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British Rail Class 165

The British Rail Class 165 Network Turbo is a fleet of suburban diesel multiple units (DMUs), originally specified by and built for the British Rail Thames and Chiltern Division of Network SouthEast. They were built by BREL York Works between 1990 and 1992.[4] The trains were originally known as Network Turbos. An express version was subsequently built in the form of the Class 166 Turbo Express trains. Both classes are now sometimes referred to as "Networker Turbos", a name which was derived some three years later for the project that resulted in the visually similar Class 365 and Class 465 EMUs.

British Rail Class 165 Network Turbo
Reading - GWR 165102 Basingstoke service.JPG
Great Western Railway 165102 at Reading in 2017
165106 MSO Interior.jpg
The refreshed interior of a GWR Class 165/1
In service10 September 1991 - present
ManufacturerBREL York
Constructed1990 - 1992
Refurbishment2003–2005 (165/0)
Number built39 trainsets (165/0)
37 trainsets (165/1)
Number scrapped1 trainset
(due to the Ladbroke Grove Rail Crash)
Formation2 or 3 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers165001 - 165039
165101 - 165137
Operator(s)Chiltern Railways
Great Western Railway
Line(s) servedGreat Western Main Line and branches
Chiltern Main Line and branches
Severn Beach Line
Car body constructionWelded aluminium
Car lengthDMS/DMSL - 22.91 m (75 ft 2 in)[1]
MS - 22.72 m (74 ft 6 in)[1]
Width2.81 m (9 ft 3 in)[1]
Height3.79 m (12 ft 5 in)[1]
Maximum speed75 mph (121 km/h) (165/0)
90 mph (145 km/h) (165/1)
Weight2 Car - 74 tonnes (73 long tons; 82 short tons)[1]
3 Car - 111 tonnes (109 long tons; 122 short tons)[1]
Prime mover(s)One per car, Perkins 2006-TWH Diesel[1]
Power output350 hp (261 kW)
TransmissionVoith Hydraulic T211r
2 axles driven per car
Safety system(s)AWS, TPWS
ATP, Tripcock system (165/0)
Coupling systemBSI[2]
Multiple workingClass 166, Class 168[3]
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The class is still in service, and is now operated by Great Western Railway and by Chiltern Railways. When operated originally by Network SouthEast, along with that operator's Class 166 trains, the Paddington suburban units were initially known as Thames Turbos, whilst the units operated on the Marylebone suburban network were known as Chiltern Turbos.


Two batches of units were built for different subdivisions of Network SouthEast to replace elderly "Heritage" DMUs as well as locomotive-hauled trains on services out of London Paddington and London Marylebone. The fleet is wide-bodied to take advantage of the loading gauges of the former Great Western Railway and Great Central Railway on whose lines it runs.

Both have a 350 horsepower (261 kW) Perkins 2006-TWH diesel engine on each car, Voith Turbo-transmissions, and Gmeinder final drive.

When new, the units were branded as either Thames Turbo or Chiltern Turbo between the two first class windows of the DMCL carriage.

Class 165 are designed for Driver Only Operation - in cases where a Guard is required, the Guard must carry out their door operation duties via a bell system to signal the Drivers to close doors and start the train. This requires the Guard to return to a vacant cab at each station to carry out these duties. Examples of this include Chiltern Railways services north of Banbury or Great Western Railway services on the Cotswolds and Reading to Gatwick lines.[citation needed]

Class 165/0Edit

Thirty-nine Class 165/0 Turbo trains were built in 1990-91, in two batches, for the Chiltern subdivision of Network SouthEast, numbered 165001-039. Both 2-car and 3-car variants were built. Initially, thirty-three units were ordered (comprising the vehicles that made up units 165001-165022 and 165029-165039) but an additional order was placed for a further six units (165023-028). Units 165001-028 were delivered consecutively, as 2-car units, whilst units 165029-039 were delivered as 3-car units. These vehicles have a top speed of 75 mph (121 km/h). They are now all fitted with tripcocks for working over the London Underground lines between Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill, although upon delivery this equipment was only fitted to 165006-028. Automatic Train Protection is also fitted, making them one of the few classes to have both these features in Britain.

