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British Rail Class 319

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Title: British Rail Class 319  
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British Rail Class 319

British Rail Class 319
A train operated by Thameslink and Great Northern franchise under operating name Thameslink at St Albans City
The refreshed interior of a Class 319 with added passenger information systems.
In service 1987 – present
Manufacturer BREL York[1]
Family name BR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Constructed 1987–88, 1990
Number built 86 trainsets
Formation 4 cars per trainset
Operator Thameslink
Line(s) served Thameslink
Car length 19.83–19.92 m (65.1–65.4 ft)[1]
Width 2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)[1]
Height 3.58 m (11 ft 9 in)[1]
Maximum speed 100 mph (161 km/h)[1]
Weight 140.3 tonnes (155 tons)[1]
Electric system(s) 25 kV AC Overhead lines
750 V DC 3rd rail
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 319 dual-voltage electric multiple-unit (EMU) trains were built by BREL York, in two batches in 1987–88 and 1990. The trains were introduced for new north-south cross-London services from Bedford to Brighton. At privatisation these services were operated by Thameslink. In 2006, Thameslink services were merged with the Great Northern section of the former WAGN franchise to form First Capital Connect. On 14 September 2014, Govia Thameslink Railway took control of the Thameslink and Great Northern railway routes. Class 319 units have dual-power pick-up, from either 25 kV alternating current (AC) overhead lines for services north of London, or 750 V direct current (DC) third rail to the south. The Class 325 postal units were based on the Class 319 units, with the same traction equipment and body design, but are fitted with cabs of the same design as the newer Class 365 and Class 465 Networker units.


  • Description 1
    • Class 319/0 1.1
      • Thameslink 1.1.1
    • Class 319/1 1.2
      • Thameslink 1.2.1
  • Current operations 2
    • Thameslink and Great Northern 2.1
    • Southeastern 2.2
  • Former operations 3
    • Southern 3.1
  • Future use 4
  • Notable units 5
    • Other liveries 5.1
    • Accidents 5.2
  • Gallery 6
  • Fleet details 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


In the 1980s, there were plans for a rail service that would link Bedford and Brighton. These services would cross London in a north-south direction, and thus became the first route for many years to cross London from north to south. These services were branded Thameslink by Network SouthEast, which operated the services.

Before the London St. Pancras.

As the DC third-rail electrification south of Farringdon, the Class 319 trains were built with dual-voltage capabilities, making them very versatile.[2] Their body shape is slightly different from contemporary electric units due to restrictions in the loading gauge in Kings Cross tunnel, which meant that other dual-voltage units were not suitable. They were also required to have Emergency end doors in the cabs,[3] due to the twin single bore layout of Smithfield tunnel preventing normal train evacuation.

Two sub-classes of Class 319 units were originally built. Over the years, units have been refurbished, creating five sub-classes, of which four still exist.

Class 319/0

Class 319 in original Network South East livery at St Albans
The original mid-1980s Network SouthEast interior aboard a Class 319/0, showing their blue flash seat moquette

The first batch of 60 units, built in 1987–88, were classified as Class 319/0. Units were numbered in the range 319001–060 and had a maximum speed of 100 mph (161 km/h). Each unit consisted of four carriages; two outer driving trailers, an intermediate motor with a roof-mounted Stone Faiveley AMBR pantograph and four DC GEC G315BZ traction motors (two per bogie), and an intermediate trailer housing a compressor, motor alternator and two toilets. Seating was standard-class only, in 2+3 layout. The technical description of the unit formation is DTSO(A)+MSO+TSO+DTSO(B). Individual vehicles were numbered as follows:

  • 77291–77381 (odd) and 77431–77457 (odd) — DTSO(A)
  • 62891–62936 and 62961–62974 — MSO
  • 71772–71817 and 71866–71879 — TSO
  • 77290–77380 (even) and 77430–77456 (even) — DTSO(B)

DTSO(B) was configured with a lockable sliding door in the section between the driving cab and the first set of power doors, and the longitudinal bench seats there were hinged to tip up. This was to enable the units to carry parcels if required, but was rarely used. The sliding door is being removed during unit refurbishment, but the tip-up seat area has been retained for carrying bicycles and wheelchairs.

Vehicles were numbered in two ranges, corresponding to units 319001–046 and 319047–060. The gaps in the number series (e.g. 77382–77429) were filled by the Class 442 units, which were being built around the same period.

