British Rail Class 489

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British Rail Class 489
9107 at Wirksworth.jpg
489107 at Wirksworth Station on 17 April 2003. This unit is one of two preserved on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in Derbyshire.
In service 1983-2005
Manufacturer BREL Derby
Number built 10
Formation Single car
Operator(s) Gatwick Express
Maximum speed 90mph (145km/h)
Prime mover(s) 2 x 250 hp (190 kW) traction motors
total 500 hp (370 kW)
489104 passing through Clapham Junction on 19th July 2003. This unit was used on Gatwick Express services from London Victoria-Gatwick Airport until withdrawal in 2005.
489108 at London Victoria on 18th March 2003. This unit carries the InterCity Gatwick Express livery.
489110 at London Victoria on 18th March 2003. This is was one of the final two units in service with Gatwick Express.

The British Rail Class 489 (or GLV) is a type of electrical multiple unit, specially converted for use on Gatwick Express trains, from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport.

The units were converted from Class 414 driving motors cars, by Eastleigh works in 1983-84, for use on the new Gatwick Express service. They were used to allow push-pull operations, on the London-end of the rakes of Class 488 stock, with a Class 73 locomotive at the other end and both used for propulsion. The units were used as baggage cars.

Units were given unit numbers in the range 489101-489110, with individual carriages numbered 68500-68509. However, purely for aesthetic purposes, only the last four digits of the set numbers were shown, to fit with the traditional Southern style (maintained until privatisation by British Rail's Southern region) - older (pre-TOPS) units were originally assigned four-digit numbers. The units were originally painted in BR Blue/Grey livery, which was quickly replaced by InterCity livery. The final livery carried by these units is a variation of the InterCity livery, with a claret stripe and Gatwick Express lettering.


Upon privatisation of British Rail, the Gatwick Express franchise was won by the National Express Group.

Gatwick Express[edit]

Immediately after privatisation, the Class 489 fleet was exclusively used by Gatwick Express on all their London Victoria-Gatwick Airport shuttles. However, new units, in the form of Class 460 'Juniper' units were built from 2000, with the aim of completely replacing the old stock. By 2002, sufficient new trains were in service to allow six Class 489 units to be removed from traffic, leaving four units retained as cover in case of failure of one of the new trains. Two of these subsequently withdrawn so that by the end of 2004, only two units (nos. 489104/110) were still in use, as reliability of the 'Juniper' units had not improved sufficiently to totally replace all the old trains. They were finally withdrawn in 2005, following improvements to the "Juniper" fleet reliability.

Other operators[edit]

Since finishing with Gatwick Express, several units have been sold to other operators.


FirstGBRf have purchased units 489105 and 106. These were part of a bulk purchase that included six Class 73 locomotives and numerous stock. The locomotives have now been returned to service, but the units have been stored at various locations, including Shoeburyness (Pig's Bay), Norwich Crown Point and Peterborough.

Network Rail[edit]

Network Rail have purchased two units, 489102 and 109. They were stored for several years, but were returned to use in early-2006 as deicing and load-bank vehicles.


Somewhat surprisingly, five units, representing half the class, have been preserved on heritage railways. Two of the units in question were donated by Porterbrook Leasing in 2003 to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in Derbyshire who now use one as a buffet car and the other a museum. A third unit, 489108 was bought by a private owner for preservation at Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre. It was sent for scrap in May 2009, being the second GLV to be scrapped. The final two units in use with Gatwick Express were preserved in early-2006.

Fleet status[edit]

The final Gatwick Express units were withdrawn in 2005. Both of these units (nos. 489104/110) had been withdrawn in 2000 and 2001 respectively, but were overhauled and returned to use in 2002. They replaced units 489103/108, which were withdrawn from traffic as they were due overhaul.

Network Rail returned its two units to service in 2006, following a period in store.

The current status of the fleet is shown below.

Key: In service Withdrawn Preserved Scrapped

Unit no. Vehicle nos. Operator Withdrawn Status
489101 68500 61269 Gatwick Express 2002 Preserved
489102 68501 61281 Network Rail - In service as de-icing unit (stored 2000-06)
489103 68502 61274 Gatwick Express 2002 Scrapped (2003)
489104 68503 61277 Gatwick Express 2005 Preserved
489105 68504 61286 Network Rail - In service as de-icing unit
489106 68505 61299 Network Rail - In service as de-icing unit
489107 68506 61292 Gatwick Express 2002 Preserved
489108 68507 61267 Gatwick Express 2003 Scrapped (2009)
489109 68508 61272 Network Rail - Scrapped at Eastleigh Works (August 2012)
489110 68509 61280 Gatwick Express 2005 Preserved