British Rail Class 310

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British Rail Class 310
23.01.82 Watford Junction 310.048 (5958457191).jpg
Class 310 train in British Railways plain blue at Watford Junction station. The driving cab features wrap-around windows as originally fitted to these trains.
In service 1963 - 2002
Manufacturer British Rail C&W Works Derby
Number built 50
Formation 3/4 cars per trainset
Capacity 293 2nd, 25 1st class[1]
Operator(s) British Rail
Maximum speed 75 mph (121 km/h)
Weight Total - 158 tonnes (156 long tons; 174 short tons)
Traction system 4 x English Electric 270 hp (200 kW)[1]
Braking system(s) Air (auto/EP)
Multiple working Class 303-312
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail (BR) Class 310 is a slam-door, alternating current (AC) electric multiple unit (EMU) introduced in 1963 as part of the West Coast Main Line electrification project. They were initially classified as Class AM10 units before the introduction of the TOPS classification system. Constructed at BR's Derby Carriage and Wagon Works. They consisted of four carriages - a second class driving trailer, a second class trailer, a second class motor car (with guard's/luggage compartment above which the Stone Faiveley AMBR pantograph was mounted) and a composite (1st and 2nd class) driving trailer. The maximum speed was 75 miles per hour. A glass partition behind the driver's cab enabled passengers in the leading and rear coaches to have an excellent view of the line ahead or behind.

They introduced some new features; the first standard multiple units with disc brakes (emergency stop from top speed in 33 seconds over 800 yd (730 m)); the first naturally air-cooled rectifiers (silicon diodes on cups of beryllium oxide), inductors and transformers. Noise was reduced by sprayed asbestos on the floor, body and roof.[1]

Original livery was overall Rail Blue, later amended to the familiar blue and grey colour scheme.

Initially they were primarily used on local services from London Euston to Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Birmingham, and within the West Midlands. They were also the first EMUs to be based on the British Rail Mark 2 bodyshell, which featured semi-integral construction.

During the mid-1980s they underwent their heavy C1 refurbishment at Wolverton which included new flat windscreens, a corridor connection between the Motor Vehicle (MBS) and trailer (TSO), and a PA system among other modifications.

The main fleet of Class 310/0 units was replaced on the Euston commuter routes with Class 317/1 units which began to enter service on the route in late 1987, however the Class 317 units were then superseded by the new build of Class 321/4 within about 2 years.

All Class 310 units that survived into the 21st century were withdrawn between 2001 and 2002.


  • 310/0 - four-car units. All 310s were originally 310/0s.
  • 310/1 - three-car units modified for use in the Midlands.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • 18 April 1967, Unknown unit collided with a derailed mineral train between Northampton and Roade.[2]
  • 5 August 1967, 0735 Stafford to Rugby rear end collision by runaway Trentham to Lea Hall Colliery coal train at Rugeley[3]
  • 8 April 1969, unknown unit involved in head on collision at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton.[4]
  • 4 July 1969, unit Nos 072 & 057,[5] 6 out of 8 carriages derailed at Willesden after colliding with infrastructure.[6]
  • 31 December 1969, unknown unit collided with derailed freight train at Roade.[7]
  • 26 July 1971, a unit of the class departed from Macclesfield, Cheshire against signals and was derailed by trap points.[8]
  • 20 April 1980, 310 052 collided with track maintenance equipment at Bushey leading to a bogie derailment.[9]
  • 11 October 1984 - 310 067 & 310 086 collided with a freightliner train near Wembley Central after passing a signal at danger.[10]
  • 4 August 1990 - 310 102 running as empty coaching stock, involved in a rear end collision with a stationary train at Stafford.[11]


All 310/0 units came under the control of LTS Rail (now c2c) which operated them on the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. They were replaced by Class 357 units from 1999 to 2002.

The thirteen 310/1 units came under the control of Central Trains. All were withdrawn by 2002 and replaced by a mixture of Class 170 and Class 323 units.

Departmental usage[edit]

The V Train on the DC system pictured in the New Sidings at Ramsgate - the Class 423 (4-VEP) is the second vehicle.
The V Train on the AC system pictured near Shenfield railway station on 2 February 2004 - the train consists entirely of Class 310 vehicles

In 2002, vehicles from two Class 310/1 units, numbers 310109 and 310113, were used to create a single four-car departmental unit, 960201 which could operate on either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC) lines for test purposes. The set consisted of two driving cars, a Class 310 power car with Hitachi equipment and either a standard Class 310 25 kV power car or a modified 650 V third rail vehicle from a Class 423 (4-VEP) unit. One of these two vehicles was included in the formation depending upon where the unit was operating (on 25 kV overhead lines or third rail). To facilitate third rail running, shoegear was fitted to each driving car. The unit was known as the 'Hitachi Verification Train' or 'V Train' and was used by Hitachi to test and prove its traction equipment in the UK. The subsequent order for the Class 395 Javelin trains which now run on the High Speed 1 line benefitted from this exercise. The V train was scrapped at MoD Pig's Bay in Shoeburyness in 2007. Details and more pictures of the V train on AC, DC and the High Speed 1 lines can be found at Train Testing - Hitachi's V train.


While there were efforts online to acquire a single unit, none of the Class 310 units was preserved.


  1. ^ a b c Modern Railways October 1965 pp. 543-546 New multiple-units for LMR 25kV a.c. electric services
  2. ^ "Report on the Derailment and subsequent Collision that occurred on 18th April 1967 between Roade Junction and Northampton" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "The unfortunate wanderings of the Type 2's". Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Report on the Collision that occurred on 8th April 1969 at Monmore Green near Wolverhampton" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Class 310 fleet list". Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Report on the Accident that occurred on 4th July 1969 at Willesden" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Report on the Derailment and subsequent Collision that occurred on 3 1st December 1969 near Roade Junction" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Earnshaw, Alan (1990). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 6. Penryn: Atlantic Books. p. 45. ISBN 0-906899-37-0. 
  9. ^ "Report on the Accident that occurred on 20th April 1980 at Bushey" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Report on the collision that occurred on 11th October 1984 near Wembley Central Station" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Railway Accident at Stafford" (PDF). Retrieved 23 May 2015.