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Withdrawal Information

Any information about the withdrawal of the 442s is on this page.
This page is archived now and is here for information only.
Future plans and news can be found on the "news" and "archive" pages.

 

Last Rites (take two) (added 4th Feb)

Saturday 3rd February was a nice sunny day. The units out today were clean and shiny,
looking quite smart in their new livery. Unfortunately, the diagrams for today weren't
set in concrete and there was a lot of speculation about what services would be run
later in the day. The diagrams were supposed to be:

Unit 2405
10.01 Poole - Waterloo
13.05 Waterloo - Poole
16.01 Poole - Waterloo
19.05 Waterloo - Poole

Unit 2410
09.01 Poole - Waterloo
12.05 Waterloo - Poole
15.01 Poole - Waterloo
18.05 Waterloo - Poole

Unit 2412
09.01 Poole - Waterloo (with 2410)
11.32 Waterloo - Waterloo: Staff Tour
18.05 Waterloo - Poole (with 2410)

However, there was a rumour floating around that there would be a 21.05 Poole-Waterloo
service. This was supposedly due to the driver of the Staff Tour wanting to get a 442 home!

I met up with nsenut at Poole, where we took the 15.01 Poole-Waterloo service, run by a very
clean and shiny 2410. EE546 joined us at Clapham. Upon arrival at Waterloo (two minutes late, at
17.22), we pulled in behind 2412. There were photographers present at a number of the stations
on the way up and a good number at Waterloo, which we joined.

At 18.05, 2410 pulled out as a packed 5-carriage Poole service. A little while after, 2405
arrived, having run the 16.01 service from Poole - the last 442 "up" working. It too pulled up
behind 2412, but didn't couple. This was the train we had been waiting for; if it coupled with
2412, then the 19.05 would be a 10 carriage and would be the last 442 working.

Luckily, it didn't couple, and ran out as the 19.05 service to Poole. nsenut and EE546 got on
and went to Clapham Junction, returning on a 455. Our small group of four (my girlfriend
joined us) decided we'd get the 21.05 to Poole. To kill time, we went for a jaunt on the tube!

The 21.05 service to Poole, unit 2412, went out with us on board. There was no ceremony, no
special announcements, nothing at all. Except for the DMI at Basingstoke which after showing
the stations the train would be stopping at, read:

Please Note: This is the very last passenger working of the South West Trains Class 442 Wessex Units.

At Poole, we were met by a small number of photgraphers, one or two with camcorders.
There were a few minutes for photographs to be taken before the London-end cab was
opened, and 2412 trundled out of the station, across the Poole level crossing, and
towards the depot.

There was a rumour that we'd be running down with ED 73109 at the front, but this
turned out not to happen. It was was sat by itself at Wimbledon. Apparently it came down
shortly behind us, but I'm not able to confirm this at the moment.

That was it - the last 442 working. The insurance for the 442s expired early on the 4th,
and the remaining units at Bournemouth depot will be moved to Eastleigh during the
week starting Monday 5th.

I'll upload my photos and videos to the site at some point. Here's 442412 about to leave
Poole, probably for the very last time in the forseeable future.

442405 on Saturday 3rd Feb. The last ever 442 to visit Poole?

 

Meet The Manager, Waterloo, 1st Feb (added 2nd Feb)

An email from the no450 campaign requested as many people as possible to be present for
the Meet The Manager session at Waterloo on the 1st. So, I went along. This section details
the day's events and what was said.

I got the 15.59 from Bournemouth, which was a 10x444. Wandered about a bit to see who was
there, see what the mood was like and eventually got involved in a conversation with an extremely,
extremely irate lady from Portsmouth who was giving a manager a piece of her mind, and then a
little more! (If you're reading this, you put your points across well, and thanks for signing the
petitions!) Unfortunately the manager was only able to give the same responses - capacity,
franchise requirements, etc.

Met up with David Habershon (the guy running no450.co.uk) who was mid-way through giving an
SWT Manager an absolute earful. He put across all his points in an excellent manner but regrettably,
no matter how well he argued his case, he got the usual counter-arguments we've all heard before.
One of his colleagues got involved too and in the end there was David and two of his colleagues,
two SWT managers, myself and my girlfriend. David handed over a printed copy of the
no450.co.uk petition and made it very clear he wanted it taken right to the top.

