British Rail Class 331

The British Rail Class 331 Civity[8] is a class of electric multiple unit built by CAF, owned by Eversholt Rail Group, and currently operated by Northern Trains. A total of 43 units have been built – 31 three-car units and 12 four-car units. Construction of the trains started in July 2017 and they were phased into service from 1 July 2019.[9]

British Rail Class 331
Class 331 at Stoke-on-Trent in 2023
Class 331 at Stoke-on-Trent in November 2023
In service1 July 2019 – present
Built at
Family nameCivity
Entered service2019–2020
Number built
  • 43
  • (31 × 331/0, 12 × 331/1)
  • 3 cars per 331/0 unit:
  • 4 cars per 331/1 unit:
Fleet numbers
  • 331/0: 331001–331031
  • 331/1: 331101–331112
  • 331/0: 184 seats (plus 19 tip-up)
  • 331/1: 260 seats (plus 23 tip-up)
OwnersEversholt Rail Group
OperatorsNorthern Trains
Car body constructionAluminium[4]
Train length
  • 331/0: 71.40 m (234 ft 3 in)
  • 331/1: 94.75 m (310 ft 10 in)[4]
Car length
  • DM vehs.: 24.026 m (78 ft 9.9 in)
  • Trailers: 23.350 m (76 ft 7.3 in)
Width2.712 m (8 ft 11 in)[4]
Height3.870 m (12 ft 8 in)[4]
  • Double-leaf sliding plug
  • (2 per side per car)
  • Bogies:
  • 2.250 m (7 ft 5 in)
  • Over bogie centres:
  • 16.000 m (52 ft 6 in)[4]
Maximum speed100 mph (161 km/h)
Axle load
  • DMSL: 11.30 t (11.12 long tons)
  • PTS: 8.88 t (8.74 long tons)
  • TS: 7.97 t (7.84 long tons)
  • DMS: 11.21 t (11.03 long tons)
  • (tare)[4]
Traction motors8 × TSA TME 52-15-4[5]
asynchronous three-phase AC
(4 per DM vehicle)
Power output
  • 1,760 kW (2,360 hp)
  • (220 kW (300 hp) per motor)[6]
Acceleration1.3 m/s2 (2.9 mph/s) max.
Electric system(s)25 kV 50 Hz AC overhead
Current collector(s)Pantograph (Brecknell Willis)[4]
UIC classification
  • 331/0: Bo′Bo′+2′2′+Bo′Bo′
  • 331/1: Bo′Bo′+2′2′+2′2′+Bo′Bo′
Braking system(s)
Safety system(s)
Coupling systemDellner
Multiple workingWithin class
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Sourced from [7] unless otherwise noted.

History edit

The announcement of the new trains was made by Arriva UK Trains when it was confirmed that it would become the next operator of the Northern franchise from 1 April 2016.[10] CAF were selected by Arriva as they were the only manufacturer able to produce both new diesel (Class 195) and electric multiple units from the same platform, the Civity, thus increasing familiarity for drivers and reducing maintenance costs once in operation.[6] Bombardier submitted a bid to produce electric units based on their new Aventra platform, but was unable to offer the matching DMU that Arriva required.[11] Furthermore, Bombardier already had a long order book for Aventra units and Arriva believed CAF were in a stronger position to guarantee on-time delivery of the units.[11] At the time of placing the order, the £500 million value and 101-unit size made it CAF's largest-ever contract for a European customer.[9]

Construction started in July 2017,[12] with the first completed unit being unveiled on 31 January 2018.[13] Testing began in the UK in September 2018,[12][14] and in March 2019, a four-car Class 331 unit (331111) became the first train to be completed at CAF's Llanwern factory.[15]

On 28 June 2019, the new trains were launched by a special service for the media. Regular passenger service with the Class 331 (along with its diesel counterpart, the Class 195) started on 1 July 2019.[16]

Description edit

Arriva UK Trains stated its aim for a "step-change in quality" for the new trains when compared with older trains in the Northern fleet such as the Pacers and Sprinters.[10] The interior, layout and driver cab of the Class 331 (EMU) are identical to their sister units, the Class 195 (DMU) with the only difference being power generation and drivetrain.[6]

The 331s have a 'doors-at-thirds' arrangement, and a top speed limited to 100 mph (161 km/h). The units have air conditioning, power sockets, one toilet per train, open gangways between individual carriages, passenger compartment CCTV, provision for wheelchair passengers and wi-fi system. All trains fitted with an automated audio information system, as well as display screens – six in each carriage ensuring all passengers have an unobstructed view to at least one. These screens convey a variety of information from station arrival times and informing alighting passengers when they need to be in a different carriage due to platforms being too short to accommodate the train.[17]

Northern selected a "wide and spacious" vestibule area to allow for quicker passenger flows when boarding and disembarking to minimise dwell times which can result in delays.[6] These large spaces around the doors offer a degree of flexibility as to how this space can be used with flip-down seats and standing space in times of overcrowding where the objective is ensuring more passengers can board. The units are not fitted with fixed luggage racks as these often reduce capacity on peak-time commuter trains – space is provided around the flip-down seats adjacent to the doors to store luggage and prams – thus not impacting on the capacity of the train or safety for passengers wishing to alight or board.

