British Rail Class 313

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British Rail Class 313
313203 at Brighton.jpg
Southern Class 313 at Brighton
313212 TSO Vehicle Interior.jpg
Interior of a Southern refurbished Class 313/2 unit
In service1976 – present
ManufacturerBritish Rail Engineering Limited
Built atHolgate Road, York
Family nameBREL 1972
  • 1997–2001 (Silverlink)
  • 1999–2003 (WAGN)
  • 2010–2011 (Southern)
Number built64[1]
Number in service20[1]
Number scrapped44[2]
  • 3 cars per unit:
  • EA204 (DMSO vehicles)
  • EH210 (TSO vehicles)
  • EI201 (BDMSO vehicles)
  • As built: 232 seats
  • Great Northern: 231 seats
  • Overground: 202 seats
  • Silverlink: 228 seats
  • Southern: 194 seats
Depot(s)Brighton Lovers Walk
Line(s) served
Car body constructionSteel underframe with aluminium body and roof [note 1]
Car length
  • B/DMSO: 19.80 m (65 ft 0 in)
  • PTSO: 19.92 m (65 ft 4 in)
Width2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)
Height3.58 m (11 ft 9 in)
Floor height1.15 m (3 ft 9 in)
  • Double-leaf pocket sliding
  • (2 per side per car)
  • 14.17 m (46 ft 6 in)
  • (over bogie centres)
Maximum speed75 mph (121 km/h)
  • DMSO: 36 t (35 long tons)
  • PTSO: 31 t (31 long tons)
  • BDMSO: 37.5 t (36.9 long tons)
  • Total: 104.5 t (102.8 long tons)
Traction motors
  • 8 × GEC G310AZ
  • (4 per motor car)
Power output660 kW (880 hp)
Electric system(s)
Current collector(s)
UIC classificationBo'Bo'+2'2'+Bo'Bo'
BogiesBREL BX1
Minimum turning radius70.4 m (231 ft 0 in)
Braking system(s)Electro-pneumatic
Safety system(s)
Coupling systemTightlock
Multiple workingWithin class
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
As-built specifications sourced from [3]

The British Rail Class 313 is a dual-voltage electric multiple unit (EMU) train built by British Rail Engineering Limited's Holgate Road carriage works between February 1976 and April 1977. They were the first production units that were derived from British Rail's 1971 prototype suburban EMU design which, as the BREL 1972 family, eventually encompassed 755 vehicles over five production classes (313, 314, 315, 507 and 508). They were the first second-generation EMUs to be constructed for British Rail and the first British Rail units with both a pantograph for 25 kV AC overhead lines and contact shoe equipment for 750 V DC third rail supply.[4][5] They were, additionally, the first units in Britain to employ multi-function automatic Tightlock couplers, which include electrical and pneumatic connections allowing the coupling and uncoupling of units to be performed unassisted by the driver whilst in the cab.

The Class 313 units are the oldest EMUs on the National Rail network, at 45 years old; they entered service on 8 November 1976 and the last are due to retire in December 2022.[6] However, the even-older 1972 Stock and 1973 Stock are still in service on London Underground.


The Class 313 was developed following extensive trials with the prototype Class 445 "PEP" built in the early 1970s. The 313 is similar to the Class 314 (Glasgow), Class 315 (Anglia suburban — east London), Class 507 (Merseyside) and Class 508 (Merseyside, formerly Southern Region). The Class 313 directly replaced the Class 105 and 106 diesel multiple units previously on the Great Northern Inner Suburban services between London and Hertfordshire.

Since they were designed for use on Great Northern Inner Suburban services from Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City, Hertford North, and Letchworth Garden City, which included a section of 'tube' line built to take standard size trains between Drayton Park and Moorgate, they are built to a slightly smaller loading gauge than conventional trains. They are standard length and width, but the roof is lower, most noticeable due to the lack of a "well" for the Stone Faiveley AMBR pantograph on the centre coach. They have to comply with regulations for underground trains, such as having doors at each end of the train for evacuation onto the tracks, and when on 750 V DC supply the traction supply for each motor coach is separate, whereas on conventional 750 V DC trains each coach in a unit is linked by a 750 V bus line. Due to this, each motor coach has shoe gear on both bogies, whereas normally it would only be on the leading bogie. They are fitted with trip-cocks that are struck by a raised train-stop arm at red signals and will apply the brakes if the train passes one.

