British Rail Class 401
British Rail Class 401
Class 401 at Hackbridge Station 1984
|Built at||Eastleigh Works (bodies),
Lancing Works (underframes)
|Number built||152 sets|
|Number preserved||1 set|
|Number scrapped||151 sets|
|Formation||2-car sets: MBTL-DTCL|
|Capacity||24 First, 84 or 88 Third|
|Operator(s)||Southern Railway, British Rail|
|Car body construction||Steel-panelled wooden-framed body on steel underframe|
|Train length||129 ft 6 in (39.47 m)|
|Width||9 ft 2 in (2.79 m)|
|Maximum speed||60 mph (97 km/h)|
|Weight||Total: 74.75 long tons (75.9 t)|
|Traction system||Two English Electric traction motors of 275 hp (205 kW) each|
|Power output||550 hp (410 kW)|
|Electric system(s)||750 V DC|
|Current collection method||Third rail|
|Braking system(s)||Automatic air|
|Multiple working||SR Standard system|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Southern Railway (SR) gave the designation 2-BIL to the DC third rail electric multiple units built during the 1930s to work long-distance semi-fast services on the newly electrified lines from London to Eastbourne, Portsmouth and Reading. This type of unit survived long enough in British Rail ownership to be allocated TOPS Class 401.
The 2-BIL units (2-car Bi-Lavatory stock) were so-called because each set had two lavatories, one in each car. They were built in four batches, each for service on newly electrified lines:
|2001–2010||1935||London to Eastbourne|
|2011–2048||1936||London Waterloo to Alton and Portsmouth slow services|
|2049–2116||1937||Portsmouth to Bognor Regis|
|2117–2152||1938||London Waterloo to Reading|
The different batches were broadly similar, though in the first one, the driving motor brake car had a smaller brake compartment and seven full compartments, rather than six-and-a-half in the later batches.
Several of the cars were destroyed in World War 2 at various points on the system. Some unit numbers were withdrawn while others received a single replacement car from the small batch of postwar all-steel 2-HAL units which were built as replacements.
The first two batches of 2BIL stock were subject to the EMU renumbering scheme implemented during January and February 1937. The renumbering of these units, and the original formations of all 2BIL units, are set out in the table below (*Unit 1890 was renumbered 1900 in January 1936):
|Units (pre-1937)||Units (post-1937)||DMBT||DTC|
|1890 / 1900*||2010||10567||12101|
|1891–1899||2001–2009||10568 to 10576||12102 to 12110|
|1901–1920||2011–2030||10577 to 10596||12034 to 12053|
|1954–1971||2031–2048||10597 to 10614||12054 to 12071|
|-||2049–2077||10615 to 10643||12072 to 12100|
|-||2078–2152||10644 to 10718||12111 to 12185|
The first 10 2-BIL units 2001 to 2010 had an earlier form of multiple unit control. They were compatible with the 4-LAV units of the same era, but not with the remainder of the 2-BIL sets. They normally operating from Brighton, where the 4-LAV were also based, on local services. The remaining sets spent their lives on the services for which they were constructed, although they were fully mixed in operation, and it was common for units to be exchanged between areas of operation even within a day's normal work. Commuter services into London Waterloo, Victoria and London Bridge found them typically marshalled up to 8-car units.
An unusual feature of their operation in the 1950s and 1960s was that there were about 30 more diagrams for these units than sets actually existed, while for the subsequent 2-HAL units (class 402) there were more than 30 spare units, so a significant number of the daily 2-BIL diagrams were operated by the latter units, typically marshalled together as one of the sets in a full 8-car formation.
In 1963, a 7-coach trailer set was formed by placing five former 4-SUB trailer cars between the two driving cars from unit 2006. The set was intended for use on the Oxted line, where it was hauled by diesel locomotives.
The motors from former DMBS car number 10573 were removed, and the whole set was re-wired to enable the hauling diesel locomotive to provide the electric train heating. Six (out of nine) compartments of one of the 4Sub Trailer Second cars (number 11485) were refitted as first class compartments, thereby making it a Trailer Composite.
The set was originally numbered 900 in the old hauled carriage set number series, but this was amended in February 1966 to 701 in the new series for trailer control units. Despite this, and its designation as 7-TC (7-car Trailer Control stock), it was not a real trailer control unit in that a locomotive could not be operated remotely from the unit's driving cars.
The unit was stored from December 1967 and then withdrawn in April 1969. However, while the two driving cars were scrapped the following year, all five trailers were reused in other units. Four returned to 4-SUB formations, but 11485 underwent a further conversion, this time to a 4EPB Trailer Second, and was renumbered 15084. Full details of the 7-TC formation, the origin of the individual cars and their subsequent disposal are set out in the table below:
|Carriage Number||Carriage Type||Former Unit||Re-use/Disposal|
|10573||TBS (ex-DMBS)||2-BIL 2006||Scrapped (1970)|
|10351||TS||4-SUB 4328||4-SUB 4132|
|10353||TS||4-SUB 4352||4-SUB 4364|
|11485||TC (ex-TS)||4-SUB 4115||4-EPB 5115 (as TS 15084)|
|10349||TS||4-SUB 4346||4-SUB 4132|
|10346||TS||4-SUB 4329||4-SUB 4131|
|12107||TC (ex-DTC)||2-BIL 2006||Scrapped (1970)|
Accidents and incidents
- On 1 August 1962, unit No.2088 was derailed at Barnham, West Sussex when a set of points moved under it due to an electrical fault. Thirty-eight people were injured.
Only one 2-BIL unit has survived into preservation, namely number 2090, formed of carriages 10656 and 12123, which is in the care of the National Railway Museum, York. This unit is also one of only two pre-war main line EMUs in existence, which are still in original formation. The other is the Class 503, which is kept at the Electric Railway Museum near Coventry.
(current in bold)
|2090||-||10656||12123||1937 Eastleigh||BR(S) Malachite Green||National Railway Museum|
- "2-car units for main line semi-fast and stopping services (2 Bil)". Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- Earnshaw, Alan (1989). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 5. Penryn: Atlantic Books. p. 41. ISBN 0-906899-35-4.
- Suburban Electric Railway Association - Class 503 Units - Principle Data Accessed 2014-06-05
- "SR semi-fast units 2Nol 4Lav 2Bil and 2Hal". Southern Electric Group. Retrieved November 2013.
- Marsden, Colin J. (1983). Southern Electric Multiple-Units 1948–1983. Shepperton, Surrey: Ian Allan Limited. pp. 41–45, 92. ISBN 0-7110-1314-4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to British Rail Class 401.|
- Southern Electric Group - Details of class designation.
- History of the 2 BIL units on www.BloodandCustard.com