British Rail Class 483

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

British Rail Class 483
A Class 483 at Shanklin
The refurbished interior of an Island Line Class 483 EMU.
In service1938–1988 on London Underground (as 1938 stock)
1989–2021 on Island Line
Family nameTube
ReplacedBritish Rail Classes 485 and 486
SuccessorBritish Rail Class 484
Formation2 cars per trainset
Capacity84 seats (2 car set)
OperatorsIsland Line
DepotsRyde depot
Car length52 ft 3+34 in (15.94 m)
Maximum speed45 mph (72 km/h)
Weight55 t (54 long tons; 61 short tons) each 2 car set.
Power output500 kW (670 hp) total power per 2 car set.
Electric system(s)660 V DC 3rd rail[1]
Current collector(s)Contact shoe
Multiple workingWithin class
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 483 electric multiple units were originally built as 1938 tube stock units for London Underground. They were extensively refurbished between 1989 and 1992 by Eastleigh Works, for use on services on the Isle of Wight's Island Line. This was despite having already been used for nearly 50 years on the London Underground network. The units replaced the even older and life-expired British Rail Classes 485 and 486 units which were introduced in 1967, but were originally built as 'Standard' stock units for the London Electric Railway in 1923.

The trains were 83 years old when they were withdrawn in January 2021; they were the oldest passenger trains in Great Britain remaining in regular passenger service at the time.[2][3] They were withdrawn on 3 January 2021, with the line closed from 4 January until 1 November 2021 for upgrade works, after which they were replaced by Class 484s.[4][5] Of the six units present on the Island at the time of their withdrawal, all have been confirmed for preservation.


Prior to Isle of Wight service[edit]

The trains were originally built by Metro-Cammell as 1938 tube stock for London Underground. An initial batch was withdrawn from service in 1973, and they were considered for use on the Island Line (which would not bear that name for another 16 years). However, the under-floor equipment was thought to be a problem, as extensive adaptations would be needed to Ryde Works to allow fitters to access it. It was also felt that the under-floor equipment would be vulnerable to salt water damage on Ryde Pier, especially in bad weather.[6]

The last batch of 1938 stock was withdrawn in 1985, except for five trains required on the Northern line between 1986 and May 1988 due to increasing passenger numbers. In 1987, Network SouthEast (NSE) managers realised that the existing 1923-built Class 485 trains would not be economically serviceable beyond around 1990 and thoughts turned to the future of the line. After closure of the route was discounted, it was decided to purchase and refurbish 1938 stock.[7]

In April 1988, London Underground offered a total of 28 carriages in revenue-earning condition to NSE, joined by three further carriages in May 1989. In addition, between May 1988 and October 1990, four scrap vehicles and nine works vehicles, to be used for spare parts, were taken from LU's Ruislip depot. While the project's feasibility study suggested that three-car units would be preferred, it was thought that the alterations required to Ryde depot would be both difficult and expensive. It was instead decided that two-car units would be used, using a maximum of six coaches in any train formation.[8] Of the 31 coaches available, 20 were selected for use on the island. These were extensively refurbished between 1989 and 1992 by Eastleigh Works to ready them for service on the line.

Interior (left) and exterior (right) door open/close buttons retro-fitted to the BR Class 483 units.

As well as cosmetic and structural work, significant electrical works were required both to replace dilapidated wiring, and to allow the trains to work from the line's third rail electrical supply.[9]

Eight two-car units were initially refurbished between 1989 and 1990. These units were numbered 483001-008, although only the final three digits were carried on the cab ends. Units were painted in the new Network SouthEast livery, of blue with red and white stripes. The first unit was tested on the South West Main Line between Basingstoke and Eastleigh before travelling to Fratton ready for its transfer to the island. Testing and crew training on the remaining units took place on the Portsmouth Direct Line and Shepperton Branch Line.[10][11]

On the island[edit]

The first unit, 001, arrived on the Isle of Wight on 5 July 1989 following an overnight ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Fishbourne. It was delivered by road to Sandown, then hauled to Ryde depot by one of the existing passenger trains. It began test running on the Island Line in the evening of 6 July, before a public launch on 13 July.[12] Regular passenger services using the Class 483 did not commence until October, while the last of the eight planned units did not enter service until July 1990.[13]

While it was originally planned to use only eight units, in 1992—two years after the rest of the fleet had entered service—the ninth unit, numbered 009, was also refurbished and transported to the island.[14] A 10th unit was also shipped to Ryde depot, although this was for spares only and was never used in passenger operation on the Island. This unit was unofficially given the unit number 483010.

