British Rail Class 319

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British Rail Class 319
319373 and 319 number 438 to Sevenoaks 2E45 by Train Photos.jpg
Thameslink liveried 319373 and 319438 to Sevenoaks
British Rail Class 319.jpg
Class 319 interior after Thameslink refurbishment
In service 1987 – present
Manufacturer BREL York[1]
Order number
  • 319/0:
  • 31022 (77291-381, DTSO, odd nos.)
  • 31038 (77431-457, DTSO, odd nos.)
  • 31023 (62891-936, MSO)
  • 31039 (62961-974, MSO)
  • 31024 (71772-817, TSOL)
  • 31040 (71866-879, TSOL)
  • 31025 (77290-380, DTSO, even nos.)
  • 31041 (77430-456, DTSO, even nos.)
  • 319/1:
  • 31063 (DTCO)
  • 31064 (MSO)
  • 31065 (TSOL)
  • 31066 (DTSO)[2]
Built at Holgate Road carriage works
Family name BR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Constructed 1987–88, 1990[3]
Entered service 1987-1990
Refurbishment 1996-1999[3]
Number built 86 sets
  • 4 carriages
  • (as built)[2]
  • 319/0:
  • EE233 (DTSO, odd nos.)
  • EC209 (MSO)
  • EH234 (TSOL)
  • EE234 (DTSO, even nos.)
  • 319/1:
  • EE310 (DTCO)
  • EC214 (MSO)
  • EH238 (TSOL)
  • EE240 (DTSO)[2]
Fleet numbers
  • 319/0 (as built):
  • 319001-319060 (sets)
  • 77290-77381, 77430-77457 (DTSO)
  • 62891-62936, 62961-62974 (MSO)
  • 71772-77817, 71866-71879 (TSOL)
  • 319/1 (as built):
  • 319161-319186 (sets)
  • 77458-77497, 77973-77983 (DTCO, odd nos.)
  • 63043-63062, 63094-63098 (MSO)
  • 71929-71948, 71979-71984 (TSOL)
  • 77458-77496, 77974-77984 (DTSO, even nos.)[3]
  • 319/0 (as built):
  • 319S (total)
  • 82S (DTSO A)
  • 82S (MSO)
  • 77S (TSOL)
  • 78S (DTSO B)
  • 319/1 (as built):
  • 16F/256S (total)
  • 16F/54S (DTCO)
  • 79S (MSO)
  • 74S (TSOL)[3]
Line(s) served
Car body construction Steel[4]
Car length
  • 19.83 m (65.1 ft) (DTCO, DTSO)
  • 19.92 m (65.4 ft) (MSO, TSOL)[1][3]
Width 2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)[1]
Height 3.58 m (11 ft 9 in)[1]
Doors Bi-parting sliding,[3] emergency end doors[3]
Articulated sections 4
Wheelbase 14.170 m (46.49 ft)[4]
Maximum speed 100 mph (161 km/h)[1][3]
Weight 140.3 t (138.1 long tons; 154.7 short tons)[1]
Axle load
  • 7.25 t (7.14 long tons; 7.99 short tons) (DTSO A)
  • 12.65 t (12.45 long tons; 13.94 short tons) (MSO)
  • 7.75 t (7.63 long tons; 8.54 short tons) (TSOL)
  • 7.425 t (7.308 long tons; 8.185 short tons) (DTSO B)[1]
Traction motors 4 × GEC G315BZ[3]
Power output 4 × 247.5 kW (331.9 hp)[2]
Train heating Electric[4]
Electric system(s)
Current collection method
UIC classification 2'2'+Bo'Bo'+2'2'+2'2'
  • BREL P7-4 (MSO)
  • BREL T3-7 (others)[2][3]
Braking system(s) Westinghouse 3 step friction brake,[1] disc,[2] air (Westcode)[3]
Safety system(s) AWS[4]
Coupling system
Multiple working Within class only[3]
Headlight type Fluorescent[4]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 319 is a dual-voltage electric multiple unit train capable of operating on 25 kV AC from overhead wires or 750 V DC from a third rail. They were built by BREL York for use on north-south cross-London services.

