with mixed reactions from travellers. It was most often on the Southport—Hunts Cross line.
- 508136 - "Capital of Culture"
In late 2004, to mark Liverpool being named European Capital of Culture 2008, Merseyrail named 508136 'Capital of Culture'. This name was affixed using vinyl transfers, not cast metal nameplates.
508118 was gutted by fire during 2001 at Birkenhead.
Liverpool Central derailment
On 26 October 2005 508124, forming 2W43 1706 West Kirby return via Liverpool Lime Street, derailed 200m short of Liverpool Central, caused by track gauge widening due to poor track condition. There were no serious injuries. The RAIB report cited incompatibility between Class 508 (and 507) EMUs and the Liverpool Loop track as a causal factor, along with maintenance and other track design concerns.
Plans for replacement
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to British Rail Class 508.|
- Broadbent, Steve (December 2008). "Merseyside RUS addresses serious growth issues". Rail (Peterborough) (607): 10–11. ISSN 0953-4563.
- "North Wales Coast Railway Noticeboard". Charlie Hulme. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
- "Train derails after hitting tree". BBC News. 6 March 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
- "Derailment near Liverpool Central underground station 26 October 2005". RAIB. 11 August 2006. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
- "Merseytravel signals go ahead for new trains". Merseytravel. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012.