5 Wes (Class 442)

In the mid 1980s the need came to replace the Reps and TCs on the Bournemouth and Weymouth line. Although at this time the 4 Rep MBSOs were only between 10 and 18 years old - all quite young for Southern EMU stock - the majority of cars within these units started their lives as locomotive hauled stock in the 1950s. Additionally new low cost technology now permitted the line between Bournemouth and Weymouth to be electrified - albeit with compromises. The opportunity at long last was taken to give the Southern modern stock on a par with that in use in other regions because there was some embarrassment that whilst the final Reps were being constructed in 1974 to Mk1 design it was being done alongside Mk3 stock for elsewhere. Twenty four 5 car units of 23 metre Mk3 hauled coach stock design (but with power operated swing plug doors) were selected with a central power car supplying all traction, air-conditioning and door power supplies. Fortunately previous construction of Mk3 stock for Iarnrod Eireann which included some generator vans had proved that the successful Mk3 design was capable of carrying the weight required by traction and power equipment. However despite the new body shells the long Southern tradition of re-using equipment prevailed since the 4 Rep traction motor and control equipment was far from life-expired. This required Reps to be withdrawn before the 442s became available and led to temporary formations being used.

All units were formed Driving Trailer Composite (DTC), Trailer Standard (TS), Motor Buffet Luggage Standard (MBLS), Trailer Standard Wheelchair (TSW) and Driving Trailer Standard (DTS). The fact that there was to be only one type of unit would lead to there being two catering cars in a ten car formation, however because of the restricted power supply between Bournemouth and Weymouth (caused by the low cost nature of the scheme) only one unit could work this end of the line.

442 A new 442 unit on display at the Southern Electric Group/Network South East London Bridge Event on 28th August 1988.

photograph by Colin Duff

When introduced the units carried "Wessex Electrics" branding on the side of their MBLS.

photograph by Colin Duff

Deliveries of new units was slower than planned leading to use of the remaining Reps and TCs longer than expected. The first unit was introduced to service on 16th May 1988 and the last unit commissioned on 25th February 1989. The first thirteen units were constructed with luggage areas either side of the guard's office however thereafter the area next to the buffet was constructed as a lounge commonly referred to as the "snug". Earlier units were subsequently rebuilt with a snug. In 1989 the cab end jumper hatch covers were removed following injuries to staff because they were heavy and they were replaced by lighter covers in 1990. Controlled emission toilets were retro-fitted to all units by the end of 1992.

The 442 units (the designation 5 Wes is less commonly used) with their stylish looks and internal comfort proved to be popular and a great success with passengers, the only poor aspect being only two doors per car - expected on long distance Intercity stock but not on the relatively short haul intensively used Southern.

442 A 442 unit in its early days of awaiting departure on its next service from Waterloo - complete with young admirers! 1st October 1988.

photograph by Colin Duff

A celebrated early use of a 442 occurred with the charter by the Southern Electric Group on their 21st anniversary of unit number 2413 (note the reverse of their preserved 4 Cor unit number 3142) for their "Coming of Age" railtour on 7th December 1991. This took a 442 unit away from its normal territory from Victoria to Brighton and back (including a 100mph run on the Brighton main line) and thence from Victoria to Portsmouth and then the coast way to Southampton and Weymouth. An intended record breaking run back from Weymouth to Waterloo was frustrated by signal checks. Following timetable changes 442s were also used on the Portsmouth direct line in regular service (at least for a while) from 11th May 1992.

Refurbishment of the class began in January 1998 which also involved further reducing the guards/luggage area in the MBLS to provide 16 more seats. During refurbishment the units were repainted into the new South West Trains colours. To conclude their recent history, in a re-run of the jumper hatch problems ten years earlier in November 1999 the hatches were again removed. They started being restored during the summer of 2001.

2413 pictured off its normal patch at Brighton on 7th December 1991 during the Southern Electric Group's "Coming of Age" railtour. Note this unit had still not been refitted with hatch covers by this time.

photograph by Colin Duff.

442413 2413 is captured (now with hatch covers) almost 8 years later flying through Clapham Junction towards Waterloo on 13th October 1999.

photograph by Colin Duff

The new SWT livery is at its most effective when the whole unit can be seen. 2424 is seen emerging from Clapham Yard on 13th October 1999.

photograph by Colin Duff

442418 By 2000 hatch covers were again off for a similar reason to their original removal. 2418 is pictured approaching Clapham Junction on 8th April 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

During 2008 17 units were refurbished and repainted into Gatwick Express livery for use on the new extended Gatwick Express service that started on 15th December of that year. This refurbishment included the removal of the buffet from the motor coach, new seating, and the removal of first class from the front of the train to the motor coach in the middle of the units.
Here Nº 442414 is seen at Polegate on an Eastbourne test run on 25th November 2008. Nice to see a semaphore still in use there, even if it is a non-Southern round post.

photograph by Mark Westcott

Motor Luggage Composite A close-up view of Nº 442414's Motor Luggage Composite, previously the Motor Buffet Luggage Standard.

photograph by Mark Westcott

Here Nº 442404 is passing Polegate on a test run to Eastbourne on 26th November 2008. Two more units were added during 2009.

photograph by Mark Westcott


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This page was last updated 17 February 2011

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