The SWT Managers did genuinely seem to understand the issues and concerns raised, but were either
unwilling or unable to make any gesture towards any changes. Apparently there's going to be a review
in March/April, once Portsmouth is re-opened and depending on what that finds, they may well do some
re-shuffling or re-tuning, but the bottom line was that there would not be any major changes made.

I put the case for reintroducing the 442s to one of the two managers and was met with outright hostility,
a touch of vitriol at even suggesting such a thing and a blatant refusal to accept that any modifications
could increase the capacity to a level worth considering. Even when confronted with the actual figures from
their own website of what the various stock capacities, I was told "well, you've obviously done your
research and I'm not able to comment on that". Nice.

After further discussions, the female manager left and we were left with the one male manager who
decided to end the conversation and headed off to talk to a colleague. Presumably to vent steam - he
was getting a little frustrated, I think!

David put the point forward that it's all well and good having the 3+2 seating arrangements on the
450s, but if people are preferring to stand instead of squash up, then the extra capacity is wasted. The
managers repeated that they were required to provide extra capacity, and they'd done exactly that.

It struck me that the managers were trying to say, in not so many words, that they're fully aware
that there's a lot of opposition to the 450s, but under the new franchise, they are REQUIRED to provide
20% more capacity, and they've done that. There's nothing to say that people have to USE that capacity,
but it must be there.

In other words, they're fully aware of the situation, but because there's statistically more seats,
that counts towards their franchise requirements and that's all that matters.

A very sorry state of affairs.

Finally, g/f and I had a chat with a different manager about buffet services, then a chat with some
Network Rail guys who were there. A quick jaunt on the tube, then I got the 19.35 home,
which thankfully was a 442.

One thing that did amuse me - at one point, one of David's friends noted that SWT had agreed to pay
over the odds for the franchise (referring to the £1.2bn that SWT need to pay back to the government) and
that they now needed to cut costs as much as possible to compensate. The female manager was saying
how this can't possibly be a cost cutting measure as they're spending considerably more on leasing the
450s now, to which David commented "Well, you've done a good job of shooting yourself in the foot then!".

COMMENT

It is a very sorry state of affairs when the government dicates terms to a train company that forces
them to make changes that they are aware will make their customers unhappy. In their rush to force
people out of their cars and onto the public transport, the government has helped create this problem,
and SWT and SWT's customers have to live with it. While undoubtedly there are other methods SWT
could use to increase capacity, this may well have been the easiest way without purchasing yet more
rolling stock. We shall have to see what happens if/when SWT perform their review in March/April.

 

Last Diagram (take two) (added 2nd Feb)

It would appear the last 442 workings are to be:

Saturday, 3rd February, 2007

0901 Poole - Waterloo (10 carriages)
1205 Waterloo - Poole (5 carriages)
1501 Poole - Waterloo (5 carriages)
1805 Waterloo - Poole (10 carriages)
(Thanks, HG.)

A few people from the forum will be on the last service, and I will be on the 1501 as well.
If you'd like to join us, I'll more than likely be wearing some sort of class442.co.uk badge,
and I suspect another of our members will be wearing a Wessex Electic t-shirt. It'd be good
to know if you're coming, so please do sign up on the forum and tell us!

 

In The Press (updated 2nd Feb)

Mention of the withdrawl of the 442s has made it into the papers; see here:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2530015.html

and here:
http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/debusiness/news/display.var.1140693.0.0.php

Now if only we could get a mention... :-)

 

A Letter From SWT (updated 2nd Feb)

Regular readers will remember I said I'd written to SWT about the whole re-shuffle issue. They
had sent me a letter saying they had received my letter and would respond as soon as possible.
I received a letter on Thursday 19th, which I've scanned in. Click on these two links to read!

Page One --- Page Two

Added 2nd Feb: I've since replied to this letter, once they reply I will scan and post for you!

