British Rail Class 185

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British Rail Class 185 Desiro
A three-car train in grey and light blue colours at a station
TransPennine Express 185106 at Doncaster
Standard class saloon interior on the Siemens Class 185 Pennine Desiro
Class 185 standard class saloon
In service2006 - Present
ManufacturerSiemens Mobility
Built atUerdingen, Krefeld (assembly)[1]
Family nameSiemens Desiro
ReplacedClass 158
Class 170
Class 175
Constructed2005 - 2006[2]
Entered serviceMarch 2006[3]
Number built51 trains[4]
Formation3 cars per trainset:
Fleet numbers185101 - 185151[4]
Capacity154 standard, 15 first
Operator(s)TransPennine Express
Depot(s)Ardwick depot, Manchester[3]
York (Leeman Rd.) depot[3]
Car body constructionAluminium[1]
Train length71.276 m (233.85 ft)
Car length23.763 m (77.96 ft)
Width2.673 m (8 ft 9.2 in) [1]
Height3.710 m (12.17 ft) (max)
3.850 m (12.63 ft) (ARL)[6]
Floor height1,247 mm (49.1 in)
Maximum speed161 km/h (100 mph)
Weight168.5 t (165.8 long tons; 185.7 short tons) (empty)[1]
Axle load18.5 t (18.2 long tons; 20.4 short tons) (max.)
Prime mover(s)Cummins QSK19[1][7]
Power output560 kW (750 hp) at 2100 rpm[8]
TransmissionVoith T 312 bre turbo transmission, SK-485 final drive.[7]
Acceleration0.49 m/s2 (1.6 ft/s2)[9]
UIC classification2'B'+B'2'+B'2
Safety system(s)AWS, TPWS[citation needed]
Multiple workingYes.[10]
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Sources: Class 185 (technical information), Siemens, except where noted. Data refers to 3 car unit.

The Class 185 Pennine units are a diesel multiple-unit (DMU) passenger train of the Desiro UK family built by Siemens in Germany for the train operating company First TransPennine Express. They are operated by TransPennine Express and Northern.

A £260 million order for 51 three-car trains and associated maintenance depots was placed in 2003, and deliveries took place between 2006 and 2007.

Background and history[edit]

Class 185 at York in First TransPennine Express Dynamic Lines livery

In 2003, a consortium of FirstGroup and Keolis was awarded the then new First TransPennine Express franchise.[11][12] One obligation under the franchise agreement was to introduce a new fleet of 100 mph trains.[10]

The specifications in the franchise agreement required a train "similar in type to the Class 175/180 or Class 220", but with a ⅓-⅔ door arrangement, and top speed of 100 mph. Also specified was air conditioning, two toilets per vehicle with one suitable for reduced mobility passengers, gangways between individual carriages, luggage and bicycle storage space, passenger compartment CCTV, provision for wheelchair passengers, and first-class seating.[10] Additionally the train's acceleration was to be an improvement on the Class 158 and comparable to the Class 180. The agreement specified 168 carriages, with an initial option to reduce the carriage order by 18.[10]

The franchise agreement also required the construction of two depots for the new rolling stock; the main depot was to be at Manchester, with a depot for stabling and maintenance at York. In addition, a depot at Cleethorpes was to be upgraded with refuelling and controlled emission toilet servicing facilities, and a train electric auxiliary supply.[13] The franchise agreement specified a performance aim of 37,500 miles per casualty, with entry into service between March 2006 (first unit) and November 2006 (entire fleet).[14]

By August 2003, Siemens had been named as the preferred bidder for the trains.[15] A contract valued at £260M for supply and maintenance of 56 trains was signed in September 2003 between Siemens AG, operators First/Keolis Transpennine Ltd, and leasers HSBC Rail (UK) Limited.[16] The new train requirement had been reduced from 56 to 51 units by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) by 2004.[17]

The trains were built at Siemens' plant in Uerdingen in Krefeld; the first unit began test trials at the Wildenrath test circuit in July 2005.[1] An official launch took place at Wildenrath in December 2005.[18]

Construction of the Ardwick rail depot began March 2005;[19] opening in 2006.[20] Work was started on the new Leeman Road depot in York in December 2005;[21] The opening in May 2007.[22] In 2006, First TransPennineExpress acquired two static simulators for driver training from Corys TESS.[23][24]

All 51 trains were in service by January 2007. Initially the trains replaced two- and three-car Class 158 units.[25]


