British Rail Class 320

The British Rail Class 320 is an electric multiple-unit (EMU) passenger train found on the Strathclyde rail network in Central Scotland. They are mainly used on the North Clyde Line and the Argyle Line, but they can also be seen on Glasgow Central to Lanark and Cathcart Circle and Inverclyde Line services. The Class 320 uses alternating current (AC) overhead electrification.

British Rail Class 320
Hugh Llewellyn 19630631832.jpg
An Abellio ScotRail Class 320 approaching Whifflet in 2015
320302 Interior.jpg
The interior of a refurbished Class 320
In serviceAugust 1990–present
ManufacturerBritish Rail Engineering Limited
Built atHolgate Road, York
Family nameBR Second Generation (Mark 3)
Number built
  • 34
  • (320/3: 22)
  • (320/4: 12 converted from 321/4)
  • 3 cars per unit
Fleet numbers
  • 320/3:
  • 320301–320322
  • 320/4:
  • 320401, 320403, 320404, 320411–320418, 320420
Car length
  • DTSO: 19.83 m (65 ft 34 in)
  • MSO: 19.92 m (65 ft 4+14 in)[1]
Width2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)[1]
Height3.78 m (12 ft 4+78 in)[1]
Maximum speed
  • 320/3: 90 mph (145 km/h)
  • 320/4: 100 mph (161 km/h)
WeightTotal: 114.5 t (112.7 long tons; 126.2 short tons)
Power output1,072 kW (1,438 hp)[1]
Accelerationmax. 0.55 m/s2 (2.0 km/(h⋅s); 1.2 mph/s)[2]
Electric system(s)25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead
Current collector(s)Pantograph
Braking system(s)Air (Westcode)
Safety system(s)
Coupling systemTightlock
Multiple workingWithin class, and Class 318
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge


The Class 320 is effectively a three-car derivative of the Class 321 units found in and around London, East Anglia and Yorkshire. Built in 1990[1] by British Rail Engineering Limited's Holgate Road carriage works, 22 three-car sets were ordered by SPT to replace the Class 303 and Class 311, which were by then 30 years old. The trains were built against lot numbers 31060–2,[3] which were issued on 6 January 1989 and completed on 31 October 1990.[4]

The units run on 25 kV AC overhead line supply via a Brecknell Willis high speed pantograph, using four Brush TM2141B traction motors. With much shorter passenger journeys in mind, the Class 320 units originally lacked the toilets of the Class 321 units and also began life with a lower speed capability (75 mph or 121 km/h) due to the much closer spacing of stations on the North Clyde Line. The lower design speed meant that yaw dampers could be omitted from the class. However, yaw dampers were fitted across the class in 2010,[citation needed] allowing them to run at 90 mph (145 km/h). This meant that the units could be used on the sections of the Argyle Line route shared with the West Coast Main Line (and in theory, the Airdrie-Bathgate extension of the North Clyde Line and beyond, although this is currently prevented by a lack of DOO equipment) and also allows full-speed running in multiple with the near similar Class 318. Their interior design includes paintings of various landmarks and famous sights along the various SPT rail routes on the car ends.

The Class 320 units are fitted with GSM-R cab radios and took part in the GSM-R trial in the Strathclyde area.


The units were originally intended to operate on the Argyle Line but, mainly because the platform monitors on the Argyle Line stations did not line up with the driver cabs,[citation needed] the units were initially restricted to the North Clyde Line, although they were occasionally used for VIP trips from the high-level platforms of Glasgow Central when they were the newest EMU stock in the SPT fleet. The problem was resolved in 2011 and the units began entering service to replace the final Class 334 units on the Argyle Line. From December 2016, Class 320s started to operate on the Cathcart/Newton lines from Glasgow Central High Level to replace a number of Class 314 units that were transferred to the Inverclyde Line.

Like all SPT rolling stock of the period, the Class 320 was painted in the orange/black livery until 1997, when the carmine/cream livery was progressively phased in. Between 2002 and 2004, the Class 320 fleet was given an interior refurbishment, with new seat covers and flooring vinyl, improved interior lighting and electronic and audible destination information systems installed. The units were also given a revised SPT carmine and cream livery, the most noticeable difference being the passenger doors were all cream.[citation needed]

In September 2008 the Scottish Government's agency Transport Scotland announced that all ScotRail trains would eventually be repainted in a new, blue livery with white Saltire markings on the carriage ends. Relivery of the fleet began in February 2011 when the units were taken for their refurbishment.[5]

Cascade and refurbishmentEdit

Unrefurbished 320s at Helensburgh Central

In 2011, the Class 320 started to be used in the Argyle Line alongside the Class 318, as well as operating on the North Clyde Line alongside the Class 334. Although possible, as of 2021 they are not diagrammed to operate east of Airdrie.

