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As it’s been announced that Southern will be retiring its BR built Class 455 units by the end of the year I thought I’d compile a picture gallery of the trains in use over the past 20-odd years, first with the late unlamented ‘Connex’ franchise and then with Southern which has run the service since August 2001 after buying Connex out of the last 2 years of its franchise (which Govia as winning bidder was originally going to operate from 2003). Originally run as Govia South Central the franchise began to repaint trains in the distinctive white and green livery in 2001 but didn’t introduce the ‘Southern’ brand and logo until 2003. It’s remained ever since even tho’ Southern were absorbed into the huge Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise in July 2015.

The 455s were built from 1982 onwards but the first units didn’t appear on the South-Central network until 1986 after Selhurst depot had been modified to cope with the new trains. Their career’s lasted 36 years but sets are already standing idle on a daily basis as not all 46 trains are needed to run the current timetable.

The Southern sets look very different to their South-Western sisters. Between 2004-06 the trains were refurbished by Alstom at Eastleigh works. As well as internal work the nose-end doors were removed and replaced with a revised front end that incorporates cab air-conditioning. A new light cluster also changed their appearance. Unlike the SWR refurbishment the passenger doors weren’t altered, which leaves the Southern sets with the old cramped arrangement.

Here’s a look back over their lives. Please note. All the pictures are my copyright…

Here’s Wandsworth Common station on the 26th June 2001 with units 5809 and 5830 standing in the platform in the days when the trains regularly worked to Leatherhead.
5812 is seen entering Purley station with a service to Smitham on the 16th July 2001.
On the same day as the last picture Connex liveried 5818 waits at South Croydon with a service bound for London Bridge.
5815 seen at Streatham Common on the 16th July 2001 with a Caterham service. Only 16 out of the fleet of 46 ever received Connex yellow livery.
Unit 5823 in full NSE livery minus branding stands at Sydenham on the 15th June 1997. Connex had taken over the franchise in October 1996 but were slow in branding their trains. The destination blinds indicate this is a service to Charing Cross, another place the 455s aren’t seen at anymore.
Here’s 5833 and 5825 both on Victoria – East Croydon services passing just outside Wandsworth Common station on the 26th June 2001. Both units are in original condition.

The Southern years.

On the 2nd April 2014 class leader 455801 pulls out of Victoria with an unknown service. The modified front end with the air-conditioning unit in place of the gangway doors is evident, as are the revised headlight clusters.
A sight that’s changed out of all recognition since this shot was taken on the 12th November 2010. Here’s 455803 at the old London Bridge station.
On the 1st September 2008. 455804 gets a wash and brush-up at the carriage wash plant at Selhurst depot – although the plant is far closer to Norwood Jn station (in the background) than it is the depot.
455810 emerges from the highly decorative tunnel at Tulse Hill on the 14th June 2012.
The classic view of the approaches to Victoria – although the background has changed enormously since this view of 455824 arriving at the terminus was taken on the 30th April 2003.

455827 traverses the viaducts on the approach to London Bridge on the 8th March 2008.
Another part of London where the skyline backdrop’s changed dramatically. On the 1st December 2008 units 455828 and 455836 pass outside Clapham Junction station.
455830 calls at West Norwood station in South London on the 1st September 2008. In the background the Crystal Palace TV transmitter dominates the skyline.
455831 is framed by one of the old Southern Railway concrete signal gantries at it arrives at Honor Oak Park on the 19th July 2010.
455834 leaves Horsham and returns to London on the 11th November 2015.
455839 stands at West Croydon station on the 20th April 2010.
The first unit to appear in the new livery was 455841 which is seen working the 14.53 to Victoria at Dorking on the 22nd October 2001.
455843 speeds through Penge West on the fast lines on the 1st September 2008.
The last of the Southern units. 455846 sits on the reverse curves at Clapham Junction station on the 3rd March 2010.

Here’s a comparison between the unmodified doors on the Southern sets compared to the rebuilt (and this wider) doors on the SWR 455s.

Note the poles on the opposite side to the open door that show the limit the doors open to. This can be seen with the open doors and how far they protrude into the available opening. Here’s the SWR rebuild.
No poles and rebuilt runners without the protruding stops which mean the doors fit further into the unit body, allowing for a wider door. A far batter arrangement.

If you want to view (or buy) more pictures of the Southern 455s you can find them in these galleries.

BR Years



It’s worth mentioning that the ‘Part-time Spotter’ WordPress blog is currently posting the daily allocations and diagrams of the Southern 455 fleet, so if you want to track and trace any particular members or travel on them before they disappear, give them a follow at this link.

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