Each unit was formed of two driving motor vehicles, numbered 121–129 and 221–229. The technical description of this formation was DMSO(A)+DMSO(B).

When the units were first introduced, the final digit of the unit number and the final digit of the carriage numbers corresponded, such that unit 001 was formed of vehicles 121 and 221. However, since then, a few rearrangements have taken place to the unit formations.

483006 stands at Ryde Pier Head in 2007, sporting its dinosaur livery intended to attract tourists to the line.

In 1996, with the privatisation of British Rail, the Ryde–Shanklin line became the Island Line franchise, which was won by the Stagecoach Group. Services continued to be branded as Island Line Trains. In 1999 three units (001, 003 and 005) were permanently withdrawn from service as surplus to requirements, leaving only six units remaining serviceable. In the early 2000s, the remaining units were overhauled and were repainted into a new livery of blue and yellow with pictures of dinosaurs. From 2007–2008, all units were repainted into their original London Transport red livery (albeit with yellow warning panels on the cab rather than the original red).[15][16]

According to an article in the October 2005 issue of Rail Professional magazine, at that time Island Line was paying "an eye-watering £140,000 a year" to lease the trains, meaning that "[s]ince privatisation, HSBC Rail has pocketed over £1m for leasing these relics that are effectively worthless."[17] In March 2007, South West Trains purchased the rolling stock outright from the leasing company HSBC Rail for £1.[18]

Further that year, the Island Line franchise was amalgamated with South West Trains as part of the new South Western franchise.


The Class 483 trains were last refurbished during 2007;[19] work on the six-vehicle fleet included:

  • an exterior repaint into London Transport maroon with cream window pillars
  • a retrim of the seat moquette into the same moquette that the London Underground A60/62 Stock received during their refurbishment between 1993–98

When South Western Railway took over the franchise in 2017, it launched a consultation on the future of Island Line services, revealing that only three of the six remaining units were serviceable.[20]


484001 stands next to 483009 at Ryde Traincare Depot, illustrating the difference in loading gauge between the ex-deep-level Tube Class 483 unit and the ex-sub-surface Class 484 unit

On 13 September 2019, South Western Railway announced that because of a "safety issue" only one of the units was able to run, which meant cancelling just under half of scheduled services and running only an hourly service on the Island Line.[21] This reduction in service was by mid-September expected to last for approximately one month, until 14 October,[22] but the company warned that the trains' age and increasing difficulty of getting spare parts meant it might take longer. Normal service was not restored for approximately 5 weeks, but further fleet faults brought repeated disruption through much of November.[23] Just 3 days after the news that only one Class 483 was serviceable, on 16 September 2019 the government announced that the fleet would be replaced by five two-car Class 484s.[24]


The London Transport Traction Group was founded to facilitate the preservation of a Class 483 unit to run via an on-board power supply on the Epping Ongar Railway in Essex. On 24 November 2020, the group confirmed that it had been successful in securing a unit, probably 006 or 008.[25] It was later announced that both 006 and 008 were going to be preserved by the group.[26]

After problems relating to a lack of space at the Epping Ongar Railway, the London Transport Traction Group announced that Units 006 and 008 will instead be preserved at the Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway, making 006 and 008 the first tube trains to be housed at a preserved railway in Wales.[27][28][29]

It is also known that the Isle of Wight Steam Railway will be taking on unit 483007 Jess Harper which had gone under a 3 year overhaul, the last to be overhauled at Ryde traincare depot.[30] It is planned, in the short term, for the unit to be displayed in the 'Train Story Discovery Centre'. It is hoped that in the years to come the unit will be able to run on its own power along the line.[31]

On 29 July 2020, SWR, the owner and operator, announced that it was looking for new homes for the trains as soon as possible, to make room for the arrival of the first Class 484 units for testing later in the year. SWR had already received enquiries from preservation groups, including the adjacent Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Organisations expressing interest will need to demonstrate the capacity and financial security to remove and look after the train, as well as an appropriate long-term physical storage location.[32]

Fleet details[edit]

