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At the time of writing, just 8 units of the 61 old BR built Class 315 4-car EMUs constructed at York between 1980-81 remain in service. Operated by Transport for London (TfL), they’re used during the Monday-Friday peaks on one of the routes they were originally built for – Liverpool St to Shenfield. After a career of over 40 years their task of moving people in and out of the capital is finally drawing to a close. The 315s were the last of several fleets (313, 314, 507 and 508 were the others) totalling 755 vehicles based on the 1970s ‘PEP’ test trains. BR then moved on to vehicles based on the Mk3 coach bodyshell, starting with the Class 317 EMUs.

Over their career they’ve worked for several different operators. BR first, then at the advent of privatisation the fleet was taken over by Eversholt Rail and leased to West Anglia Great Northern (WAGN) who had 18 units (315844 – 861) based at Hornsey in North London and First Great Eastern who had 43 units (315801-843) based at Ilford in East London. Both franchises used the units exclusively on services from Liverpool St.

Franchises changes in 2004 saw the entire fleet come together again at Ilford depot under the banner of National Express East Anglia which originally named the franchise ‘ONE’. The 315s began to emerge in their distinctive livery which lasted until 2008 when the ‘ONE’ name was dropped. NXEA lasted until February 2012 when operations (and the 315s) were taken over by Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA). Committed to total fleet replacement, this was the writing on the wall for the 315s.

The next change for the fleet was in May 2015 when TfL Rail took over operations of AGA’s metro operations on the Liverpool St – Shenfield line prior to this being incorporated into Crossrail. They also took over the services to Cheshunt, Enfield Town, Chingford and the Romford – Upminster branch. This meant all the 315s moved to TfL control with the first 17 units being allocated to London Overground and the rest to TfL rail. Another repaint into London Overground livery followed.

The last London Overground 315 ran on October 21st 2020 as the fleet was displaced by new Class 710 ‘Aventra’ trains built by Bombardier. Their sisters, the longer 345s continued the job on the Liverpool St-Shenfield services, leaving just the aforementioned 8 Class 315s in service at the present time.

Here’s a look at the 315s over their time in traffic. With a fleet of 61 I’m not going to illustrate every one but give you a snapshot of their lives and times instead.

On the 21st September 2009 the first of the class 315801 in NXEA livery passes the DLR station at Pudding Mill Lane whilst in the background one of the 2012 Olympic stadiums takes shape. This scene’s unrecognisable now and the picture impossible to replicate as the DLR station’s disappeared to make way for Crossrail and the skyline’s much changed due to the Olympics.
Accidents happen! On the 6th January 2008 315805 came to grief on the approaches to Hackney Downs station where a set of points appear to have moved underneath the leading vehicle, leaving it trying to arrive into two platforms at the same time!
It’s the 17th May 2002 and 315806 in First Great Eastern livery is sat at the end of the branch line from Romford at Upminster whilst working the shuttle service between the two locations.
Forward to the 3rd June 2016 when Overground liveried 315808 arrives at Chingford, passing sisters 315814 and 817 stabled in the carriage sidings until the peak.
On the same day as the above, Overground liveried 315811 calls at a busy Walthamstow Central station, which is an interchange with (and terminus of) the Victoria Line tube.
Here’s another scene that’s vanished forever. Stratford station on the 29th July 1990 with NSE liveried 315814 disgorges passengers at the old platform 9 before heading for Liverpool St. Nothing in this picture (apart from the tower block in the background) survives today.
Only four Class 315s ever carried names. Here’s 315817 sporting the nameplate ‘Transport for London’ on the rear vehicle passes the redundant signalbox at Hertford East on the 1st May 2015
It’s the 18th February 2010 and 315818 sits in Platform 2 at Liverpool St with a service to Enfield.
FGE liveried 315821 calls at Romford with the 14.38 to Shenfield on the 18th January 2001.
On the 1st August 2012 NXEA liveried 315828 is seen leaving Liverpool St from an express heading in the opposite direction – not a shot you can take anymore now the MK3s with their droplight windows have vanished from the route.
On the 9th April 2015 a pair of 315s with 834 at the rear pull out of Enfield Town heading for Liverpool St. The transition in liveries is evident, with the leading set in Overground colours whilst 834 has yet yet to be repainted.
Not a view you normally get to see (I was there with permission from Network Rail). Here’s 315836 seen leading a service out of Liverpool St on the 9th September 2008.
At the opposite end of the route to the last picture, here’s FGE liveried 315839 pulling out of Shenfield on its way back to Liverpool St on the 13th January 2005.
It’s the 13th March 2007 and ‘ONE’ liveried 315841 is seen approaching Brentwood with a Shenfield – Liverpool St Service.

On the 28th March 2002 315844 calls at the single platform station at Ware, Hertfordshire on its way to the end of the line at Hertford East.

On the same day at the end of the line, 315854 waits to return to London as the 12.:23 to Liverpool St. The unit’s in pure white livery, even the doors are the same colour which was hardly an aid to the partially sighted! Not that this was in the days before the station was resignalled and rationalised, hence the fact the centre road run-round loop still exits.
On the 11th June 2000 a WAGN service from Enfield is off the beaten track due to engineering work. NSE liveried 315856 is seen at South Tottenham taking the long way round to get to Liverpool St.
Over the years some 315s appeared in a variety of special vinyl liveries/branding. Here’s 315858 at Bethnal Green on the 2nd March 2005 sporting a Network Rail anti trespass message.
Here’s Bethnal Green on the 27th July 2004 as the last of the class (315861) sporting the former WAGN livery calls at the station en-route to Liverpool St.

The interiors of the 315s changed little over the years although the units were refurbished a number of times they retained their low-backed seating.
Here’s the refurbished interior of 315857 on the 19th March 2008.
A decade later on the 14th November 2018 this is how the interior of 315843 looked.

Four of the class carried names. Unit 817 was ‘Transport for London’.  829 was ‘London Borough of Havering Celebrating 40 years’. 845 was named ‘Herbie Woodward’ and 857 became ‘Stratford Connections’.

315845 was named after Ilford fitter Herbie Woodward on the13th March 2007. Here’s the unit – and the man himself!
The nameplate on 315857 seen on the 18th March 2008.

You can brows (or buy) many more photographs of the 315s in these galleries.

The BR gallery

WAGN franchise

FGE franchise

ONE franchise

Greater Anglia franchise

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