British Rail Class 769

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British Rail Class 769 Flex
319447 Bedford.jpg
A Class 319 EMU, which will be converted into a Class 769 by adding diesel engines.
In service TBC
Manufacturer British Rail Engineering Limited (as 319)
Brush Traction (conversion)
Built at Holgate Road (as 319)
Loughborough (conversion)
Family name Mark 3 derived EMU
Constructed 2017–
Entered service TBC
Number under construction 35 units to be converted
Fleet numbers See below
Operator(s) Great Western Railway
KeolisAmey Wales
Depot(s) Allerton
Cardiff Canton
Car body construction Steel[1]
Car length
  • 19.83 m (65.1 ft) (DTCO, DTSO)
  • 19.92 m (65.4 ft) (MSO, TSOL)[2]
Width 2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)[2]
Height 3.58 m (11 ft 9 in)[2]
Prime mover(s) MAN D2876
Engine type Diesel
Cylinder count 6
Power supply 523 hp (390 kW) per engine
Electric system(s)
Current collection method
Safety system(s) AWS, TPWS
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Class 769 Flex is a planned type of tri and bi-mode electro-diesel multiple unit (BMU) intended for use in the United Kingdom. The train is a conversion of the existing Class 319 electric multiple unit (EMU) through the addition of a pair of MAN diesel engines to drive ABB alternators for the existing electric traction systems.[3]


Initial concept[edit]

In late 2014, Govia Thameslink Railway began returning its allocation of Class 319 units to Porterbrook as they were gradually replaced by Class 700 units on Thameslink services. Twenty Class 319s were cascaded to Northern Rail for use on the newly electrified lines between Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Airport and Preston.[4][5] A further twelve were leased in 2016 by Northern, including the initial eight Class 319/4 units that will be converted to Class 769.[6]

In December 2016 Porterbrook announced a partnership with Northern to convert a small number of Class 319 units from pure electric units into bi-mode multiple units (BMUs), aiming to provide a solution to cover for the shortage of diesel multiple units following the deferral of several electrification projects across the network. They were initially referred to as the Class 319 Flex, before being allocated the TOPS designation Class 769.[7][8][9]

Northern indicated that the use of Class 769s would provide the most benefit on routes which are partially electrified, as they would be able to use their pantograph to operate on electrified routes while still being able to operate away from the overhead lines by employing their diesel engines.[10]

Conversion and testing[edit]

Initially, eight units were selected to be converted for Northern, with Porterbrook also marketing the Class 769 to other train operating companies. In April 2017 the first two units, 319434 and 319456, arrived at Brush Loughborough for conversion after receiving a refurbishment at Wolverton.[11][12][13] In July 2017 the Welsh Government placed an order for five Class 769s, to be deployed on Transport for Wales services.

Testing of the first Class 769 was planned to take place at the Great Central Railway in November 2017. After a series of delays, testing began in September 2018.



Northern ordered an initial eight Class 769 units, before increasing its order to eleven units in late 2017. They are to be stabled at Allerton TMD.[14]

Originally scheduled to begin entering service in May 2018, Northern plans to deploy its Class 769 units on the Windermere branch line[15] and also Manchester Airport to Windermere, Wigan North Western to Alderley Edge and Wigan North Western to Stalybridge services.

Transport for Wales[edit]

In July 2017, five units were ordered by the Welsh Government for the Wales & Borders franchise, to enable Class 150 and 158 diesel multiple units to be released from service to undergo modifications to comply with PRM regulations, as well as allowing the company to increase its fleet capacity.[16] KeolisAmey Wales hold an option for a further four.

Great Western Railway[edit]

Great Western Railway will operate nineteen Class 769 units from spring 2019, enabling the cascade of Class 165 and 166 Turbo units to the Bristol area. Although initially planned for use in London and the Thames Valley, the ultimate aim is for these units to provide services between London Paddington, Oxford, Reading and Gatwick Airport, which would see them operate on a mix of unelectrified, 25kV OHLE and 750V third-rail routes. To enable this the GWR units will retain the dual-voltage capability of the Class 319 as well as being fitted with diesel power units, making them "tri-mode". The units will be refurbished and fitted with air cooling.[17]

Fleet details[edit]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Unit nos.
Class 769 Northern 11 2017–19 769424, 769426, 769431, 769434, 769442, 769446, 769448, 769450, 769456, 769458[nb 1]
Great Western Railway 19 TBC
Transport for Wales 5[nb 2] TBC


  1. ^ The identities of the other unit is yet to be confirmed
  2. ^ Transport for Wales have an option for an additional four units


  1. ^ "Vehicle Diagram Book No.210 for Electrical Multiple Units (including A.P.T.)" (PDF). Barrowmore MRG. BRB Residuary Ltd. EC209, EE233, EE234, EH234, EH238. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Class 319 Electric Multiple Unit" (PDF) (01) (A ed.). Porterbrook. August 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "First cascaded Class 319 arrives in the North West" Rail Magazine issue 752 9 July 2014 page 22
  5. ^ "Northern 319s in service". Modern Railways. Key Publishing. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Twelve further Class 319s set for Northern duties" Rail Magazine issue 803 22 June 2016 page 27
  7. ^ Porterbrook and Northern to introduce bi-mode Class 319 Flex trains Porterbrook 22 December 2016
  8. ^ Porterbrook and Northern to develop electro-diesel MU Railway Gazette International 22 December 2016
  9. ^ Clinnick, Richard (31 January 2017). "Porterbrook plans hybrid conversion for 319s". Rail Magazine (818): 6–7. 
  10. ^ Clinnick, Richard (1 February 2017). "Flex... and flexibility". Rail Magazine (819): 60–65. 
  11. ^ "Flex 319s to be Class 769s". Today's Railways (187): 73. July 2017. 
  12. ^ "319 bi-modes for Northern". Today's Railways (183): 69. March 2017. 
  13. ^ "Class 319 to go bi-mode". Rail Express. 20 January 2017. 
  14. ^ Clinnick, Richard. "Engine testing about to begin on Flex Class 769s". Rail Magazine. Retrieved 24 December 2017. 
  15. ^ "Bi-mode Class 319s for Lakes Line". RailStaff. 21 July 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  16. ^ "Class 319 Flex electro-diesel multiple-units for Wales". Railway Gazette. 17 July 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017. 
  17. ^ "GWR to lease Class 769 Flex 'trimode' trainsets". Railway Gazette. 20 April 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2018.