British Rail Class 320

The British Rail Class 320 is an alternating current (AC) electric multiple-unit (EMU) 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 services as well as Cathcart Circle services along with Class 318s, Class 380s, and Class 385s.

British Rail Class 320
Hugh Llewellyn 19630631832.jpg
Abellio ScotRail 320306 approaching Whifflet in 2015
320302 Interior.jpg
The interior of a ScotRail refurbished Class 320
In serviceAugust 1990–present
ManufacturerBritish Rail Engineering Limited Holgate Road carriage works
Family nameBR Second Generation (Mark 3)
ReplacedClass 311
Number built
  • 22 trainsets (original batch)
Number in service34 trainsets
(12 units converted from Class 321/4)
Formation3 cars per trainset
Operator(s)Abellio ScotRail
Car lengthDTSO(A)/DTSO(B): 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
  • Class 320/3: 90 mph (145 km/h)
  • Class 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 collection methodPantograph
Braking system(s)Air (Westcode)
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 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 supersede the Class 303 and Class 311 stock 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 route. The lower design speed meant that yaw dampers could be omitted from this class but during 2010, yaw dampers were fitted across the class[5] allowing them to travel 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 at the moment prevented by the lack of external CCTV cameras on the units (as fitted to Class 334 and 380) for driver-only operation (DOO) and there is currently no station DOO equipment east of Airdrie), and also allows full-speed running in multiple with Class 318 stock, which has had 90 mph capability from the outset. The interior decor 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 had always been restricted to the North Clyde route, 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 from the Argyle Line. From December 2016, Class 320s have started to operate on the Cathcart/Newton lines from Glasgow Central High Level replacing some 314s which are cascading to Inverclyde.

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

In September 2008 the Scottish Government's agency Transport Scotland announced that all ScotRail trains would be eventually 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 are taken for their refurbishment. All Class 320 units are now in saltire livery.[6]

Cascade and refurbishmentEdit

Unrefurbished 320s at Helensburgh Central

In 2011, Class 320s started to be used in the Argyle Line alongside the Class 318s, as well as operating on the North Clyde Line alongside the Class 334s. Although possible, as of 2019 they are not diagrammed to operate east of Airdrie.

All Class 320s were refurbished by Wabtec Doncaster between February 2011 and October 2013.[7] 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 is 320314, which headed south to Wabtec Doncaster on 14 February 2011, returning on 6 June 2011.[8] The final unit to be sent for refurbishment was 320310, headed south on 30 August 2013. It is also the last Class 320 unit to retain the SPT branding in the fleet. The unit returned on 4 October 2013, completing the refurbishment programme of the Class 320 units.

There is to be another refurbishment programme on the Class 320, this time focusing more on the interiors, replacing the vinyl flooring with new vinyl flooring, recovering the seat covers into Saltire blue moquette trim, repainting the grab rails & seat top hand grips yellow, fitting power sockets and LED interior saloon lighting diffusers. The refurbishment programme commences in October 2017 and will be completed in 2019.[9] This work will bring the Class 320/3 EMU fleet up to the same level of standard as the seven Class 320/4 and will also complement the refurbished Class 318 EMU trains.

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.[10] The conversion included the removal of the TSOL trailer vehicle, becoming a 3-car set. The first three converted units, 320411, 320412 and 320416, entered service in March 2016, initially retaining 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, and 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 7 Class 320/4 units was completed in January 2017.[citation needed]

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

The first of the five additional units, 320404, was released from Wabtec Rail Scotland 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 Abellio 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

All Class 320 units have since been denamed following the refurbishment between 2011 and 2013.

  • 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. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  3. ^ Fox, Peter (1991). Locomotives & Coaching Stock 1991. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing. p. 250. ISBN 1-872524-26-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  4. ^ Butcher, Roger (November 1993). Departmental Coaching Stock (5th ed.). Southampton: South Coast Transport Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 1-872768-10-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  5. ^ "Class 320". ScotRail. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  6. ^ "ScotRail 25th Anniversary Publicity Materials". Transport Scotland. Archived from the original on 9 October 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  7. ^ Class 320 Refurbishment - Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  8. ^ "Facelift begins for Scotrail Class 320s". The Railway Magazine. 157 (1, 325): 80. 2011.
  9. ^ KBRS to upgrade ScotRail Class 320s. - Global Rail News. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Scotrail unveil £475m improvement plan". BBC News. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Welcome £8M contract boost for Kilmarnock rail firm and ScotRail passengers". Transport Scotland. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 6 November 2017.

External linksEdit