The Anonymous Widower

The Future Of The Class 387 And Class 379 Trains

This post is to try to get some logic into everybody’s comments on UK’s First 100mph Battery-Diesel Hybrid Train Enters Passenger Service, which are about the Class 379 trains.

Here are my thoughts about the current situation.

Class 379 Trains

I regularly use Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street stations.

A few months ago, you would see Class 379 trains on services to Cambridge and Hertford North.

At the present time, you rarely see them, as these services now seem to be run by new Class 720 trains, with the Stansted services being run by Class 745 trains.

There are also articles like this one on Rail Technology Magazine, which is entitled Greater Anglia’s New Rolling Stock Helps To Drive Record Autumn Results.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Greater Anglia’s new rolling stock has helped drive the operators record-beating autumn performance results over the challenging autumn months.

During autumn 2021 Greater Anglia recorded an overall punctuality score of 94.48% from 19th September 2021 – 8th January 2022.

This was the best autumn performance ever recorded by the train company.

It would appear that Greater Anglia are pleased with their new stock, which surely means that the thirty Class 379 trains can be moved on, stored or converted to battery-electric operation.

c2c’s Class 387 Trains

c2c has six Class 387 trains, which are similar to the Class 379 trains.

Currently, because of cracks in Class 800 trains, three of them are on loan to GWR.

But in the next year or so, these six trains will be moved on or stored as c2c have ordered twelve Class 720 trains to replace the Class 387 trains.

Southern’s Class 387 Trains

Southern has twenty-seven Class 387 trains for the Gatwick Express, of which three are used by Great Northern, who are a sister company of Southern, and six are on loan to GWR

Great Northern’s Class 387 Trains

Great Northern has twenty-nine Class 387 trains of its own and three on loan from Southern.

These trains are used mainly on Cambridge, Ely and Kings Lynn services out of King’s Cross.

Great Western Railway (GWR)’s Class 387 Trains

Great Western Railway has forty-five Class 387 trains of its own, three on loan from c2c and six on loan from Southern.

The Battery-Electric Class 379 Train

I rode this prototype train in 2015.

An Outwardly Normal Class 379 Train

I think it is reasonable to assume, that as battery technology has improved in the seven years since I rode this train, that converting Class 379 trains to battery-electric operation would not be a challenging project.

Creating A Battery-Electric Class 387 Train

If the Class 387 train is as internally similar to the Class 379 train as it outwardly looks, I couldn’t believe that converting them to battery-electric operation would be that difficult.


I feel the way to proceed is to create a small fleet of both battery-electric Class 379 and Class 387 trains and assess their performance, reliability and customer acceptance.



February 11, 2022 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,


  1. The future of any fleet that isn’t captive to a particular route is now very dependable as to where the govt want the railways to go. Currently there appears to be tension over how much subsidy it should receive vs enabling it to support modal change to underpin reducing emissions.
    The former appears to be winning leading to removing the 379’s in lieu of their 30 year older sisters the 317’s although to be fair all were due to withdrawn as the 720’s displaced them. So in BR days there would have been a cascade strategy and i do appreciate that wasn’t entirely fair on the North but the 379s are 1st gen electrostar and have proved themselves. They could easily be used on 3rd rail with addition of shoegear and just plug the cable into the DC link inside the inverter like the 377/2,5,7 are configured. Suggestion is they goto to GN to displace 387/1’s back to Southern but 30 isn’t enough units unless the service is rehashed in the light of Covid passenger demand but if they get C2C 387’s as well might be doable as long as peak hour extras are Peterborough to curtailed back.

    Anyhow i wouldn’t be surprised to see the 769’s deployed to the Uckfield line once TfW are finished with them as I don’t govt have got appetite for batteries as they are putting the emphasis on Hydrogen.

    Finally if traffic levels don’t return GA will have too many 720’s and SWR too many 701’s.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | February 12, 2022 | Reply

    • I also think that there could be a problem on the East Coast Main Line, when digital signalling comes in. You could have the IETs and IC225s running at over 125 from at least North of Welham Green and the 387s, 379s and the 700s will be too slow to keep up, so won’t be allowed on the fast lines. It was suggested in Rail Magazine a couple of years ago, that 125 mph trains would be needed to Cambridge, Ely and Kings Lynn.

      I also think there are good reasons to improve the Breckland Line to 100 mph and extend the Ely service to Norwich. Cambridge has such a need for space and personnel, that two 100 mph trains per hour would be full.

      Alan Partridge would certainly welcome High Speed Norwich.

      Also now that Werrington is complete, I can see the GNGE Joint line being electrified through Lincolnshire. This would enable a diversion route for the ECML, electric freights to the North and battery-electric IETs to reach Cleethorpes, Grimsby and Skegness.

      That would certainly help to level up Lincolnshire, as will all the energy developments on the coast.

      Peterborough has the space to split and join trains, to make maximum use of the capacity

      Comment by AnonW | February 12, 2022 | Reply

      • HEX 387’s are uprated for 110mph so perhaps the GN’s 387’s ought to be as well as that is max speed till Woolmer Green anyhow currently and can’t see much scope to improve on that with geometry and tunnels even with ETCS.