Built in two batches in 1987–88 and 1990, the units were primarily used on the then-new Thameslink service operating from Bedford to Brighton and various other destinations south of London. The majority of the fleet remained in use on the Thameslink route after its reshaping and privatisation in 1997. Some of the fleet was also used on various other services operating out of London Victoria, including flagship expresses to Brighton.

Since delivery of new rolling stock for Thameslink services commenced in 2015, a number of Class 319 units have been redeployed for use on other operators' services, including in the North West of England.


In the 1980s, there were plans for a rail service that would link Bedford and Brighton. These services would cross London in a north-south direction, and thus became the first passenger route for many years to cross London from north to south. These services were branded Thameslink by Network SouthEast, which operated the services.

As the Thameslink service was to use a route with 25 kV AC OHLE north of Farringdon and along the branch to Moorgate, and 750 V DC third-rail electrification south of Farringdon, the Class 319 trains were built with dual-voltage capabilities, making them very versatile.[5] They were also the first British Rail units to use modern thyristor control in place of a camshaft and resistor bank.[6]

The body shape of the Class 319 is slightly different from contemporary electric units due to restrictions in the loading gauge in Kings Cross tunnel, which meant that other dual-voltage units were not suitable.[citation needed] They were also required to have emergency end doors in the cabs,[7] due to the twin single-bore layout of Smithfield tunnel preventing normal train evacuation.

Two sub-classes of Class 319 units, 60 Class 319/0s and 26 Class 319/1s, were originally built.[8] Over the years, units have been refurbished, creating five sub-classes, of which four still exist.

Class 321 passenger units and Class 325 postal units were developed from the Class 319 design,[6] using similar traction equipment and the same steel body design, with revised cab designs.

Class 319/0[edit]

Original interior of a Class 319/0

The first batch of 60 units, built in 1987–88, was classified as Class 319/0. Units were numbered in the range 319001–060 and had a maximum speed of 100 mph (161 km/h). Each unit consisted of four steel carriages: two outer driving trailers, an intermediate motor with a roof-mounted Stone Faiveley AMBR pantograph and four DC GEC G315BZ traction motors (two per bogie), and an intermediate trailer housing a compressor, motor alternator and two toilets. Seating was standard-class only, in 2+3 layout.

The technical description of the unit formation is DTSO(A)+MSO+TSO+DTSO(B). Individual vehicles were numbered as follows:

  • 77291–77381 (odd) and 77431–77457 (odd) — DTSO(A)
  • 62891–62936 and 62961–62974 — MSO
  • 71772–71817 and 71866–71879 — TSO
  • 77290–77380 (even) and 77430–77456 (even) — DTSO(B)

Vehicles were numbered in two ranges, corresponding to units 319001–046 and 319047–060. The gaps in the number series (e.g. 77382–77429) were filled by the Class 442 units, built around the same period.

DTSO(B) originally featured a lockable sliding door between the driving cab and the first set of power doors and tip-up longitudinal seating to enable parcels to be carried securely. This facility was rarely used and the sliding door has since been removed - but the tip-up seat area has been retained for carrying bicycles and wheelchairs.

Units 319001–319013 are the remaining members of the 319/0 subclass; all others were converted to Class 319/2 or Class 319/4 in the late 1990s.

Class 319/1[edit]

Class 319 in original Network South East livery at St Albans

Built in 1990, this second batch of 26 units was numbered in the range 319161–186. The formation of the second batch of sets was similar to that of the earlier units, with the addition of first-class seating at one end of the train for use on longer-distance Bedford to Brighton services.[5] Like the first batch, standard-class seating was of a 2+3 layout in standard class. First-class seating was in 2+2 layout.