The first Class 313 unit, 313001, in the late 1980s at Watford Junction in Network SouthEast livery

The units were originally numbered 313001–313064. Each unit is formed of two outer driving motors and an intermediate trailer with a pantograph. This is a reversal of the practice started in the 1960s, where the motors and pantograph were on an intermediate vehicle, with the outer vehicles being driving trailers. Part of the reason was to simplify the equipment to allow dual-voltage operation, and to keep down weight by spreading the heavy transformer and motors between vehicles. The intermediate trailer carries the pantograph and a transformer and rectifier, which on 25 kV AC provides 750 V DC to the motor coaches, each of which has four 110 horsepower (82 kW) GEC G310AZ direct current traction motors, two per bogie. On 750 V DC each motor coach draws its supply directly through its shoe gear. The traction motors are driven by a camshaft-controlled resistance system with series and parallel motor groupings and weak field steps. Originally the heating in the motor coaches was provided by passing air over the hot traction and braking resistors in addition to conventional heaters, but this feature is no longer in use and the pneumatic dampers have been disabled. Great Northern and Southern retrofitted their units with cab air conditioning.

313s have rheostatic braking (which was disabled on London Overground) in addition to conventional three-step air-operated disc braking. During braking if wheelslide is detected by the Wheel slide protection (WSP), rheostatic braking is disabled and disc-braking only is used. Great Northern units had sanding equipment. Unlike some other DMU/EMU classes, additional brake force is not available when the emergency brake application is initiated and is the equivalent force of a step 3/full service application. WSP is still active when making an emergency application.

In addition to the primary suspension of rubber chevron spring and oil dampers, secondary suspension is provided by two air bellows per bogie - flow into each bellows is controlled independently by a levelling valve and arm assembly that allows the suspension to inflate/deflate when the weight of the coach is increased or decreased by passenger loading. The air suspension is linked to the braking system via a Variable Load Valve (VLV), which increases air brake pressure when the coach is more heavily loaded to compensate for the additional weight.

Vehicles are numbered as follows.[7]

  • 62529–62592: DMSO (Driver's cab, Motor car, Standard class, Open saloon)
  • 71213–71276: PTSO (Pantograph, Trailer car, Standard class, Open saloon)
  • 62593–62656: BDMSO (Battery, Driver's cab, Motor car, Standard class, Open saloon)

All units have standard class seating only.[7]

As built, the sliding doors were opened by the passengers. Once the driver had stopped the train and the guard had activated the master door release, a passenger could move the door handle gently sideways which operated a switch controlling the individual door opening circuit. Many people did not wait for the guard's release and gave the handle a much harder tug, which could open the door even if the train had not stopped. Concerns over passenger safety led to the handles being replaced by push-buttons from March 1977.[8]

Modifications led to renumbering and reclassification. All units originally had shoebeams on the inner bogie of each motor coach, which was sufficient for third-rail duties between Drayton Park and Moorgate. Some units became surplus, and in 1987 four were transferred to the Colchester – Clacton/Walton route, which has no DC sections; they had the shoegear removed, and were renumbered from 313061–313064 to 313096–313099.[9] Following an accident involving one unit at Walton-on-the-Naze in August 1987, they were replaced by Class 310 units in 1988. Units 313001–313016 had shoegear fitted to the outer bogies in addition, and were transferred to the Euston – Watford DC route where there are long gaps in the third rail. They were renumbered into a new 313/1 subclass, leaving the unmodified units in subclass 313/0.[10]

Following the privatisation of British Rail, ownership of the Class 313 fleet passed to leasing company Eversholt Rail Group. In June 2012 Eversholt sold twenty units (313121 and the nineteen 313/2 units) to newly formed lessor Beacon Rail.[11]



Southern (Govia Thameslink Railway)[edit]

Nineteen 313s displaced by Class 378 Capitalstars on London Overground have been transferred to Southern, replacing the newer Class 377/3 Electrostars on East and West Coastway services from Brighton. They primarily operate local services from Brighton to Hove, West Worthing, Portsmouth Harbour, Lewes and Seaford. In addition, they work the Littlehampton to Bognor Regis and Portsmouth & Southsea services.