 

Last Rites (added 14th Jan)

Well, the last official 442 has run, and I was on it!

I got the 15:59 Bournemouth to Waterloo, which was formed of 2407 (country end) and 2417
(London end). It was hard to miss the various photographers walking through the train for the
duration of the journey. The Guard also made a special announcement with a brief history of
the trains. It was an uneventful journey otherwise. At Waterloo, we pulled up alongside 2405
which was in Platform 9. There were a number of photographers waiting, whose numbers were
added to by the few on the train. We took photos of 2405 leaving, and the driver of 2407
allowed us to enter the cab and take photos. Some of us boarded 2407 which was scheduled
as the 18:35 fast Weymouth service, and off we went.

Upon arrival at Bournemouth, the train split. 2407 continued to Weymouth and 2417
presumably ran to depot. Arriving at Weymouth, the DMI was showing:

The last 442 to Weymouth.
13th January 2007. 2407

I had an hour to kill, so joined a couple of the photographers in a local pub. Realizing I was
hungry, I found a Chinese restaurant around the corner and ate, before heading back to the
pub for a quick drink with the others, then heading back to the station.

The driver had again opened the cab to anyone who wanted to look, and it was while
standing in the first class section that I overheard a story that sounded rather familiar.
It was Mike Pugh from the Network SouthEast Railway Society - http://www.nsers.org.uk,
and he'd told me the exact same story by email a few days previously!

We took over the first class communal area for the journey back to Bournemouth. At Dorchester
South (someone correct me if I'm wrong), the staff had laid detonators on the track, so as we
left the station there were four loud BANGs which you could feel through the floor of the carriage!

On the way to Bournemouth, Mike realized that there would probably be a Poole service that
would arrive at Bournemouth shortly after our Weymouth train did. We arrived at Bournemouth
a minute or so early, and had plenty of opportunities to take photos as 2407 departed. There
was even a film crew on the other platform!

The 00:19 Poole service (which was the 22:05 Waterloo-Poole) came in on time and was greeted by a
barrage of flashing cameras, and we decided to sit in the snug next to the guard's van. Once we got to
the level crossing at Poole, we had to slow right down as there were some idiots on the track. Once
they'd cleared off, we made a slow approach into the station. Upon arrival, the guard made a special
announcement, which was duly recorded!

There were actually two guards onboard, one of whom had been the guard for the 15:59 service,
and the 18:35 service as far as Bournemouth. He'd remained on the train to Weymouth and had
made it onto this train, too, complete with camera and tripod. It was him who had made the
announcement, even though he wasn't the guard in service for that journey.

We stayed on the platform and saw the last official 442 service leave for the depot.

It was only later that I realized which unit had run the last official 442 service - 2424, the
last off the 442 production line. Coincidence, or a SWT planner with a sense of humour...?

There will continue to be some 442s diagrammed on for the next period - their lease
is still valid until Feb 3rd (date seems to be common rumour), so expect to see them out
and about over the next couple of weeks!

 

Pictures! (updated 14th Jan)

I have permisson to post the pictures of 2421 at Bournemouth Depot. I may also
soon be receiving a number of photos from various sources which I'll put up on the
Gallery page.

Additionally, I'll also be posting up a few pictures from the last official day of service.

Don't change the channel!

 

Last Diagram (updated 14th Jan)

The last official diagram for the Class 442s is as follows.

Saturday, 13th January 2006

0700 Waterloo - Fratton
0920 Fratton - Waterloo
1135 Waterloo - Weymouth
1500 Weymouth - Waterloo
1835 Waterloo - Weymouth
2310 Weymouth - Bournemouth

Whatever unit(s) end up running that last service will probably run to depot after the last
passenger service, so anyone who's not on-board that last service could get themselves
to the depot and get some pictures!

I, and a number of other 442 fans will be on various services throughout the day and
will most certainly be at Weymouth for the 23:10. If you would like to come along at any
point, please sign up on the forum and add your name down, or drop me an email!

Update, 14th Jan: Seems that 23:10 wasn't the last service, as there was a 00:19
Bournemouth - Poole service which I was lucky enough to be on! See above for more!

