British Rail Class 325

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British Rail Class 325
Hugh llewelyn 325 002 (6520031505).jpg
Class 325s on the week-day Willesden to Shieldmuir Mail passing Harrow & Wealdstone in 2009
In service1995 – Current
ManufacturerABB Derby
Family nameBR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Constructed1995 - 1996
Number built16 trainsets
Number in service15 trainsets
Number scrapped1 trainsets
Formation4 cars per trainset:
Operator(s)DB Cargo UK
Car lengthDTPMV - 19.83 m (65 ft 34 in)
MPMV/TPMV - 19.92 m (65 ft 4 in) [1]
Width2.82 m (9 ft 3 in) [1]
Height3.78 m (12 ft 4 78 in) [1]
Maximum speed100 mph (161 km/h)
WeightTotal - 138.5 t (136.3 long tons; 152.7 short tons) [1]
Electric system(s)25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead line
750 V DC 3rd rail
Current collection methodPantograph (AC)
Contact shoe (DC)
Braking system(s)Air
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 325 is a 4-car dual-voltage 25 kV alternating current (AC) or 750 V direct current (DC) electric multiple unit (EMU) train used for postal train services. While the Class 325 bears a resemblance to the Networker series of DMUs and EMUs, they are based on the Class 319 EMU. The Class 325 was British Rail's newest unit to take over parcels workings on electrified lines.


Mockup of Class 325 cab

In the early 1990s, the parcels sector of British Rail was seeking a fleet of multiple units that would be more cost-effective to run than the locomotive hauled stock it was using. The initial proposal was to convert a number of redundant Class 307 units that were in the process of being withdrawn from passenger service into Class 300 parcels units. Owing to the age of these units however, it was subsequently decided to procure a fleet of new trains. These units, which were ordered in 1994, were initially given the TOPS classification Class 350, before being changed to Class 325.[2]

The 16 units were built at ABB Derby between 1995 and 1996. They are very similar to Class 319 units, sharing the same traction equipment and body design, but are fitted with cabs of the same design as the ABB Networker family.[2][3]

TOPS numbers are on the front of the cabs under the driver's window in a non-standard typeface (Plantin, the then corporate typeface of Royal Mail), and the units were numbered 325001 - 325016. The units are fitted with large round oleo buffers, and have no gangways between carriages. They carry a livery of Royal Mail red, with two yellow stripes running along the lower bodyside before turning sharply backwards and pointing up towards the roof, black cab window surrounds and a full yellow warning panel. Each set is made up of four cars, with roller doors in place of sliding ones and no windows. Each car has two roller shutter sliding doors on each side and is designed to hold up to 12 tonnes. They have a pantograph to pick up power from the 25 kV AC overhead lines, and also a shoe to pick up power off the 750 V DC third rail. They cannot work in multiple with any other multiple unit stock, but are fitted with drop-head buck-eye coupling and can therefore be hauled by locomotives. The units were built in such a way that they could easily be converted for passenger use if no longer required for mail services.

After introduction, which was relatively trouble-free due largely to the fact that the Class 325 shares traction equipment with the Class 319, the units successfully settled into carrying parcels and mail from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh at 100 mph (160 km/h). They are based at Crewe Electric TMD.

As of 2017, the mockup cab built before the construction of the Class 325s, numbered 325000, is currently on display at the Nene Valley Railway as part of the as-yet-unfinished Night Mail Museum at Overton, having been disposed of from the National Railway Museum.


Privatisation of British Rail placed the units under English Welsh & Scottish Railway control to operate the postal trains that it inherited. Such work continued alongside Class 86 locomotives up the West Coast Main Line and East Coast Main Line until 2003, when Royal Mail withdrew the postal contracts, resulting in decreasing use until the units entered storage following the end of work.

When First GBRf gained a new contract for mail transport over Christmas 2004, the Class 325s returned to limited work operating in multiple. Work with locomotive haulage also occurred again, powered by GBRf Class 87s. After a traction reshuffle the Class 325s resumed service with their power cars and without locomotive haulage.

GBRf's contract expired in 2010. A new contract for Royal Mail operations, and responsibility for managing the Class 325 fleet, was won by DB Schenker. As of June 2010 seven trains were to be run a day, between London, Warrington and Glasgow via the West Coast Main Line, with capacity to be flexible as required.[4] The sets can be worked together to make up 4, 8 or 12-car trains.

In 2012, unit number 325010, which had been damaged and was stored as a source of spares for the rest of the fleet, was disposed of by scrapping.[5]

From June 2013, DB Schenker re-inaugurated an additional service on the East Coast Main Line from Willesden to Low Fell, just outside Newcastle.

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 325 DB Cargo UK 16 1995 - 1996 4 325001 - 009
325011 - 016
325010 scrapped
Class 325 in Royal Mail unbranded

Named units[edit]

Named units are as follows: [6]

  • 325002 - Royal Mail North Wales & North West
  • 325006 - John Grierson
  • 325008 - Peter Howarth CBE

See also[edit]

  • SNCF TGV La Poste, 270 km/h Postal version of the TGV Sud Est used in France.
  • ETR 500, in freight operation since October, 2018. Maximum speed is 300 km/h, average speed is 180 km/h.


  1. ^ a b c d e Class 325 Technical data - TheRailwayCentre.Com. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  2. ^ a b The All-time Guide to EMU Classifications (PDF), Modern Locomotivs Illustrated, 2011, p. 2, retrieved 19 February 2014
  3. ^ Glasspool, David. "Class 325". Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  4. ^ Royal Mail awards rail contract to DB Schenker, DB Schenker, 1 June 2010
  5. ^ Pritchard, Robert (2012). "325 sent for scrap". Today's Railways. Platform 5 (125): 69.
  6. ^ "EMU Formations". AbRail. Retrieved 25 June 2015.

External links[edit]