British Rail Class 315

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British Rail Class 315
315 821 speeding through Forest Gate.jpg
A TfL Rail Class 315 approaching Forest Gate in 2015
315820 DMSO Interior.jpg
The refreshed interior of a TfL Rail Class 315
In service1980–present
ManufacturerBritish Rail Engineering Limited
Built atHolgate Road, York
Family nameBREL 1972
ReplacedClass 306
  • 2004–2008 at Bombardier Derby[1]
  • 2015–2016 at Bombardier Ilford (London Overground and TfL Rail sets only)
Number built61
Number in service5
Number scrapped53
  • 4 cars per unit:
Fleet numbers315801–315861
Capacity318 seats
Operator(s)TfL Rail
Car length19.80 m (65 ft 0 in)
Width2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)
Height3.58 m (11 ft 9 in)
Maximum speed75 mph (121 km/h)[2]
Weight127.5 t (125.5 long tons; 140.5 short tons)
Power output656 kW (880 hp)
Accelerationmax. 0.75 m/s2 (2.7 km/(h⋅s); 1.7 mph/s)[2]
Electric system(s)25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead
Current collector(s)Pantograph
Safety system(s)AWS
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 315 is a fleet of alternating current (AC) electric multiple unit (EMU) trains built by British Rail Engineering Limited at Holgate Road Carriage Works in York from 1980 to 1981. It was the fifth and final variant of unit derived from British Rail's 1971 prototype suburban EMU design, which as the BREL 1972 family eventually encompassed 755 vehicles across Classes 313, 314, 315, 507, and 508. The fleet currently operates a small number of weekday TfL Rail services on the Great Eastern Main Line in London.


London Overground Class 315 at Hackney Downs
The refreshed interior of a London Overground Class 315

Each complete Class 315 unit is formed of four vehicles with them running for the majority in an eight-car formation with 12-car formations being common if demand is high or the route they are taking is long, such as ones to Southend Victoria or Southminster (operated by Greater Anglia).

The vehicles include: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO), Pantograph Trailer Standard Open (PTSO), Trailer Standard Open (TSO), and Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO). Each DMSO carries four traction motors (315801-841 originally had Brush TM61-53 and 315842-861 had GEC G310AZ, but these motors are interchangeable and nowadays any type can be found on any unit) rated at 110 hp (82 kW) each and a main compressor and air reservoir which carries air for the brakes and suspension. The original pneumatic door system has been replaced by an all-electric door system. The PTSO carries the main and auxiliary transformers, batteries and battery charger, Stone Faiveley AMBR Mk.1 pantograph, vacuum circuit breaker and auxiliary compressor. The TSO carries no equipment other than that which is standard to all coaches.

The coaches only contain standard seating and have no toilet facilities. Vehicles are numbered in the following ranges:

  • DMSO: 64461–64582
  • PTSO: 71281–71341
  • TSO: 71389–71449

Each four-car unit is able to seat 318 passengers. The Class 315 units replaced the Class 306 units.


Historical services[edit]

315808 in British Rail livery with the addition of the Network SouthEast logo, at Liverpool Street in 1987

Following the privatisation of British Rail, the Class 315s were divided between First Great Eastern (43 units) and West Anglia Great Northern (18 units). The leasing company Eversholt Rail Group has owned the entire Class 315 fleet since privatisation.[3]

From April 2004, National Express East Anglia (NXEA) ran the inaugural Greater Anglia franchise, which combined the previous operations of both First Great Eastern and West Anglia Great Northern, meaning the two Class 315 fleets were combined. The franchise was initially known as 'One' but was rebranded National Express East Anglia (NXEA) in February 2008.[4]

A refurbishment programme commenced from mid-2004, when National Express East Anglia (then 'One' railway) contracted Bombardier to carry out the refurbishment of all 61 units, starting with the ex-First Great Eastern examples. The low-back 3+2 seating was retained, so the capacity stayed the same.[5]

The Class 315 fleet transferred to new operator Abellio Greater Anglia in February 2012. Abellio repainted the trains in its own livery, and undertook a refresh of the fleet, including a Passenger Information System and a flexible space for wheelchairs and cycles which includes tip-up seating and 'call to aid' buttons.[6] Abellio used the fleet for local services out of London Liverpool Street to Shenfield (the popular Shenfield Metro service) on the Great Eastern Main Line and Cheshunt, Enfield Town and Chingford on the Lea Valley Lines. They were also seen on the Romford–Upminster line between Romford and Upminster, a duty shared with Class 317.

