British Rail Class 378

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British Rail Class 378 Capitalstar
Unit 378149 at Crystal Palace.JPG
London Overground Class 378 No. 378149 at Crystal Palace
Class 378 5 Car Interior.JPG
The interior of a London Overground Class 378
In service 29 July 2009 – present
Manufacturer Bombardier Transportation
Family name Electrostar
Replaced Class 313
Class 508
Class 456
London Underground A60 and A62 Stock
Number built 57 trainsets
Formation 5 cars per trainset
Operator(s) London Overground
Line(s) served East London Line
North London Line
South London Line
Watford DC Line
West London Line
Car length 20.4 m (66 ft 11 in)
Width 2.80 m (9 ft 2 in)
Height 3.78 m (12 ft 5 in)
Maximum speed 75 mph (121 km/h)
Weight 159.5 t (157.0 long tons; 175.8 short tons)
Power output 600 kW (800 hp) per driving car (3 × 200 kW motors)
Electric system(s) Class 378/1: 750 V DC third rail only
Class 378/2: 750 V DC third rail / 25 kV AC overhead lines
Current collection method Class 378/1: Contact shoe only
Class 378/2: Contact shoe / Pantograph
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Class 378 Capitalstar[1] is a type of electric multiple unit train, part of Bombardier Transportation's Electrostar family. These trains are operating on the London Overground network, for which they were specifically designed. The design is similar to the Class 376 trains used by Southeastern, featuring the same wider metro-style sliding pocket doors for more efficient boarding and alighting, which are faster and more reliable than plug doors, although they do not close flush with the bodyside and hence are less aerodynamic and do not provide that much heat insulation. However, they also have significant differences from the Class 376, such as fully longitudinal seating similar to that used on London Underground rolling stock to give more standing and seating capacity and reduce overcrowding, suitable for the high-volume metro-style services on London Overground. The units also have end gangways, but these are intended for emergency use only. The units were initially announced as coming in two separate batches.


The old meets the new: 313107 and 378017 (now 5-car 378217) are seen side by side at Richmond

The deal between Bombardier and Transport for London was initially for a total of 152 individual cars costing some £223 million, with deliveries beginning in September 2008, when two trains underwent a 14-week test on the North London Line. The initial contract also contained an option to purchase additional cars up to a total of 216. A newly constructed depot near New Cross Gate station would be responsible for maintaining the new fleet.[2]

In 2006, TfL announced the new vehicles, with livery designed by Real 451 and interior concept design by Design Triangle.[3][4]

On 4 July 2007, TfL announced it had ordered a further 36 Capitalstar carriages for £36 million.[5] The order comprised three additional four-car units for the East London Line, and 24 additional carriages to extend the original 3-car units for the North London Line into 4-car units, to be delivered in 2011.[6]

In February 2008, TfL announced that the new stock would now be leased by London Overground, rather than purchased directly, from a newly formed ROSCO named QW Rail Leasing. The terms of the lease also allow for an increase in the order to 216 vehicles. In April 2008, TfL announced it had taken an option to obtain a further seven 4-car dual-voltage units, delivered between 2009 and 2010 and fulfilling the vehicle option.

On 16 September 2008, the first complete unit was unveiled and began testing on Bombardier's test track before being delivered for testing on the national network.[6] Unit 378001 was stationed at New Cross Gate Depot for testing purposes but was returned to Bombardier Transportation's Litchurch Lane Works in Derby. It then entered service as (four car) 378201. 378004 (temporarily made up to 4 cars) was the first unit to run under power over the East London Line on 5 October 2009 and left the East London Line on 2 November 2009.

The Class 378 was originally planned to enter service in January 2009, but was delayed for seven months because of the economic recession causing several suppliers to become bankrupt, resulting in a shortage of parts. This also affected delivery of Class 377/5 units to First Capital Connect. The first Class 378 unit entered service on 29 July 2009. On the first public unveiling of the Class 378, TfL announced that it had reached an agreement to procure a further three dual-voltage units, taking the total number to 57.[7] These units were intended to enhance the fleet once the South London Line was brought under London Overground's control.

The trains cannot currently be used on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, as it is not electrified. As a consequence, TfL also ordered eight Class 172 Turbostar units for use on that line.

In 2011, several 378s on the North London Line suffered shutdowns due to harmonic interference from Class 92s using the line for freight movement. The problem was fixed after Bombardier altered the interference tolerance settings.[8]

In July 2015, London Overground announced an order for 45 new Class 710 units, some of which would displace the Class 378s in use on the Watford DC Line. These displaced units will then be cascaded to strengthen services on the other lines the units are used on.[9]

Features and fitted equipment[edit]

A London Overground Class 378 at Willesden Junction.

Innovations for the passenger are air-conditioning, real-time passenger information systems, wheelchair access, the ability for level access, and different seat moquette colours to highlight priority seating.[6]

There are wide gangways between cars, giving a feel similar to an articulated bus.

In addition to the usual two-tone horn, Class 378 units are also fitted with a soft two-tone horn and a London-Underground-type kettle whistle (referred to as a depot whistle). A tripcock device is also installed as on the former London Overground Class 313 stock. The tripcock is the London Underground failsafe equivalent of the Train Protection & Warning System used on the National Rail network.