Units were formed in the arrangement DTCO+MSO+TSO+DTSO. Individual vehicles were numbered as follows:

  • 77459–77497 (odd) and 77973–77983 (odd) — DTCO
  • 63043–63062 and 63093–63098 — MSO
  • 71929–71948 and 71979-71984 — TSO
  • 77458–77496 (even) and 77972–77984 (even) — DTSO

Vehicles were numbered in two ranges, corresponding to units 319161–180 and 319181–186. A more modern Brecknell Willis high speed pantograph was also fitted.

All 319/1 units were converted to Class 319/3 in the late 1990s.

Class 319/2[edit]

Lounge seating in a 319/2

In the late 1990s, seven of the Class 319/0 sets were converted especially for use on Connex South Central express services between London Victoria and Brighton.[9] Work carried out at Railcare Wolverton included new, lower-density seating, a disabled toilet, and a special 'lounge' seating area in the saloon space below the pantograph in the MSO, where stowage for a refreshment trolley and a small serving counter were also fitted.

Units involved were renumbered from the series 319014–319020 to 319214–319220. They retain their low-density layout, but the lounge area has been replaced by standard seating since their return to use on Thameslink services.

Class 319/3[edit]

Thameslink Class 319/3 'City Metro' unit

In the period 1997-99,[9] Thameslink arranged for all of its 319/1 units to be converted at Eastleigh Works for use on the shorter-distance Luton to Sutton/Wimbledon services, then known as 'Thameslink CityMetro'. These units lost their first-class seating and were renumbered into the 319/3 series. They were painted in a navy-blue and yellow livery at this time.

Various refurbishments have taken place since 1999, including:

  • Minor refresh by Thameslink including new seat covers between 2003 and 2005
  • Relivery and interior refresh by Railcare Wolverton for First Capital Connect completed in 2010
  • New passenger information system, LED lighting, new seat covers and an internal and external repaint for units transferring to Northern Rail[10] and similar work for those remaining on Thameslink in the interim, starting in 2014.

Class 319/4[edit]

Units 319021-319060 were refurbished for Thameslink at Railcare Wolverton in 1997/98. Work included the installation of a first-class compartment at one end, in the DTSO(A) vehicle[9] and the removal of some seating in the centre of each vehicle to give 2+2 layout. Cosmetic improvements included new carpets and seat coverings, as well as application of the navy-blue Thameslink livery.

Upon completion, these units were renumbered as 319421-319460 and moved on to the Bedford to Brighton service, branded as 'Thameslink Cityflier'.

From 2003 to 2005, during the Thameslink blockade, some minor interior updating took place such as recovering seats with an updated Thameslink moquette. First-class compartments were refurbished with new carpet, retrimmed seats and chrome-plated heater panels, apart from unit 319444, which retained its 1997-designed interior.

A later refresh was unveiled by the then new operator First Capital Connect on 26 October 2006. Unit 319425 was renamed Transforming Travel for the occasion and showcased the following improvements:

  • Emergency brake pressure increased to the +12% G standard, giving an extra 1 Bar brake cylinder pressure in emergency
  • Emergency brake 'timeout' period reduced from 2 minutes to 20 seconds
  • DC traction motors rewound to improve reliability
  • Improved motor control hardware with a new Remote Communications Frame
  • New 'easy to clean' flooring
  • Retrimmed seats into the First Capital Connect moquette
  • Some seats in standard class were removed and vertical luggage stacks installed in their place; a further two seats were removed in the TSO vehicle to allow easier access to the toilet
  • Repainted dado side panels and wall ends
  • Existing stanchions painted pink
  • New stanchions leading from some seats to the overhead luggage rack to provide standing passengers with something to hold on to and more support
  • Improved, brighter fluorescent lighting diffusers

The refresh took place at Railcare Wolverton works and also featured both a mechanical overhaul (under the solebar) and a full exterior relivery, again in vinyl. Some Class 319/4 units have had their Stone Faiveley AMBR air and spring pantograph replaced by the more modern Brecknell Willis High Speed air-only pantograph design.

Current operations[edit]

The majority of the fleet remains concentrated on the Thameslink route as of 2016. However, acquisition of new trains for this route has allowed for some to be transferred to newly electrified routes elsewhere and for others to provide extra capacity on suburban services.


