British Rail Class 318

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British Rail Class 318
Hyndland - Abellio 318262 Cumbernauld service.JPG
Class 318 in ScotRail livery at Hyndland (2016)
In service 1986 - Current
Manufacturer BREL York
Family name BR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Replaced First Generation DMUs
Constructed 1985 - 1986[1]
Refurbishment 2005 - 2007
Hunslet-Barclay, Kilmarnock
2013 - 2017
Wabtec, Doncaster
Number built 21 trainsets
Formation 3 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers 318250 - 318270
Operator(s) Abellio ScotRail
Maximum speed 90 mph (145 km/h)
Electric system(s) 25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead
Current collection method Stone Faiveley AMBR Pantograph
Braking system(s) Disc
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 318 is an electric multiple unit (EMU) train, which operates exclusively in the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport network in West Central Scotland. The units were introduced fully on 29 September 1986 as part of the electrification of the Ayrshire Coast Line between Glasgow Central and Ayr/Ardrossan with alternating current (AC) overhead lines. Usage was extended to Largs in January 1987. They were also used on the Inverclyde Line in small numbers. The trains currently operate Argyle and North Clyde Line services.

Background and history[edit]

Class 318 253 at Fairlie in the first month of operation
Class 318 in original orange and black Strathclyde Transport livery

Effectively a 3-car version of the Class 317 units but used in the Glasgow area, 21 of these British Rail Mark 3-based units were built by BREL York works between 1985-1986, to replace the elderly Class 101, Class 107, Class 120 and Class 126 diesel multiple units (DMUs) which had worked the Glasgow South Western sector for nearly 30 years. The technical description of the units are DTSO+MSO+DTSO, consisting of a central motor car (with a roof mounted Stone Faiveley AMBR pantograph and four Brush TM2141 traction motors located under the floor within both bogies (two motors per a bogie)) with a driving trailer at either end. The units run on the standard 25 kV AC overhead line system, and are standard class throughout, with one toilet located in coach C.

Up to four sets can be worked in multiple to form a 12-car set, although platforms are only capable of handling 8-car trains. The units have a maximum speed of 90 mph (145 km/h), and can complete the 41-mile (66 km) journey between Glasgow Central and Ayr in around 52 minutes. With the introduction of the Class 334s, in 2001 - 2002, onto Ayrshire/Inverclyde routes, both the 334s and 318s were found operating them same lines together. The 318 can also be coupled in tandem with the slightly newer Class 320 in a six car formation, this practice is regularly used on the North Clyde and Argyle Lines.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Front view of 318254 shortly after the crash at Largs station

In July 1995, units 318254 and 318262 were operating a Glasgow Central to Largs service when a braking system failure resulted in the train overshooting the end of the platform at Largs railway station. The train crashed through shops at the front of the station, and out into Main Street, Largs. Being very early in the morning, there were no serious injuries. The cab of vehicle 77244 (from set 318254) needed to be completely rebuilt. 318262 managed to move by rail back to Shields depot. The reconstruction of the Largs railway station building took almost ten years to complete.[2]

On 3 September 2007, unit 318254 derailed near Exhibition Centre railway station in Glasgow. The train, which ran ECS from Anderston railway station after terminating there and reversed to head back to Anderston to take up its next service, was empty apart from a driver, a trainee, an instructor and a ticket examiner. Two of the four were injured and the others walked away unharmed. This is the same unit that was involved in the Largs rail crash. 318254 is still in service today.[citation needed]

On 16 January 2008, number 318267 was involved in a minor collision at Glasgow Central station whilst stationary. British Rail Class 334 number 334017 was working the 08:24 passenger service from Gourock when it collided with the empty Class 318 train whilst preparing to terminate at Glasgow Central. The Class 334 train was in the process of braking and was travelling at less than 4 mph (6 km/h) when the collision occurred. Four passengers were slightly injured; however only one required hospital attention, and was transferred to Glasgow Southern General hospital in a taxi.[3]

2005-2007 Refurbishment[edit]

318 267 with original front end at Gourock in July 2006
318 257 with revised front end at Glasgow Central Low Level in 2011

Between 2005 and 2007, all Class 318s underwent a conversion process which involves the removal of the corridor connection on the driver's cars.[4] Although one may see this as detrimental to passenger operations, there have been no great problems with the Class 334 or Class 320 units which also have no corridor connections. Apart from 'cleaning up' the appearance of the driver's cars, this allows the driver to have a far more spacious operating environment and gives the driver a better overall view.