These units were built for long-distance cross-London services between Bedford and Brighton, using the Midland Main Line between Bedford and London, and the Brighton Main Line between London and Brighton. This service crosses London by means of the Snow Hill tunnel between Farringdon and London Blackfriars. When new, the units were painted in Network SouthEast livery. The subclass 319/1 batch were used to work local inner-suburban services between Luton - St. Albans - London - Sutton/Wimbledon.


Those numbered in the 319021-319060 series were retained by Thameslink, which had them refurbished at Railcare Wolverton in 1997-8. The interior refurbishment featured the following:

  • Installation of blue carpets
  • Installation of first-class compartment in DTSO (A), the vehicle next to the MSO[4]
  • Retrimmed seats into the blue/yellow Thameslink moquette[4] - some seats were removed in the centre of each vehicle to give a 2+2 layout

The exteriors were reliveried into the Thameslink navy-blue bodyside with yellow and white stripes livery. They were renumbered into the subclass 319/4, in the range of 319421-319460, by adding four hundred to each unit number. The sub-class 319/4 units were then moved on to the Bedford - Luton - St. Albans - London - East Croydon - Gatwick Airport - Brighton service, known as 'THAMESLINK Cityflier'.

From 2003 to 2005, during the Thameslink blockade, some of the 319/4s were given a minor interior refresh with retrimmed seats in a modified version of the Thameslink moquette. All sub-class 319/4 units received a refurbished first-class compartment, apart from 319444, which retained its original 1997-designed first-class compartment. The first-class compartments were enhanced by the following improvements:

  • New carpet trim
  • Chrome-plated heater panels
  • Retrimmed seats in a new version of Thameslink moquette

Class 319/1

The second batch of 26 units, built in 1990, were classified Class 319/1.[2] Units were numbered in the range 319161–186. The formation of the second batch of sets was similar to that of the earlier units, except there was provision for first-class seating in Driving Trailer (A) and the MSO vehicle was fitted with the roof-mounted, more modern Brecknell Willis High Speed pantograph design. Like the first batch, seating was 2+3 layout in standard class, with 2+2 seating in first class. Thus, each unit was formed DTCO+MSO+TSO+DTSO. Individual vehicles were numbered as follows:

  • 77459–77497 (odd) and 77973–77983 (odd) — DTCO
  • 63043–63062 and 63093–63098 — MSO
  • 71929–71948 and 71979-71984 — TSO
  • 77458–77496 (even) and 77972–77984 (even) — DTSO

Vehicles were numbered in two ranges, corresponding to units 319161–180 and 319181–186.

Thameslink Class 319/3 'City Metro' unit
The second batch were first used for Bedford - Luton - St. Albans - London - East Croydon - Gatwick Airport - Brighton due to them having first-class accommodation aboard the DTCO vehicle.[2]


In the period 1997-9,[4] Thameslink ordered the sub-class 319/1 units to be converted at Eastleigh for use on Luton - St. Albans - London - Sutton/Wimbledon service, known as 'THAMESLINK CityMetro'. The conversion involved removing first-class compartments from the DTCO vehicles (thus changing them to DTSO), a relivery into Thameslink navy-blue bodyside with yellow and white stripes livery, and renumbering into the subclass 319/3. In the period 2003-5, during the Thameslink blockade, all of the sub-class 319/3s were given a minor interior refresh with retrimmed seats in a modified version of the Thameslink moquette.

Current operations

Following privatisation of British Rail, the Class 319 fleet was divided between two operators. Thameslink inherited the majority of the fleet, with units 319021–060 and 319161–186. Connex South Central inherited a small fleet of twenty units, nos. 319001–020. Connex was later stripped of its franchise, which was then re-allocated to Govia and subsequently renamed South Central and thereafter Southern, whereas Thameslink (which was itself a Govia franchise until April 2006) became part of First Capital Connect until the Thameslink franchise renewal in September 2014 and became Govia Thameslink Railway once again.

Thameslink and Great Northern

Thameslink refreshed Class 319/0 No. 319003 stands at Bedford Cauldwell depot.

First Capital Connect operated the Thameslink franchise from 1 April 2006 until 14 September 2014. It gradually applied its livery in the form of vinyl to the exterior of many trains. As a result of FirstGroup losing the franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR; Thameslink and Great Northern), and during the run-up to the new franchise beginning, all units are now debranded and neutral livery is currently being applied in the interim, with Thameslink logos being added. This will be until the units are cascaded to other routes and replaced by Class 387 and Class 700. 319361 is the last 319 to have First Capital Connect nameplates although it has been transferred to Northern Rail on the 20th June 2014.

