British Rail Class 455

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British Rail Class 455
Hampton Railway Station - - 2581429.jpg
A South West Trains Class 455/7 unit at Hampton
455901 DTSO Interior.jpg
The interior of a South West Trains Class 455/9
In service1983–present[1]
ManufacturerBritish Rail Engineering Limited[1]
Built atHolgate Road Works, York
Family nameBR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Number built
  • 137
  • (43 × 455/7,
  • with Class 508 TSO vehicles)
  • (74 × 455/8)
  • (20 × 455/9)
Number in service83
Number scrapped51[2]
Formation4 cars per unit:
  • 455/7 & /9 DTSO vehs.: EE226
  • 455/8 DTSO vehs.: EE218
  • 455/7 & /9 MSO vehs.: EC206
  • 455/8 MSO vehs.: EC203
  • 455/7 TSO vehs.: EH219
  • 455/8 TSO vehs.: EH221
  • 455/9 TSO vehs.: EH224[3]
Fleet numbers
  • 455701–455742
  • 455750[4]
  • 455801–455874
  • 455901–455920
  • As built: 316 seats
  • SN refurb.: 307 seats
  • SWT refurb.: 244 seats[5]
Car body construction
Train length81.16 m (266 ft 3 in)[1]
Car length
  • DTSO: 19.83 m (65 ft 1 in)
  • MSO/TSO: 19.92 m (65 ft 4 in)[3]
Width2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)[3]
  • 455/7 TSOs: 3.58 m (11 ft 9 in)
  • All others: 3.77 m (12 ft 4 in)[3]
Floor height1.14 m (3 ft 9 in)
DoorsDouble-leaf pocket sliding
(2 per side per car)[note 1]
WheelbaseOver bogie centres:
14.17 m (46 ft 6 in)
Maximum speed75 mph (121 km/h)[1]
  • DTSO: 29.5 t (29.0 long tons; 32.5 short tons)
  • MSO: 45.6 t (44.9 long tons; 50.3 short tons)
  • 455/7 TSO: 25.5 t (25.1 long tons; 28.1 short tons)
  • 455/8 & /9 TSO: 27.1 t (26.7 long tons; 29.9 short tons)
Traction system
Traction motors
  • As built:
    4 × English Electric 507-20J,[3]
    each of 153 kW (205 hp)
  • SWR refurbished:
    4 × TSA TME 52-35-4,[8]
    each of 250 kW (335 hp)
Power output
  • As built: 610 kW (820 hp)
  • Refurbished: 1,000 kW (1,300 hp)
Acceleration0.58 m/s2 (1.9 ft/s2)[1]
Electric system(s)750 V DC third rail[1]
Current collector(s)Contact shoe
UIC classification2′2′+Bo′Bo′+2′2′+2′2′
  • 455/7 TSOs: BREL BX1
  • MSOs: BREL BP27
  • Others: BREL BT13[3]
Minimum turning radius70 m (231 ft)[3]
Braking system(s)
Safety system(s)
Coupling systemTightlock[3]
Multiple workingWithin class, and with Class 456
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 455 is an electric multiple unit passenger train built by BREL[1] between 1982 and 1985. It is operated on suburban services in Greater London and Surrey by South Western Railway, as well as formerly by Southern.


The Class 455 was originally to be classified as the Class 510, which were planned as a 750 V DC version of the Class 317. However, as the chopper control system at the time was not considered robust enough for the electrically rougher third rail Southern Region, they were fitted with a GEC Traction camshaft control systems instead. The Class 510 designation was changed to Class 455.