The Class 331 electric units are noted for their quick acceleration putting them among the fastest accelerating EMUs in the United Kingdom with a rate of 1.3 m/s2 (2.9 mph/s).[7] This allows the units to accelerate from 0 to 125 km/h (78 mph) in 45 seconds - by comparison, the ex-British Rail Class 321/322 units have an acceleration rate of 0.55 m/s2 (1.2 mph/s) and which takes them over 2 minutes to attain the same speed.[18][19] It is envisaged this improved acceleration result in efficiencies and improved punctuality on commuter routes with multiple stops across the Northern network.

The units are designed with a projected lifespan of 35 years and it is planned they will operate beyond 2050 with maintenance and refurbishment.[6] Other features included are digital seat reservation system – however these are to future-proof the train and Northern do not envisage using these on many, if any routes. Although the vast majority of services will operate as three or four-car formations, some three-car units are doubled up to form six-car services. As a result, they are fitted with Automatic Selective Door Operation (ASDO) for use on routes where station platform lengths are not sufficient to fully accommodate the train. This ASDO is linked to an automated system which informs the passengers through both announcements and the passenger information screens located in each saloon.

Routes edit

In West Yorkshire, the Class 331 units replaced the eight Class 321 and Class 322 trains operating alongside the fleet of Class 333 units on Leeds/Bradford Forster Square to Ilkley/Skipton and Leeds to Doncaster stopping services.[20] In the North West, the 331s were deployed on inter-city electrified services from Blackpool North to Manchester Airport and services from Hazel Grove to Blackpool North. The 331s were also introduced on the Liverpool Lime Street to Blackpool North route and the Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport route.[20]

Fleet details edit

Class Operator No. built Year built Cars per unit Unit nos.
331/0 Northern Trains 31 2017–2020 3 331001–331031
331/1 12 4 331101–331112

Illustration edit

Northern Class 331/0

Named units edit

Both 331106 and 331110 are named Proud To Be Northern.[21]

Units 331010 and 331109 also have a special NHS livery to thank them for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.[22]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Clinnick, Richard (31 January 2018). "Northern unveils its first new CAF-built train". Rail Magazine. Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media. Archived from the original on 23 September 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  2. ^ Miles, Tony (February 2024). "'319s' finish with Northern". Moving Wheels. Modern Railways. No. 905. p. 87.
  3. ^ "Merriman visits Shipley depot site". News. Today's Railways UK. No. 267. May 2024. p. 16.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h The Class 331 Electric Multiple Unit (PDF). Sunderland: Arriva Rail North. 24 January 2018. Archived from the original on 26 March 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  5. ^ "CAF Civity UK for various operators in the United Kingdom". Wiener Neudorf: Traktionssysteme Austria. Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Shirres, David (3 April 2018). "Northern's trains from Spain". Rail Engineer. Coalville: Rail Media Group. Archived from the original on 15 September 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Class 331". London: Eversholt Rail Group. Archived from the original on 13 April 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  8. ^ Long Term Passenger Rolling Stock Strategy for the Rail Industry (PDF) (4th ed.). London: Rail Delivery Group. March 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 April 2016.
  9. ^ a b Clinnick, Richard (22 July 2020). "Northern close to completion of £500 million CAF train order". Rail Magazine. Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media. Archived from the original on 7 August 2020. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Intention to award Northern franchise to Arriva". Sunderland: Arriva Rail North. 9 December 2015. Archived from the original on 17 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  11. ^ a b Lea, Robert (23 January 2016). "Spain wins £490m race to replace unloved Pacer". The Times. London. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  12. ^ a b Barrow, Keith (11 July 2017). "CAF begins production of new trains for Northern". International Railway Journal. Falmouth: Simmons-Boardman Publishing. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  13. ^ Fender, Keith (31 January 2018). "CAF presents first Civity EMU for Northern". International Railway Journal. Falmouth: Simmons-Boardman Publishing. Archived from the original on 1 December 2022. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  14. ^ Cox, Charlotte (26 September 2018). "Troubled operator Northern Rail track-tests its £500m fleet of new trains". Manchester Evening News. Reach plc. Archived from the original on 26 November 2018. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  15. ^ Milner, Chris (August 2019). "CAF Class 195 DMUs and Class 331 EMUs". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 165, no. 1421. Horncastle: Mortons Media Group. p. 31. ISSN 0033-8923.
  16. ^ "New trains launch 'genuine transformation' of Northern services". Railway Gazette International. Sutton: DVV Media International. 1 July 2019. Archived from the original on 1 July 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  17. ^ Clinnick, Richard (9 September 2019). "From the Archives: On their way to Northern". Rail Magazine. Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media. Archived from the original on 25 October 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Class 321". London: Eversholt Rail Group. Archived from the original on 22 April 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Class 322". London: Eversholt Rail Group. Archived from the original on 21 April 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  20. ^ a b Clinnick, Richard (11 September 2019). "Skipton and Blackpool to welcome new Northern EMUs". Rail Magazine. No. 887. Peterborough: Bauer Media. p. 28. ISSN 0953-4563.
  21. ^ Bendall, Simon; Nicholls, Mark (September 2019). "Fleet Review". Railways Illustrated. No. 199. Stamford: Key Publishing. p. 18.
  22. ^ "Northern transforms trains in salute to NHS heroes". Northern Railway Media Centre. 23 April 2020. Retrieved 18 November 2023.