 

Timetable (updated 14th Jan, clarified wording)

Here's a tentative timetable for the withdrawal process.

  • 442s will remain on fast services from Waterloo until January 2007. Slow services are already being changed over to 444 operation.
  • The weekend of 13th/14th January will see the official end of 442 operation on SWT metals, with the remaining trains being withdrawn from service. The entire Weymouth line will be served by class 444s from Monday 15th January.
  • However. Due to a shortage of 458s which is causing 450s to be kept on the Reading branch, there will still be some 442s in service - an unspecified number for an unspecified time.

 

Meet The Manager - Waterloo, Jan 4th, 2007. (added 9th Jan)

I went along to the Meet The Manager session to quiz the managers present about the
withdrawal, and also put some other questions to them. They were quite accommodating, but
as one might expect, very dismissive of any return of the 442s - they were gone and that
was that. Anyway, here are some other points they told me.

- 444/450 seats were apparently designed by an ergonomics expert at Siemens, so
should be very good for your back. Additionally, (and I quote) "some people don't like getting out of the 442's seats as they're too squishy".......!

- 458 reliability problems have been resolved to SWT's satisfaction.

- There is a 98% chance that there will NOT be a 442 railtour.

- The main (official) reason for the withdrawal is that the new franchise required SWT to increase capacity overall. So by reintroducing the 458s, cascading the other stocks and withdrawing the 442s, they have increased the overall capacity, and that's what counts to the government.

- There is no reason that only one of the slammers is used for a majority of services on the Lymington branch. (The blue/grey class 423 is rarely seen on the line). That's just the way it is.

My comments on this section can be found on the Discussion page.

 

Reliability Problems (added 9th Jan)

Since the withdrawal was announced, the 442s seem to be taking a dive in reliability
stakes with a number of units being out of service for everything from smashed windscreens
to a fire in the traction equipment!

A relatively up-to-date list of what's in service and what isn't can be found on the forum:
Click here to go to the list.

 

Another Reason (added 19th Dec)

I recently had a conversationwith a member of station staff, who informed me that one
big reason behind the withdrawal is that these trains apparently cost more to run per
mile than the newer stock. If this is true (and I've not been able to verify it either way),
then the decision is a financial one.

It's probably more likely (in my opinion) to be a combination of the financial reason,
combined with the fact that the public like newer trains, and SWT want to be seen to have
the best (read that as shiniest and newest) rolling stock of any train operating company.
Especially as they've just won their new franchise, it's a good thing for them to be able
to say "hey, we're investing, look, we're replacing all these old trains with newer shiny ones!".

 

The Refurbishment Question (re-written 24th Dec)

Here's a slightly edited version of a message I received, which explains the refurbishment.

"...part of the leasing contract of the 442s was that they must be returned to the lessee in the condition they were received in, hence the C6 overhaul... this being the highest spec overhaul possible."

So it would seem that SWT are refurbishing them back to tip-top condition because it's a part of the
terms of their lease. No one's been able to confirm to me whether this overhaul includes the traction
kit, but it would seem not. I've also been made aware that the traction kit on these isn't in as bad
condition as it's made out to be, and is certainly not close to being life expired. An overhaul should
see it giving another long period of good service.

 

Plans (re-written 24th Dec)

This is from the same person as I quoted above.

"Now the innards of the units will be gutted totally, and rebranded into Southern's home colours, tho it is unclear if the buffet will be retained. The traction kit will be completely stripped dwon, wiring looked at and changed as necessary."

Presumably the same will happen with the GatEx units.

 

Possible Other Reasons for Withdrawal of Class 442s (moved 19th Dec)

[Dec-19] This section was first on the "Withdrawl" page. In light of new information,
these reasons take second place and so I have moved them here.

1) Wiring. When first released, these units had a number of issues with their wiring. Apparently it was replaced during their last overhaul, but I'm going to list it here anyway.

2) Station Dwell Times. 442s have smaller vestibule areas than the 444s that are replacing them. During peak times, perhaps this is extending station dwell times and SWT can't make the journey as fast as they'd like. However, I'm reliably informed that the 444s have a "plug" door for the guard, whereas the 442s have a slam door, so dwell times are either comparible or worse with 444s, and really shouldn't be an issue against 442s.

