British Rail Class 350

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British Rail Class 350 Desiro
350232 at Watford Junction.jpg
London Northwestern Railway Class 350 at Watford Junction
WMT Class 350 Refurbished Standard Class Interior.jpg
Refurbished standard-class interior of a Class 350/1 unit
In serviceJune 2005 – present
ManufacturerSiemens Transportation Systems
Built atKrefeld, Germany
Family nameDesiro
  • 2004–2005 (350/1)[1]
  • 2008–2009 (350/2)[2]
  • 2013–2014 (350/3 and /4)[3]
Number built87
Formation4 cars per unit[1]
Fleet numbers
  • 350101–350130
  • 350231–350267
  • 350368–350377
  • 350401–350410
  • First class: 19–24 seats
  • Standard class: 193–246 seats
  • plus 117–149 standees[4]
Operator(s)London Northwestern Railway
Depot(s)Kings Heath (Northampton)
Car length20.34 m (66 ft 9 in)
Width2.80 m (9 ft 2+14 in)
Maximum speed110 mph (180 km/h)
Weight175 tonnes (172 long tons; 193 short tons)[1]
Traction systemSiemens SIBAS32 IGBT-VVVF
Traction motors
Power output
  • 250 kW (335 hp) per motor
  • 2,000 kW (2,680 hp) total
Electric system(s)
Current collector(s)
BogiesSiemens SGP SF5000[5]
Braking system(s)Air, regenerative
Safety system(s)
Coupling systemDellner 12[6]
Multiple workingWithin class
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Sourced from [7] unless otherwise noted.

The British Rail Class 350 is a class of electric multiple-unit built by Siemens Transportation Systems to its Desiro design between 2004 and 2014. All 87 are now operated by West Midlands Trains, having previously been operated by Central Trains, Silverlink, Southern, London Midland, First TransPennine Express and TransPennine Express.


The neutral colour scheme interior of the Class 350/1

The Class 350/1 units were originally part of an order for 32 five-car Class 450 units for South West Trains. However, they were never built as such. Of the 160 carriages ordered, 40 were diverted as an additional 10 four-car Class 450 units, and the remaining 120 were modified as 30 four-car Class 350/1 units.[citation needed] These entered service in 2005 and were used jointly by Central Trains and Silverlink, both owned by National Express. The top speed of the fleet was originally 100 mph (160 km/h), but all 350/1s were modified to allow 110 mph (180 km/h) running from December 2012, in order to make better use of paths on the busy West Coast Main Line.[8][9]

In late 2007, a second batch of 37 was ordered by London Midland to replace its Class 321s.[10] Designated as Class 350/2 units, they entered service between 2008 and 2009. Class 350/2s differed from the Class 350/1 units in two key aspects: having 3+2 seating in standard class (because they work short-hop commuter services; the Class 350/1 used for longer distance services are 2+2 throughout[1]: 40 [11]) and lack the dual-voltage capability of the 350/1. Initially, Class 350/2 units had a maximum speed of 100 mph (160 km/h), but the fleet was upgraded to allow 110 mph running during 2018.[12] This was to allow the operators to run mixed 350/1 and 350/2 services without causing delays, especially important given the capacity changes which HS2 works at London Euston were expected to cause.[13]

Between 2013 and 2014, a further 20 were manufactured for London Midland and First TransPennine Express. Each took on ten units, the former designated the Class 350/3 and the latter the Class 350/4.

Class 350 trains are nearly identical to those of Class 450. The latter class is only fitted with traction equipment for Southern Region 750 V DC third rail, whilst the Class 350/1 units can operate from either 25 kV 50 Hz AC OLE, as is done in regular service, or alternatively third rail.[1] This dual-voltage capability was utilised when several units were leased to Southern in 2009, in order to cover for similarly equipped Class 377/2 units temporarily sub-leased to First Capital Connect.[14][15] All Class 350 units built since are not equipped for third-rail use but, like most modern British EMUs, can be retrofitted if necessary.

Every set of doors has its own set of guard-operated door controls behind a lockable panel. The cabs have three radio systems - Cab Secure Radio (CSR), National Radio Network (NRN), and the newest system, GSM-R. CCTV and dot-matrix destination screens are fitted throughout the train.

