British Rail Class 387

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British Rail Class 387 Electrostar
Acton Main Line - GWR 387150 Paddington service.JPG
Inside GWR 387133 (424133) seating.JPG
Interior of a Great Western Railway Class 387 carriage.
In service 2014 (2014) - current
Manufacturer Bombardier Transportation
Derby Litchurch Lane Works
Family name Electrostar
Number built 107 units to be built (428 carriages)
Formation 4 carriages
Operator(s) Gatwick Express
Great Western Railway
Great Northern
Maximum speed 110 mph (175 km/h)
Traction system IGBT-VVVF
(Bombardier MITRAC DR1000)
Power output 1.68 megawatts (2,250 horsepower)
Electric system(s) 750 V DC Third rail
25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead
Current collection method Contact shoe
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Class 387 Electrostar is an electric multiple unit (EMU) built by Bombardier Transportation for Thameslink (now transferred to Great Northern[1]), Gatwick Express, c2c and Great Western Railway (GWR), with the first delivered in December 2014.

These trains are part of the Electrostar family which also includes classes 357, 375, 376, 377, 378 and 379.


The Class 387 is an evolution of Bombardier’s Class 379 Electrostar with a higher maximum speed of 110 mph (175 km/h).


Class 387/1[edit]

The first Class 387/1s were ordered for the Thameslink route, which enabled the existing Class 319s to be transferred to Northern Rail for use on the newly electrified Manchester Victoria to Liverpool via Newton-le-Willows route.[2][3]

On behalf of the Department for Transport, Southern issued an OJEU notice in December 2012[2] with proposals received in January 2013. The invitation to tender for the fleet was released the following month with final offers being submitted by 18 June 2013. Southern announced it had signed a deal with Bombardier on 30 July 2013 for 29 four carriage units.[4][5] The deal also included an option for 140 carriages which have since been taken up with 108 for Gatwick Express and 32 for Great Western Railway.

Class 387/2[edit]

Gatwick Express Class 387/2 No. 387204 at Crewe.
The Standard Class Interior of a Gatwick Express Class 387/2
The 1st Class Interior of Gatwick Express 387218

As part of Govia's bid for the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise, 27 four-carriage units were ordered to replace Class 442s on the Gatwick Express service, using some of the optional 140 extra carriages.[6] The order was announced in November 2014 with the first units on test in July 2015 and they began to enter service on 29 February 2016.[7][8][9] The deployment was disrupted by unionised drivers refusing to take passengers, claiming that the 12-coach class 387 trains are not covered by their driver only operation agreement which is limited to 10 coaches, and that running them without a conductor would be unsafe.[10][11]

Class 387/3[edit]

In April 2016, c2c announced that it would operate six Class 387s until a fleet of 68 new carriages are delivered in 2019.[12]

Current operations[edit]

Gatwick Express[edit]

The Class 387 began to replace the Class 442 EMUs from mid-2016, until the final train ran on 10 March 2017. The Class 442s were then stored.

Great Western Railway[edit]

The first Great Western Railway unit entered service on 5 September 2016 running between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington in peak hours to relieve congestion on some of the country's most crowded trains.[13][14] In January 2017 GWR began running a half-hourly Paddington to Hayes and Harlington service utilising pairs of these 387/1s.[13]

On 22 May 2017 Class 387/1 EMUs began operating suburban services between London Paddington and Maidenhead.


The first c2c Class 387 was delivered in October 2016 and entered service in November 2016.[15] These trains were built to increase capacity on c2c services and will be replaced in 2019.

Great Northern[edit]

From late 2016, 29 of the Class 387/1s operating on Thameslink were displaced by the delivery of Class 700 Desiro City units, and were transferred to Great Northern. They operate mostly on the Kings Cross-Cambridge-King's Lynn route, though they can also been seen on other services. These units were delivered in the livery of Southern, with green doors and Southern upholstery.

Former operations[edit]


The first Thameslink unit entered service in December 2014 with all in service by July 2015.[16] They were operated by Thameslink on services between Bedford and Brighton. These trains have now been transferred to Great Northern working services from Kings Cross to Peterborough and Cambridge/King's Lynn.


Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Unit Unit nos.
Class 387/1 Great Northern 29 2014–15 4 387101–387129
Great Northern Class 387 Diagram.png
Great Western Railway 45 2016–17 4 387130–387174
GWR Class 387 Electrostar.png
Class 387/2 Gatwick Express 27 2015–16 4 387201–387227
Gatwick Express Class 387 Diagram.png
Class 387/3 c2c 6 2016 4 387301–387306
C2c Class 387 Diagram.png

Some units have names:

  • 387124 - "Paul McCann"[18]




It was originally planned that once the 387/1s were released from Thameslink they would be cascaded to the GWR franchise. These units instead moved to Great Northern. Great Western Railway would also have received eight new Class 387s, which would have been built after the end of March 2016 when the 387/2 order for Gatwick Express was scheduled to be completed, but instead received 14 of Porterbrook's speculative order.

In 2021, the six Class 387/3 units with c2c are to be replaced by new-build stock.


  1. ^ "Improvements on Great Northern : Thameslink and Great Northern". 
  2. ^ a b "Bombardier to manufacture 116 new train carriages for Thameslink rolling stock cascade" (Press release). Southern. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Thameslink Southern & Great Northern Invitation to Tender Department for Transport 26 September 2013
  4. ^ Commuters to benefit from state of the art electric trains Department for Transport 30 July 2013
  5. ^ Bombardier Transportation Wins UK Rolling Stock Contract Archived 3 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Bombardier Transportation 30 July 2013
  6. ^ Government welcomes new carriages for the Gatwick Express and Thameslink routes Department for Transport
  7. ^ "Govia and Bombardier sign Gatwick Express train contract". Railway Gazette International. DVV Media Group. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Gatwick Express Class 387/2 EMU on test Railway Gazette 23 July 2015
  9. ^ "Late-February debut for Gatwick Express Class 387/2s". 
  10. ^ "Gatwick Express drivers' strike threat over longer trains". 
  11. ^ The Safety Critical Role of the guard 2016 RMT PDF download
  12. ^ "New trains boost to deal with 'unprecedented' demand". Railnews. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Introducing our new trains". Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  14. ^ "First Electrostars enter service on Great Western Railway". 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "New air-conditioned trains enter service on Thameslink : Thameslink and Great Northern". 
  17. ^ Hartley-Parkinson, Richard. "Meanwhile, a train at London's King's Cross Station appeared to have hit the buffers on platform nine". Metro. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  18. ^ "387124 20170518 Biggleswade KingsCross". Flickr. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 

External links[edit]

Media related to British Rail Class 387 at Wikimedia Commons