British Rail Class 315

The British Rail Class 315 alternating current (AC) electric multiple units (EMU) are National Rail units currently in operation on suburban lines in London. They were built by BREL York works from 1980 to 1981, and they were the fifth and final variant of British Rail's then-standard 1972 design for suburban EMUs, which eventually encompassed 755 vehicles and five Classes (Class 313/314/315/507/508). Like the Glasgow-based Class 314 units, they can only be used on the 25 kV overhead line.

British Rail Class 315
Class 315 London Broough of Havering @ Stratford.jpg
A TfL Rail Class 315 at Stratford in 2017
315820 DMSO Interior.jpg
The refreshed interior of a TfL Rail Class 315 at London Liverpool Street
In service1980–present
ManufacturerBREL York
Family nameBREL 1972 "PEP"
ReplacedClass 306
Refurbished1st refurbishment
All 61 sets 2004–2008[1]
Bombardier Derby
2nd refurbishment
London Overground and TfL Rail 2015–2016
Bombardier Ilford
Number built61 trainsets
Formation4 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers315801–315861
Capacity318 seats
Operator(s)London Overground
TfL Rail
Car length19.80 m (64 ft 11 12 in)
Width2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)
Height3.58 m (11 ft 9 in)
Maximum speed75 mph (121 km/h)[2]
Weight127.5 t (125.5 long tons; 140.5 short tons)
Power output656 kW (880 hp)
Accelerationmax. 0.75 m/s2 (2.7 km/(h⋅s); 1.7 mph/s)[2]
Electric system(s)25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The fleet works inner-suburban Transport for London-run services on the Shenfield Metro for TfL Rail and the Lea Valley Lines for London Overground out of London Liverpool Street.


London Overground Class 315 at Hackney Downs
The refreshed interior of a London Overground Class 315

Each complete Class 315 unit is formed of four vehicles with them running for the majority in an 8 car formation with 12 car formations being common if demand is high or the route they are taking is long, such as ones to Southend Victoria or Southminster (operated by Greater Anglia). The vehicles include: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO), Pantograph Trailer Standard Open (PTSO), Trailer Standard Open (TSO), and Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO). Each DMSO carries four traction motors (315801-841 originally had Brush TM61-53 and 315842-861 had GEC G310AZ, but these motors are interchangeable and nowadays any type can be found on any unit) rated at 110 hp (82 kW) each and a main compressor and air reservoir which carries air for the brakes and suspension. The original pneumatic door system has been replaced by an all-electric door system. The PTSO carries the main and auxiliary transformers, batteries and battery charger, Stone Faiveley AMBR Mk.1 pantograph, vacuum circuit breaker and auxiliary compressor. The TSO carries no equipment other than that which is standard to all coaches.

The coaches only contain standard seating and have no toilet facilities. Car numbering is as follows:

  • 64461-64582 - DMSO
  • 71281-71341 - PTSO
  • 71389-71449 - TSO

Each four-car set is able to seat 318 passengers.

A refurbishment programme commenced from mid-2004, when National Express East Anglia (then 'One' railway) contracted Bombardier to carry out the refurbishment of all 61 units, starting with the ex-First Great Eastern examples. The low-back 3+2 seating is retained, so the capacity stays the same.[3]

The Class 315 units replaced the Class 306 units.


Historical servicesEdit

315808 in British Rail livery with the addition of the Network SouthEast logo, at Liverpool Street in 1987

Following the privatisation of British Rail, the Class 315s were divided between First Great Eastern (43 units) and West Anglia Great Northern (18 units). The leasing company Eversholt Rail Group has owned the entire Class 315 fleet since privatisation.[4]

From April 2004, National Express East Anglia (NXEA) ran the inaugural Greater Anglia franchise, which combined the previous operations of both First Great Eastern and WAGN, meaning the two Class 315 fleets were combined. The franchise was initially known as 'One' but was rebranded National Express East Anglia (NXEA) in February 2008.[5]

A One Railway refurbished Class 315 No. 315817 at Hackney Downs
The refurbished interior of a One Railway Class 315

The Class 315 fleet transferred to new operator Abellio Greater Anglia in February 2012. Abellio repainted the trains in its own livery, and undertook a refresh of the fleet, including a Passenger Information System and a flexible space for wheelchairs and cycles which includes tip-up seating and 'call to aid' buttons.[6] Abellio used the fleet for local services out of London Liverpool Street to Shenfield (the popular Shenfield Metro service) on the Great Eastern Main Line and Cheshunt, Enfield Town and Chingford on the Lea Valley Lines. They are also seen on the Upminster Branch Line between Romford and Upminster, a duty shared with Class 317s.

