British Rail Class 458

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British Rail Class 458 Juniper
458 526 leaving Waterloo.jpg
Class 458 leaving London Waterloo in 2015
Interior of 458533.jpg
Refurbished interior of 458533
In service 2000 – Current
Manufacturer Alstom
Built at Washwood Heath
Family name Juniper
Constructed 1998–2002
Refurbishment Refreshed: 2008-2010
Refurbished: 2014-2015
Number built 30 trainsets (As original 458/0)
Formation 4/5 cars per trainset
458/0 (As built):
458/5 (As rebuilt):
Fleet numbers 458001–458030
(re-numbering to:458501-458536)
Operator(s) South West Trains
Car length DMCO 21.01 m (68.9 ft)
MSO/PTSO 19.94 m (65.4 ft)
Width 2.80 m (9 ft 2 in)
Height 3.77 m (12 ft 4 in)
Maximum speed 458/0 100 mph (161 km/h)
458/5 75 mph (121 km/h)
Weight 164.3 t (161.7 long tons; 181.1 short tons)
Electric system(s) 750 V DC Third rail
Braking system(s) Air, Regenerative
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The South West Trains (SWT) Class 458 (or 4JOP) outer-suburban electric multiple units were built by Alstom at Washwood Heath between 1998 and 2002. The 30 four-car units are part of Alstom's Juniper family of trains, which also includes Classes 334 and 460.

These trains have been used by SWT since they were built. Since 2013 they are being merged with the mechanically similar Class 460 fleet and reconfigured into 36 five-cars units, which are being designated Class 458/5.


The original interior of Standard Class accommodation aboard a Class 458
Class 458 conversion
The retractable gangways between two Class 458/0 units

Thirty of these 4-car trains were ordered by SWT in 1998, to create extra capacity and to replace some of the ageing Class 411 (4CEP) units. Deliveries of these units began in 1998.[1] They were delivered in SWT's mainline livery of mainly white, with a blue band, and red/orange 'swish' at cab ends. They are the only Juniper EMUs to feature end gangways.

The units were numbered 458001-030. Each unit was formed from two outer driving motors, an intermediate trailer, and an intermediate motor. The maximum speed is 100 miles per hour (161 km/h).[1]

The class initially suffered from major technical problems, such as leaky roofs and failing electronics.[2] In 2004, when the full fleet was in service, reliability was so poor that SWT planned to return them to the leasing company and replace them with new Class 450 Desiro trains.[2] At that time, the trains only managed an average of 4,300 miles (6,900 km) between failures, compared with an average of 21,000 miles (34,000 km) for a Class 450 Desiro and 50,000 miles (80,000 km) for the previous slam-door trains.[2] Subsequently, reliability improved sufficiently to allow the trains to be retained. By the end of 2012, the fleet had achieved an average of 106,049 miles (170,669 km) between failures, becoming the most reliable fleet in Britain and the first fleet to achieve a 6-figure rating.[3] As a result, the fleet was awarded a Modern Railways Golden Spanner award in the New Generation EMU category on 23 November 2012.

The technical description of the formation is DMCO+PTSO+MSO+DMCO. Individual vehicles are numbered as follows:

  • 67601-67630 – DMCO
  • 74001-74030 – PTSO
  • 74101-74130 – MSO
  • 67701-67730 – DMCO


In September 2005, two units (458001 and 458002) were transferred to Gatwick Express, but returned later that year.[4]

Refresh and testing[edit]

The interior of a refurbished First Class cabin aboard a Class 458
The interior of an original First Class cabin aboard a Class 458

In 2008–2010 Bournemouth Train Care Depot 'refreshed' these EMUs.[5] The 'refresh' included adding CCTV, new seats and tables in first class, an internal repaint, and Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (RVAR) compliant lavatory, information display panels and door lights.[5]

In May 2010 two trains were in service with regenerative braking, with the intent to have all 30 units with new regenerative braking software by summer 2011.[6]

Lengthening to form Class 458/5[edit]

South West Trains and Porterbrook merged the Class 458 trains with the mechanically similar Class 460 (former Gatwick Express) trains, largely unused since September 2012, to form 5 coach trains.[7] Six of the eight Class 460 trains lost three carriages in the process, leaving them as 5-car trains that were also reconfigured as class 458/5 trains. The other two trains lost 6 carriages each, with the remaining 4 vehicles (driving/luggage vehicles) being decommissioned for spares. This £42m scheme was devised by Porterbrook, owner of both fleets.[8] The "new" 5-car sets will be designated Class 458/5 and coupled together to form 10-car trains to provide extra peak-time capacity on suburban services into Waterloo from the Hounslow, Weybridge (via Staines) and Windsor lines, using one of the five disused Waterloo International platforms, starting in 2014.[9][10] The project was of SWT's aspiration to become a "10-car railway".[8]

