British Rail Class 450

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Not to be confused with NIR Class 450.
British Rail Class 450 Desiro
South West Trains 450122 at Southampton Central.jpg
South West Trains Siemens Class 450 Desiro No. 450122 at Southampton Central
Unit 450567 A M Standard Class Interior.JPG
The interior aboard a DMSO vehicle from a high density Class 450/5 Desiro
In service 5 October 2003 - present
Manufacturer Siemens AG
Built at Krefeld, Germany
Family name Desiro
Constructed 2002 - 2006
Entered service 2003 - 2006
Number built 127 trainsets
Formation 4 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers
  • 450001 - 450042
  • 450071 - 450127
  • 450543 - 450570
Capacity 24 first class, 240 standard class per trainset
Operator(s) South West Trains
Car body construction Aluminium
Car length 20.4 m (66 ft 11 in)
Width 2.796 m (9 ft 2.1 in)
Doors Plug sliding 1/4 and 3/4 position
Articulated sections Inter-unit and inter-vehicle flexible diaphragm
Maximum speed 100 mph (161 km/h)
Weight Total: 170 tonnes (167 long tons; 187 short tons)
Electric system(s) 750 V DC third rail
Current collection method Contact shoe
Braking system(s) Air, regenerative
Multiple working Class 444
Class 458
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 450 third-rail DC EMU began service during 2003. They are a part of the Siemens Desiro modular train family and are more commonly known as the 'Blue Desiro'. In standing with requirements of all new rolling stock for the South East region, provision has been made for future conversion to 25 kV AC overhead supply or dual voltage although, at present, no trains have been fitted with a pantograph.[citation needed] Used for outer suburban services, the Class 450 was built with standard and first class accommodation. The unit has a maximum speed of 100 mph (161 km/h).

The Siemens "Desiro UK" family also includes units of Classes 185, 350, 360, 380 and 444. These trains are the most numerous trains in South West Trains's fleet, and also the most numerous units in the Desiro UK family.


South West Trains Siemens Class 450/0 Desiro EMUs No. 450075 and 450109 at Clapham Junction stabling sidings.

In April 2001, 785 vehicles were ordered by South West Trains in order to complete the replacement of its slam-door rolling stock (the slam-door trains were coming to the end of their useful lives and did not meet up with modern health and safety requirements). Introduction to service was delayed by the required power supply upgrades capable of powering the new trains. In the December 2004 timetable change, the Class 450 Desiro began serving most intended routes, although introduction was delayed until June 2005 in some areas. The units are leased by Angel Trains to South West Trains.

68 new vehicles were ordered by South West Trains as a replacement to the growth order which was diverted to form the similar Class 350 range of electric multiple units.

The automated announcements of South West Trains' Desiro units feature a female voice - that of Celia Drummond of Northern Line fame - as opposed to the original voice of Phil Sayer, who will remain on the platforms.


The entire Class 450 series consists of four car multiple units, semi permanently formed as DMSO(A)+TCO+TSO+DMSO(B). Units are numbered in the range 450001-110.

  • 63201-63300 and 63751-63760 - DMSO(A)
  • 64201-64300 and 66851-66860 - TCO
  • 68101-68200 and 66801-66810 - TSO
  • 63601-63700 and 63701-63710 - DMSO(B)

Units are numbered in the range 450111-127.

  • 63901-63917 - DMSO(A)
  • 63921-63937 - TCO
  • 66901-66917 - TSO
  • 66921-66937 - DMSO(B)


The interior of Standard Class aboard a Class 450/0 Desiro.
The interior of First Class aboard a TCO vehicle from a Class 450/0 Desiro.