The majority of Class 319 units have remained in use on the cross-London Thameslink route since their construction. Between 2006 and 2014, the then-operator of the route, First Capital Connect, also negotiated the phased return of the 20 units that had found use on other services operated by Southern.

In due course, Thameslink services will be entirely taken over by a new generation of purpose-built Class 700 trains, allowing the release of all Class 319 units currently used on Thameslink for use elsewhere. Some of the Class 319 fleet has already been released, with this being facilitated by the temporary use of Class 377 and 387 units in the interim.

Class 319 units due to remain on the Thameslink route for the time being have been progressively repainted into a neutral livery since 2014, with minimal branding.


Northern's 319382 at Huyton in June 2015

Northern operates twenty Class 319/3 units along recently electrified routes in the North West of England. The first use of the fleet was on the Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport via Chat Moss service on 5 March 2015.[11] From 17 May 2015, services from Liverpool to Wigan North Western via Huyton followed suit.[12] The first batch of units that transferred to Northern Rail underwent a light refurbishment at Wolverton and were repainted into a dedicated Northern Electrics livery. The 750 V direct current (DC) third rail equipment was also removed.[citation needed]

Other services now operated by Class 319s include Manchester Victoria to Liverpool via Earlestown, Liverpool to Warrington Bank Quay and Liverpool to Preston. Further Class 319 units are due to be cascaded from Thameslink in 2017 - these units will be deployed on services to Blackpool North from both Liverpool and Manchester upon completion of the electrification of the Blackpool Branch Lines.

All of Northern's Class 319 units are based at Allerton depot.

London Midland[edit]

Seven units have been transferred to London Midland[when?] to operate the Watford Junction to St Albans service and some peak West Coast Main Line services out of London Euston.[13] This allowed London Midland to cascade their seven Class 321 units to Abellio ScotRail.

Former operations[edit]

Southern 319216 at London Bridge in August 2007


When British Rail was privatised in the mid-1990s, the first 13 units (319001–319013) were used for outer-suburban services by Connex South Central, with some temporarily losing their 25 kV AC overhead equipment. Seven more of the Class 319/0 sets (319014–319020) were refurbished and dedicated to express services between London Victoria and Brighton,[9] before later finding work on peak-only London Victoria to Guildford via West Croydon and London Victoria to Horsham via Three Bridges services. The dual-voltage capability was also used to introduce new services linking Rugby and Gatwick Airport.[14] via the West Coast and West London Lines in the 1990s.

Successor company Southern continued to operate the fleet and reliveried it into its own colour scheme. It later went on to sublease Class 319/0 units to First Capital Connect for use on the Thameslink route, before eventually releasing the entire fleet.

Notable units[edit]

319008 operating "Tunnel Explorer" excursions into the Channel Tunnel on 7 May 1994 from Sandling railway station; the first public-carrying passenger trains through the tunnel.
Nameplate commemorating crossing on 10 December 1993.

Units 319008 Cheriton and 319009 Coquelles are notable for two reasons:

  • On 10 December 1993 they travelled through the Channel Tunnel to Calais-Fréthun and back with a party of invited guests, after the construction consortium TransManche Link (who were responsible for the construction of the Tunnel) had transferred responsibility for operations and management over to Eurotunnel. Their pantographs were modified at Selhurst Depot beforehand to account for the higher OHL height at Cheriton and in the tunnel. For the subsequent "Folkestone 1994" event on 7 May 1994, which saw the first paying members of the public taken into the tunnel by train. On 26 March 1994 units 319008 and 319009 were named "Cheriton" and "Coquelles" respectively at Victoria and plaques adorned with the Union Flag and Tricolore were installed on their motor carriages.[9][15]
  • On 26 March 1994 they set a record for the shortest London to Brighton journey time, at 37 minutes 57 seconds. This record stood until 2005 when the "Speed Run" event, organised by Southern, using Class 377 units 377472 and 377474 set a slightly quicker record of 36 minutes 56 seconds.[16] Both units were denamed after being transferred from Southern to First Capital Connect. In 2012 319008 Cheriton was noted with its nameplates re-applied, and on 5 March 2012 319009 Coquelles was also re-united with its nameplates.