Porterbrook signed the deal with SWT in January 2012.[11] The work was carried out by Wabtec, Doncaster and Brush Traction, Loughborough (Drive vehicles) on behalf of the original builder Alstom. The first trains were scheduled to arrive in May 2013, but due to protracted delivery, the work was slower than anticipated, and as a result the first trains did not enter service until March 2014.[7][10]

As part of the re-build the driving vehicles were modified to include a more conventional design of gangway. The couplers are sourced from Voith.[12] New Train Management System software was installed to improve reliability. Internally, a light refurbishment included reconfiguring the seating layout to provide more standing room for passengers.[8] Traction units were re-geared from 100 mph (161 km/h), not required on the services for which the trains were to be used, to 75 mph (121 km/h) maximum to avoid overheating. The sets were painted in the SWT blue livery as on the Class 450 units. Automatic Selective Door Opening (ASDO) was installed for use at a few suburban stations where it is not practical to lengthen platforms.[8]

The former Class 460 units (458531-458536) have ribbon glazed windows, smaller windows on passenger doors, and did not have the recess for a pantograph, preventing the future conversion to AC overhead power, because the Class 460s were built specifically for Gatwick Express, and thus cascades to AC-electrified routes were never envisioned in the original specification. The former Class 458/0 units (458501-458530) retains original window frames, larger windows on passenger doors, and the recess for the pantograph on PTSO vehicle, allowing for a future conversion to AC overhead power. However, an additional carriage from former Class 460 units retains ribbon glazed windows and smaller windows on passenger doors.

The first two of the 5-car sets were delivered in October 2013 and entered passenger service in March 2014.[12][13]

Two 458/5 coupled units were involved in an incident at Windsor & Eton Riverside on 30 January 2015. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch determined this was caused by the power cables not being secured correctly when they were reconnected during the rebuild.[14]

The project was completed on 30th March 2016, when the final converted unit, 458516, returned to South West Trains.

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Year converted Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 458/5 South West Trains 30 (as 4 car) 1998-2002 2014-2016 5 458501-458530 Previously 4 car 458/0 with a former Class 460 TSOL vehicle.
6 458531-458536 Converted from Class 460.


  1. ^ a b The Fall and Rise of South West Trains' 458 Units – Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Train firm to replace new fleet". BBC News. 12 January 2004. Retrieved 2 July 2008. A commuter rail company is to replace 30 of its newest fleet of trains because they keep breaking down. 
  3. ^ Ford, Roger (January 2013). "First six-figure winner tops all-round improvement". Modern Railways. London. p. 64. 
  4. ^ Gatwick Express 458s – Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  5. ^ a b Class 458s being "refreshed" at Bournemouth T&RSMD – Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  6. ^ "South West Trains invests £2.2m in regenerative braking system to drive greener trains" (Press release). South West Trains. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Clinnick, Richard (25 January 2012). "Class 460 driving vehicles made redundant". Rail. Peterborough. p. 28. 
  8. ^ a b c d Walmsley, Ian (February 2012). "Junipers United: Darth Vader goes suburban". Modern Railways. London. p. 40. 
  9. ^ "£42m for longer Waterloo trains". Rail. Peterborough. 11 January 2012. p. 7. 
  10. ^ a b "London commuters to benefit from longer peak time trains" (Press release). South West Trains. 23 December 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "Porterbrook signs agreement for the future of Class 458s" (Press release). Porterbrook. 3 January 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Improving Your Railway - Longer Trains". South West Trains. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  13. ^ "South West Trains prepares to introduce longer trains". Railway Gazette. London. 23 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Report 18/2015: Arcing and fire at Windsor & Eton Riverside". Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "Alstom's first Juniper unit delivered to South West Trains". RAIL. No. 344. EMAP Apex Publications. 18 November – 1 December 1998. p. 7. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699. 
  • Holley, Mel (2–15 December 1998). "Alstom's Juniper production line to complete an SWT unit every fortnight". RAIL. No. 345. EMAP Apex Publications. p. 18-19. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699. 

External links[edit]