The class has 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).[9] Like the Class 317/318, as well as the diesel Class 150, they are based on the British Rail Mark 3, with a steel construction, unlike the earlier PEP based Class 313, Class 314, Class 315, Class 507 and Class 508, which had an aluminium alloy body.[9]

A total of 505 carriages were built by British Rail Engineering Limited's Holgate Road carriage works and together with 43 existing trailers from Class 508s, formed 137 four-car sets. The 455s allowed the Class 405 and Class 415 to be withdrawn, as well as allowing the Class 508s to be transferred to the Merseyside network for which they were originally intended. They also allowed other stock to be cascaded to the North London and Oxted lines.[4]

There were three batches of Class 455s, all consisting of four cars: driving trailer vehicles 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 405s), all originally built to the standard class 3+2 seating arrangement with 316 seats. Technically, they are formed DTSO+MSO+TSO+DTSO.[1]

Class 455/8[edit]

Network SouthEast Class 455/8 approaching Waterloo

The Class 455/8s were built between 1982 and 1984. These include all 46 units formerly operated by Southern (allocated to Stewarts Lane depot) and 28 allocated to South Western Railway (at Wimbledon depot).[9][10]

The last day of service of the Southern Class 455/8s was 14 May 2022.[11]

Class 455/7[edit]

Interior of a former Class 508 trailer from a South West Trains refurbished Class 455/7

The Class 455/7s were built in 1984–1985. There are 43 four-car units, all allocated to South Western Railway 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 Class 317/2 and Class 318 units.[12]

No new intermediate trailer (TSO) vehicles were produced for this subclass; instead, they use redundant TSO vehicles that had been removed from Class 508 units prior to those units being transferred to Merseyrail in Liverpool. The reused vehicles can be recognised by their shorter and wider profile compared to 'normal' Class 455 vehicles.[13]

Class 455/9[edit]

The Class 455/9s were built in 1985, and all 20 units are allocated to South Western Railway at Wimbledon depot.[14] These are similar to the 455/7s, except that they had new-build TSOs.[14]

In connection with the Crossrail project, which was rejected in 1994,[15] two trailer cars (71731 from unit 5918; 71732 from unit 5919) were modified to take plug doors.[16] Both were coupled and ran in service in this condition. After an extended period in service, it was found that the modifications had slightly weakened the overall structure. 71732 was re-fitted with sliding doors but 71731 was removed from service, remaining at Eastleigh Works to be cannibalised for spare parts. The latter car served as a demonstrator for the South West Trains refurbished full red livery until it was scrapped in 2005.

Two units later gained replacement carriages that had originally been part of the prototype Class 210 DEMU, which had the same bodyshell. 455912's TSO was replaced by 67400. 455913's MSO 62838, which had been crushed by a cement mixer lorry falling off a bridge, was replaced with 67301, which had originally been a Class 210 DTSO and was later a DMSO in the experimental Class 457. The undamaged end of 62838 was used to replace the former cab end of 67301; the remainder of 62838 was scrapped.[17][18]


Current operations[edit]

South West Trains / South Western Railway[edit]

In February 1996, all South Western division 455s were transferred to South West Trains (SWT). From September 1996, SWT began to modify the Network SouthEast livery with a Stagecoach orange brand added. In November 2004, SWT took delivery of the first unit refurbished by Bombardier, Ashford.[19] The work involved replacing the original seats with high-back Grammar seats (similar to those fitted to Class 450 units) in 2+2 configuration, modifying the doorways so that the sliding doors can open further, and the repainting of the units in a new predominantly-red livery.[20] The last was completed in March 2008.[21]

In April 2013 it was announced that the SWT units would be fitted with a new alternating current traction system provided by Vossloh Kiepe. The project works commenced in June 2014 and involved replacing the original pneumatically-actuated camshaft control system with a solid-state insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) inverter and variable-voltage/variable-frequency (VVVF) drive, and exchanging the as-built English Electric DC traction motors with new AC units.[6][7][22][23][24] The upgraded units also received new Knorr-Bremse brake controllers, which allows regenerative braking in addition to the existing rheostatic function.[6][7]

The new traction motors are each 500 kg (1,100 lb) lighter than the DC originals,[6] and the traction system upgrade as a whole improves reliability and reduces overall operating and maintenance costs.[7]

Additionally, as the upgrade reduced the amount of time Class 455 units spent being inspected and serviced in depots, South West Trains were able to proceed with the introduction of new Class 707 units without needing to acquire more depot space.[25]

All units passed to South Western Railway with the South Western franchise change in August 2017. They are used on most London commuter rail routes from London Waterloo to South West London and neighbouring areas.[26]