Class 185 multiple working at York

Each carriage contains a separate diesel powertrain driving both axles on one bogie via cardan shafts.[26] Each powertrain consists of a 560 kW (750 hp) Cummins QSK19 engine driving a Voith T 312 bre three-speed hydrodynamic transmission which drives two axles in one bogie via a Voith SK-485 final drive.[27][note 1] The engine and torque converter were frame mounted underfloor and suspended from the car body by flexible mounts. A third underfloor module contains cooling systems and an electrical generator.[27] The hydraulic converter includes an integrated retarder (brake).[26] Cooling fans and the electrical generator are powered via a hydrostatic drive.[26] The electrical generator provides a 400 V 50 Hz three phase electrical supply for the train, which is transformed or rectified to a 230 V 50 Hz single phase supply, a 110 V DC auxiliary supply, and a 24 V DC battery supply. Connections bridge the main 400 V AC and 110 V DC supplies across the cars of each train set.[29] Component suppliers included Dellner (couplings), ZF (dampers), SKF (bearings), Westinghouse Brakes (braking systems).[1]

The bogies are versions of Siemens' SF5000 bogie. The design has an axle distance of 2.600 m (8 ft 6.4 in), with radial arm primary suspension utilising steel coil springs with rubber elements; the secondary suspension is an air spring design supporting a bolster. Motor bogies have traction forces transmitted from bogie to frame via rods from a centre pivot. Mechanical brakes are wheel mounted discs.[30] The Class 185 is heavier and has a stiffer suspension than the Class 158 it replaced on some routes;[31][note 2] On some routes including the Hope Valley route, York to Scarborough Line, Hull to Selby Line (Micklefield junction-Hull), and between Northallerton and Middlesbrough the Class 185 units were not permitted to operate at the same speeds as the Sprinter type DMUs; however the higher acceleration of the Class 185 units could be used to partially offset the lower speed restriction.[32][33][34]

As delivered each train consisted of three cars; one end car (DMOSB) had 64 standard class seats in [2+2] arrangement with a mixture of facing seats with tables and airline style arrangements, as well as luggage and bicycle facilities; the middle car (MOSL) had 72 standard class seats also in a mixture of arrangements in [2+2] formation, and incorporated a standard toilet; the other end car (DMOCLW) had a further 18 standard class seats, and 15 [2+1] arrangement first class seats, plus a wheelchair space, and a reduced mobility access toilet.[1][35] Toilets were supplied by Driessen, seats by Grammer and Fainsa, and air conditioning from Air International Transit.[1]


The trains were designed for the hilly routes;[36] as a result the units had a high installed power, unnecessary for most of the train's route sections, leading to low fuel efficiency relative to other DMUs.[37] In mid-2007, Siemens and First TransPennine Express began a programme, named 'Eco-Mode', to improve the efficiency of the fleet. The project involved generating driver information giving route advice allowing more efficient driving, including information on when it was feasible to shut down a diesel engine, leaving the train 'cruising' on two of the three engines. Additionally fuel consumption was reduced by performing shunting using only one engine, and automating complete engine shutdown at depots. Initial changes in working practice resulted in a 7% fuel saving.[38][39][40] Furthermore, as the engines are idling less and thus operating less (engine hours reduced by two hours a day per train), their service life may be extended by 15%.[40]

Fleet details[edit]


Class Operator No. Built Year Built Carriages Unit nos.
185 TransPennine Express 51 2005–2006 3 185101–151
Northern (Four units subleased from TransPennine Express (varies per day))


Northern's four sub-leased 185 units were due to be returned to TPE in December 2017 in accordance with the Northern franchise agreement but these remain in service as of August 2018.[41]

TransPennine Express will phase in new Class 397 and Class 802 trains by 2020. It is expected that approximately 22 Class 185 units will be returned to their owner and Go-Op will operate the trains beyond 2020.[42]


The 51 three-car Class 185 units, together with 9 two-car Class 170 units, have replaced the Class 158 (North and South TransPennine Express routes),[43] Class 175 (routes between Manchester Airport and Blackpool / Cumbria) and Class 220 / Class 221 Voyager trains (operated by Virgin Trains on routes between Manchester and Edinburgh / Glasgow).[44] The majority of TransPennine Express Services are operated by Class 185, with the exception of the Manchester Airport to Scotland services which are mostly operated by Class 350 electric units. To free up stock for services between Manchester Airport and destinations in Scotland when First TransPennine Express first took over these routes, they dramatically decreased the frequency of the Manchester Airport to Windermere route from December 2007.[45]

In 2014, the introduction of ten electric Class 350 trains on services between Manchester and Scotland allowed the displacement of Class 170 and some Class 185 units to provide additional capacity on FirstTPE's network.[46] Four Class 185 units are currently loaned to Northern on a daily basis, this arrangement will end in December 2017.[47][48] As of June 2018, this has not yet happened.