Current operation[edit]

West Midlands Trains[edit]

All of London Midland's 77 Class 350s were inherited by West Midlands Trains on 9 December 2017. WMT operate all of the units primarily under its London Northwestern Railway brand, however some units also run routes under the West Midlands Railway brand at times. A further 10 were transferred from TransPennine Express in 2019–20.[16]

The fleet is based at the purpose-built Kings Heath depot at Kingsthorpe, which opened in June 2006.[17] In May 2021, they took over services on the Abbey line from Class 319s.[18]

Former operations[edit]

Central Trains / Silverlink[edit]

Class 350 at London Euston. The first order of Class 350 units were delivered in a neutral grey and blue livery, as they were operated by both Central Trains and Silverlink.

Central Trains and Silverlink shared the 30 Class 350/1 units from 2005 to 2007. They were operated as a common user fleet in a neutral grey and blue livery.[19]

The first entered service in June 2005 with Central Trains.[11][20] These operated on services between Birmingham and Northampton via Coventry, and all Birmingham - Liverpool services, replacing Class 170s. Later on, the units also took over some peak services between Birmingham and Walsall.

Silverlink began operating the fleet in June 2005 between London Euston, Milton Keynes Central and Northampton.[21]

The Central Trains and Silverlink franchises expired in November 2007.

London Midland[edit]

London Midland Class 350 arrives at Watford Junction

Once the Central Trains and Silverlink franchises expired, the entire Class 350 fleet transferred to London Midland with the West Midlands franchise.

As part of the franchise agreement, London Midland ordered 37 additional Class 350s.[10] On 8 October 2008, the first of these was handed over to Porterbrook and carried invited guests around the Wildenrath Test Track.[2] The first ten 350/2 units entered service in December 2008[2] and the final unit was officially delivered to London Midland on 30 July 2009.[22] In addition to the existing operations, these units took over the new Crewe - London Euston service running via Stoke-on-Trent and stopping at most of the Trent Valley line stations.

Several Class 350/1 units were subleased to Southern in 2009, to provide cover for Class 377/2 units subleased to First Capital Connect, themselves to cover for delays in the construction of the Class 377/5 fleet.[14] All were returned within the year.[15]

A further 10 four-car units were built later on in the franchise to provide additional capacity,[3][23] entering service from October 2014 as Class 350/3s.

TransPennine Express[edit]

In 2013, ten Class 350/4 units were introduced for First TransPennine Express services between Manchester and Edinburgh / Glasgow, coinciding with the completion of the electrification of the eastern section of the Manchester to Liverpool via Newton-le-Willows line.[3][24] The first First TransPennine Express Class 350/4 services ran on 30 December 2013 between Manchester Piccadilly and Glasgow Central.[25] The introduction of these units allowed most services on the Manchester to Scotland route to be operated using EMUs, displacing the Class 185s which were cascaded to other routes to enhance capacity.[24] The units were based at Siemens' existing Ardwick depot in Manchester, with the government providing funding for the required electrification.[26]

Following the transfer of the franchise to TransPennine Express in 2016, 12 Class 397 Civity units were ordered to replace the Class 350s on TransPennine North West services. All ten moved to West Midlands Trains, in 2019 and 2020.[16]


London Northwestern Railway has announced it will be replacing the Class 350/2 units with Class 730 Aventras.[27] In October 2018, Porterbrook, which owns the Class 350/2 units, announced that it was considering to convert them into battery electric multiple units for potential future cascades to non-electrified routes.[28][29]

Fleet details[edit]

The Class 350/1s, 350/3s and 350/4s are owned by Angel Trains and the Class 350/2s are owned by Porterbrook.[30]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Unit nos. Standard class seating Notes
350/1 West Midlands Trains 30 2004–2005 350101–350130 2+2 Dual voltage
350/2 37 2008–2009 350231–350267 2+3
350/3 10 2014 350368–350377[31] 2+2
350/4 10 2013–2014 350401–350410[31] 2+2

Named units[edit]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

In 2005, units 350105 and 350108 were damaged after colliding with a falling tree. Both were returned to Germany for repairs.[38]

