Class 450/0 - 4Des and Class 450/2 (Siemens Desiro series)

Following the announcement that it was the preferred bidder for the renewal of the South West Trains franchise, on 23rd April 2001 Stagecoach placed what was then the largest single order from the UK for new trains and associated services. Perhaps in part due to its unsatisfactory experience with the introduction of its fleet of class 458 Juniper EMUs, the order was not placed with an engineering conglomerate with manufacturing capacity in Britain but went to Siemens Transportation Systems of Germany and Austria. Prior to this Siemens' only penetration into the British market had been with the class 332 EMUs for Heathrow Express and class 333 EMUs for Northern Spirit/Arriva Trains Northern's West Yorkshire services. These two classes are noted for their relatively pain-free introduction to service and reliability. The overall order was for £1 billion, consisting of £640 million for 785 vehicles (to replace SWT's entire slam door EMU fleet) and the balance for service and maintenance of the fleet for the duration of the contract, plus an option for placing a second order. Angel Trains is providing funding. The rolling stock order was originally for one hundred 20 metre 4 car sets for outer suburban service (with a planned delivery between November 2002 and October 2003), thirty two 20 metre 5 car sets for suburban service (planned for delivery between October 2003 and February 2004), and forty five class 444 23 metre 5 car sets for mainline use (planned for delivery between February and September 2004). The 23 metre units will not be covered in this section. Towards the end of 2003 the order for the 5 car 450s was cancelled as the SRA would not support changes to suburban infrastructure to allow 10 car trains (platform lengthening, etc). A further ten 4 car units for SWT were substituted taking the total number of the 450/0 class to 110. The SRA took over the balance of this order to provide 30 Class 350/1 4 car 25kV ac EMUs for use on the southern end of the West Coast mainline. These units will work from a pool Silverlink County, Central and Virgin services so will not carry any TOC livery or brandings. Their superior acceleration will allow better use of paths on a demanding part of the railway network.
450012 As is explained in the text, the first member of the class in the UK - 450012 - was stabled at Ropley, Mid Hants Railway, during February 2003 for fitter training. SEmG member Paul Emery, in the UK on holiday from the United States, was fortunately in the right place at the right time to photograph it for us. The new overall blue is a particularly attractive deep yet bright shade. We wonder how well it will weather!

photograph by Paul Emery

These vehicles come from Siemens' Desiro range, a family of multiple unit trains of flexible modular construction which are capable of electric or diesel-electric, diesel-hydraulic or diesel-mechanical propulsion. Examples of Desiro units are already in service in Germany, Greece and Slovenia. Being of modular design they are constructed from pre-fabricated sub-assemblies and meet the latest safety and disabled access requirements. Gangwayed and non-gangwayed versions are possible. Self-supporting aluminium extrusions are utilised in the welded construction which also provide "T" section strips on the inside to which interior fittings and components are bolted. Sliding plug doors at one third and two third positions are provided on this particular series of Desiro and SWT has selected gangways throughout.
A spectacularly clean SGP 500 bogie with pickup beam and shoe.

photograph by Paul Emery

SGP 500 type bogie
Each unit has four 1TB2016-0GB02 asynchronous traction motors. The bogies are of the steel mainframe SGP SF5000 type with the primary suspension being of coiled springs, secondary being supplied by air bags. Dellner couplers are fitted at unit ends. Traction equipment is mounted in resilient boxes between bogies to reduce the amount of vibration in the passenger saloons. Disc and rheostatic brake systems are fitted and top speed is 100 mph. Resilience is designed into these units improving their availability for service. Non safety critical equipment can be isolated following a failure so the units can remain in use.
450007 Unit 450007 at Woking on 15th March 2003.

photograph by Richard A

The 4 car units, designated class 450/0 (4Des), numbered 450001-450100, are formed DMSO - TCOL - TSO - DMSO, seating 71 - 24 1st, 39 standard, one toilet - 68 - 71 respectively. The 5 car units would have had an additional TSOL and there would not have been any first class accommodation in these units as they were intended only for suburban use. Seating in 1st class is 2+2 and is fitted with a dark blue moquette. Seating in standard class is 3+2, unidirectional and facing, and uses a red moquette. Unusually for suburban and outer suburban units carpet is fitted throughout. The interior finish of these units has been described as being to an extremely high and robust standard. The 450/0 units feature a new SWT "outer suburban" livery designed by Ray Stenning of Best Impressions, the design house responsible for the previous - now considered "mainline" - livery used on classes 442, 159 and (now incongruously) 458. Light blue dots at cantrail level denote first class accommodation - the author of this piece bemoans the lack of standardisation between TOCs, indeed between types of stock within a TOC, on this issue.
The intermediate composite coach of unit 450007.