These units were repainted at Wolverton Works and renumbered from 313/1 into a new 313/2 subclass. The full refurbishment began in June 2010 at Wabtec Doncaster and included new flooring and carpet, new seating, improved space for cycles and passengers in wheelchairs, and the fitting of a Passenger Information System.[12] Additional modifications were carried out at Stewarts Lane TMD including the installation of cab air-conditioning, sanding equipment, a 750 V busline, shore supply sockets and the removal of overhead line equipment.[citation needed]

The 313s commenced operations with Southern on 23 May 2010, providing a two-trains-per-hour service between Brighton and Seaford, and some trains between Brighton and Lewes, Hove, West Worthing and Littlehampton.[12] From 13 December 2010, their operation expanded to stopping services from Brighton to Portsmouth Harbour and the Littlehampton to Bognor Regis shuttle.

The decision to use 313s on the Coastway lines has been controversial, as they are much older than the 377s and have fewer on-board passenger facilities.[13] The rail union RMT criticised the move and many publications, including the BBC, have questioned the introduction of 35-year-old trains in place of much newer units.[14] These trains are deployed on services that operate predominantly over short distances, such as Brighton to Hove and Brighton to Seaford, and some longer (but stopping) services that provide predominantly local links that run alongside 377s on faster services.

The introduction of 313s on the Coastway routes facilitated the delivery of additional capacity on high-demand suburban routes in South London, where 10-car trains services are to be introduced combined with platform lengthening.

In December 2017, it was announced that unit 313201—originally 313001, the first and oldest Class 313 unit—had been repainted into British Rail's Rail Blue livery, as originally used on the units (though, to meet today's accessibility requirements, the passenger doors were painted entirely grey rather than blue and grey as original). The repaint was part of the C6 overhaul, which included works on the doors, air system and interior, which includes new, modern LED lighting, and for bodywork repairs. The Director of Engineering for Beacon Rail, which owns the Class 313s, has said, "We wanted to celebrate the heritage of this special train, so the re-livery made perfect sense."[15]


Silverlink/London Overground[edit]

Silverlink Class 313 at Kilburn High Road
Interior of a London Overground Class 313/1 unit. Additional standing room was created by changing from 5-abreast to 4-abreast seating.

Silverlink inherited 23 units from British Rail. These were mainly operated under the Silverlink Metro brand on the North London, West London, and Watford DC lines, although they were also regularly used on the St Albans Abbey – Watford Junction branch line between 1988 and the end of the Silverlink franchise in 2007.

In 2007 they were used on services transferred to London Overground, which replaced Silverlink Metro. London Overground branding was added, and some seats were removed to provide additional standing room. They were replaced by Class 378 trains, with longitudinal seating to improve standing room.

The final day of scheduled 313 operation on the North and West London Lines was 19 February 2010, although units remained in use as ad-hoc substitutes for unavailable 378/0s. By August 2010 only 313121 and 313123 were still in service with London Overground, as the 378/2 Capitalstars were by then in use on the Watford DC Line. They last ran for London Overground on 13 September 2010.[citation needed]

West Anglia Great Northern/First Capital Connect/Great Northern (Govia Thameslink Railway)[edit]

First Capital Connect Class 313 at Enfield Chase. 313s often operated in pairs on Hertford Loop services.
Refreshed interior of a First Capital Connect unit

West Anglia Great Northern inherited 41 units operating inner suburban services out of Moorgate and London King's Cross, to Welwyn Garden City, Hertford North, Stevenage, and Letchworth Garden City. From 1 April 2006 the Great Northern (GN) franchise merged with Thameslink to form the Thameslink Great Northern franchise, which was won by FirstGroup and became known as First Capital Connect. Three[16] Class 313/1 units were transferred to First Capital Connect from London Overground in September 2010 to augment the Class 313/0 fleet. They were repainted into FCC livery and lightly refreshed internally but retained their original low-backed seating. Despite receiving modifications that made them mechanically identical to the 313/0s, they were not renumbered. The units were then transferred to Great Northern on 14 September 2014 when the Thameslink and Great Northern franchise was merged into the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise.

Although the majority of the route is 25 kV AC overhead line equipment, the Northern City Line route between Moorgate and Drayton Park is third rail 750 V DC, formerly part of the London Underground's Northern line, and although built to full loading gauge there is insufficient clearance to add catenary.