Only two of nine units remained serviceable throughout most of 2020, the remainder having been taken out of service progressively since April 2000. On 29 July 2020 South Western Railway announced that the six extant units would be offered for preservation.[33] Despite its impending withdrawal, unit 007 received a full overhaul, returning to service on 11 December 2020.[citation needed]

Key: Scrapped Preserved
Unit No. Vehicle Nos. Delivered to LPTB Livery Status Notes
483001 121 ex-10184 221 ex-11184 19 August 1939[34] 19 August 1939[35] Network SouthEast Scrapped Scrapped at Ryde St John's Road in June 2006.
483002 122 ex-10221 225 ex-11142 13 November 1939[34] 27 February 1939[35] London Transport Red Preserved Both cars currently at Railway Support Services, Wishaw.
483003 123 ex-10116 223 ex-11116 10 January 1939[34] 10 January 1939[36] Network SouthEast Scrapped Previously stored in a siding near Ryde St John's Road as a source of spare parts. Scrapped in April 2000.
483004 124 ex-10205 224 ex-11205 10 October 1939[34] 10 October 1939[35] London Transport Red Preserved Previously stored at Ryde St John's Road since 2019 as a source of spare parts. Delivered to Holliers Park, Hale Common, Arreton for renovation and use as an onsite café on 20 May 2021.[37]
483005 125 ex-10142 222 ex-11221 27 February 1939[34] 13 November 1939[35] Network Southeast Scrapped Scrapped at Ryde St John's Road in April 2000.
483006 126 ex-10297 226 ex-11297 1 July 1940[34] 1 July 1940[35] London Transport Red with Island line logos Preserved Withdrawn from service on 3 January 2021. Preserved by the London Transport Traction Group at the Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway. Car 226 currently partly in "pseudo" LT condition with a red cab end and mock top marker lights and one side of the car painted completely red due to vandalism which occurred while the unit was at Ryde St Johns Depot [26][38]
483007 127 ex-10291 227 ex-11291 17 June 1940[36] 17 June 1940[35] London Transport Red with Island line logos Preserved Named 'Jess Harper' 15 December 2020. Withdrawn from service on 3 January 2021. Preserved at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway's Train Story exhibit at Havenstreet railway station. Preserved in London Transport Red with Island Line logos, and vinyl 'Jess Harper' nameplates.[39]
483008 128 ex-10255 228 ex-11255 26 February 1940[34] 26 February 1940[35] London Transport Red with Island line logos Preserved Withdrawn from service on 4 December 2020. Preserved by the London Transport Traction Group At Llanelli, One Car of this set will be fitted with batteries to power the London Transport Traction Group Class 483s. Currently still in as Withdrawn condition (Minus a few windows due to vandalism)[26]
483009 129 ex-10229 229 ex-11229 10 June 1940[36] 10 June 1940[35] London Transport Red Preserved In use as a shunter at Ryde depot since 2016 until withdrawal. Coach 129 was purchased by a private buyer and transported to the East Somerset Railway in August 2021[40] where it is awaiting restoration by Cranmore Traincare & Maintenance Services. Externally Restored to LT condition, other car stripped of parts, and in storage at Reid Freight, Longton, as of June 2022.
(483010) - ex-10139 - ex-11172 20 February 1939[34] 13 July 1939[35] Blue undercoat Scrapped An additional unit used for spare parts. Gutted at Ryde depot in 2001 and afterwards scrapped.