The Class 318 units were refurbished at Hunslet-Barclay.[5] The passenger accommodation has also been improved, with new passenger door controls.[4] The interior has been fully repainted in white, and new grab handles have been fitted.[4] New lighting has been fitted, with similar gondolas[clarification needed] to the Class 320 units. First ScotRail originally promised new passenger information systems, similar to those seen on other trains.[4] This was not fitted to the first units to undergo refurbishment (318251 and 318264); however, they have been fitted to the subsequent units, and were retrofitted to the initial units later.

One of the refurbished units, 318266, had one variation to the livery from the rest of the fleet, having "SPT Rail" branding placed on the pantograph end of the centre coach, rather than the usual centre, due to having "STRATHCLYDER" nameplate being placed.

The audio announcement system is based on the one used in Class 320 units rather than the Class 334 and Class 380 units.

In September 2008 the Scottish Government's agency Transport Scotland announced that all ScotRail trains (including from the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport) would be eventually repainted in a new, blue livery with white Saltire markings on the carriage ends. At the same time of the announcement, the Class 318 units had been recently refurbished and repainted, so the Class 318 units would be the last in the EMU fleet to be repainted in Saltire livery. Despite the recent refurbishment, all Class 318 units had their "SPT Rail" branding removed, leaving the units unbranded most of the time than having their "SPT Rail" branding affixed in the first three years.

All Class 318 units eventually received the saltire livery, and this was done while the fleet went through another refurbishment at Wabtec Doncaster between 2013 and 2017.

2013-2017 Refurbishment[edit]

Two Class 318s stand at Partick wearing both pre and post-refurbishment liveries in 2017.

The Class 318 units received another refurbishment between October 2013 and October 2017.

The work includes:

  • Relivery into Scotrail Saltire Livery
  • Internal Refurbishment, including an internal repaint, new floor vinyl and new blue 'saltire' seat coverings.
  • Fluorescent lights replaced with LED lighting.
  • New floor-level lighting in the door vestibules.
  • Small toilet replaced with a large accessible toilet, as recently fitted to the Class 320 fleet.
  • Any corrosion repairs to bodywork

Unit 318251 headed south to Wabtec's Doncaster Works on 5 October 2013 and returned to Scotland on 28 March 2014.[6]

The refurbishment programme of the Class 318 fleet was completed in October 2017, with unit 318268 being the last to be completed.

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos.
Class 318 Abellio ScotRail 21 1985-1986 3 318250 - 318270

Named units[edit]

Two Class 318 units were denamed following the recent refurbishment, as with ScotRail's class 320 fleet following their refurbishment.

  • 318259 - Citizens' Network (denamed September 2014)
  • 318266 - Strathclyder (denamed January 2016)

318256 was also named North Berwick Flyer 1850 - 2000 between June 2000 and March 2002.


  1. ^ "Class 318". The Railway Centre. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  2. ^ March 2005 edition of First ScotRail's newsletter, firstInsight
  3. ^ "Passengers hurt as trains collide". BBC Online. 16 January 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d Class 318 Refurbishment Archived 8 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. - Brush Traction. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  5. ^ Class 318 Refurbishment - Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  6. ^ " » Class 318 Relivery Refurbishment 2013-2016". 

Further reading[edit]

  • "Hunslet-Barclay wins '318' refurbishment". RAIL. No. 326. EMAP Apex Publications. 11–24 March 1998. p. 8. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.