|After some two decades of stalwart service the class
455 units are in a pretty awful condition and have started to be given a
mid-life refurbishment which will also rectify some of the interior design
deficiencies associated with these trains. South West Trains and the Southern
Railway are taking different approaches to their Class 455 refurbishment.
Ironically, Southern Class 455s are being refurbished at Eastleigh and SWT Class
455s at Chart Leacon!
Southern Class 455s are being extensively refurbished.
Bodywork is treated to remove corrosion and new vinyl covered floors are
fitted. The existing unpopular low backed seats are being replaced with high
backed versions but the existing 2+2 and 3+2 seating arrangement remains. There
is a space for wheelchairs and all interior finishes are replaced. For security
each car will have four CCTV cameras and windows are being replaced with vandal
resistant glass. A passenger information system (PIS) is fitted. Although the
luggage racks are unaltered the lighting tubes are now fitted with diffusers.
The most noticeable exterior difference is the removal of the end gangways
which have been plated over though with a central window crying out for a
traditional headcode display (!) and unit numbers are now displayed in full
TOPS form, albeit as two groups of three vertically, instead of the traditional
four digit unit designation. Interestingly there is no high level central
headlight. A "black box" recorder and improved train performance
diagnostics are fitted. The first refurbished unit, 455828, made a test run
from East Croydon to Victoria on 30 December 2003 but returned to Eastleigh for
further work. It did not enter service until the middle of March 2004. 5829 and
5830 were the next to be refurbished.
SWT moved unit Nº455711 to Chart Leacon on 17th November 2003 as
the prototype for their refurbishment. During refurbishment units are expected
to receive a C6x mechanical overhaul and a "makeover" involving
application of the new S.W.T. 'suburban' livery, doors modified to open
to full aperture width, installation of yellow circular L.E.D. passenger door
control buttons and new non slip vinyl flooring. There will be more standing
space since seating is reduced to 2 + 2 using Gammar seats (same design as
Desiros) with low backed longitudinal seating (i.e similar to underground
trains) in the DTS vehicles next to the cab. Unlike the South Central
refurbishment, no changes will be made above the luggage racks, so the
lighting, and P.A. will remain the same and there will be no PIS. A refurbished
SWT 455 has yet (May 2004) to be seen.