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.
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.