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History

In the 1980ies, REPs and TC were in use on the Weymouth line. The line was electrified
between Waterloo and Bournemouth only, so a solution was required to run trains all the
way to Weymouth. The solution was to have an EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) push the carriages
from Waterloo to Bournemouth, where it would then be coupled to a class 33 or 73 diesel
loco for the run down to Weymouth.

The Bournemouth to Weymouth section was electrified in the 1980ies. However, the trains
in use in the south were still Mk1 design, whereas Mk3 designs were being used around the
country. It was a good time to introduce new stock.

A combination of new body shells, new interiors and traction equipment from the REPs in a
Mk3 design meant the 442s were born!

These new trains were in the formation of:

DTC --- TS --- MBLS --- TSW --- DTS

Driving Trailer Composite
Trailer Standard
Motor Buffet Luggage Standard
Trailer Standard Wheelchair
Driving Trailer Standard

This allowed the trains to work in either 5 or 10 carriage formation. Intially, due to the restricted
power supply between Bournemouth and Weymouth, only 5 carriage units could be used.

The first Class 442 was introduced in May 1988, and the last in Febuary 1989.

 

Refurbishment

The year 1998 saw the start of the refurbishment of these trains, with the first one going in
January. During this refurbishment, the buffet area was "modernised", and the guard/luggage
area (in the Motor Buffet Carriage) was reduced in size so 16 more seats could be added.

Additionally, the livery was changed from the original Network SouthEast design to South
West Train's Express design and colours.

As part of South West Train's leasing contract with Angel Trains (who owns the 442s), at the
end of the lease, the trains must be returned in the same condition they were provided in.
So Bombardier are currently in the process of refurbishing them at Illford Works.

So far, 2402 has returned in SWT livery with slight modifications to make the livery compliant
with the Disability Discrimination Act, and 2421 has returned in unbranded grey and white
livery, presumably as it may be going to Gatwick Express, which uses grey and white
amongst other colours.

 

Why 442s?

Quite simple. In my opinion, they are the most comfortable trains available. They have comfortable
seats, excellent ambience, good soundproofing and good ride quality. If I've been up in London
for the day, the journey back always helps me relax.

While the 444s are good trains in their own right, they're too "sterile" for my liking. The lighting
is too bright and the seats seem to be half the thickness of the 442's and quite hard.

The 442s have a reasonable number of tables in the standard class, which is an added bonus
from having just regular airline-style seating. The 444s have considerably fewer tables in my
experience. This is obviously so they can fit more seats in per carriage, but it is nice to be able
to spread out a certain amount, or to have space to put your paper out flat (if there's no one
else at the table!).

As well as the more comforable seats, the lighting on 442s have lighting that uses a lower colour
temperature. This means it's not so harsh on the eyes, especially when travelling at night.
It can make a big difference on tired eyes.

A guard told me recently that the 442s have "proper" suspension. By that, he meant that when
a 442 goes over a rough piece of track, it bounces up and down, much like a car does. The 444s
work in a different way, the result being that they move from side to side instead of up and down.
Quite disconcerting when you're walking through the train with a hot cup of tea from the buffet!

Finally, the 442s have a superb first class section. They are (to my knowledge) the last trains on
the National Rail network that have proper first class compartments. These have individual
seat lighting, a sliding door to allow some privacy, and are fitted with reclining seats.

The communal first class area comprises of the same seats as the standard class, however
in my experience they are less worn so are more comfortable! Additionally, there is only one
row of airline style seats - the rest have tables.

I can't say the 444's first class section isn't better than standard class. It's certainly an upgrade.
But one attraction of the first class on the 442s was the limited number of seats in one particular
area, be it the communial area or the individual compartments. First class on the 444s is all in
one area, and it is of a higher standard than standard class. It's just lost some of the intimacy
found on the older trains.