British Rail Class 458

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British Rail Class 458 Juniper
Class 458534 Blue at Clapham.JPG
Class 458 at Clapham Junction in 2014
458015 A Standard Class Interior.JPG
The interior of Standard Class accommodation aboard a Class 458
In service 2000 – Current
Manufacturer Alstom
Built at Washwood Heath
Family name Juniper
Constructed 1998–2002
Refurbishment 2008-2010
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.


Class 458 Juniper before modification at Clapham Junction
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 are 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] At the 11 December 2005 timetable change, use of the trains was significantly reduced and only three were required each day.[citation needed]

Subsequently, reliability improved sufficiently to allow the trains to be retained. By the end of 2012, the fleet had achieved a Miles per Technical Incident Number of 106,049, 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 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


When first built, the units were used on the half-hourly London Waterloo to Alton trains.[citation needed] Occasionally, they were found operating the Basingstoke semi-fast service and other general outer-suburban duties.[citation needed] The units were then transferred to the half-hourly London Waterloo to Reading service, mainly so that they were confined to one area of the network. The trains used to also operate services between Ascot and Guildford on weekdays until they were replaced by Class 456 trains. The Class 458 trains still run occasionally on through services from Aldershot and Guildford to Waterloo.

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

The new 458/5 trains will run to Weybridge (via Staines), Windsor and Eton Riverside and around the Hounslow Loop. This will therefore release Class 450s to operate the Reading services which the 458/0 trains current serve.

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]

Current lengthening to form Class 458/5[edit]

Class 458/5 at Clapham Junction sidings

The Class 458 trains are being merged with the mechanically similar Class 460 (former Gatwick Express) trains, largely unused since September 2012, and each form a 5 coach train.[7] Six of the eight Class 460 trains will each lose three carriages in the process, leaving them as 5-car trains that will also be reconfigured as class 458/5 trains. The other two trains will lose 6 carriages each, 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 is part of SWT's aspiration to become a "10-car railway".[8]

Porterbrook signed the deal with SWT in January 2012.[11] The work will be carried out by Wabtec, Doncaster and Brush Traction, Loughborough (Drive vehicles) on behalf of 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 have been modified to include a more conventional design of gangway. The Juniper Tightlock coupling system was removed and replaced with a Desiro configured coupling allowing the re-built trains to be mechanically compatible with the Class 450 & Class 444 Desiro fleet for rescue purposes.[citation needed] The couplers are sourced from Voith.[12] New Train Management System software will be installed to improve reliability. Internal refurbishment will include reconfiguring the seating layout to provide more standing room for passengers.[8] Traction units will be re-geared from 100 mph (161 km/h), not required on the services for which the trains will be used, to 75 mph (121 km/h) maximum to avoid overheating. The sets are to be painted in the SWT blue livery as on the Class 450 units. Automatic Selective Door Opening (ASDO) is to be 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. RAIB determined this was caused by the power cables not being secured correctly when they were reconnected during the rebuild.[14]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 458/0 South West Trains 30 1998–2002 4 458001–458030 All to be converted to Class 458/5.
Class 458/5 2012-2015 5 458501-458530
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. 

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