External CCTV is displayed automatically on releasing the doors via an in-cab monitor, removing the need for Driver-Only Operation (DOO) equipment such as monitors/mirrors at platforms. This is similar to that already used on Southern's Electrostar units.

Internal CCTV footage can be viewed directly by the driver on an in-cab monitor, so that they may immediately view the affected area of the train (in addition to speaking to the person) if a passenger operates the passenger alarm.

The units are fitted with three radio systems: National Radio Network, which is used over the western section of the North London Line; Cab Secure Radio, used over the Watford DC route, the West London line and beyond New Cross on the South London line; and GSM-R, used on the eastern section of the North London Line and the East London Line between Dalston and New Cross. 378/1 units are equipped only with GSM-R and CSR radio, as they are not intended to operate over routes equipped with NRN only.

Class 378 suppliers[edit]

A Bombardier Class 378 Capitalstar EMU No. 378137 at Whitechapel on an East London Line service

The Class 378 has been built from parts supplied by a number of worldwide suppliers:[citation needed]

  • Main contractor = Bombardier, Derby
  • Traction motors = Bombardier, Sweden
  • Bogies = Bombardier, Germany
  • Air conditioning = Liebherr, Germany
  • Interior panelling = Gilberts, Blackpool & KTK, China
  • Cabling = Time 24, Derby; Simclar Scotland
  • Brake Control = Knorr Bremse, Melksham
  • Friction Brake and Actuation = Faiveley Transport
  • Door mechanisms = IFE, Austria (Knorr Bremse)
  • Batteries = Saft, France
  • Seats = Kiel, Germany
  • Passenger Information System = Whiteley, UK
  • Couplers = Dellner Couplers by Dellner, Sweden
  • CCTV = March Networks, Canada
  • Gangways = Hübner, Germany
  • Shoegear and Pantograph = Brecknell Willis, UK
  • Shock absorbers = ZF Sachs, Germany
  • Flooring System = Whittle Flooring Company Limited


Class 378 No. 378005 stands at Canonbury on a North London Line service while still a 3-car 378/0. It has since been renumbered 378205 upon addition of a fourth car.
London Overground class 378 arriving at Richmond station.

The Class 378 fleet is currently formed of two separate subclasses, DC-only 378/1 and dual-voltage (AC and DC) Class 378/2:

  • Class 378/1 - 20 four-car units were ordered. These units operate services on the extended East London Line, and are 750 V DC only. These trains, which are designated Class 378/1, replaced the A60/A62 Stock previously used on the line. They entered service on 27 April 2010, on the preview service between Dalston Junction and New Cross / New Cross Gate. The service was extended to Crystal Palace and West Croydon on 23 May 2010. In common with all trains in the Electrostar family, these DC-only units have a recessed roof space for the fitting of a pantograph and other equipment for dual-voltage working in the future if necessary. The Southern services on the South London Line were withdrawn in 2012 and replaced by a new London Overground service operated using new air-conditioned 4-car Class 378 units.[10]
  • Class 378/2 - 37 dual-voltage four-car units ordered for the North London, West London, East London and Watford DC lines. These units have dual-voltage capability, taking current at 25 kV AC from overhead wires or 750 V DC from third rail. These trains replaced the Class 313, Class 508 units in 2010. The first 24 units were originally three-car units designated Class 378/0 (378001-378024), and were redesignated Class 378/2 (renumbered 378201-378224) as each unit received its additional carriage in late 2010. The remaining 13 units (378225-378234 and 378255–378257) were built as four-car Class 378/2s from the outset.
Class Operator Routes No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 378/1 London Overground East London Line, South London Line 20 2009–2010 5[11] 378135–378154 Third-rail only
Class 378/2 North London Line, West London Line, Watford DC Line 24 2008–2010 5 378201–378224 Originally built as 3-car Class 378/0 (378001–378024)
13 2010–2011 378225–378234

In February 2013, approval was gained for the procurement of 57 additional vehicles to lengthen the Class 378 fleet from four to five cars.[12] TfL's Business Plan provides for the start of five-car services on the East London line from November 2014, and on the rest of the electrified Overground network by the end of 2015.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pritchard, R. (November 2008). "TfL's first Class 378 ready to roll!". Today's Railways UK (Sheffield). p. 32. 
  2. ^ "Bombardier Wins A £223 Million Order From Transport For London For 152 Electric Multiple Unit Cars For The United Kingdom" (Press release). Bombardier Transportation. 31 August 2006. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "£36m contract to bring extra rail carriages for London Overground" (Press release). Transport for London. 4 July 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c "New London Overground Class 378s take shape at Derby" (PDF). Railway Herald (Scunthorpe). 22 September 2008. p. 4,5. 
  7. ^ Morrison, Brian (August 2009). "Mayor rides Class 378 - TfL orders three more". Modern Railways (London). p. 8. 
  8. ^ "Class 92 shuts down 378s - solution found". Modern Railways (750) (London). March 2011. p. 9. 
  9. ^ Sadler, Katie (3 July 2015). "Bombardier to supply and maintain 180 AVENTRA vehicles for London Overground". European Railway Review. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays - Transport for London. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "London Overground train lengthening approved". Railway Gazette. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Turvill, Bill (March 2013). "London Overground goes for five cars". Modern Railways. p. 88. 
  14. ^ "London Overground capacity". Transport for London. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 

External links[edit]