British Rail Class 455

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British Rail Class 455
SWT 455729 Clapham Junction.jpg
A South West Trains Class 455/7 at Clapham Junction.
Guildford railway station MMB 16 455863.jpg
The interior of a South West Trains Class 455 EMU.
In service 1982 - Current
Manufacturer BREL York
Family name BR Second Generation (Mark 3)
BREL 1972 "PEP" (Class 455/7 intermediate)
Number built 137 trainsets
Formation 4 cars per trainset
  • 315 seats (as-built)
  • 272 seats (South West Trains)
  • 310 seats (Southern)
Train length 80.92 m (265.5 ft)
Car length 19.83 m (65.1 ft)
Width 2.82 m (9.3 ft)
Maximum speed 75 mph (121 km/h)
Weight 135.95 tonnes (133.80 long tons; 149.86 short tons)
Electric system(s) 750 V DC third rail
Braking system(s) Air (Westcode)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 455 is a type of electric multiple-unit passenger train drawing power from a 750 V DC third rail. Built by BREL York works in the early and mid-1980s, they were initially categorised as Class 510 as the successor to the Class 508.[1] They are used on suburban services in South London, by South West Trains and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) for Southern services.


Class 455 in Network South East livery at Clapham Junction

There were three batches of Class 455 units, all consisting of 4 cars: driving carriages at each end, an intermediate trailer vehicle and an intermediate motorised vehicle (powered by four EE507-20J of 185 kW carried on the bogies of the MSO vehicle, some recovered from Class 405[1]), all originally built to the Standard Class 3+2 seating arrangement. Technically, they are formed DTSO+MSO+TSO+DTSO.[2] They have the same bodyshell as the Class 317 and Class 318, but as they were designed for inner suburban services they do not feature first class seating, air conditioning or toilet facilities and are restricted to 75 mph (121 km/h). Like the Class 317/318, as well as the diesel Class 150, they are based on British Rail Mark 3 coaches, with a steel construction, unlike the earlier PEP-based Class 313s, 314s, 315s, 507s and 508s, which had an aluminium alloy body.

Class 455/8[edit]

A Class 455 in the original South West Trains livery at Wimbledon.

The first batch (known as phases one and two) now classified as Class 455/8, were built 1982-84. These include all 46 Southern units (allocated to Stewarts Lane depot) and 28 allocated to South West Trains (at Wimbledon depot).

The refurbished interior of the former Class 508 Trailer

Class 455/7[edit]

The second batch (known as phase three), now classified as Class 455/7, were built 1984-85. There are 43 four-car units, all allocated to South West Trains at Wimbledon depot. They differ from the 455/8s in having a revised front end (air horns relocated next to the coupler and revised headlamp clusters) that was later used on the Class 317/2 and Class 318.

The 455/7s are easily distinguished from 455/8s as each TSO car is taken from a Class 508 and has a noticeably different profile.[3] The Class 508s transferred to Merseyrail were originally four-carriage trains but were reduced to three cars when transferred.[3]

Class 455/9[edit]

The final batch (known as phase four), now classified as Class 455/9, were built in 1985. These 20 units are all allocated to South West Trains at Wimbledon depot. These are similar to the 455/7s, except that they had new-build TSOs; however one unit, 455 912, has a TSO formerly part of the prototype Class 210 DEMU (which also had the same bodyshell). 455 913's MSO 67301 was formerly a Class 210 driving vehicle, with the one good end of damaged vehicle 62838 mated with the former cab end. The rest of 62838 was scrapped.


South West Trains[edit]

South West Trains refurbished Class 455/7 at Wimbledon, with the second carriage being the former Class 508 TSO vehicle

The South West Trains units are used on most London commuter rail routes from London Waterloo to South West London and neighbouring areas.

Trains can be used as 4-car unit sets, but two units are usually coupled together to form 8-car trains.


Refurbished Southern Class 455/8 at Caterham

Southern Class 455 units are also used on inner and outer suburban services, from London Victoria and London Bridge. They appear on routes including:

These services are shared with the Class 377/6s, which are 5-car units.