Former operations[edit]

British Rail[edit]

Deliveries commenced in 1982 to Strawberry Hill.[27] On 16 November 1982, 455805 was unveiled at Waterloo station. The first entered service on 28 March 1983. All were initially allocated to Wimbledon Depot working services on the Central and South Western divisions. The Central Division 455/8s were transferred to Selhurst in 1986 after modifications to the depot were completed. All were delivered in British Rail blue and grey livery; it had been anticipated that some or all 455/9s would be painted in a green variant of the 'Jaffa Cake' London & SouthEast livery, but this was overruled by the BR Design Panel.[28][29] From 1986 all 455s were progressively repainted in Network SouthEast white, blue and red livery. In May 1991, 455743 was renumbered 455750 and renamed Wimbledon Traincare Depot in recognition of the depot obtaining BS5750 quality services accreditation.[4]

In April 1994 in the lead up to the privatisation of British Rail, 455801-455846 were allocated to the Network SouthCentral shadow franchise and sold to Eversholt.[1] The remainder were allocated to the South West Trains shadow franchise and sold to Porterbrook.[4][30]

Connex South Central / Southern[edit]

Southern Class 455/8 at Sutton, showing the updated cab front
The interior aboard a Southern refurbished Class 455/8

On 13 October 1996, the Network SouthCentral shadow franchise was taken over by Connex South Central with 455801-455846. In the late 1990s, 16 were repainted in Connex's white and yellow livery. In August 2001, the franchise passed to Southern with all 46 transferred. Some were repainted in Southern's white and green livery. Between February 2004 and February 2006, all were refurbished by Alstom, Eastleigh. New 3+2 high back seating as fitted to the Class 377 and the removal of cab end gangways to facilitate the installation of driver's air-conditioning were notable features.[31][32][33][34][35][36]

A refurbishment programme started for the Southern units in June 2012. This included a repaint and interior changes, such as changes to the grab rails on the top between each door. 455808 was the first completed, followed by 455812 in August 2012. The project was completed in December 2013, 455801 being the last unit.[37][38]

Another refurbishment programme begun in January 2018 for the 455s to become compliant with the PRM 2020 specifications with 455816 being the first one completed.[39]

Southern Class 455 units were used on inner and outer suburban services out of London to destinations in South London and Surrey, before being withdrawn in May 2022.[40] They will not be directly replaced, as the new timetable will be operated by Southern's Class 377 EMUs.[41] A farewell tour for the Southern Class 455 units took place on 14 May 2022.[42]

The first pair of Southern class 455s (455838 and 455839) were sent for scrap on 4 May 2022.[43]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 18 February 1990, unit 455820 collided with a fallen tree obstructing the line at Gipsy Hill and was derailed. Unit 5802 then collided with 5820.[44]
  • 2010 Oxshott rail accident: On 5 November 2010, a concrete mixer went over the edge of a bridge over the railway line near Oxshott station, landing on the 15:05 South West Trains service from Guildford railway station to London Waterloo.[45] The train was formed of two Class 455 units, 455741 and 455913.[46] The end of the roof of the sixth carriage was severely crushed. Further damage was sustained to the fifth, 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.[47] Unit 455913 was repaired at Wolverton railway works, at a cost of £1.6 million, and returned to service in July 2013. It was also fitted with an ex Class 210 driving vehicle which has been converted to an intermediate vehicle whilst retaining its existing number of 67301. Original vehicle 62838 was damaged beyond repair in the accident and was scrapped.[48][49]
  • On 7 July 2017, an explosion occurred in an underframe equipment case of unit 455901 at Guildford station. Debris was thrown up to 230 feet (70 m) away. No injuries occurred. The cause of the explosion was a faulty capacitor which had been fitted when the units' electrical equipment was upgraded.[50] A manufacturing defect in the new traction equipment has caused three failures in service and five under test. Two of the failures in service involved unit 455726, the other involved unit 455901.[50] In the most serious incident, on 7 July 2017, fragments, described as "quite sizeable" by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, were scattered across platforms and an adjacent car park at Guildford station.[51]
  • On 15 August 2017, two Class 455 units formed part of a train with Class 456 unit 456015 which was derailed at London Waterloo. The cause of the accident was errors made in the wiring of the signalling during work to increase capacity at Waterloo. Neither of the Class 455 units was damaged.[52]


