Here’s the final blog on the BR built Class 321s. I’ve lumped the final build of 3 Class 321/9s and 5 Class 322s together as they were both such small fleets.
The trio of 321/9s were built at BREL York in 1991. They were the final build of the Class 321 design. They were built for Regional Railways but paid for by for West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive who wanted them to operate local services on the newly electrified route from Doncaster to Leeds, so the units were built with all Standard Class seating. They shuttled between the two locations for several years before their sphere of operation was extended to include the Wharfdale line when the route was electrified in 1995.
Little changed for many years apart from liveries as they transferred from British Rail to Northern Spirit, then Northern Rail in all its incarnations. The units were refurbished by Hunslet-Barclay in Kilmarnock during 2006-2007 when they received an internal refit and and lost their original WYPTE livery for a derivative of the livery applied to the Class 333s with whom they shared Wharfdale services.
They remained based in West Yorkshire until they were displaced by the new CAF built Class 331s in 2020 when they were sent to Abellio Greater Anglia services to allow older (unrefurbished) Class 321s to be retired. The units hang on in service at the moment but are clearly living on borrowed time and their use could finish any time. They’ve been joined in Anglia by the Class 322s, which have had a much more varied career!
The 5 Class 322s were Class 321s in all but name. Like the rest of the fleet they were constructed at BREL York but in 1990, the year before the 321/9s. They were numbered Class 322 as they had minor detail difference to the rest of the builds and were designed for the new Stansted Express service from Liverpool St to Stansted Airport so they were fitted with a much larger 1st Class seating area and 2+2 seating in Standard Class. They were also delivered in their own ‘Stansted Express’ white livery.
The some of the units were loaned out a couple of times. in 1998 a pair were sub-leased to North-Western trains for the short-lived service from Manchester to London Euston. It folded after a year. They also appeared on Silverlink services from Euston and worked for Anglia trains from Liverpool St to Norwich.
They continued to ply their trade to Stansted airport until 2000 when they were displaced by refurbished Class 317/7 trains – after which they became ‘common-user’ and shared duties with the rest of the WAGN fleet on services to Cambridge and Peterborough. This led to their biggest move. In December 2001 all the units were transferred to Scotland to replace slam-door Class 305s on Edinburgh – North Berwick Services. They remained in Scotland until 2004 when they had a brief return to old haunts in order to cover services for the new ‘ONE’ franchise. This was short-lived, within a year they’d returned to Scotland and the North Berwick branch
Like the Class 321/9s they were refurbished in by Hunslet-Barclay in 2006-07 when the 2+2 and 1st class seating layouts where changed and Standard seating increased. The trains remained in Scotland until 2011 when they were displaced by the new Siemens Class 380s. This time they joined the Class 321/9s operating electrified services around West Yorkshire until they too were displaced by the new CAF built Class 331s by May 2020. Following the 321/9s they too were transferred back down to Anglia services which is where they remain to this day until their final withdrawal.
Here’s a selection of pictures of both classes during their time in service.
Andrew Gwilt said:
I will deeply miss the Class 321/3, Class 321/4, Class 321/9 and Class 322 as they are slowly but gradually being replaced by the Class 720 rolling stocks. And I also will miss the Class 317 as they too have been replaced by the Class 720.