The Class 450 Desiro trains operate on certain London commuter rail routes, as well as outer suburban and regional services from London Waterloo, and local services outside of the London area. Most commuter rail services are run by Class 450/5 units while 450/0 units are mainly used for outer suburban/regional services. They are used on all SWT lines except the West of England line and the Eastleigh to Romsey line. These include:

They can also be found on London commuter rail services usually operated by Class 455 units (to Woking, Guildford, Dorking, Chessington South, Hampton Court, Shepperton and the Kingston Loop Line), particularly in the peaks and on Sundays during periods of engineering work. These trains used to be seen in service between Wareham and Brockenhurst rail stations but now there are two trains an hour to London Waterloo from Weymouth, which are operated by SWT 444 units and an hourly slow train service from London Waterloo to Poole which is shared between class 450s and class 444s.

Class 450 Desiro trains are now being used on the Portsmouth Direct Line for London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour services in place of Class 444 Desiro units on some services. The decision to use Class 450 Desiros has been a cause for complaint from passengers specifically because of the 3+2 seating arrangement.[1]

The Class 450/2 and more orders[edit]

Originally, SWT’s order with Siemens was for 100 four-car sets (the current 450/0) and for 32 five-car sets, intended as Class 450/2, which would be for inner-suburban use. The SRA, however, did not agree to the terms required, such as the lengthening of platforms and changes to railway infrastructure. As a result, the 32 five-car sets were cancelled, with the 160 vehicles redistributed; an extra 10 four-car sets were added to the SWT order, while the remaining 120 vehicles were then ordered as 30 four-car sets of the dual-voltage Class 350 for Silverlink and Central Trains.

Subsequently SWT received further 17 four-car sets, bringing the total number of Class 450 units up to 127. These units were delivered in 2006, not long after the last of the first order was delivered. 450101 was damaged in Belgium and returned to Test- and Validationcenter Wegberg-Wildenrath to have repairs conducted by Siemens, therefore delaying its entry into the UK. 450101 arrived in the country on 24 May 2006 and was briefly in service on 5 June 2006. The train started working full-time on 7 June 2006.[citation needed]

Class 450/5 modifications[edit]

The interior aboard a TSO vehicle from a high density Class 450/5 Desiro, which was originally First Class aboard Class 450/0 TCO vehicle

In January 2008, 28 Class 450/0 sets were modified and re-numbered in the Class 450/5 series, for use on services between Waterloo and Windsor, the Hounslow Loop Line, as well as between Waterloo and Weybridge. They have had their first class seating removed and replaced with 2+3 formation standard class seating and some other seats have been removed to provide more standing capacity; extra handrails have also been provided. The numbers modified are 450043 to 450070, which have become 450543 to 450570 respectively and display the letters HC (denoting 'High Capacity') above the unit number on the front of the sets. The modifications have been carried out at Bournemouth Traincare Depot.[2]

In anticipation of the Class 458/5 modifications for use on the Windsor Lines, the 450/5 sub class are (summer 2013) having the First Class reinstated, and they will be used generally across the SWT routes, however, these trains will retain their 4505xx number as the seating configuration is different.

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. in service Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 450/0 South West Trains 99 2002–2006 4 450001 - 450042
450071 - 450127
Class 450/5 28 2008 450543 - 450570 28 units modified from Class 450/0 for high density services. Now being returned to normal density, with first class being re-installed.


Class 450 South West Trains Diagram.PNG


  1. ^ "Commuter protest over rail seats". BBC News. 22 January 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-29. Commuters travelling between Portsmouth and London have set up a campaign group to try and change the new trains used on the railway line. A shake-up of rolling stock led to high density seating, designed for suburban journeys, being introduced on the line. Ian Johnston, of SWT, said: "It's about providing capacity on the lines of route where it is most needed. The dilemma we have is people either have to stand or we provide a seat, which may, in their opinion, be less comfortable than they were used to. The changes have provided 4,500 extra seats at peak times." Campaigners dispute this, saying that the Portsmouth Direct Line does not suffer from overcrowding on over 96% of its weekly services, and then only on the 25-minute section between Woking and Waterloo at peak times. Full details about the campaign are at 
  2. ^ "High capacity Class 450 Desiro sets enter traffic". 24 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-29.