British Rail Class 320

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British Rail Class 320
Hyndland 320314.jpg
Refurbished 320314 at Hyndland
In service August 1990 - Current
Manufacturer BREL York
Family name BR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Replaced Class 311
Constructed 1990
Number built
  • 22 trainsets (original batch)
  • 7 trainsets (Class 320/4)
Formation 3 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers
  • 320301 - 320322
  • 320411 - 320417
Operator(s) Abellio ScotRail
Car length (?)
Width 2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)[1]
Height 3.78 m (12 ft 4 78 in)[1]
Maximum speed
  • Class 320/3: 90 mph (145 km/h)
  • Class 320/4: 100 mph (161 km/h)
Weight Total: 114.5 tonnes (112.7 long tons; 126.2 short tons)
Electric system(s) 25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead
Current collection method Pantograph
Braking system(s) Air (Westcode)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 320 is an alternating current (AC) electric multiple-unit (EMU) train found on the Strathclyde rail network in Central Scotland, and used on the North Clyde Line between Balloch and Airdrie via Glasgow Queen Street and also the Argyle Line between Dalmuir and Milngavie to Motherwell and Larkhall stations via Glasgow Central they can also be seen on Glasgow Central to Lanark duties along with Class 318 and British Rail Class 380 trains


The Class 320 is effectively a three-car derivative of the Class 321 units found in and around London and the Midlands. Built in 1990[1] by BREL York, 22 three-car sets were ordered by SPT to supersede the ageing Class 303 and Class 311 stock which were by then 30 years old. The trains were built against lot numbers 31060–2,[2] which were issued on 6 January 1989 and completed on 31 October 1990.[3]

The units run on 25 kV AC overhead line supply via a Brecknell Willis High Speed pantograph, using four Brush TM2141B traction motors. With much shorter passenger journeys in mind, the Class 320 units lack the toilets of the Class 321 units and also began life with a lower speed capability (75 mph or 121 km/h) due to the much closer spacing of stations on the North Clyde route. The lower design speed meant that yaw dampers could be omitted from this class but during 2010, yaw dampers were fitted across the class[4] allowing them to travel at 90 mph (145 km/h). This meant that the units could be used on the sections of the Argyle Line route shared with the West Coast Main Line (and in theory, the Airdrie-Bathgate extension of the North Clyde Line and beyond), and also allows full-speed running in multiple with Class 318 stock, which has had 90 mph capability from the outset. The interior decor includes paintings of various landmarks and famous sights along the various SPT rail routes on the car ends.

The Class 320 units are fitted with GSM-R cab radios and took part in the GSM-R trial in the Strathclyde area.


The units were originally intended to operate on the Argyle Line but, mainly because the platform monitors on the Argyle Line stations did not line up with the driver cabs,[citation needed] the units had always been restricted to the North Clyde route, although they were occasionally used for VIP trips from the high-level platforms of Glasgow Central when they were the newest EMU stock in the SPT fleet. The problem was resolved in 2011 and the units began entering service to replace the final Class 334 units from the Argyle Line.

Like all SPT rolling stock of the period, the Class 320s were painted in orange/black livery until 1997, when the carmine/cream livery was progressively phased in. Between 2002 and 2004, the Class 320 fleet were given a major interior refurbishment, with new seat covers, floor coverings, and electronic and audible destination information systems installed. The units were given a revised SPT carmine & cream livery upon its refurbishment, the most noticeable being the passenger doors being all cream.

In September 2008 the Scottish Government's agency Transport Scotland announced that all ScotRail trains would be eventually repainted in a new, blue livery with white Saltire markings on the carriage ends. Relivery of the fleet began in February 2011 when the units are taken for their refurbishment. All Class 320 units are now in saltire livery.[5]

Cascade and Refurbishment[edit]

Unrefurbished 320s at Helensburgh Central

In 2011, Class 320s started to be used in the Argyle Line alongside the Class 318s, as well as operating on the North Clyde Line alongside the Class 334s. Although possible, in 2013 the Class 320 are not diagramed to operate east of Airdrie.

All Class 320s were refurbished by Wabtec Doncaster between February 2011 and October 2013.[6] The refurbishment work included:

  • Internal refurbishment, including fitting of toilet.
  • Underframe work, bogie change/buckeye renewal.
  • Relivery into ScotRail Saltire livery.

The first unit to be completed is 320314, which headed south to Wabtec Doncaster on 14 February 2011, returning on 6 June 2011.[7] The final unit to be sent for refurbishment was 320310, headed south on 30 August 2013. It is also the last Class 320 unit to retain the SPT branding in the fleet. The unit returned on 4 October 2013, completing the refurbishment programme of the Class 320 units.

Class 320/4 Units[edit]

A fleet of 7 former London Midland Class 321/4 units are being converted to Class 320/4 units before being transferred to Abellio Scotrail. The first converted units entered service from March 2016.[8]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos.
Class 320/3 Abellio ScotRail 22 1990 3 320301 - 320322 (Original batch)
Class 320/4 Abellio ScotRail 7 1989-90 3 320411 - 320417; rebuilt from Class 321

Named units[edit]

All Class 320 units have since been denamed following the refurbishment between 2011 and 2013.

  • 320305: Glasgow School of Art 1844-150-1994
  • 320306: Model Rail Scotland
  • 320308: High Road 20th Anniversary 2000
  • 320309: Radio Clyde 25th Anniversary
  • 320311: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • 320312: Sir William A Smith - Founder of the Boys' Brigade
  • 320321: Rt Hon John Smith QC MP
  • 320322: Festive Glasgow Orchid


  1. ^ a b c "Class 320". The Railway Centre. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Fox, Peter (1991). Locomotives & Coaching Stock 1991. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing. p. 250. ISBN 1-872524-26-5. 
  3. ^ Butcher, Roger (November 1993). Departmental Coaching Stock (5th ed.). Southampton: South Coast Transport Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 1-872768-10-5. 
  4. ^ "Class 320". ScotRail. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "ScotRail 25th Anniversary Publicity Materials". Transport Scotland. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  6. ^ Class 320 Refurbishment - Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  7. ^ "Facelift begins for Scotrail Class 320s". The Railway Magazine. 157 (1,325): 80. 2011. 
  8. ^ "Scotrail unveil £475m improvement plan". BBC News. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 

External links[edit]

Photos of Class 320 units can be found on Rail Fan