Other liveries[edit]

  • 319215 is in a Switzerland Advertising Livery.[17][18]
  • 319218 has been vinyled into Lyca Mobile livery and is in service.[when?][citation needed]
  • 319365 & 319364 were previously vinyled in a "rainbow" livery advertising the Thameslink Programme. These vinyls were removed in 2013 and both units appeared in the FCC "Urban Lights" livery before they were transferred to Northern Rail in 2014.

Named units[edit]

Named units are as follows:[19]


In 2006 a Thameslink 319 unit (319369) derailed at slow speed on catch points at Lovers Walk Depot, Brighton. The same unit, this time operated by First Capital Connect and bound for Sevenoaks, was involved in another incident in January 2014 when due to a fault the pantograph didn't lower at Farringdon station. As a result, it hit the roof of Blackfriars station at about 09:55. No-one was injured and the train was later removed.[citation needed]


Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Unit nos.
Class 319/0 Thameslink 11 1987–88 319001–319003, 319005–319012
London Midland 1 319013
Northern 1 319004
Class 319/2 Thameslink 4 319214–319215, 319217, 319220
London Midland 1 319216
Northern 2 319218–319219
Class 319/3 Northern 20 1990 319361–319369, 319371, 319374–319380, 319382–319383, 319386
Thameslink 6 319370, 319372–319373, 319381, 319384–319385
Class 319/4 33 1987–88 319421–319428, 319430–319440, 319443–319447, 319449–319454, 319456, 319458–319459
London Midland 5 319429, 319441, 319455, 319457, 319460
Northern 2 319442, 319448


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Class 319 Electric Multiple Unit" (PDF) (01) (A ed.). Porterbrook. August 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Fox 1994, pp. 32–34
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Class 319". The Railway Centre. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Vehicle Diagram Book No.210 for Electrical Multiple Units (including A.P.T.)" (PDF). Barrowmore MRG. BRB Residuary Ltd. EC209, EE233, EE234, EH234, EH238. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Class 319 - Welcome to the Southern E-Group Web Site. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b Green & Vincent 2014
  7. ^ Thameslink - Moorgate Branch: Local instructions/Working over book (July 1999)
  8. ^ Marsden 2008, p. 138
  9. ^ a b c d e Class 319 2 Page. - Welcome to the Southern E-Group Web Site. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  10. ^ Transforming Northern’s Revenue Protection Update - Transport for Greater Manchester Committee. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
  11. ^ "Northern '319s' in service". Modern Railways. Key Publishing. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Electric services to Wigan and Manchester Victoria start in May". RAIL. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "Train accessibility". London Midland. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  14. ^ "Track Record". BBC News. 29 November 1999. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  15. ^ Class 319 - Kent Rail. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  16. ^ Duff, Colin. "Southern's Speed Run 2005". Southern Electric Group. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  17. ^ "More '319s' enter service with Northern" (PDF). Rail Express (230): 90. July 2015. ISSN 1362-234X. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  18. ^ "319215 nr bedford". Flickr. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  19. ^ "EMU Formations". AbRail. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  20. ^ "'Northern Powerhouse' joins Northern Rail's electric fleet" (Press release). Northern Rail. 20 March 2015. 


  • Fox, Peter (1994). Electric Multiple Units. British Railways Pocket Book No.4 (7th ed.). Platform 5. ISBN 9781872524603. 
  • Green, Chris; Vincent, Mike (2014). The Network SouthEast Story. Oxford Publishing. ISBN 9780860936534. 
  • Marsden, Colin J. (2008). The DC Electrics. Ian Allan. ISBN 9780860936152. OCLC 318668763. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Knight, Steven (12–25 February 1997). "All aboard the Connex Express". RAIL. No. 298. EMAP Apex Publications. pp. 30–33. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699. 

External links[edit]