Overcrowding and passenger feedback[edit]

Class 185 first class saloon

In 2007, Passenger Focus published a user survey on the Class 185. Satisfaction ratings of around 80% were given for many standard aspects of a train journey, such as availability of seats, seat comfort, ease of egression, cleanliness. Passengers gave satisfaction ratings of around only 70% on standing space availability. Lower averaged satisfaction ratings (~50%) were given for wheelchair space, bicycle space and for the inability to shield the sun, as well as overall design, and position and number of bins. Frequent travellers had a low level of satisfaction with toilet cleanliness.[49] The report concluded that overall users liked the new trains, but identified issues relating to peak crowding, particularly on evening peaks.[50]

By 2007, increased use of some of the First TransPennine Express services (Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds) caused the operator to start lobbying the SRA for a fourth car to the three-car sets to increase capacity; however, the service overall was subsidised, presenting a cost barrier to further rolling stock leasing.[51][52] By 2008, many of the peak-time trains operated on by Class 185s on First TransPennine Express services were suffering chronic overcrowding.[53][54]


In June 2017, TransPennine Express began refurbishing Class 185s as part of their franchise commitments.[55] The first unit was completed in July 2017, entering service within the same week. The refurbished trains include new seats throughout the train (including leather in First Class), standard plug and USB sockets at every pair of seats, a new wooden style decor, refitted toilets and LED lighting throughout. It is hoped that the upgrade will be completed by the end of 2018.


The second livery carried by the class 185, First Dynamic Lines. This livery was originally with the First TransPennine Express logo in the middle of each car