However, until the end of operation by Abellio Greater Anglia, a number of them were found running further afield, running on the Great Eastern and West Anglia Main Lines at peak times only to Bishop's Stortford, Broxbourne, Southminster and Southend Victoria.

Initially, the Shenfield Metro and Upminster Branch Line services used only units 315801-843 and the Lea Valley Lines only 315844-861, reflecting the allocations of the former franchises.

All 61 units were then used interchangeably, operating out of Ilford depot.

Current servicesEdit

The current operators are London Overground, who originally used units 315801 - 315817 on West Anglia inner services and Romford to Upminster services. They are also operated by London Overground's sister company, TfL Rail, who used units 315818 - 315861 on Shenfield metro services.

The gradual introduction of Class 345 units has meant that TfL Rail have been able to stand down the majority of their Class 315 fleet. Most of the withdrawn 315s have been scrapped, although some ex-TfL Rail 315s have since been transferred to London Overground as an interim measure, until their own Class 710 fleet is fully introduced.


In July 2015, TfL confirmed that it would place a £260m order for 45 Bombardier Aventra EMU Class 710 trains, which would replace London Overground's 315s. The Class 710 "Aventra" will be introduced on the West Anglia Routes, taken over from Abellio Greater Anglia in May 2015, in 2018.[7] The first units on the Lea Valley lines entered service on 3 March 2020 after a first attempt on 24 February 2020.[8]

Additionally, TfL Rail Class 315s will be replaced by new Class 345 Aventra trains in 2017–2020.[9][10] On 20 October 2018, the first retired unit, 315850, was hauled to C F Booth of Rotherham to be scrapped.[11]


There is a Class 315 Preservation Group who aim to secure a 315 unit for preservation.[12]

Fleet detailsEdit

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Unit Unit nos.
315 London Overground 15 1980–1 4 315801–803, 315805, 315807–808, 315810-811, 315815, 315822, 315824, 315830–831, 315833, 315859
TfL Rail 20 315818–820, 315824, 315826, 315829, 315834, 315837–839, 315843–844, 315847–849, 315851–854, 315856–857
Stored 3 315809, 315812, 315825
Scrapped 23 315804, 315806, 315813–814, 315816–817, 315821, 315823, 315827-315828, 315832, 315835–836, 315840–842,

315845–846, 315850, 315855, 315858, 315860–861

Named unitsEdit

The nameplate on 315829.

Some units have names, these are as follows:[13]

  • 315817: Transport for London (unit scrapped)
  • 315829: London Borough of Havering Celebrating 40 years
  • 315845: Herbie Woodward (unit scrapped)
  • 315857: Stratford Connections (denamed)





  1. ^ "News Desk" (PDF). Railway Herald (125). 21 March 2008. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Class 315". Eversholt Rail Limited. Archived from the original on 3 February 2020. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  3. ^ National Express invests in upgrade of class 315 fleet - Archive of National Express East Anglia. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  4. ^ Class 315 Electric Multiple Unit Archived 11 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine - Eversholt Rail Group. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  5. ^ New brand, new name, new era - National Express Group. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  6. ^ First refurbished Class 315 units enter service - Greater Anglia. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  7. ^ Rail Magazine, Issue 778, Page 14
  8. ^ "Bombardier Class 710/1s finally make their passenger debut on West Anglia suburban routes". Rail. 4 March 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  9. ^ Haigh, Philip (19 March 2014). "Nationwide railway investment on an unprecedented scale". Rail. No. 744. pp. 34–37.
  10. ^ Ove Arup & Partners Ltd (June 2012). "Valley Lines Electrification - Outline Business Case - June 2012": 4.4.1 - Rolling Stock & Table 4.2 - Proxy Rolling Stock Types. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Devereux, Nigel (3 December 2018). "First Class 315 goes for scrap". Railway Magazine. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Class 315 Preservation Society Website". March 2020. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  13. ^ "FAbRail Rail Databases - Electric Multiple Units". Retrieved 20 January 2019.