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Here’s another in the series of picture blogs looking at the gradual demise of the old British Railways built train fleets. In this case it’s my favourite of the bunch, the Class 365 fleet which was retired (too early in my opinion) in 2021.

The 4 car, 100mph capable Class fleet were the last vehicles to be built at York works. 41 units were constructed at the Holgate Road factory between 1994-95. Part of the ‘Networker’ design (which produced the Class 165 and 465 diesel and electric fleets), these trains were produced for longer distance services. The first 16 originally went to work Network Southeast services out of Victoria before Connex took over what became the South-Eastern franchise. They stayed South of the river until 2004 when they moved to join their sisters working for West Anglia Great Northern (WAGN) out of Kings Cross. Units 365517-541 went straight to East Coast services, operating regional services from Kings Cross to Peterborough, Cambridge and Kings Lynn.

For many years they were the backbone of WAGN and later First Capital Connect express services. They were comfortable trains from a passenger perspective, despite the lack of air-conditioning (they had forced-air ventilation through hopper windows). They had 2+2 seating and tables plus bigger windows, which made them far superior to the earlier Class 317s they shared duties with.

The Class stayed on East Coast services until they were gradually retired from service from 2017 inwards, having been displaced by newer Class 387s. Many units went into store but a stock shortage in Scotland in 2018 (due to defects with the new Hitachi built Class 385 EMUs) saw 10 of the trains leased to Scotrail from April 2018 where they remained in service until March 2019, working services from Glasgow Queen St to Edinburgh Waverley. The final units were retired from Great Northern service on the 15th May 2021. Little fuss was made because of the Covid pandemic which was a shame as they’d served the railways well. After a period in storage most have gone for scrap which is an even greater shame. They were less than 30 years old and could have provided a useful fleet on newly electrified lines such as East West rail if only the Government hadn’t decided not to electrify the line and cut back other wiring plans. An earlier proposal to shift them to GWR services came to nothing as new Class 387s were ordered instead. Still, I’m fortunate to have lived on their route in North London and spent many years travelling on them and photographing them in service. Here’s a look back at their lives and times.

Please note, all pictures are my copyright.

On the 24th March 2002 class leader 365501 is pictured at London’s Victoria station in Connex livery.
Sporting the later Thameslink livery and carrying Great Northern branding 365502 is seen speeding towards Kings Cross through Oakleigh Park on the 27th March 2017.
365506 passes Denmark Hill on the 23rd November 2002 when the network was still suffering from the panicked rash of 20mph speed restrictions imposed after the terrible Hatfield 2000 rail crash caused by rail defects. To add to the problems a sister Class 365 had been involved in the Potters Bar crash only a few months before this picture.
WAGN operated 365510 wears a special advertising wrap extolling the tourist virtues of Cambridge and Ely at Kings Cross on the 22nd December 2005.
Towards the end of their careers 10 of the units were sent to Scotland for a year. Here’s 365513 at Glasgow Queen Street on the 30th July 2018.

The classic view of the old complex Kings Cross station throat with 365519 and 365514 passing, seen on the 14th April 2017.
Here’s a view of the new wheel lathe building at Hornsey on the 7th October 2013 when the building was being used to give 365515 a freshly painted white cab roof. I always thought The First Capital Connect dynamic blue livery and white cab roofs really suited these trains.
Seen at Hitchin on the 24th July 2006, 365516 still carries NSE livery but with the addition of First Capital Connect branding on the vehicle sides.
Rain, shine (or snow) the 365s maintained services on the East coast. On the 28th February 2018 365517 speeds through Harringay en-route to Kings Cross.
365521 was one of 10 sets sent to Scotland in 2018-19. It’s seen here at Glasgow Queen St with a service for Edinburgh on the 17th July 2018.
Set 365524 was chosen as the Guinea-pig to test a cab air-conditioning system, hence the odd box on the nose. It’s seen here at Harringay on the 30th October 2001. The tests led to the front end of the units being redesigned which left them with a smiley face, leading to their nickname ‘happy trains’.
A not so happy train. Here’s vehicle 65960 from set 365526 being lifted clear of the tracks days after the tragic Potters Bar crash which killed seven people. This was the leading car which had come to rest sideways across the tracks and jammed under the platform canopies you can see to the left. The date is the 14th May 2002.
The remaining vehicles from Potters Bar crash victim 365526 seen at Crewe works on the 10th September 2005. They never saw service again. Two ended up being used by the RAF for target practice at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbia whilst the other was stripped for spares before being scrapped.
On the 13th December 2016 set 365533 sits inside the new Siemens depot at Hornsey which was built on the site of the former Coronation sidings North of the original depot site.
The 365s rarely strayed from their established routes but on the 17th March 1997 365534 and 315803 are seen passing Stratford in East London whilst on their way from Hornsey depot to Ilford depot for attention.
On the 25th July 2018 a pair of 365s with 365537 trailing pass Bonnymuir in Scotland whilst working from Glasgow Queen St to Edinburgh Waverley.
Seven years earlier on the 27th August 2011 365537 was on more familiar territory. It’s seen here passing the old wooden signalbox at Watlington station on the line from Ely to Kings Lynn. The box carries the station’s former name – Magdalen Rd.
Wearing the attractive First Capital Connect livery the last of the class, 365541 pulls out of Kings Cross on the 28th June 2014.
The interior of one of the driving cars of 365505 shows why the units were such a pleasant environment for passengers. Spacious and comfortable with a far better ambience than the earlier Class 317s. Seen on the 3rd May 2013.

Most of these trains have already gone for scrap at Newport in South Wales, but at the time of writing several of the sets are languishing at Doncaster Belmont yard, although these are due to follow this month. Here’s the timetable for the first move on the 8th March. There’s speculation that set 365525 may be retained for departmental use but I’ve not seen any official confirmation.

Three vehicles are being preserved. The East Kent railway is taking two driving cars and a trailer from sets 524 and 540 which will be used as a restaurant, an exhibition area and a major events venue.

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Next up (when I’ve got time) I’ll be having a look at the Southern Class 455 fleet (in both Connex and Southern guises) as this fleet is expected to be withdrawn by the end of 2022.