  1. ^ The Cummins QSK19 engine and Voith T 312 bre torque converter are also used in Alstom's Class 180 Coradia DMUs.[28]
  2. ^ Simulations of Class 185 on TransPennineExpress routes predicted a small increase in rolling contact fatigue (2 mm surface crack per four years), an increase which was not determined to be necessarily significant.[31]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "TransPennine Express DMU starts commissioning trials". Railway Gazette International. London. 1 September 2005.
  2. ^ Pritchard & Hall 2013, p. 243
  3. ^ a b c "Class 185 - FirstTrans Pennine Express". Siemens. Retrieved November 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ a b Pritchard & Hall 2013, pp. 243–4
  5. ^ Class 185 (technical information), Siemens, p.2
  6. ^ "Class 185 Diesel Multiple Unit" (PDF). Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  7. ^ a b Diesel-hydraulic railcar "Class 185" .. (Voith), p.1
  8. ^ Pritchard & Hall 2013, p. 242
  9. ^ "Class 185 Diesel Multiple Unit" (PDF) (Data sheet). Eversholt Rail Group. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-12. Retrieved November 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  11. ^ "SRA Announce Preferred Bidder For TransPennine Express Franchise" (PDF) (Press release). Department of Transport. 28 July 2003. Archived from [http:/ the original] Check |url= value (help) (PDF) on 26 August 2009.
  12. ^ "New operator for Pennine route". BBC News. 31 July 2003.
  15. ^ "100mph fleet will cut rail times". BBC News. 21 August 2003.
  16. ^ "£260 million procurement contract First/Keolis Transpennine Ltd, FirstGroup plc, HSBC Rail (UK) Ltd, Keolis SA, Siemens AG". International Law Office. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  17. ^ "First profits to hit expectations". BBC News. 29 March 2004. First added that its new TransPennine Express franchise had made a "good start", despite having a planned order for new trains reduced from 56 to 51 by the Strategic Rail Authority [...] A First spokesman said the figure of 56 new trains, which Siemens is building in Germany, had always been provisional
  18. ^ "New Transpennine Fleet Launched in Germany". 12 December 2005.
  19. ^ Modern Railways. 62 (672): 9. April 2005. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ "First TransPennine's new maintenance depot opens". 16 May 2006.
  21. ^ "Train depot work begins". The Press. York. 9 December 2005. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  22. ^ "Duke of York visits city". The Press. York. 11 May 2007.
  23. ^ "Simulating the world's railways". Railway Gazette. London. 1 April 2005.
  24. ^ "Simulation possibilities expand". Railway Gazette. London. 1 May 2006.
  25. ^ "The Pennine Class 185 experience" (PDF). pp. 4–5.
  26. ^ a b c Class 185 (technical information), Siemens p.3
  27. ^ a b Diesel-hydraulic railcar "Class 185" .. (Voith), p.2
  28. ^ High-speed diesel multiple units Class 180 of First North Western with T 312 bre turbo transmission + KB 190, KE-445 and SK-445 final drive and cardan shaft, Voith, May 2008
  29. ^ Class 185 (technical information), Siemens p.4
  30. ^ First Class Bogies (PDF), Siemens, SF 5000 UK TDG and SF 5000 UK LDG, pp.60-61; also p.67
  31. ^ a b Trials of wheel and rail rolling contact fatigue control measures: pre-modelling analysis and route simulations (PDF), Rail Safety and Standards Board, June 2008, archived from the original (PDF) on 12 November 2013
  32. ^ "Route 11 South Trans-Pennine, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire" (PDF), Network Rail Route Plans 2008, Network Rail, p. 7, 2006
  33. ^ "Route 10 North Trans-Pennine, North and West Yorkshire" (PDF), Network Rail Route Plans 2008, Network Rail, p. 7, 2006
  34. ^ Business Plan 2005 - 26 Strategic Routes - Network Rail (PDF), Network Rail, 2005, Route 9: North Eastern, p.124; Route 10: North Trans-Pennine, North and West Yorkshire, p.135; Route 11: South Trans-Pennine, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, p.148
  35. ^ Class 185 (technical information), Siemens p.2
  36. ^ Whitehouse 2007, p. 16The Siemens-built [class 185] DMUs were designed with hill climbing in mind
  37. ^ Bower et al. 2012, section 3.1.2, p.95-96.
  38. ^ "DMU Eco-Mode fuels savings at TPE",, 21 December 2007
  39. ^ "Trans-Pennine trains get greener",, 3 October 2008
  40. ^ a b "Easing up on throttle saves two million litres of diesel a year". 5 August 2008. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  41. ^ "Deadline for TPE franchise bids has passed". Railway Technology Magazine. 29 May 2015. Retrieved 2018-08-31. On rolling stock, the tender specifies that the new TransPennine franchisee lease the current fleet of 10 four-car Class 350 EMUs until at least 19 September 2018, and sub-lease rolling stock to Northern until December 2017.
  42. ^ "New-look refurbished TransPennine Express Class 185 launched". Rail. 28 July 2017. Retrieved 2018-08-31. the long-term 22 will be returned to owner Eversholt Rail.
  43. ^ "Can '185s' conquer the Pennines?".
  44. ^ "More rail services for Scotland - First TransPennine Express".
  45. ^ "Mid Cheshire Rail Report No. 68". Mid-Cheshire Rail Users Association. June 2006. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
  46. ^ "New Trains FAQ",, retrieved June 2014, (Why won’t the trains be running on my route?) The displaced class 185s will all remain with TransPennine Express to enhance capacity and provide additional services on our other routes. (What happens to the existing fleet?) Other displaced class 185s will be used to provide additional capacity on our existing services. (I don’t live on the Manchester to Scotland route – how will I benefit?) The current class 185s and class 170 trains will be redeployed [..] more seats, longer trains and more frequent services may be available from late 2013. From May 2014 we will be providing 5 trains an hour between Manchester and Leeds (in both directions), [..] and reducing the number of 2 carriages services.. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ The Pennine Class 185 experience (2007) pp.5-9
  50. ^ The Pennine Class 185 experience (2007) pp.3,10
  51. ^ Whitehouse 2007, p. 18.
  52. ^ Wolmar, Christian (8 June 2007), Northern Railway Boom Heightens Investment Needs
  53. ^ Davidson, Emma (31 October 2008). "Anyone for a game of train sardines?". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Archived from the original on 12 February 2012.
  54. ^ "A Long Term Vision for Transport in Leeds City Region - Appendix 4" (PDF). Leeds City Council. n.d. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 June 2008.
  55. ^ "Brighter bigger better A modern makeover for our trains". Retrieved 2017-09-09.


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