British Rail Class 456

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

British Rail Class 456
SWR 456 014 at Guildford.jpg
South West Trains 456014 approaching Guildford in June 2017
South West Trains 456003 Interior.jpg
Interior in June 2018, after refurbishment by South West Trains
In service30 September 1991  – 17 January 2022
ManufacturerBritish Rail Engineering Limited
Built atHolgate Road, York
Family nameBR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Number built24
Number scrapped3
  • 2 cars per unit:
Fleet numbers456001–456024
Capacity152 seats
Car body constructionSteel[3]
Car length19.95 m (65 ft 5 in)[3]
Width2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)[3]
Height3.78 m (12 ft 5 in)[3]
  • Double-leaf pocket sliding
  • (2 per side per car)
  • 14.17 m (46 ft 6 in)
  • (over bogie centres)
Maximum speed75 mph (121 km/h)
Weight72.5 tonnes (71.4 long tons; 79.9 short tons)
Power output500 hp (373 kW)
Electric system(s)750 V DC third rail
Current collector(s)Contact shoe
Minimum turning radius71 m (232 ft 11 in)[3]
Braking system(s)Air (Westcode)
Safety system(s)
Coupling systemTightlock[3]
Multiple workingWithin class, and with Class 455
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 456 is an electric multiple-unit passenger train introduced by Network SouthEast on inner-suburban services in South London to replace the elderly Class 416 2EPB units.[4] Twenty-four two-car units were built by British Rail Engineering Limited's York Carriage Works in 1990 and 1991.[1]

Following the privatisation of British Rail, the fleet was sold to Porterbrook and operated by Southern up until late 2013, when they were transferred to South West Trains and heavily refurbished.[5][6] Routes that were operated by Class 456 units will operated by new Class 701 Bombardier Aventra units in the future.[7]

Entry into service[edit]

The Class 456s were originally delivered in Network SouthEast livery

While originally approved for use by Network SouthEast (NSE) on services out of Waterloo,[8] the 24 two-car units were first accepted into traffic as direct replacements for the Class 416 2EPB units on the Central Division of the Southern Region of British Rail.[9] Units were delivered into traffic painted in NSE blue, red and white livery with cabs based on the Class 321 units, and were initially based at Selhurst depot.[8] Although Network SouthEast had shifted to units painted with pale grey, the Class 456s were introduced painted with a darker grey shade to match the livery of the Class 455 units they would be working with. Units were numbered in the range 456001-024, each unit consisting of a driving motor (DMSO) and a driving trailer (DTSO).[9]

Entry in to service for the Class 456 was originally planned to be in 18 March 1991, with trains to be driver-only operated without the presence of a guard. This meant that the driver had to have a clear view of the platform a bank of CCTV cameras mounted at the platform end for this purpose, however it was discovered that the position of the CCTV cameras on the platforms meant that they were not visible from the driver's position. To resolve this Selhurst depot designed a replacement fixing for the driver's seat so that it could slide sideways, allowing a good view of the CCTV units.[10] The modified drivers' seats were installed at Fratton Depot with the work completed by the end of July 1991.[8]

The Class 456s entered service on 30 September 1991, although initially with some service delays caused by minor defects.



The joint Southern/Transport for London CCTV advertising liveried Southern Metro Class 456 No. 456006 at London Bridge.
The interior of a Southern refreshed Class 456.

Since the privatisation of Britain's railways, the entire Class 456 fleet passed into the Southern (formerly known as South Central) franchise, which was originally won by Connex South Central. Only one unit, No. 456024, was repainted in white and yellow Connex livery, when it was named Sir Cosmo Bonsor after a chairman of the South Eastern Railway.[9][11] The rest of the fleet had remained in Network South East livery, until summer 2006 when the fleet started to be repainted.

In 2000, Connex lost the South Central franchise to the Go-Ahead Group, who rebranded the company as Southern in 2004.

On 8 May 2012 it was announced by the Department for Transport that the entire fleet of 24 2-car Class 456s would transfer to South West Trains (SWT) in 2014, to be used in conjunction with South West Trains’s Class 455 fleet on London inner-suburban lines.[12] South West Trains used the 456s to enhance peak-hour Metro services through Wimbledon from 8 to 10 coaches and to provide two additional morning peak services from Raynes Park to Waterloo. These changes took place from December 2014. Class 456s were repainted in the red "Metro" version of South West Trains livery to match the Class 455 with South West Trains and were refurbished to have a similar interior to the Class 455 before entering service with South West Trains between March 2014 and December 2014. It was announced that the 456 fleet will retain its standard traction equipment when transferred to South West Trains. This left them as the only fleet on South West Trains to be powered by conventional DC traction gear.

The Southern services on the South London Line were withdrawn in 2012 and replaced by a new London Overground service, the East London Line, operated using new air-conditioned 5-car Class 378 units.[13] Southern also received 26 new 5 car Class 377/6 units and these entered service at the end of 2013, in place of 92 cascaded carriages promised for extra capacity.[14] This gives a total of 50 replacement carriages in addition to the 92 carriages for extra capacity, leaving the 48 Class 456 carriages surplus to requirements at Southern.

South Western Railway[edit]

The units transferred to South Western Railway following their career with Southern, as their operations on its Metro routes were replaced by the class 455s, later to be replaced by the class 377/6 units.