South Western Railway had intended to replace their fleet with Class 701 Aventra units from 2019;[53] however this was initially deferred to mid-2020[54] and has been deferred again to 2021.[55] The Class 701 Aventra EMUs are planned to enter service in 2023.[56]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator Qty. Year built Cars per unit Unit numbers
455/7 South Western Railway 39 1984–1985 4 455701–455703, 455705–455725, 455727–455735, 455737–455739, 455741–455742, 455750
Scrapped 4 455704, 455726, 455736, 455740[2][57][58]
455/8 Scrapped 48 1982–1984 455801–455847, 455855[2]
South Western Railway 27 455848–455854, 455856–455874
455/9 17 1985 455901–455906, 455908–455912, 455914–455917, 455919–455920
Stored 1 455913[59]
Scrapped 2 455907, 455918[60]


  1. ^ Door throughways 1.010 m (3 ft 3.8 in) on all vehicles, except for 455/7 TSO vehicles at 1.288 m (4 ft 2.7 in).[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Class 455 Electric Multiple Unit" (PDF). London: Eversholt Rail Group. August 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Class 455 disposals gather pace". Rail Express. No. 317. October 2022. p. 26.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vehicle Diagram Book No. 210 for Electric Multiple Units (including A.P.T.) (PDF). Derby: Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Department, British Railways Board. EC203, EC206, EE218, EE226, EH219, EH221, EH224 (in work pp. 76–77, 82–83, 150–151, 166–167, 292–295, 300–301). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2022 – via Barrowmore MRG.
  4. ^ a b c d "Class 455s: suburban workhorses". Today's Railways UK. No. 66. Sheffield. June 2007. pp. 48–55.
  5. ^ "Our Trains - Class 455 'British Rail Second Generation'". South Western Railway. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Class 455 EMUs state of the art traction upgrade". Gemini Rail Group. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d "South West Trains EMUs to get AC traction equipment". Railway Gazette International. London. 15 April 2013.
  8. ^ "Class 455 EMU overhaul for Porterbrook". Wiener Neudorf: Traktionssysteme Austria. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  9. ^ a b c Llewelyn, Hugh (2016). EMUs: A History. Amberley Publishing Limited.
  10. ^ "Southern's 'Lean' Machine". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Southern Class 455s bow out". Railways illustrated. No. 233. July 2022. p. 14.
  12. ^ "THE SIDING || 5868 & 5714 Waterloo 21-Oct-2003". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  13. ^ Class 455 2 Page. - Southern E-Group. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  14. ^ a b ATOC Rolling Stock Requirements 2014-2019 (PDF). Association of Train Operating Companies. 2014. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2014.
  15. ^ "Crossrail". Hansard. 20 June 1994.
  16. ^ "Class 455 Trailer Standard 71731". Southern Electric Group.
  17. ^ "Reshelling a 455". Rail Engineer. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Class 455 returns to South West Trains". Railways Illustrated. June 2013.
  19. ^ "SWT receives first overhauled 455". Rail. No. 501. 24 November 2004. p. 26.
  20. ^ Class 455 suburban EMU refurbished Railway Gazette International January 2005
  21. ^ "Final SWT 455 Class 455 returns". Rail. No. 589. 9 April 2008. p. 62.
  22. ^ "New traction package fitted to first 455" Today's Railways July 2015 page 65
  23. ^ "DC to AC Switch for SWT 455s". Railways Illustrated. No. 150. August 2015. p. 10.
  24. ^ "First AC traction Class 455s enter traffic with SWT". Rail. No. 799. 27 April 2016. p. 30.
  25. ^ "South West Trains EMUs to get AC traction equipment". Railway Gazette International. DVV Media International. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  26. ^ Waterloo Station Through Time Revised Edition. Amberley Publishing Limited. 2015. ISBN 9781445650852.
  27. ^ "Class 455 EMUs ready in March" Railway Gazette International March 1983 page 46
  28. ^ "Regional Review". Live Rail. Southern Electric Group. April 1985. p. 246. ISSN 0142-7326.
  29. ^ "Regional Review". Live Rail. Southern Electric Group. June 1985. p. 281. ISSN 0142-7326.
