After forty years of loyal service, the Class 455 train is set to operate its last passenger services on the Southern network this May. The 46 trains leased by Govia Thameslink Railway which runs Southern, were built between 1982 and 1985. They have operated the bulk of services between Central London and Sutton, Epsom Downs, Tattenham Corner, Caterham, East Croydon, West Croydon and Beckenham Junction making occasional appearances on services to Epsom, Horsham and Shepherd’s Bush.
They will be replaced by newer ‘Electrostar’ trains, which are already in use elsewhere on the Southern network. It means there will be little noticeable change to the daily commute for most passengers however passengers will now be able to routinely expect WiFi and all Southern Electrostars have onboard toilets. By having a uniform fleet of solely Electrostars, Southern passengers should expect fewer delays and cancellations due to fleet issues.
All 46 of the trains are set to be removed from passenger service at the start of the new timetable on Sunday May 15, when Southern will also make several changes to its services to reflect current travel patterns and adhere to new savings targets set by the government. Services between East Croydon and Milton Keynes are to be cut back to run Selhurst/Clapham Junction to/from Hemel Hempstead (peak)/Watford Junction (off-peak) only and many ‘Southern Metro’ services will have their frequencies changed.
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(Image: Roger Carvell / CC)
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For those Southern passengers nostalgic enough to bid a fond farewell to the Class 455s, the last occasion to do so will be a special one. On the last day of operation, Saturday, May 14, a railtour is being organised by Southern and rail enthusiast group, the Branch Line Society which will see two of the four-carriage trains make an epic journey right across the Southern network. Departing from Victoria at 9.02am, the trains will head to Mitcham Junction, Dorking, Billingshurst, Three Bridges, Hove, Brighton, East Croydon, Charing Cross, Tulse Hill, Clapham Junction, Blackfriars, Catford, Swanley, Sevenoaks and Orpington before returning to Victoria almost 12 hours later.
Tickets cost £45.58 (the trains are formally numbered 455/8s!) for adults or £22.79 for under 18s and are bookable directly via the Branch Line Society website. As the trains do not have toilets, toilet breaks and a longer lunch break in Brighton are planned too.
Although these Class 455 trains are likely to head for the scrapheap after their withdrawal, the model will not disappear from London entirely. South Western Railway (SWR) still uses a number of refurbished Class 455 trains on services between Waterloo and Hounslow, Strawberry Hill, Shepperton, Hampton Court, Guildford, Chessington South and Dorking. These trains are expected to remain in service for the next few years until all of the £895million new Class 701 ‘Aventra’ trains are delivered and their design faults corrected.
Will you miss the Southern Class 455 trains? Tell us in the comments below!
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