The first units entered service with South West Trains on 23 March 2014 between Ascot and Guildford,[15] replacing Class 458 trains with toilets and air conditioning. They initially ran in pairs (i.e. 2 x 2 car) still in Southern's green livery, but without fleet names. 10 units were required to provide the half-hourly service. The one train per day from Clapham Junction (07:45) to Guildford via Ascot was also operated by two 456s, but the trains that run through to Waterloo during the rush hours continue to use Class 458 trains. The Class 456 trains were the main units on the line, but Class 450 sets now operate alone on the line.[16]

All units were refurbished by South West Trains.[17][18] In August 2017, all 456 units transferred to the new South Western franchisee, South Western Railway.

South Western Railway withdrew the Class 456 fleet from service on 17 January 2022.[19]


In March 2005, No. 456006 was hauled away to Wolverton where it was studied for corrosion assessment. This caused some doubt as to whether they would be refurbished.[20] However, in a statement in April 2006 Southern said the class would receive a 'refresh', which meant they would not receive a refurbishment as major as the 455s, since the 456s are 10 years newer and already have high-backed seats (although of a different design). Also, new CCTV cameras and flooring were installed; this was not mentioned on the original refurbishment plan.

All units were instead 'refreshed' and were painted into Southern green colours.[20] No. 456006 was completed in a one-off promotional livery for rail safety on the Southern network. 456013 had an experimental cab-cooling system installed and 456022 had some experimental air-conditioning fitted, in an effort to make drivers' jobs more comfortable.

Southern removed the toilets from the trains, to provide more capacity. Despite this the Class 456 EMU trains lost two seats from each pair, due to a space being cleared for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

After the units transferred to South West Trains, a full refurbishment commenced in Wolverton where Class 456s received a new exterior livery and also a refurbished interior with new seating.[21]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 15 August 2017, unit 456 015 was damaged in a collision with an engineers train at Waterloo station, London.[22][23] The cause was a wiring error in the signalling which meant that a set of points not correctly set was not detected. This was introduced as part of the testing of the temporary changes to the signalling during a major works programme at Waterloo. This allowed the signalling logic to detect that a set of points was correctly set when in reality, the points were mid-way between either of the correct positions. A false proceed signal was shown to the driver when it should not have been possible.[24]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator Count of units Year built Cars per unit Unit nos.
Class 456 Stored 21 1990–1991 2 456002–456004, 456006–456016, 456018–456024
Scrapped 3 456001,[25] 456005,[26] 456017[25]

Livery Details[edit]

Network South East livery, 1990–2006
Connex livery, 1996–2006
Southern livery, 2006–2014
New post-refurbishment South West Trains livery, in service from 10 November 2014 - 2017[27]
South Western Railway livery, 2017 - 2022


  1. ^ a b "Southern Farewell to Class 456". Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  2. ^ "FirstGroup and MTR order 750 EMU cars for South Western franchise". International Railway Journal. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Vehicle Diagram Book No.210 for Electrical Multiple Units (including A.P.T.)" (PDF). Barrowmore MRG. BRB Residuary Ltd. 182–183. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  4. ^ Llewelyn, Hugh (2016). EMUs A History. Stroud: Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781445649832.
  5. ^ Class 456 Electric Multiple Unit Fleet Technical Information. Porterbrook. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  6. ^ "RailServices Increase Capacity and Comfort for South West Trains" (Press release). Knorr-Bremse United Kingdom. 14 January 2016. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Bombardier wins South Western Aventra contract". Rail. Peterborough. 20 June 2017. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Sherlock, Greg (July 2015). "The Class 320s and their successors". Today's Railways UK. No. 163. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing Ltd. pp. 57–59.
  9. ^ a b c "SREmG". Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  10. ^ Roger FreemanSecretary of State for Transport (7 November 1991). "Written Answers to Questions". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons.
  11. ^ "Welcome to the Southern E-mail Group Web Site". Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  12. ^ "Further boost for passengers as South West Trains secures additional carriages". South West Trains. 8 May 2012. Archived from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  13. ^ Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays Archived 16 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine – Transport for London. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  14. ^ "Media centre | Southern Railway". Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  15. ^ Class 456 Enters Service Archived 17 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine – Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  16. ^ SWT Supplement: Modern Railways (PDF). Key Publishing. 2017. p. 10.
  17. ^ "Changes to Ascot - Guildford trains" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Let the train take the strain -unless it's sunny or you have a full bladder!". Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  19. ^ "SWR withdraws '456s' following service cuts". Rail. No. 949. 26 January 2022. p. 10-11.
  20. ^ a b Southern's 456 Overhauls and Refreshing Archived 30 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine – Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  21. ^ "SWT completes Class 456 refurbishment with last of 48 carriages". Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  22. ^ Hartley-Parkinson, Richard. "Train derails after colliding with freight train at London Waterloo station". Metro. Associated Newspapers. Archived from the original on 15 August 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  23. ^ "Collision near London Waterloo station, 15 August 2017". Rail Accidents Investigation Branch. 30 August 2017. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  24. ^ "Collision near London Waterloo station, 15 August 2017" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  25. ^ a b "Class 456 EMUs go for scrap". Railways Illustrated. No. May 2022. p. 18.
  26. ^ "First Class 456 goes for scrap and Southern Class 455 cull confirmed". Rail Express. No. 311 (April 2022). p. 9.
  27. ^ "Refurbished SWT '456s' enter service". Rail Express (224): 50. January 2015. ISSN 1362-234X.