  30. ^ Class 455 - South West Trains Archived 31 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine Porterbrook
  31. ^ "South Central 455 fleet to receive £20m upgrade". Rail. No. 460. 30 April 2003. p. 4.
  32. ^ "South Central to refurbish Class 455 fleet". Entrain. No. 19. July 2003. p. 47.
  33. ^ "South Central upgrades 455s". Rail. No. 479. 21 January 2004. p. 24.
  34. ^ "First SouthCentral refurbished Class 455s re-enter service". The Railway Magazine. No. 1238. June 2004. p. 67.
  35. ^ "Last Southern 455 leaves Eastleigh". Rail. No. 537. 12 April 2006. p. 22.
  36. ^ "Southern 455 Overhaul Latest". Railways Illustrated. Vol. 4, no. 5. May 2006.
  37. ^ "Southern completes its £7m diesel fleet refresh". Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  38. ^ "Latest 455 is released" Railways Illustrated December 2013
  39. ^ "Southern Class 455 EMUs to be modified for PRM compliance". Railway Gazette International. Archived from the original on 9 September 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  40. ^ "The 455s have been used on our inner/outer suburban routes out of London, assisting customers to South London and Surrey. Have you taken photos on these routes? 📷 The below were captured by Ben from Control 👇". Twitter. @SouthernRailUK. 14 May 2022. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  41. ^ "First Class 456 goes for scrap and Southern Class 455 cull confirmed". Rail Express. No. 311. April 2022. p. 9.
  42. ^ "👋 Today we're saying goodbye to our Class 455s. After 40 years in service, the farewell tour will take place on The Metro Marauder route and features two Class 455/8s. All profits will be donated to good causes nominated by GTR". Twitter. @SouthernRailUK. 14 May 2022. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  43. ^ "First 455s taken for scrap". Rail. No. 957. 18 May 2022. p. 21.
  44. ^ McCrickard, John P (6 October 2016). "January 1990 to December 1990". Network South East Railway Society. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  45. ^ "Several injured as lorry falls on to a train". BBC News. 5 November 2010.
  46. ^ Clinnick, Richard (17 November 2010). "Lorry lands on train after plunging through bridge". Rail. No. 657. Peterborough. pp. 6–7.
  47. ^ "Investigation into an accident involving a heavy goods vehicle and a train near Oxshott, Surrey, on 5 November 2010". Rail Accidents Investigation Branch. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  48. ^ "No Claims bonus lost as lorry accident causes £1.6m train repair bill |". Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  49. ^ "Repairs to 5913 completed". Today's Railways UK. No. 138. June 2013. p. 66.
  50. ^ a b "Explosion in an underframe equipment case at Guildford 7 July 2017" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  51. ^ "Rail experts probe South West Trains blasts after upgrade". BBC News. 25 July 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  52. ^ "Collision at London Waterloo, 15 August 2017" (PDF). Paragraph 24: Rail Accident investigation Branch. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 20 November 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  53. ^ FirstGroup and MTR order 750 EMU cars for South Western franchise International Railway Journal 20 June 2017
  54. ^ "South Western Railway's £895 million Aventra unveiled - but entry delayed to 2020". Rail. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  55. ^ "New SWR fleet delayed again". Rail. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  56. ^ "First of £1bn trains to run in 2023, South Western Railway says". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 13 December 2022. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  57. ^ "BREL classes go extinct". Railways Illustrated. No. 237. November 2022. p. 20.
  58. ^ "Stock Update". The Railway Magazine. No. 1455. June 2022. p. 85.
  59. ^ "End of an electric era". Railways illustrated. No. October 2022. pp. 50–55.
  60. ^ "Disposal of surplus electric units gathers pace". Rail. No. 968. 19 October 2022. pp. 18–19.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]