However, until the end of operation by Abellio Greater Anglia, a number of them were found running further afield, running on the Great Eastern and West Anglia Main Lines at peak times only to Bishop's Stortford, Broxbourne, Southminster and Southend Victoria.

Initially, the Shenfield Metro and Upminster Branch Line services used only units 315801-843 and the Lea Valley Lines only 315844-861, reflecting the allocations of the former franchises.

All 61 units were then used interchangeably, operating out of Ilford EMU Depot.

Current services[edit]

National Express East Anglia 315858 in former One livery at Romford in February 2011
The refurbished interior of a One Class 315

The current operator of the fleet is TfL Rail, who operate the units on Shenfield metro services on weekdays only.

Most of the withdrawn Class 315 were scrapped, but some TfL Rail units were temporarily moved to London Overground as a temporary measure and were in operation until the Class 710 was fully introduced.


In July 2015, TfL confirmed that it would place a £260 million order for 45 units Class 710 "Aventra" trains, which would replace London Overground Class 315. The Class 710 "Aventra" would be introduced on the West Anglia Routes, taken over from Abellio Greater Anglia in May 2015, in 2018.[7] The first units on the Lea Valley lines entered service on 3 March 2020 after a first attempt on 24 February 2020.[8]

Additionally, TfL Rail Class 315 units were replaced by the new Class 345 "Aventra" from August 2017.[9] On 20 October 2018, the first retired unit, 315850, was hauled to C F Booth of Rotherham to be scrapped.[10]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. built Year built Cars per unit Unit nos.
Class 315 TfL Rail 5 1980–1981 4 315837–838,[11] 315847,[11] 315853,[11] 315856–857[11]
Scrapped 11 315809,[12] 315318-819,[13][14] 315820,[14] 315826,[15] 315834,[13] 315839,[16] 315844,[17] 315848,[16] 315851,[15] 315854[17]


On 23 July 2021, the Class 315 Preservation Society announced on their website that they had reached an agreement with Eversholt Rail Group to acquire a Class 315 for preservation.[18]


  1. ^ "News Desk" (PDF). Railway Herald. No. 125. 21 March 2008. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Class 315". Eversholt Rail Limited. Archived from the original on 3 February 2020. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  3. ^ Class 315 Electric Multiple Unit Archived 11 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine - Eversholt Rail Group. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  4. ^ New brand, new name, new era Archived 17 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine - National Express Group. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  5. ^ "National Express invests in upgrade of class 315 fleet, 2007, News..." 3 January 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  6. ^ "First refurbished Class 315 units enter service | Greater Anglia". Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  7. ^ Rail Magazine, Issue 778, Page 14
  8. ^ "Bombardier Class 710/1s finally make their passenger debut on West Anglia suburban routes". Rail. 4 March 2020. Archived from the original on 13 March 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  9. ^ Clinnick, Richard (13 September 2017). "Peak-time use for Crossrail's new trains". Rail. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  10. ^ Devereux, Nigel (3 December 2018). "First Class 315 goes for scrap". Railway Magazine. Archived from the original on 29 November 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d "Units". Rail Express. No. 309. February 2022. p. 27.
  12. ^ "Units". Rail Express. No. 304. September 2021. p. 31.
  13. ^ a b "Units". Rail Express. No. 307. December 2022. p. 29.
  14. ^ a b "Units". Rail Express. No. 308. January 2022. p. 31.
  15. ^ a b "Units". Rail Express. No. 301. June 2021. p. 30.
  16. ^ a b "Stock Update". The Railway Magazine. No. 1454. May 2022. p. 85.
  17. ^ a b "Units". Rail Express. No. 310. March 2022. p. 29.
  18. ^ "Class 315 Electric Multiple Unit Secured for Preservation!". Class 315 Preservation Society. Retrieved 23 July 2021.

Further reading[edit]