British Rail Classes 371, 381 and 471
|British Rail Classes 371, 381
and 471 Networker
Artist's impression of Class 371
|Number built||Never Built|
|Operator(s)||British Rail (intended)|
|Line(s) served||Intended - Thameslink; Kent Coast; LTS; Great Northern|
Class 371 and 381
Classes 371 and 381 were intended as the so-called "Universal Networker", a dual voltage train capable of operating using both 25 kV AC from overhead wire and 750 V DC from third rail. It was planned that Class 371 would be used on the enhanced Thameslink 2000 services while Class 381 would be utilised on various long-distance routes across the Network SouthEast sector, including Kent Coast services from Victoria and Charing Cross, Great Northern services from King's Cross and LTS services from Fenchurch Street. In the event, British Rail's financial limitations led to the proposal being cancelled.
Class 471 was the proposed "Main Line Networker" intended for long distance services on the Kent Coast routes of Network SouthEast. Intended as four car units, the Class 471 was to have featured an end gangway to allow passage between two connected units, with seating in 2+2 and 2+3 arrangements. First class seating was to be in side corridor compartments, but the seats (3 across with small table/bin between them) were to be no wider than standard class. The mock-up unveiled in August 1991 bore a resemblance to the Class 442 "Wessex Express" units operating to the South-West, but featured sliding doors. The Class 471 project stalled due to British Rail's limited finances; entry into service was due by 1993, and by 1992 there had still been no major work done, blamed on a lack of government investment.
The cancellation of the Class 371, 381 and 471 led to an alternative proposal. This involved the construction of a new batch of dual voltage units, classed as Class 365 using the existing Class 465 bodyshell, at the same time converting them for long distance usage. A total of 41 units were built, with 25 for the Great Northern routes from Kings Cross and 16 for Kent Coast routes.
The Class 319 were the primary dual voltage commuter unit operating over the Thameslink route for nearly 30 years, but have been replaced with Class 700 sets, part of the Siemens Desiro City family. Meanwhile, the Electrostar series is utilised over several long distance routes in the South-East. Both the Class 375 and Class 377 Electrostars have dual voltage sub-classes, as does the Class 387 that were temporarily operated by Thameslink while Class 700s were being delivered. The entire Class 365 and 387 fleets are now used on the Great Northern routes.