On 16 September 2016, unit 350264 struck a landslide at the entrance to Watford Tunnel and derailed. It was then hit by unit 350233 travelling in the opposite direction. Two people were injured and unit 350264 was severely damaged. The leading carriage of unit 350233 was severely damaged, and all four carriages were damaged along one side.[39] The consequences were not as serious as they could potentially have been because the derailed train was fortuitously kept from diverging too far from its line by equipment on the bottom of the train catching on the rail, meaning unit 350233 struck only a glancing blow.[40] On 10 November 2016, unit 350264 was moved to Germany by low-loader,[41] followed later by 350233. Both re-entered service in early 2018.[42]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Reference Brochure Trains" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Siemens hands over first 'Desiro' EMU" Archived 2 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Railway Herald. Issue 151. Page 4. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "New Rolling Stock for London Midland and for First TransPennine Express". London Midland. 14 September 2011. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  4. ^ "West Midlands Franchise: Invitation to Tender" (PDF). Department for Transport. August 2016. pp. 78–79. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 April 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Class 350/1 - London Midland". Angel Trains. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  6. ^ System Data for Mechanical and Electrical Coupling of Rail Vehicles in support of GM/RT2190 (PDF). London: Rail Safety and Standards Board. 22 June 2011. p. 4. SD001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  7. ^ "Class 350 – Angel Trains". Archived from the original on 4 September 2021. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  8. ^ Speed trials for Class 350/1 Rail Express issue 185 October 2011 page 13
  9. ^ 350 to undergo 110mph testing Rail issue 680 5 October 2011 page 25
  10. ^ a b 37 Desiros on the way in £164m Midlands deal Rail issue 573 29 August 2007 page 12
  11. ^ a b "Central Trains launches Class 350 EMU". Archived 2 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine Railway Herald. Issue 11. Page 3. 10 June 2005. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  12. ^ "Porterbrook Class 350/2 Technical Information". Archived from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  13. ^ "West Midlands Prospectus" (PDF).
  14. ^ a b Desiros for Loan to Southern Archived 28 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine - Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  15. ^ a b 350s with Southern until November Today's Railways UK issue 95 November 2009 page 65
  16. ^ a b LNWR 350/4s in traffic Rail issue 906 3 June 2020 page 25
  17. ^ Northampton's £31m depot opens The Railway Magazine issue 1265 September 2006 page 74
  18. ^ Unit Focus Railways Illustrated July 2021 page 18
  19. ^ SRA reveals Class 350 duties The Railway Magazine issue 1240 August 2004 page 9
  20. ^ Siemens Desiro Class 350s start passenger services Rail issue 516 22 June 2005 page 6
  21. ^ Silverlink's 350 Desiros enter WCML service Rail issue 517 6 July 2005 page 25
  22. ^ "London Midland completes £190m investment with final Siemens Desiro" (Press release). Siemens UK. 30 July 2009. Archived from the original on 6 August 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  23. ^ "Announcements - GOV.UK".
  24. ^ a b "Rail Passengers in the North of England and Scotland to benefit from new trains". First TransPennine Express. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  25. ^ "Electric trains boost". Wigan Today. 3 January 2014. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014.
  26. ^ Gibbs, Nigel (November 2017). "Vivarail 230s for new West Mids franchise as 170s to go". Today's Railways UK. No. 191. p. 8.
  27. ^ "Class 350 & 319 Fleet | London Northwestern Railway". Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  28. ^ Porterbrook investigates battery-powered Desiros - Rail Magazine. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  29. ^ Barrow, Keith (16 October 2018). "Porterbrook plans Siemens Desiro battery-electric conversion". International Railway Journal. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  30. ^ Class 350 - London Midland Archived 31 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine - Porterbrook. Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  31. ^ a b - EMU Pocket Book 2013 from Platform 5.
  32. ^ Desiro fleet upgraded for higher speed operation Railway Gazette International 7 March 2013
  33. ^ a b Desiros named after a pair of Bloomers The Railway Magazine issue 1254 October 2005 page 70
  34. ^ Rail industry and Samaritans launch partnership Archived 17 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine 10 October 2012
  35. ^ "Ceremony will see London Midland train officialy [sic] renamed as the Lichfield Festival". Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  36. ^ "Train Honour For Watford Junction Legend Vic Hall". London Northwestern Railway. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  37. ^ "Train named after former England Manager". BBC News. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  38. ^ Damaged 350s return to Germany Rail issue 507 16 February 2005 page 28
  39. ^ Ikonen, Charlotte. "Hundreds rescued after train derails at Hunton Bridge, near Watford Junction". Watford Observer. Newsquest. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  40. ^ "Derailment due to a landslip, and subsequent collision, Watford, 16 September 2016" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  41. ^ "Derailed Watford Junction train heading to Germany for assessment". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  42. ^ Damaged Desiros Rail Express issue 260 January 2018 page 9

External links[edit]

Media related to British Rail Class 350 at Wikimedia Commons