British Rail Class 350

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British Rail Class 350 Desiro
350232 at Watford Junction.jpg
A West Midlands Trains Class 350/2 at Watford Junction
WMT Class 350 Refurbished Standard Class Interior.jpg
Refurbished Class 350/1 standard class interior of West Midlands Trains
In serviceJune 2005 – present[1]
ManufacturerSiemens Mobility
Built atKrefeld, Germany
Family nameDesiro
Number built87 trainsets
Formation4 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers
  • 350 101–130
  • 350 231–267
  • 350 368-377
  • 350 401-410
CapacitySeated standard class: 193–246
Seated first class: 19–24
Standing: 117–149[5]
Operator(s)West Midlands Trains
Car length20.4 m (66 ft 11 in)[6]
Width2.796 m (9 ft 2+18 in)[6]
Maximum speed110 mph (180 km/h)
Weight175.5 tonnes (172.7 long tons; 193.5 short tons)[6]
Traction systemIGBT-VVVF
(Siemens SIBAS32)
Traction motors4 × Siemens asynchronous type 1TB2016-0GB02[7]
Power output1,500 kW (2,010 hp)
250 kW (335 hp) (per motor car)[7]
Electric system(s)
Current collection method
UIC classificationBo'Bo'+2'2'+2'2'+Bo'Bo'
BogiesSiemens SGP SF5000[7]
Braking system(s)Air, regenerative
Coupling systemDellner
Multiple workingWithin class
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 350 Desiro is a class of electric multiple-unit passenger train built by Siemens Mobility between 2004 and 2014. Thirty of these trains, designated Class 350/1, were built for use by Central Trains and Silverlink on regional express services and services on the southern section of the West Coast Main Line. A further 37 Class 350/2 units were ordered by then operator London Midland in late 2007. All 37 units were delivered and in service by July 2009. A further 20 units were later built, and were split equally between London Midland and later London North Western Railway (a sub brand of West Midlands Trains) and TransPennine Express. The London Northwestern Railway units are designated under the Class 350/3 subfleet, and the former TransPennine Express units are designated 350/4.

The Siemens Desiro UK family also includes units of Classes 185, 360, 380, 444 and 450.


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.
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] 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.[4]

A second batch of Class 350/2 units, intended to replace the Class 321 units, was delivered in late 2008 and during 2009. The first of the Class 350/2 was launched on 8 October 2008, and carried invited guests around the Wildenrath Test Track.[3] The last of the Class 350/2 fleet was officially delivered to London Midland on 30 July 2009.[8] Class 350/2 differ from the Class 350/1 units in two key aspects: they have 3+2 seating in standard class (because they work short-hop commuter services, the Class 350/1 are 2+2 throughout, work longer distance services[2][1]) 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[2] This dual-voltage capability was utilised when several units were leased to Southern in 2008 and 2009, in order to cover for similarly equipped Class 377/2 units temporarily sub-leased to First Capital Connect, themselves to cover for delays in the construction of the 377/5 fleet.[11] 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 from London Midland on 9 December 2017. WMT operate all of the units under their London Northwestern Railway brand. A further 10 units were transferred from TransPennine Express between 2019 and 2020.

The fleet is based at the purpose-built Kings Heath depot at Kingsthorpe, Northampton, which opened in June 2006 and can also service Class 319 and other Desiro units if required.

Former operations[edit]

Central Trains / Silverlink[edit]

The first Class 350 units entered service in June 2005 with Central Trains.[1] These operated on services between Birmingham and Northampton via Coventry, and all Birmingham - Liverpool services, replacing Class 170 units. Later on, Desiros have took over some peak services between Birmingham and Walsall.

Silverlink began operating in July 2005 between London Euston - Milton Keynes Central and Northampton.[12]

The Central Trains and Silverlink franchises expired in 2007.

London Midland[edit]

Once the Central Trains & Silverlink franchises expired, the entire fleet transferred to London Midland, the holder of the then new West Midlands franchise. As part of the agreement, London Midland embarked on the acquisition of a significant number of new trains, the largest order of which was for 37 additional Class 350 units. The first ten 350/2 units entered service in December 2008.[3] 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.

