The Anonymous Widower

SWR Says Farewell To ‘456’s

The title of this post, is the same as a section heading in the February 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

South Western Railways are reducing services because of the pandemic and they are retiring their Class 456 trains, which have been returned to their leasing company; Porterbrook.

  • The Class 456 trains are thirty-years old.
  • They are two-car third-rail electric trains.
  • They have an operating speed of 75 mph.
  • They are due to be replaced by new Class 701 trains.

According to the Modern Railways article, they have been put in store by Porterbrook.

But they are not trains in bad condition, as these pictures show.

The trains had a high-class refurbishment in 2014.

In Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, I discussed the reopening of the Fawley Line.

This is an extract from that post about the rolling stock to use on the line.

South Western Railway’s Innovative Train Plan

This is another quote from the original Rail Magazine article.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood adds. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.


  1. Mark Hopwood is now Managing Director of Great Western Railway.
  2. Great Western Railway and South Western Railway are both First Group companies.
  3. There are twenty-four Class 456 trains.

I wonder, if the plan that Mark Hopwood hinted at a couple of years ago, is being carried out.

Two dozen, two-car zero-carbon battery-electric trains would do nicely for some of the routes of GWR and SWR.

Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains discusses this possible conversion in detail.

January 25, 2022 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. SWR due to SWT had a high quality stock interiors even if they were knocking on 40 year old units along with the 707 investment and 444/450 fleet they didn’t need the 701s for at least another 5 years. The 456’s are being withdrawn as they on a short term lease so the DofT can save a few quid. They would have been better being recycled down to Brighton to displace the 313’s which are getting tired and will be 46 years old this year.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | January 25, 2022 | Reply

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised to see they are converted into battery trains. Mark Hopwood said so and GWR have a lot of two-car diesels that need quality replacement. It looks like the project to create the Alstom Breeze from Class 321 trains has stalled, so Eversholt has a lot of Class 321 trains. If Alstom can convert the 456 trains into two-car battery trains, I suspect they will be able to convert the closely-related 321s into three- and four-car battery trains. With Renatus interiors and their 100 mph performance they could be very useful.

    Comment by AnonW | January 25, 2022 | Reply

  3. […] SWR Says Farewell To ‘456’s, I talk about converting the two-car Class 456 trains after Mark Hopwood, who is now a big cheese […]

    Pingback by Eversholt Rail And Vivarail To Develop Class 321 BEMU « The Anonymous Widower | August 17, 2022 | Reply

  4. as a railway worker I absolutely loved 456s. they were extremely reliable, comfortable, clean and best train to drive or work as guard. I wish they are put to use wherever suitable they have another 10-15 years of life in them.

    Comment by A Rail Worker | September 28, 2022 | Reply

  5. I suspect that Mark Hopwood, is not the only senior rail executive, who thinks that something could be done with the 456s. Since I wrote the original post, Eversholt have started to look at converting 321 Renatus trains to BEMUs.

    Comment by AnonW | September 28, 2022 | Reply

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