On 26 October 2006, the first fully refreshed First Capital Connect train was launched. This was subclass 319/4 unit No. 319425 and was named Transforming Travel on its press launch trip from Bedford to Brighton. During the trip, the refreshed train was displayed to rail user groups as well as the media.

The First Capital Connect subclass 319/4 refresh featured the following improvements:

  • Emergency brake pressure increased to the +12% G standard, giving an extra 1 Bar brake cylinder pressure in emergency
  • Emergency brake 'timeout' period reduced from 2 minutes to 20 seconds
  • DC traction motors rewound to improve reliability
  • Improved motor control hardware with a new Remote Communications Frame
  • New 'easy to clean' flooring
  • Retrimmed seats into the First Capital Connect moquette
  • Some seats in standard class were removed and vertical luggage stacks installed in their place; a further two seats were removed in the TSO vehicle to allow easier access to the toilet
  • Repainted dado side panels and wall ends
  • Existing stanchions painted pink
  • New stanchions leading from some seats to the overhead luggage rack to provide standing passengers with something to hold on to and more support
  • Improved, brighter fluorescent lighting diffusers

The refresh took place at Railcare Wolverton works and also featured both a mechanical overhaul (under the solebar) and a full exterior relivery, again in vinyl. Some Class 319/4 units have had their Stone Faiveley AMBR air and spring pantograph replaced by the more modern Brecknell Willis High Speed air-only pantograph design.

Apart from around 12 subclass 319/4 members, the majority of the subclass have been externally reliveried and internally refreshed. The company is now relivering and refreshing the subclass 319/3 fleet, to the same specification as subclass 319/4; however these units remain Standard Class only, with the 2+3 seating arrangement throughout, and do not feature vertical luggage stacks. The last Class 319/3 was outshopped from Railcare, Wolverton following refresh at the end of March 2010.

First Capital Connect have leased all Southern's Class 319s and have stated it will be a permanent move meaning they will not return to Southern. The remaining 319/0s will be refreshed during the course of 2010 and 319/2s will receive an exterior relivery and interior refresh, including the replacement of the snug area underneath the pantograph aboard the PMSO vehicle with 16 proper seats from March 2010. The Class 319/2s worked with Thameslink in a short period but were transferred back to Southern following First Capital Connect taking over the Thameslink franchise. These units, along with other examples of Class 319, are now being operated by Govia Thameslink Railway under the Thameslink branding.


Southeastern jointly operates the 319s with Thameslink and Great Northern on its Sevenoaks to Kentish Town / Bedford services. This is because the London Blackfriars terminal platforms have been closed for the Thameslink Programme. Under this arrangement trains are classified as an GTR service whilst north of Blackfriars, and a Southeastern service whilst south of there. The work is split between GTR drivers from Bedford and Blackfriars, and Southeastern drivers from Victoria and Orpington depots. All of those drivers sign the whole route from Sevenoaks to Bedford. Thus with the cascaded stock it is currently possible to find a Southern liveried 319 operating an GTR service whilst being driven by a Southeastern driver.

Former operations


'Lounge' seating in a 319/2 Brighton Express

When privatisation came, the first 13 units (319001–319013) were used for outer-suburban services by Connex South Central, some losing their 25 kV AC overhead equipment, although it has since has been refitted. Seven of the Class 319/0 sets (319014–319020) were converted into Class 319/2 units (319214–319220) and dedicated to Brighton Express services from London Victoria to Brighton.[4] (Class 377 "Electrostar" and Class 442 "Wessex Electric" units now operate all of these services). These units were refurbished by Railcare Wolverton to give them low-density interiors, a disabled toilet, and a special 'lounge' seating area in the saloon space below the pantograph in the MSO, where a buffet counter was provided.

When Class 377/3 units replaced them on Brighton Express services, the seven Class 319/2 units were allocated to peak-only London-Guildford via West Croydon and London-Horsham via Three Bridges services.

Southern subleased its Class 319/0 units to First Capital Connect, as well as the Class 319/2 units which followed when Class 377 trains replaced them. The entire Class 319 fleet was then operating First Capital Connect Thameslink services.

