British Rail Class 387

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British Rail Class 387 Electrostar
Class 387 at Luton.jpg
Thameslink Class 387 no. 387111 at Luton.
British Rail Class 387 Interior.jpg
Interior of a Thameslink Class 387 carriage.
In service 7 December 2014 (2014-12-07) - current
Manufacturer Bombardier Transportation, Derby, UK
Family name Electrostar
Number built 84 units to be built (336 carriages)
Formation 4 carriages
Operator(s) Thameslink
Gatwick Express
GWR (from 2016)
Maximum speed 110 mph (175 km/h)
Electric system(s) 750 V DC Third rail
25 kV AC Overhead
Current collection method Contact shoe
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) (Standard Gauge)

The Class 387 Electrostar is a type of electric multiple unit (EMU) built by Bombardier Transportation for Thameslink, Gatwick Express and GWR.

These trains are part of the Electrostar family which also includes classes 357, 375, 376, 377, 378 and 379, with the first of this type delivered in December 2014.

A further order of 20x 4-car units (80 carriages) was placed by rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook in November 2015 with the intention of ensuring sufficient EMU fleets for future UK rolling stock requirements, this order does not yet have an allocated train operator.[1]


The Class 387 is an evolution of Bombardier’s Class 379 Electrostar that allows for a faster operational speed of 110 mph (175 km/h). This has allowed UK rail network operator Network Rail to release additional pathing slots to train operators on routes with line speeds up to 125 mph (200 km/h) that are not available to vehicles restricted to 100 mph (160 km/h). This method of increasing the operational speed of older vehicles was first used on the Class 350 built by Siemens for London Midland.

Class 387/1[edit]

The first Class 387/1s were ordered to enable the existing Class 319 on the Thameslink route 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 sets.[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.

The first set entered service in December 2014 with all in service by May 2015. Although always intended for use by Thameslink, they were delivered with interiors in Southern's green colour scheme, with Southern-style doors and Thameslink logos on the exterior. They are operated by Thameslink on services between Bedford and Brighton. Once the initial Class 700 Desiro City EMUs enter service, the 387/1s are to be transferred to GWR.

Class 387/2[edit]

As part of Govia's bid for the TSGN 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 on 18 November 2014 with the first units on test in July 2015.[7][8]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos.
Class 387/1 Thameslink 29 2014–15 4 387101–387129
Great Western Railway 8 2016 387130–387137
Class 387/2 Gatwick Express 27 2015–16 387201–387227
Class 387/3 TBC 20 2016–17 387301–387320


Once the 387/1s are released from Thameslink they will be cascaded to the GWR franchise. It will also receive eight new Class 387s, which will be built after the 387/2 order for Gatwick Express.[9] They will replace Class 165 and 166 diesel multiple units on the newly electrified Great Western Main Line from London Paddington to Oxford and Bedwyn. This is scheduled for December 2016, however delays may defer this.[10]

In November 2015, Porterbrook announced it had ordered a further a total of eighty additional Class 387 carriages (twenty 4-car trains) to act as a buffer stock of trains guarding against future demand for electric units, with a number of operators already expressing interest in obtaining the use of them.[11]


  1. ^ "Porterbrook orders Bombardier EMUs to meet future demand". Railway Gazette. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  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 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. ^ First Great Western plans AT300s to Cornwall Railway Gazette 23 March 2015
  10. ^ Great Western electrification 'challenging' minister admits BBC News 23 July 2015
  11. ^ "Porterbrook orders Bombardier EMUs to meet future demand". Railway Gazette. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 

External links[edit]

Media related to British Rail Class 387 at Wikimedia Commons