Trains bound for Moorgate approach Drayton Park on a falling gradient, drawing power via the pantograph. After coming to a stand at the platform the driver opens the vacuum circuit breaker, lowers the pantograph and changes over to DC. Whilst at Drayton Park, the starting signal for the platform is held at danger until the pantograph is lowered. Unusually for dual voltage trains, on this stock and its replacement, the Class 717, a shunt resistor is permanently connected to the pantograph. The detection of the small current drawn holds the signal at danger while the pantograph remains in contact with the overhead wire. This current is very audible as it manifests itself as a distinct "zzzZT" noise as an arc is struck and subsequently extinguished as the pantograph lowers. This prevents the driver from powering into the tunnel with the pantograph raised which would cause damage to the train as the pantograph ran off the end of the overhead line and struck the tunnel portal. On journeys from Moorgate traction power is maintained into Drayton Park for the rising gradient. Once the train is at a stand the driver selects AC traction and raises the pantograph. There is no system forcing the driver to change traction supplies beyond the customary 'PANS UP' sign at the end of the platform. If the driver forgets to change to AC no damage will occur to the train or any infrastructure; there will simply be a loss of power as the train runs out of third rail.

Great Northern 313s were electrically limited to 30 mph (48 km/h) in DC mode, the maximum line speed on the Northern City Line.[17]

313134 was named "City of London" at Moorgate on 9 December 2010 by Michael Bear, the Lord Mayor of London.[18]

The final Class 313 service on Great Northern was the 23:33 Hertford North to Moorgate on 30 September 2019.[2] A final railtour, operating from London King's Cross to Royston (via Welwyn Garden City) and back (via Hertford North and Moorgate) was held on 23 October 2019 with units 313134 and 313064; the DMSO vehicle of 313064 was repainted in Network SouthEast livery.

Departmental use[edit]

Network Rail's ERTMS test train in the sidings at Willesden TMD

Network Rail leased Beacon Rail-owned unit 313121 as a test vehicle for the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) installation on the Hertford Loop.[19][20]

The unit was repainted into Network Rail's yellow house colours and internally refurbished at Alstom's Wembley Intercity Depot, to include a new driving desk, technician's workstation, kitchen and toilet facilities, and the necessary ERTMS equipment.[21] The work was completed in June 2013 and the unit was tested for the first time on Friday 5 July 2013 between Wembley and Bletchley. It commenced testing on the Hertford Loop later that month.[22] Following conclusion of the Hertford Loop works, it was placed in store at Eastleigh Works in May 2018.[23] It will be returned to service when ERTMS is ready for testing on the Great Western Main Line.[24]


The Great Northern fleet has been replaced by new six-carriage Class 717s.[25][26][27][28] The transition commenced on 25 March 2019, with the first two 717s entering service.[29]

The first of the Great Northern fleet withdrawn was 313026 in February 2019.[30] It was the first despatched for scrapping in April 2019.[31][32] All 44 of the Great Northern 313s have since been withdrawn and scrapped.[33]

Upon retirement 313201 will be preserved by the National Railway Museum.[34]

The Southern Class 313s are expected to be retired in 2022.[35]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 15 October 1986, unit 313012 ran into the rear of a London Underground empty stock train at Kensal Green due to excessive speed after passing a signal at caution. Twenty-five people were injured.[36]
  • On 12 August 1987, unit 313063 overran the buffer stop at Walton-on-the-Naze and demolished the station building due to a brake fault on the train. Thirteen people were injured.[37]
  • On 22 October 2020, unit 313212 was derailed at Bognor Regis due to a signalling error.[38]
  • On 19 November 2020, unit 313220 was involved in a fire at West Worthing station.[39]
  • On 10 March 2021, unit 313203 was involved in a fire at East Worthing station.[40]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Unit Unit nos.
Class 313/0 Scrapped 41 1976–1977 3 313018, 313024–313033, 313035–313064
Class 313/1 3 313122–313123, 313134
Network Rail 1 313121
Class 313/2 Southern 19[41] 313201–313217,[41] 313219–313220[41]

Named units[edit]

Named units are as follows:[42]


  1. ^ Diagram EA204 0B additionally describes a variant of the DMSO car with a steel body, instead of aluminium.[3]