165029-039 were temporarily allocated to the Thames line in 1992. This was necessary as resignalling of Paddington station meant that Network SouthEast could no longer run locomotive-hauled trains to and from Paddington. Insufficient numbers of Class 165/1 Turbo trains had been delivered by this date to operate all the locomotive-hauled services, so all the 3-car Class 165/0 Turbo trains were diverted to the Thames line as replacements. Once sufficient Class 165/1 Turbo trains had been delivered, 165029-039 were returned to the Chiltern line.

Each unit was formed of two outer driving motors, with an additional intermediate motor in the 3-car units. The technical description of the formation is DMSL+MS+DMS. Individual carriages are numbered as follows:[1]

  • 58801-58833 (units 165001-022/029-039) and 58873-58878 (units 165023-028) - DMSL
  • 55404-55414 (units 165029-039) - MS
  • 58834-58866 (units 165001-022/029-039) and 58867-58872 (units 165023-028) - DMS

Class 165/1Edit

No.165119 at Didcot Parkway. This unit is painted in the original Network SouthEast livery.

Thirty-seven Class 165/1 Turbo trains were built in 1992 for the Thames line subdivision of Network SouthEast, numbered 165101-137. Like the Chiltern units, both 2-car and 3-car variants were built. Units 165101-117 were delivered as 3-car units, followed by the 2-car units 165118-137. They are re-geared and fitted with bogie yaw dampers to allow top speed of 90 mph (145 km/h), more suitable for mainline use.

Each unit was formed of two outer driving motors, with an additional intermediate motor in the 3-car units. The technical description of the formation is DMCL+MS+DMS. Although still listed on the vehicle data sheets at DMCL vehicles, the first class area has been removed from 2-car 165s operated by GWR (the 3-car units were similarly de-classified, but this accommodation has now been re-instated as First Class), as such these vehicles are now technically DMSL vehicles. Individual carriages are numbered as follows:[1]

  • 58953-58969 - DMCL
  • 58879-58898 - DMSL changed from DMCL in 2015[5]
  • 55415-55431 - MS
  • 58916-58932 and 58933-58952 - DMS

Two coaches of no. 165115 were destroyed in the Ladbroke Grove rail crash. The remaining driving motor carriage remains as a spare vehicle.[6][7]

Accidents and incidentsEdit

A Class 165 in First Great Western Link livery on the Marlow Branch Line.
  • 165128 was in service as a hybrid unit with 58609 (MS vehicle from 166209) inserted in the middle from November 2015 until May 2016, this was due to one of its driving vehicles having fire damage from an engine fire on the North Downs line in November 2015, rendering it out of service, and so to provide another 3-car train in service.[8][9] However, 166209 has now been repaired and returned to service, meaning 165128 is now back in its usual 2-car form.[citation needed]
  • On 16 June 2016, unit 165 124 was derailed by a set of trap points at Paddington after passing a signal at danger, causing significant disruption to services. The Drivers assistant side of the cab was destroyed after the train hit a stanchion that holds up the overhead catenary after derailing. The vehicle was moved after 2 days in position at Paddington to Old Oak Common Depot to be taken away by road for Assessment and repair work.[10]
  • Ladbroke Grove rail crash: On 5 October 1999, unit 165115 passed a signal at danger while leaving London Paddington on a Thames Trains service. This resulted in a serious collision with a London-bound HST service. The leading carriage of the class 165 was completely destroyed. While the front two carriages were written off, the rear carriage was undamaged and is now a spare carriage.