        On electrification there seems be no sign of any ambition to get a rolling programme going currently. Whats quoted in the IRP comes with timescales of 5+ years even to get MML completed

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | February 12, 2022

  2. I meant Woolmer Green not Welham Green. As a Control Engineer, I am very much of the opinion, that ETCS can speed up trains through Welwyn North and Newark, so we’ll have a continuous stream of 125 mph trains to and from the North.

    Comment by AnonW | February 12, 2022 | Reply

    • I believe they are going for L2 which im not sure gives much benefit as its still fixed block without lineside signals. The benchmark is the Victoria Line but that needs the same stock profile. Although i would still put 1967 Victoria Line up there with putting man on the moon as an incredible technological invention. I always got a buzz out of a train following another one closely where it would crawl into the platform then accelerate up it till braking at the end. No driver would behave like that but it saves precious seconds. Oh and it didn’t need fancy computers just simple control equipment. Crossrail would have done well to have taken note!!

      Comment by Nicholas Lewis | February 12, 2022 | Reply

      • I’ve done my head in on so many scheduling algorithms writing project management software, that I now believe you have to have a simple algorithm that even a politician can understand.

        I like the idea of flighting, where on the ECML a train for Edinburgh, will perhaps leave KX followed by one for Newcastle, Leeds, Lincoln, with tagging on the end will be a Cambridge train. They would be perhaps three minutes apart and drop off one at a time. If you get the pattern right, it should be easy to automate.

        I suspect, Dear Old Vicky has a simple philosophy, where trains play follow-my-leader. I like the idea of end loops, as the Wirral Line has in Liverpool.

        There have been plans for a loop to serve Herne Hill at the Southern end of the Victoria Line and I wonder, if there could be a loop at Walthamstow.

        I remember reading in Simulation Magazine a detailed technical description of the Victoria Line signalling and automation. And it was all done with electronic valves and relays. I believe originally, when the driver had closed the doors, he just pressed a button and the train was moved automatically to the next station. Simple and incredibly efficient.

        Comment by AnonW | February 12, 2022

      • Thing is it was technological marvel for its time but my take is whilst technology helped enable its those advancement were still relatively modest so it could be over complicated otherwise it was unachievable. Whereas CrossRail has just taken latest technology and massively over complicated its application such that the overall system has become unmanageable and potentially untestable to find very flaw in the software. As one of my bosses from early 1980’s said said to me KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | February 12, 2022

  3. I think Crossrail have made it safe to open, by running it as three separate railways. I think now that they have seen the problems, that if they were designing it today, it would be very different.

    I also think, Crossrail and Thameslink should have been designed as a pair. For a start it’s a lunacy that they have different trains, but then Thameslink’s awful trains were chosen by the Treasury.

    Comment by AnonW | February 12, 2022 | Reply

  4. I think the maximum speed of the whole class 387 is 110 mph,fast enough to mix well with 125 mph Intercity trains on both the E.C.M.L and G.W.R because of their superior acceleration on the same lines as the Siemens class 350s which work on the W.C.M.L.
    As for the class 379s these are better appointed than the class 387s but are only capable of 100 mph.Until recently they
    were to be seen on Liverpool Street/Cambridge trains as well as Stansted Expresses.

    Comment by Hugh Steavenson | February 13, 2022 | Reply

  5. It probably couldn’t happen thanks to politics, but if I were GWR I’d snap up some more 387s for the London – Bristol Parkway – Cardiff route (they’re already running some on this route). They must be a heck of a lot cheaper to run than the 800 series trains. Also the scoot down the hill from Parkway to Bristol Temple Meads then back again seems ideal for a battery train.

    Comment by Neil | February 17, 2022 | Reply

    • They are but HMG (in)conveniently locked themselves into a 17.5yr contract and very good lease rates so its a cost on the books that isn’t going away. What would be more pertinent is to determine across all operators where the Azumas should be used. ie LNER apparently want more sets to replace Cl91’s so perhaps they should be redeployed from GWR who then use 387’s. Problem is the bi-mode capacity is needed to maintain competitive timings and avoid changes so doubt anything will change anytime soon.

      Comment by Nicholas Lewis | February 22, 2022 | Reply

  6. HAve just read in the February issue of Today’s Railways U.K. that the 379’s likely to move to the G.N. lines as the 387’s will go to Southern to replace the 313’s on Coastway.If so then the 379’s will need to be upgraded to run at 110 mph like the 387’s.Possibly some 387’s could be fitted with batteries to replace the 170/1’s on the Uckfield and Ashford-Hastings lines which are needed elsewhere like on E.M.R.?

    Comment by Hugh Steavenson | February 17, 2022 | Reply

  7. Maybe Great Northern should inherit the Class 379 Electrostar and the Class 387/3 to be cascaded to Southern and the Great Northern Class 387/1 cascaded to Southern. And GWR & Heathrow Express to retain the Class 387/1. With the Class 387/2 on hire with Great Northern to be cascaded back to Gatwick Express.

    Comment by Andrew Gwilt | June 4, 2022 | Reply

  8. […] wrote The Future Of The Class 387 And Class 379 Trains in February 2022 and in that post, I mused about the future of two fleets of excellent […]

    Pingback by Bluebell Heritage Railway Planning Western Extension « The Anonymous Widower | July 10, 2022 | Reply

  9. […] The Future Of The Class 387 And Class 379 Trains, I said […]

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