The refurbished interior of a South West Trains Class 455/9 EMU
The refurbished interior of an MSO vehicle aboard a Southern Class 455/8 EMU

South West Trains[edit]

For the refurbishments, South West Trains chose a 2+2 seat layout.[4] The doorways have been modified so that the sliding doors can open further, to allow for faster boarding and alighting.[5] The units are painted in a new red "Metro" version of the South West Trains livery.[4]

On 28 September 2012, Stagecoach Group, the parent group of South West Trains, announced[6] a £23 million refurbishment of its Class 455 trains, with a new £3.2 million state of the art paint shop to be based in Bournemouth.


Southern has retained the original 3+2 layout but with high-backed seats to improve passenger comfort especially for commuters travelling long distances.[4] Southern has also removed the gangway and door from the front of the trains, replacing them with an air-conditioning unit. Units are painted in the green Southern livery.[4] Southern has also installed digital information boards and voiceover information. It has also given the lights new covers inside for a more pleasant ambiance, plus new inter-car doors and new handrails. New litter bins have been added under the seats to minimise littering. It has added LED marker lights and tail lights. This has modernised the interior and changed the exterior a considerable amount.

A refresh programme started for the Southern units in June 2012. This includes a repaint and interior changes, such as changes to the grab rails on the top between each door. 455 808 was the first unit to have this done, followed by 455 812 in August 2012. The project was completed during December 2014, 455 801 being the last unit.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On 5 November 2010, a concrete mixer went over the edge of a bridge over the railway line near Oxshott railway station, landing on the 3:05pm South West Trains service from Guildford to London Waterloo.[7] The train was formed of two Class 455 units, 455 741 and 455 913.[8] The end of the roof of the sixth carriage was severely crushed. Further damage was sustained to the fifth and sixth, seventh and eighth carriages, with the latter being derailed at its trailing bogie, although the train remained upright. The lorry driver and one passenger suffered serious injuries; a further five passengers suffered minor injuries.[9] Unit 455 913 was repaired at Wolverton works and returned to service in July 2013. It has been fitted with an ex Class 210 driving vehicle which has been converted to an intermediate vehicle whilst retaining its original number of 67301. Original vehicle 62838 was damaged beyond repair in the accident and was scrapped.

Future - Fitting of new Traction equipment[edit]

In April 2013 it was announced that the South West Trains units would be fitted with new Vossloh Kiepe traction equipment. As part of the re-powering of the fleet, the air operated camshaft and electrical resistance grids will be removed, as well as the EE507 traction motors. The new equipment will consist of DC to AC inverters of the IGBT type. This is needed as the replacement traction motors are AC rather than DC. Fitting new equipment both improves Miles per Breakdown values and overall reduces operating and maintaining costs.[10]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator Number of Trains Built Cars per Set Unit numbers
Class 455/7 South West Trains 43 1984–1985 4 455 701 - 455 742, 455 750
Class 455/8 Southern 46 1982–1984 455 801 - 455 846
South West Trains 28 455 847 - 455 874
Class 455/9 20 1985 455 901 - 455 920
Class 455 South West Trains Diagram.PNG


  • Lawford, Nick (June 2007). "Class 455s: suburban workhorses". Today's Railways (66) (Platform 5 Publishing Ltd.). ISSN 1475-9713. 
  1. ^ a b The Class 455 Units - Suburban Electric Railway Association. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  2. ^ Class 455 - Southern E-Group. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b Class 455 2 Page. - Southern E-Group. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Class 455 Refurbishment - Southern E-Group. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Class 455 suburban EMU refurbished". Railway Gazette International (London). 1 January 2005. 
  6. ^ "Multi-million-pound train fleet investment set to create jobs and boost disability travel" (Press release). Stagecoach Group. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Several injured as lorry falls on to a train". BBC News. 5 November 2010. 
  8. ^ Clinnick, Richard (17 November 2010). "Lorry lands on train after plunging through bridge". Rail (657) (Peterborough). pp. 6–7. 
  9. ^ "Investigation into an accident involving a heavy goods vehicle and a train near Oxshott, Surrey, on 5 November 2010". Rail Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 9 November 2010. 
  10. ^ "South West Trains EMUs to get AC traction equipment". Railway Gazette International (London). 15 April 2013. 

External links[edit]