Chiltern linesEdit

Chiltern Railways refurbished three car Class 165/0 No. 165032 at London Marylebone

The 165/0 units were originally delivered in Network SouthEast livery for used on routes including fast services from London Marylebone to Princes Risborough and Banbury and local services from Aylesbury to London and Princes Risborough. In this role they replaced the Class 115 DMUs. They were later used further afield, when Chiltern services were extended to serve Leamington Spa, Solihull and Birmingham Snow Hill.

In December 1993, due to a downturn in traffic as a result of the recession, units 165001-007 were transferred from the Chiltern lines of Network SouthEast to the Thames lines (from Aylesbury to Reading depots). All vehicles had their tripcock equipment removed before transfer. The following year, unit 165007 was returned to the Chiltern lines, followed by 165006 in 1995. Due to unavailability of tripcock equipment upon their return, the units were coupled cab-to-cab and operated for some months between the vehicles of other units as semi-permanently formed four car units - until tripcock equipment became available, allowing them to be restored to operational two car units. Following privatisation, two former Chiltern units (165003 and 165005) were repainted into Thames Trains livery. Chiltern Railways inherited 34 Class 165/0 units from Network SouthEast, and the remaining five others were returned from Thames Trains in 2004 - leaving Chiltern Railways operating the whole subclass.

After privatisation they continued to work similar services as before but, with the arrival of the faster Class 168 Clubman units, the 165 Turbo trains were displaced and are now found less often on expresses to Birmingham, generally working on shorter routes such as stopping services to Aylesbury, High Wycombe, and Stratford-upon-Avon and also the Birmingham Moor Street - Leamington Spa local services.

A new depot was built at Aylesbury in 1990/1991 for the maintenance of these trains and has been enlarged since British Rail days, with the addition of a wheel lathe. Light maintenance and refuelling is carried out at Wembley LMD and Tyseley TMD and units can occasionally be found at Stourbridge LMD. Units are also regularly stabled in the Marylebone station environs, Aylesbury South Sidings and at Banbury, where a further depot is currently under construction at the south end of the station on the western side of the line.

All Chiltern units were refurbished between late 2003 and early 2005.[4] Air conditioning was added and the opening hopper windows replaced with sealed units. A new passenger information system, similar to that on the Class 168 Clubman trains, CCTV cameras and an area designated for the use of wheelchair-users were added and the first-class section was removed, as Chiltern became a standard-class only railway in 2003. The original 3+2 seating at the outer ends of the driving vehicles was replaced by new 2+2 high back seating. The existing 3+2 low back seating was retained in the centre areas of the driving vehicles and throughout the centre vehicles of the three-car units. A cycle/wheelchair area with tip up seats was also added to each unit. A further refurbishment commenced in 2015, concentrating on the toilet areas, to make these units fully Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) compliant for operation beyond 2020.

Thames linesEdit

First Great Western Class 165/1 No. 165106 at Reading

The Class 165/1 fleet were built for local services from London Paddington along the Great Western Main Line; their main destinations included local trains to Reading, Greenford, Newbury, Bedwyn, Oxford, and Banbury, and services along the branch lines to Windsor & Eton Central, Henley-on-Thames, Marlow and Bicester Town.

Following privatisation of British Rail, the franchise was won by the Go-Ahead Group who operated it as Thames Trains from 1996 to 2004 and inheriting the all the Class 165/1 Turbo trains as well as the first five Class 165/0 Turbo trains that had been transferred from the Chiltern lines. In April 2004, operation of the Thames Trains franchise passed to First Great Western Link. In 2004, due to deliveries of new Class 180 Adelante units on sister company First Great Western, the five Class 165/0 Turbo units became redundant and were transferred to Chiltern Railways.

