Class 455 –The Long Goodbye

Aretro livery is the beginning of the end. Time to look back on 40 years of the Class 455, the train where Derby met its Waterloo – well, Croydon

In the brave new world of the 1970s, when HST and APT were to revolutionise InterCity travel, commuting was planned for radical change too. The 4-PEP prototypes were the future: fast (all axles motored), short dwell times (three doors per side), high capacity (2+2 seats, wide aisles) and light weight, with aluminium body panels on an integral construction body.

This was all a terrible shock to the Southern Region, which was still building slam-door stock in 1974.

The new engineering HQ at Derby Railway Technical Centre had produced a great design which, had it gone into production, would have saved millions of passenger hours over the next 40 years. The prototypes didn’t cover themselves in glory, but there was nothing insurmountable in the fault list. My first ever student project was looking at the relays

in the door controls. Conclusion – they’re rubbish, buy better ones.


There was a need to replace the huge fleet of 4-SUB units, because overhauls were getting more expensive, and they can’t be deferred. Technology wise, the 4-SUBs were pre-war, although they were built with steel bodies after the war.

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