Thursday, 17 September 2015

458/0 farewell?

Back in the days of full Juniper services 8020 approaches Clapham Junction on 5th June 2008

The South West Trains class 458/0's look to finally be bowing out of service. The class were first introduced in 1998 as SWT's slam door replacement units, however they have had a chequered history ever since. Failing initially to reach appropriate levels of reliability the Alsthom built vehicles lost out to Siemens as the main replacement stock for slam door units with the Desiro being chosen as the main order. The 458 'Junipers' however found a home on the Waterloo to Reading service, where they have been concentrated since the early 2000's. Despite a plan to remove the units from traffic completely due to poor reliability the 30 x 4 car units settled down to traffic and went on to win the Modern Railways 'Golden Spanner' award for the most reliable new generation EMU in 2012.
In a strange twist of events, since 2013 the class have been rebuilt using redundant vehicles from the former Gatwick Express class 460's to form five car sets which have become numbered in the 458/5 series. All 30 class 458/0's and most vehicles from the eight car class 460's will be rebuilt into the new fleet which will comprise of 36 5 car units.
The scheme is running behind schedule which has resulted in an extended lease of life for the original class 458/5's. Despite a 'farewell' railtour- 'The Juniper Factor' running in May 2015 the trains have continued to see active service throughout summer 2015. The end is now nigh however with the last trainset due to to be taken out of service with SWT and send to Doncaster for re-building before the end of September.
While the 458/0's time is at an end the re-built 458/5's should be with us for many years to come providing additional capacity on services to Windsor, Hounslow and Weybridge.


  1. The 458/5's won't be on the Windsor & Weybridge services for long, they are due to be replaced by new class 707's in 2017/18
    The 458/5's will then have their First Class re-instated and return to the Reading Services, by which time all platforms to Reading should have been extended to 10 car.

  2. I do believe that is indeed the plan and the reason that the 458/5's have retained their 1st class (all be it declassified). With the increase from 30 to 36 units there would however be some spare 458/5's for use away from Reading. Of course plenty could change on the railways between now and 2017!