In January 2010, First Great Western announced an £8 million refurbishment programme for its fleet of Classes 165 and 166 Turbo DMU trains:[11]

  • seats re-trimmed
  • interiors repainted
  • Passenger Information Displays replaced with a GPS-based system
  • upgraded lavatory facilities
  • flooring stripped and replaced

In 2012, First Great Western took delivery of Class 180 Adelante units for Cotswold Line service, and three-car Class 150 Sprinter units for Reading to Basingstoke Line services, allowing Class 165 and 166 units to be used to reinforce Thames Valley services.[12]

In late 2015, as part of the rebranding to GWR, the Class 165 fleet had all first class sections removed to increase capacity.[13]

Following electrification of the Great Western Main Line up to Didcot Parkway, as well as the Reading-Taunton line as far as Newbury, services between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway, as well as between Reading and Newbury, have been operated by new Class 387 electric multiple units,[14] allowing much of the existing Class 165 fleet to move to the Bristol area. Class 165s continue to service the aforementioned branch lines, but no longer run to London Paddington except during peak hours.

Bristol linesEdit

165132 arrives into Gloucester on 14 July 2018 with a Swindon to Cheltenham Spa service. In preparation for the service between Cardiff and Portsmouth, the coaches have been lettered D and E (pictured) for reservations.

Most Class 165s (alongside the 166s which have already transferred) have been transferred to Bristol and allocated to St Philip's Marsh depot. This is to be able to strengthen and provide better capacity in the Bristol area,[15] which will allow most of the current fleet in the Bristol area to move further west, to replace the aging 143's It is planned that in the future, the service between Cardiff Central and Portsmouth Harbour will be operated by a five coach train (a 3 car 166 and 2 car 165 coupled together). Because of this, the 2 car 165s will have lettered coaches with one coach being coach D and the other will be coach E, of which 165131/2 have already received. Alongside the 166s, the 165s are to operate on the Severn Beach line, Bristol to Exeter line, Golden Valley line, Heart of Wessex Line and Wessex Main Line.

On 1 July 2018, the first 165 came into service in the Bristol area. Since then, other units have followed and started service on some of the above lines around Bristol, alongside the 166s. It was planned that in some point in 2018, they were to start service between Cardiff and Portsmouth in their five coach formation. As of January 2019 they began replacing class 158 sets on this route.

Current fleet detailsEdit

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 165/0 Chiltern Railways 28 1990-91 2 165001 - 165028
11 3 165029 - 165039
Class 165/1 Great Western Railway 16 1992 3 165101 - 165114
165116 - 165117
165115 destroyed in Ladbroke Grove rail crash
20 2 165118 - 165137

Future developmentEdit

It was reported in September 2018 that Angel Trains were to convert class 165 units for Chiltern Railways to hybrid diesel and battery-powered trains, and that the first Class 165 HyDrive train should be ready by late 2019.[16]




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Colin J Marsden. "Technical Data: Class 165". Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  2. ^ "Mechanical And Electrical Coupling Index". Rail Safety and Standards Board. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  3. ^ Webster, Neil; Hall, Peter; Fox, Peter (2001). British Railways Locomotives & Coaching Stock 2001. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing. pp. 207, 208. ISBN 1-902336-19-4.
  4. ^ a b "Chiltern Railways: About us - Our train fleet". Chiltern Railways. Archived from the original on 3 July 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
  5. ^ "First Great Western gets rid of First Class on Reading trains".
  6. ^ "Thames Trains fined £2m for Ladbroke Grove crash". The Daily Telegraph. London. 5 April 2004. Retrieved 27 April 2010.[failed verification]
  7. ^ [1][failed verification][unreliable source?]
  8. ^ Chapple, James (16 November 2015). "Passengers 'standing around in country lane' after train fire".
  9. ^ "165128 at Didcot Parkway on 2N52 1625 London Paddington - Oxford with an additional vehicle 041215 (8)".
  10. ^ "Train derails at Paddington: Services disrupted in and out of station". BBC News Online. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  11. ^ First Great Western - Train operator gives Thames Valley Trains an £8million makeover Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Return of Adelantes to First Great Western confirmed". 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  13. ^ "First Great Western gets rid of First Class on Reading trains". Rail. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  14. ^
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ "Hybrid battery trains set to shorten commuter journey times". FT. Retrieved 19 September 2018.

Further readingEdit