Future use

As part of its announcement of the electrification of both the Great Western Main Line and the Liverpool to Manchester (via Newton Le Willows) route, the Government has announced that when new Class 700 Thameslink rolling stock arrives from 2015-2018, Class 319 units will be transferred to these routes.[5] When the Class 319 cascade was first proposed by Lord Adonis under the previous Labour government he stated they would be fully refurbished, including being fitted with air-conditioning, and transferred to the following two routes:

  • to operate all suburban services between Oxford, Newbury, Reading and London
  • to operate Manchester Airport to Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Lime Street services[6]

On 2 April 2014 it was announced that the first 2 units would be transferred to Allerton Depot in time to enter service between Manchester and Liverpool from the December 2014 timetable change which has been delayed by a few weeks.[7] Wolverton pending transfer. The cascaded trains will get a more basic refurbishment than previously proposed, which will include a new Passenger Information system, LED lighting, new seat covers and an internal and external repaint.[8]

In November 2014, Network Rail announced that the proposed electrification completion date of the Liverpool - Manchester Victoria Line would be delayed by at least 3 months due to cabling issues. Class 319s will not run on the line until March 2015. Northern Rail said it was very disappointed with the news but would work closely with Network Rail to make sure there are no more delays.

Notable units

319008 operating "Tunnel Explorer" excursions into the Channel Tunnel on 7 May 1994 from Sandling railway station; the first public-carrying passenger trains through the tunnel.
Nameplate commemorating crossing on 10 December 1993.

Units 319008 Cheriton and 319009 Coquelles are notable for two reasons:

  • On 10 December 1993 they travelled through the Channel Tunnel to Calais-Fréthun and back with a party of invited guests, after the construction consortium TransManche Link (who were responsible for the construction of the Tunnel) had transferred responsibility for operations and management over to Eurotunnel. Their pantographs were modified at Selhurst Depot beforehand to account for the higher OHL height at Cheriton and in the tunnel. For the subsequent "Folkestone 1994" event on 7 May 1994, which saw the first paying members of the public taken into the tunnel by train. On 26 March 1994 units 319008 and 319009 were named "Cheriton" and "Coquelles" respectively at Victoria and plaques adorned with the Union Flag and Tricolore were installed on their motor carriages.[4][9]
  • On 26 March 1994 they set a record for the shortest London to Brighton journey time, at 37 minutes 57 seconds. This record stood until 2005 when the "Speed Run" event, organised by Southern, using Class 377 units 377472 and 377474 set a slightly quicker record of 36 minutes 56 seconds.[10] Both units were denamed after being transferred from Southern to First Capital Connect. In 2012 319008 Cheriton was noted with its nameplates re-applied, and on 5 March 2012 319009 Coquelles was also re-united with its nameplates.

Other liveries

  • 319215 is in a Switzerland Advertising Livery.[11]
  • 319218 has recently been vinyled into Lyca Mobile livery and is in service.


In 2006 a Thameslink 319 unit (319369)derailed at slow speed on catch points at Lovers Walk Depot, Brighton. The same unit, this time operated by First Capital Connect and bound for Sevenoaks, was involved in another incident in January 2014 when its driver failed to lower the pantograph at Farringdon station. As a result the train hit the roof of Blackfriars station at about 09.55 GMT. No-one was injured and the train was later removed.


Fleet details

Class ROSCO Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 319/0 Porterbrook Thameslink 13 1987–1988 4 319001 - 319013
Class 319/2 7 319214 - 319220 Refurbished from Class 319/0 1996-1997.
Originally classed as 319/0. (319014 - 319020)
Class 319/3 Northern Rail 6 1990 319361-319365
Refurbished from Class 319/1 1997-1999.
Originally classed as 319/1. (319161 - 319186)
Stored at Allerton TMD. Current driver training.
Thameslink 20 319366 - 319379
319381 - 319386
Refurbished from Class 319/1 1997-1999.
Originally classed as 319/1. (319161 - 319186)
Class 319/4 40 1987–1988 319421 - 319460 Refurbished from Class 319/0 1997-1998.
Originally classed as 319/0. (319021 - 319060)


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Class 319 Electric Multiple Unit" (01) (A ed.). Porterbrook. August 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Class 319 - Welcome to the Southern E-Group Web Site. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  3. ^ Thameslink - Moorgate Branch: Local instructions/Working over book (July 1999)
  4. ^ a b c d e Class 319 2 Page. - Welcome to the Southern E-Group Web Site. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  5. ^ Siemens beats Bombardier to Thameslink train order - Railway Gazette. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  6. ^ "Britain’s Transport Infrastructure - Rail Electrification" (pdf).  
  7. ^ "Northern Announces Electric Trains For North West". Northern Rail News. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Transforming Northern’s Revenue Protection Update - Transport for Greater Manchester Committee. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
  9. ^ Class 319 - Kent Rail. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  10. ^ Duff, Colin. "Southern's Speed Run 2005". Southern Electric Group. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  11. ^

External links

  • Fleet changes in April 2006
  • List of Class 319 trains in operation
  • TheRailwayCentre - Class 319.
  • Porterbrook Brochure
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