Four 350/1 units were subleased to Southern from 2008 to 2009, to provide cover for Class 377 units subleased to First Capital Connect. After newer Class 377 Electrostar trains were built, these units were returned to London Midland.[13]

Ten additional four-car units were built for the London Midland franchise, to provide additional capacity,[4][14] entering service from October 2014.

TransPennine Express[edit]

Ten additional four-car units were introduced in 2013 for First TransPennine Express to coincide with the completion of the electrification of the eastern section of the Manchester to Liverpool via Newton-le-Willows line.[4][15] These units were used on services between Manchester and Edinburgh / Glasgow, while the displaced Class 185s have remained with TransPennine to enhance capacity on other routes.[15] The new trains had a revised specification allowing 110 mph (177 km/h) running, originally with an intercity-style interior described as similar to the existing 185s.[4][15]

The first First TransPennine Express Class 350/4 services ran on 30 December 2013 between Manchester Piccadilly and Glasgow Central.[16] The trains operated from Manchester Airport via Preston to Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley.

All ten trains were delivered to TransPennine Express allowing most services on the Manchester to Scotland route to be operated using EMUs.

The TransPennine Express units were based at Siemens' existing Ardwick depot, with the government providing funding for the required electrification.[17]

TransPennine Express had 12 Class 397 Civity units on order to replace the Class 350s on TransPennine North West services, with the Class 350/4s moving to West Midlands Trains. The first unit transferred in Summer 2019 and by 5 April 2020, all 10 units had transferred.


West Midlands Trains announced that they would be replacing the Class 350/2 units with brand new Class 730 "Aventra" units.

In October 2018, Porterbrook announced it was considering converting its fleet of Class 350/2s to Battery electric multiple units for potential future cascades to non-electrified routes.[18][19]

Fleet details[edit]

The Class 350/1s,[7] 350/3s and 350/4s are owned by Angel Trains and the Class 350/2s are owned by Porterbrook.[20]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Unit nos. Notes
350/1 West Midlands Trains 30 2004–05 350101–130 Dual voltage
350/2 37 2008–09 350231–267
350/3 10 2014 350368–377[21]
350/4 10 2013–14 350401–410[21]

Named units[edit]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On 16 September 2016, unit 350264 struck a landslide at the entrance to Watford Tunnel and was derailed. Unit 350117, which was working in multiple, was undamaged. Unit 350233 then collided with the derailed train. Two people were injured and unit 350264 was severely damaged. The leading carriage of 350233 was severely damaged, and all four carriages were damaged along one side.[26] 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 350233 struck only a glancing blow.[27] On 10 November 2016, unit 350264 was moved to Germany by low-loader,[28] followed later by 350233. Both units re-entered service in early 2018.


  1. ^ a b c "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.
  2. ^ a b c d Desiro UK Class 350/1 Multiple Unit Archived 6 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine - Siemens Mobility. Page 40. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b c d e "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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ a b c Class 350 Technical data Archived 4 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine - Angel Trains. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d "Class 350/1 - London Midland". Angel Trains. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "Porterbrook Class 350/2 Technical Information". Archived from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  10. ^ "West Midlands Prospectus" (PDF).
  11. ^ Desiros for Loan to Southern Archived 28 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine - Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  12. ^ Desiros for Loan to Southern Archived 28 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine - Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Announcements - GOV.UK".
  14. ^ a b c "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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Electric trains boost". Wigan Today. 3 January 2014. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ Gibbs, Nigel (November 2017). "Vivarail 230s for new West Mids franchise as 170s to go". Today's Railways. No. 191. p. 8.
  17. ^ Porterbrook investigates battery-powered Desiros - Rail Magazine. Retrieved 2020-10-08.
  18. ^ Barrow, Keith (16 October 2018). "Porterbrook plans Siemens Desiro battery-electric conversion". International Railway Journal. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  19. ^ Class 350 - London Midland Archived 31 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine - Porterbrook. Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  20. ^ a b - EMU Pocket Book 2013 from Platform 5.
  21. ^ Rail industry and Samaritans launch partnership Archived 17 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine 10 October 2012
  22. ^ "Ceremony will see London Midland train officialy [sic] renamed as the Lichfield Festival". Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  23. ^ "Train Honour For Watford Junction Legend Vic Hall". London Northwestern Railway. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  24. ^ "Train named after former England Manager". BBC News. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^ "Derailed Watford Junction train makes final journey to scrapyard". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2016.