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Class 458

photograph by Colin Duff

Junipers on the Reading line. Unit N°8021 trails N°8027 in an eight car formation just departing Clapham Junction for Waterloo on 4th October 2002.

The class 458 built by Alstom for South West Trains. Its introduction to service was, along with many new units awaiting Railtrack type approval,prolonged and in this class' case plagued with problems. For a considerable period at best only two units were in passenger service whilst Alstom grappled with a number of problems including the air-conditioning, bogie ride quality, corridor connections and the driver's on-board computer system. To make matters worse in mid September 2000 all Juniper type units were banned from service by Railtrack following both a class 334 and a class 175 rolling away without drivers - both were derailed on catch points.

These steel bodied air-conditioned outer suburban units were intended to be used on the Waterloo to Reading line, but when available were tested on the SW main line and the Alton branch. In true Southern tradition the styling of the cab front will not win any beauty prizes! Three vehicles in the formation are motored with two Alstom ONIX 800 270kW motors per car. The fourth vehicle is a trailer with the facility for a pantograph installation. Maximum speed is 100mph. They have the facility for both disc and regenerative braking. These vehicles can only work in multiple with other members of their class, thus repeating the inflexibility when class 508 units were first introduced on the Southern Region. The units are formed driving motor composite (DMC(A)), pantograph (not fitted) trailer standard (PTS), motor standard (MS) and driving motor composite (DMC(B)). The driving motor cars are 21.16 metres long and the intermediate cars 19.94. Power operated sliding doors are fitted.

By the summer of 2001 twelve out of the thirty units were finally in operation working six diagrams with SWT hoping to introduce the whole fleet into service by late September 2001. Following the extensive difficulties with introducing these units, upon having its franchise renewed in 2001 SWT demonstrated its confidence in the British rolling stock industry by announcing that the competing German Siemens Desiro range would be their choice for bulk slam door replacement stock with a massive 785 vehicle order (covering main line and suburban options) worth one billion pounds including maintenance and servicing facilities.

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.
  • First of
    Seen here at Wimbledon in May 1999 the first of the class (fitted with test equipment rather than passenger accommodation) is unit N°8001.
    Photograph by Mike Wilson.
  • 8014
    N°8014 stabled in the down sidings at Basingstoke on 18th September 2000
    Photograph by Michael Taylor.
  • 8022
    N°8022 in platform three at Eastleigh on 17th April 2002.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 8027
    Clapham Jn
    N°8027 in platform four at Clapham Junction on 4th October 2002.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 8015
    Clapham Jn
    The sizeable "Tightlock" coupling on the cab end of N°8015. Seen at Clapham Junction on 4th October 2002.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • Underframe
    The underframe equipment on one of the DMCOs of 458028. Only the underframe of the PTSO car on these units is relatively devoid of equipment as three out of the four cars are powered.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.

This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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