  1. ^ "Route Specifications 2016 Wessex" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  2. ^ Clifton, Paul (4 January 2021). "Island Line bids farewell to "icon of transport"". Rail. Bauer Consumer Media. Archived from the original on 8 January 2021. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  3. ^ Clinnick, Richard (4 January 2021). "Island Line bids farewell to "icon of transport"". RAIL. Archived from the original on 8 January 2021. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  4. ^ Marriott, Alan (20 August 2020). "Isle of Wight faces three months with no trains on Island Line". Isle of Wight County Press. Newsquest. Archived from the original on 21 August 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Isle of Wight rail line reopens 10 months after £26m overhaul". BBC News. 1 November 2021. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  6. ^ Hardy 2003, p. 38.
  7. ^ Hardy 2003, p. 60.
  8. ^ Hardy 2003, p. 62.
  9. ^ Hardy 2003, pp. 64–65.
  10. ^ Hardy 2003, p. 65.
  11. ^ "The Old Order Changeth on the Isle of Wight". The Railway Magazine. No. 1061. September 1989. p. 563.
  12. ^ Hardy 2003, p. 66.
  13. ^ Hardy 2003, p. 92.
  14. ^ Hardy 2003, p. 68.
  15. ^ "Island Line heritage unit set to launch". Rail. No. 443. 4 September 2002. p. 54.
  16. ^ "Isle of Wight repaints 1938 Tube stock". Rail. No. 584. 30 January 2008. p. 10.
  17. ^ Randall, Chris (October 2005). "The Rail Professional Interview: Haydn Abbott – Angel Trains" (PDF). Rail Professional (103): 17. ISSN 1476-2196. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
  18. ^ "'Wagons Roll' Towards Island Line Independence". Island Pulse. 28 March 2007. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2007.
  19. ^ London Transport Action Group (11 June 2021). "Class 483 History". London Transport Traction Group. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  20. ^ South Western Railway (2017). "Developing a more sustainable future for Island Line". Railfuture. p. 4. Archived from the original on 13 December 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  21. ^ Sally Perry (13 September 2019). "Island Line halve number of trains until further notice". On The Wight. Archived from the original on 18 September 2019. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  22. ^ "National Rail Enquiries – Service Alteration Details". 17 September 2019. Archived from the original on 1 October 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  23. ^ "ISLAND LINE DISRUPTION EXPECTED TO CONTINUE INTO NEXT WEEK". Island Echo. 9 November 2019. Archived from the original on 11 November 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Isle of Wight line's future secured with £26m investment". Railway Gazette International. 16 September 2019. Archived from the original on 16 September 2019.
  25. ^ "To Epping via Ryde! What will happen to Island Line's old tube trains?". Isle of Wight County Press. 28 November 2020. Archived from the original on 31 December 2020. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  26. ^ a b c "Project 483". LONDON TRANSPORT TRACTION GROUP. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  27. ^ LondonTransportTractionGroup [@TractionLondon] (16 September 2021). "The LT Traction Group is delighted to announce that their two ex-London tube trains will soon be at the Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr Railway This believed to be the first time that a tube train will have visited Wales and both groups are looking forward to working together" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 17 September 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2021 – via Twitter.
  28. ^ LondonTransportTractionGroup [@TractionLondon] (16 September 2021). "@Lachaineduferro At the moment, yes, this is due to a lack space at the EOR being tight. Hopefully once the work is done they might run on the EOR but no promises" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 17 September 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2021 – via Twitter.
  29. ^ Richardson, Adam (18 September 2021). "Ex-Island Line train to carry passengers again - but this time in Wales!". Archived from the original on 20 September 2021. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  30. ^ "Isle of Wight Steam Railway Strategic Vision" (PDF). Isle of Wight Steam Railway. 6 June 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  31. ^ Railway, Isle of Wight Steam (6 January 2021). "Preservation of 483007". Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Archived from the original on 21 January 2021. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  32. ^ "Rehome a SWR Island Line train". Rail Technology Magazine. Cognitive Publishing. 29 July 2020. Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  33. ^ "After 80 years of service Island Line's trains are ready to retire". Archived from the original on 13 August 2020. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h Hardy 2001, p. 78.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hardy 2001, p. 80.
  36. ^ a b c Hardy 2001, p. 79.
  37. ^ "Island Line Upgrade". Southwestern Railway. Archived from the original on 18 May 2021. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  38. ^ Llanelli Railway [@LlanelliRailway] (22 October 2021). "It's been a very busy day for us today at the railway with the arrival of 483006 from the Isle of Wight where it begins a new chapter under the care of the @TractionLondon. Thanks to @reid_freight for the very well executed delivery." (Tweet). Archived from the original on 27 October 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2021 – via Twitter.
  39. ^ "ISLAND LINE TRAIN '007' ARRIVES AT NEW HOME IN HAVENSTREET". 21 May 2021. Archived from the original on 21 May 2021. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  40. ^ "The fleet in 2021". London Transport Traction Group. Archived from the original on 7 November 2021.


  • Hardy, Brian (2001). Underground Train File: Tube Stock 1933–1959. Harrow Weald: Capital Transport. ISBN 1-85414-235-6.
  • Hardy, Brian (2003). Tube Trains on the Isle of Wight. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport. ISBN 978-1-85414-276-4.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]