photograph by Richard A

SGP 500 type bogie
Powered cars are built at the Siemens Duewag factory in Dusseldorf, the trailers at their SGP plant in Vienna. Units are assembled at Siemens' test facility at Wildenrath. This 35 hectare site is a former RAF base not far from Dusseldorf and also the border with Holland. Here units are endurance tested at up to 100mph on a circular test track. They must pass 1000 km of trouble free running before acceptance. To test SWT's order Siemens first had to undertake £10 million worth of work on their prized test facility. Traditional SR third rail at 750 volts DC was installed on a test loop. To ensure that real track and power conditions from the south of England were reproduced accurately SWT Vep 3810 was fitted out with test and recording equipment and run around the SWT system. The results were analysed and used to simulate real SR network conditions in the German countryside. In what was must be one of the most remarkable, albeit temporary, rolling stock exports, 3810 was then split into individual vehicles at Fratton on 9 January 2002 and transported by road and ship to Wildenrath to check the testing conditions. To see a venerable Vep working alongside not only Desiro units but also some of the most advance rolling stock in Europe, such as diesel ICE units, must have been a remarkable sight. It arrived back (without displaying the "GB" plates speculated about by enthusiasts) on 28 August and re-entered service on 6th September.
450025 Unit 450025 in service at Clapham Junction on 4 November 2003.

photograph by John Lewis

As part of the contract Siemens are responsible for all maintenance on the SWT Desiro fleet. To service this requirement Fitzpatrick Rail built a 6415 square metre double ended depot on the site of Northam Yard, Southampton. Construction started in July 2001 and a steelwork completion ceremony was held on 14th March 2002. Rail access to this facility is from the down lines in three locations into a reception road. The depot building itself has four 10 car roads powered from an overhead trolley system and is entered from the Southampton end. Road 4 has a wheel/bogie table (a bogie change only takes two hours) and a jacking area. Outside are four 12-16 car stabling sidings. Train cleaning facilities within the depot responsibly use water recycling methods. Northam Depot was opened on 2nd July 2003. Siemens are also using Strawberry Hill depot as a commissioning facility and intend using the Shepperton branch for proving runs. However commissioning of early units has been done at SWT's Bournemouth depot with static testing taking place overnight between Wareham and Weymouth. In a welcome return to Crompton working in this area (albeit not 33/1s) Siemens are using Fragonset's 33013 and 33202 as tractor units. Later deliveries saw units going initially to Strawberry Hill for commissioning thence straight into service.
450011 stands behind class 33 33103 at Weymouth on 6th April 2003.

photograph by Paul Ferbrache

In October 2002 thirty nine finished sets were at the Wildenrath test facility. By then units 001-008 had appeared in the Rolling Stock Library and units 009-015 had officially been added to stock. The first SWT Desiro to arrive in the UK - 450012 - did so by road and ship during November 2002. It was delivered to the MoD facility at Shoeburyness for fitter training. 47765 was used as a load bank. This combination was moved by road on 8th/9th February to Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway for more fitter training on weekdays. Later Desiro deliveries have been via the Channel Tunnel and Wembley. Of early deliveries, 450007 travelled through the Channel Tunnel overnight 14th/15th December 2002 and arrived at Bournemouth depot on the evening of 16th December. 450008 arrived at Bournemouth on 31st December 2002 and 45010 7th February 2003. The whole of the first batch was completed in August 2003.
450 bogie The bogie of 450007. It's a shame the fence spoils the view!

photograph by Paul Ferbrache

The class was introduced to traffic during October 2003, the first public service being between Bournemouth and Weymouth on 5th 0ctober, then Waterloo-Basingstoke services from 13 October. 450s started working to Alton from 25th November. The first (test) trip over the Portsmouth Direct Line was on 13th September 2003 (travelling from Bournemouth to Woking via Portsmouth) using units 450019 and 450026. During late 2003 power restrictions, pending the Network Rail upgrade) meant a maximum of 45 Desiros in service, plus any class 458s working. However by the end of February 2004 only 22 units were in service. This had increased rapidly to 44 by the middle of March by which time all Waterloo-Alton and Guildford-Ascot services had been diagrammed for 450s. It is believed the power upgrade to the South West Trains system will be complete by the end of 2004 allowing full introduction of Desiros.
The inter-car connections on unit 450007.

photograph by Paul Ferbrache

47765 plus 460012 in the up platform at Ropley

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This page was last updated 11 May 2004

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