  1. ^ a b "PEP-talk: the BR second generation EMU". Rail Express. No. 317. October 2022. pp. 54–55.
  2. ^ a b "Class 313 Scrapping log". Archived from the original on 13 June 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Vehicle Diagram Book No.210 for Electrical Multiple Units (including A.P.T.)" (PDF). Barrowmore MRG. BRB Residuary Ltd. 12–13, 278–279, 386–387. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Class 313". Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. ^ Haresnape & Swain 1989, p. 82.
  6. ^ "Southern '313s' are network's veterans". Rail. No. 949. 26 January 2022. p. 30.
  7. ^ a b Pritchard, Fox & Hall 2009, pp. 262–3.
  8. ^ Haresnape & Swain 1989, p. 83.
  9. ^ Haresnape & Swain 1989, pp. 83–84.
  10. ^ Haresnape & Swain 1989, p. 84.
  11. ^ "New passenger ROSCO enters market!". June 2012. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Different trains coming soon : Southern". Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
  13. ^ Turner, Lynda (25 February 2010). "Rail group slams Southern's old trains for new proposals". Hastings and St. Leonards Observer. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  14. ^ "Southern Railway to axe toilets from new train fleet - BBC News". 20 September 2010. Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  15. ^ "BR blue repaint for pioneer Class 313". 20 December 2017. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Class 313s / Partially refreshed". Modern Railways. February 2010.
  17. ^ "General Information". Class 313 Conversion Training Guide. First Capital Connect. 2009. p. 9.
  18. ^ "Over 6,500 more seats added to London commuter routes". Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  19. ^ "Railway Industry Association: Update #52 page 6" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  20. ^ "Network Rail prepares for the future at Wembley with 1970s built Electric Multiple Unit. -". Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  21. ^ "Class 313 'laboratory train' nears completion". Rail Express. Archived from the original on 27 April 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  22. ^ "Network Rail's newest train takes to the rails". Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  23. ^ "Job Done". Rail Express. No. 266, July 2018. p. 91.
  24. ^ "313 stored ahead of GWML duty". Rail Magazine. No. 860, August 2018. p. 29.
  25. ^ Clinnick, Richard (22 December 2015). "Siemens favoured for new GN trains". Rail. Peterborough. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  26. ^ "Govia chosen for new Thameslink contract". Railnews. 23 May 2014. Archived from the original on 23 May 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  27. ^ "Govia wins TSGN franchise, beating FirstGroup". Rail Technology Magazine. Cognitive Publishing. 23 May 2014. Archived from the original on 23 May 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  28. ^ Clinnick, Richard (22 December 2015). "Siemens favoured for new GN trains". Rail. Bauer Media. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  29. ^ "New Trains for Moorgate services". Great Northern. Archived from the original on 26 March 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  30. ^ "Class 313". Rail Express (April 2019): 99.
  31. ^ "First Great Northern Class 313s for Scrap". Rail Record. 7 April 2019. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  32. ^ "First Class 313 is sent for scrap as 717 use increases". The Railway Magazine. No. 1418, May 2019. p. 105.
  33. ^ "1,514 brand new vehicles as GTR completes £2 billion fleet cascade". Archived from the original on 8 October 2019. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  34. ^ "NRM stops main line diesel locomotive operation". Rail Magazine. No. 876, April 2019. p. 10.
  35. ^ "The end is nigh for many EX-BR fleets". Today's Railways UK. No. 244. June 2022. p. 7.
  36. ^ McCrickard, John P (6 October 2016). "June 1986 to December 1986". Network South East Railway Society. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  37. ^ McCrickard, John P (6 October 2016). "January 1987 to December 1987". Network South East Railway Society. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  38. ^ "Rail Accident Investigation BranchSafety digest 08/2020: Bognor RegisPassenger train derailment at Bognor Regis station, West Sussex, 22 October 2020" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  39. ^ "Train fire at West Worthing railway station". 20 November 2020. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  40. ^ "Train evacuated after smoke seen coming from carriage - delays expected". The Argus. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  41. ^ a b c "GN '313s' bow out in style". Rail Express. No. 283. December 2019. p. 76.
  42. ^ "The Encyclopaedia of Modern Traction Names". Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)


  • Haresnape, Brian; Swain, Alec (1989). 10: Third Rail DC Electric Multiple-Units. British Rail Fleet Survey. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1760-3.
  • Pritchard, Robert; Fox, Peter; Hall, Peter (2009). British Railways Locomotives & Coaching Stock 2009. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing. ISBN 978-1-902336-70-1.

Further reading[edit]