Class 508

Of similar body style and construction to contemporary class 313, 315 and 507 units forty three class 508 units were introduced in 1979 and 1980 for inner suburban services from Waterloo. Excepting the experimental 2/4 Pep units used between 1971 and 1976, from which their design originates, they were the first above ground EMUs on the Southern Region to have sliding doors. They were totally incompatible with other Southern Region EMUs so they lacked the necessary operational flexibility and they were not popular. As such they were regarded as a temporary stock allocation until the more compatible class 455s entered service in 1983. In 1981 the first two 508s were despatched north to the Wirral lines to work alongside the similar class 507s there, with the remainder leaving the Southern Region from 1983. However the Wirral requirement was for 3 car trains so one trailer from each unit was retained to be incorporated into new build class 455/7 formations.
508037 The first (but on this date almost departed) incarnation of a 508 on the Southern. Nº508037 running with 3 cars is seen at Clapham Junction on 15th August 1984.

photograph by David Smith

By 1999 the Wirral lines - now Merseyrail - had a large quantity of surplus 508 units. Connex South Eastern has leased 13 of them from Angel Trains to replace slam door stock. They were first refurbished, including installing 2+2 seating in the centre of the trailer car and wheel-in cycle racks in one driving car and then assigned to Gillingham (Kent) depot. They were re-introduced to Southern service on 3rd August 1998 and were then used on Sittingbourne-Sheerness, Strood-Maidstone West, Maidstone West-Gatwick Airport and London Bridge-Tunbridge Wells services.
Nº508206 seen at East Croydon bound for Tonbridge on 8th June 1999.

photograph by Michael Taylor

508209 508209 at Tonbridge on 9th June 1999.

photograph by Michael Taylor

Nº508207 is departing Gatwick Airport station for the sidings south of the station on 12th May 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

508207 Nº508207 subsequently departing Gatwick Airport station northbound on 12th May 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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