All Class 320s were refurbished by Wabtec Doncaster between February 2011 and October 2013.[citation needed] The refurbishment work included:

  • Internal refurbishment, including the fitting of toilets.
  • Underframe work, bogie change/buckeye renewal.
  • Relivery into ScotRail Saltire livery.

The first unit to be completed was 320314, which headed south to Wabtec Doncaster on 14 February 2011 and returned on 6 June 2011.[6] The final unit to be sent for refurbishment was 320310, which headed south on 30 August 2013 and returned on 4 October 2013.

A second refurbishment programme took place between 2017 and 2019, focusing on the interior. This included an interior repaint, the replacement of vinyl flooring, retrimming of the seat covers into Saltire blue moquette and the fitting of power sockets and LED interior lighting.[7] The work brought the Class 320/3 fleet up to the same standard as the Class 320/4 units and the refurbished Class 318.

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • On 7 May 2022, a Class 320 (320309) and a Class 318 (318262) derailed between Blairhill and Coatbridge Sunnyside. The train was an empty coaching stock running from Yoker C.S to Shields TMD and was going via the North Clyde due to the Argyle line being closed. Nobody was injured during this incident.[8]

Class 320/4 unitsEdit

A fleet of seven former London Midland Class 321/4 units were converted to Class 320/4 at Doncaster Wabtec works before being transferred to ScotRail between July 2015 and October 2016.[9] The conversion included the removal of the TSOL trailer vehicle. The first three converted units, 320411, 320412 and 320416, entered service in March 2016, initially retaining their London Midland livery.

The first fully refurbished unit, 320415, entered service on 15 August 2016. The unit was painted in ScotRail Saltire livery and had received a full internal refurbishment, including an internal repaint, new floor vinyl and new blue 'saltire' seat coverings, as well as the fitting of a large accessible toilet. Subsequent converted units would be fully refurbished and the initial three units were later returned to Doncaster Wabtec works for refurbishment.[citation needed] The conversion and refurbishment of all seven Class 320/4 units was completed in January 2017.[10]

In November 2017, ScotRail received a further five Class 321/4 units, which were converted to Class 320/4 by Wabtec Rail Scotland in Kilmarnock, with entry into service planned to begin from summer 2018.[11]

The first of the five additional units, 320404, was released from Wabtec and moved to Glasgow Shields Road TMD on 8 August 2018.

Fleet detailsEdit

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 320/3 ScotRail 22 1990 3 320301 - 320322 Original batch.
Class 320/4 12 1989-90 320401, 320403, 320404, 320411 - 320418, 320420 Converted from Class 321/4.

Named unitsEdit

Several units received names, but all were denamed following the refurbishment between 2011 and 2013.[12][13]

  • 320305: Glasgow School of Art 1844-150-1994
  • 320306: Model Rail Scotland
  • 320308: High Road 20th Anniversary 2000
  • 320309: Radio Clyde 25th Anniversary
  • 320311: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • 320312: Sir William A Smith - Founder of the Boys' Brigade
  • 320321: Rt Hon John Smith QC MP
  • 320322: Festive Glasgow Orchid


  1. ^ a b c d e "Class 320". The Railway Centre. Archived from the original on 13 April 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Class 320". Eversholt Rail. Archived from the original on 22 April 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  3. ^ Fox, Peter (1991). Locomotives & Coaching Stock 1991. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing. p. 250. ISBN 1-872524-26-5.
  4. ^ Butcher, Roger (November 1993). Departmental Coaching Stock (5th ed.). Southampton: South Coast Transport Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 1-872768-10-5.
  5. ^ "ScotRail 25th Anniversary Publicity Materials". Transport Scotland. Archived from the original on 9 October 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Facelift begins for Scotrail Class 320s". The Railway Magazine. 157 (1, 325): 80. 2011.
  7. ^ KBRS to upgrade ScotRail Class 320s. Archived 9 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine - Global Rail News. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Services cancelled after ScotRail train derails". RAIL. May 2022. p. 17.
  9. ^ "Scotrail unveil £475m improvement plan". BBC News. 21 December 2015. Archived from the original on 24 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  10. ^ Railway Observer, Volume 87 (March 2017 edition), page 179.
  11. ^ "Welcome £8M contract boost for Kilmarnock rail firm and ScotRail passengers". Transport Scotland. 6 November 2017. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  12. ^ Sherlock, Greg (July 2015). "The Class 320s and their successors". Today's Railways UK. No. 163. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing Ltd. pp. 52–54.
  13. ^ Pritchard, Robert; Fox, Peter; Hall, Peter (2006). British Railways Locomotives and Coaching Stock 2006. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing Ltd. p. 254. ISBN 1-902336-50-X.

External linksEdit