3) Disability requirements. 442s have a PA system, and that's it. No auto-announcer, no dot matrix indicatiors. They do have a disabled toilet and wheelchair space. Adding an auto announcer and DMIs would cost money. I shouldn't think this would be enough on its own to cause SWT to withdraw these trains, but if added to other issues...

4) Traction Equipment. When the 442s were built, they used parts of the traction package (read: motors, etc) from the older slam-door trains. This equipment is now the best part of 20-30 years old and is showing signs of age. They were meant to have been overhauled at their last refurbishment, but that didn't happen.

5) This one, which I heard from a member of station staff, really made the penny drop for me. Apparently, SWT considers the 442s too expensive to run per-mile, and are getting rid of them for this reason above all others.

 

One other point...

"SWT say they are too expensive to lease, then this begs the question, why was Southern taken them on??"

SWT, in my opinion, don't mind flashing the cash about. Their refurbishment of the class 455s
that work the London suburban routes was entirely comprehensive and has completely
transformed these trains. From the outside, they look as colourful and stylish as any other
train on the SWT network, and the interiors have been done to a very high standard.
Completely disregarding the old layout, SWT have provided an interior that you could expect to
find on a brand new train, complete with dot matrix indicatiors, an auto-announcer, excellent
lighting, and much more.

So if they don't mind spending some cash for decent trains, why withdraw the 442s?

 

Withdrawal History (original content for this page, not updated)

Around the start of November, just after South West Trains had won the franchise for the South West rail
network, rumours were abound that the Class 442s were scheduled for withdrawal. This was met with
a certain amount of disbelief, annoyance, and confusion. Nothing had been heard from SWT, and all the
available news on the internet was based on rumour and speculation.

It was on the internet that information was posted about specific journies that were now to be operated
with Class 444 trains. This was the first concrete evidence that the rumours were true.

SWT finally released a press statement on their website on the 14th November, simply stating that:

To provide more capacity across our network, we have carried out a complete review of how and where we use our trains. The change has been brought about by our new franchise commitment for increasing demand for our services, which is partly brought about by the increasing number of housing developments and people needing to commute within the South West Trains' area.

To make sure we provide as many seats as possible where they are most needed, we are changing the type of trains operating on some routes.

Also in the statement was a list of the various changes that were to be made.

We will be replacing the 20 year old 442 train fleet on the Weymouth to Waterloo line with new modern Class 444 mainline Desiro trains. This replacement programme has already begun and will be completed in February 2007.

The short version of the press release, which can be found here, is:

  • Class 458 (Junipers) are being re-introduced to the Ascot/Reading/Guildford line.
  • Class 450s that are currently on the above line will be moved to the Portsmouth line.
  • Class 444s on the Portsmouth line will be moved to the Weymouth line.
  • Class 442s will be withdrawn.

When I last travelled, on Thursday 14th, there were posters on the platforms at Bournemouth
which stated similar information to the quotes above.

Since then, there hasn't been any further official communication on the subject. What SWT was
saying didn't quite match up - were they really withdrawing an entire fleet of trains to gain an extra
18 seats and lose 15 first class seats? I had a good think about this and came up with a number
of theories, some of which are on the Discussion page, but still, nothing seemed to make enough sense
to justify a complete withdrawal. The one major factor that didn't add up at all is that these trains
are currently being refurbished! Now, why on earth would SWT pay to have them refurbished,
and a C6 refurbishment at that (most through), if they were going to get rid of them?
(answer below!)

After weeks of discussions with various SWT staff, people "in the know", and by observation,
the facts are finally becoming clearer. While no official reason has been provided by SWT that
matches the available information, there are a number of possible reasons.

I've moved the bulk of the possible reasons from this page to the Discussion page, and I'm
going to try to keep only the most likely and confirmed information here. The reasons on
the Discussion page may be no less significant than the reasons here, but I've judged them
to be have less influence on the decision. If you think I'm wrong, please sign up to the forum
and explain your point of view!