Open main menu

British Rail Class 387

The British Rail Class 387 is a type of electric multiple unit passenger train built by Bombardier Transportation, as part of the Electrostar family. A total of 107 units were built, with the first train entering service on Thameslink in December 2014. The trains are currently in service on Great Western Railway, Gatwick Express, Great Northern (having been transferred from Thameslink) and c2c.

British Rail Class 387 Electrostar
Acton Main Line - GWR 387150 Paddington service.JPG
Inside GWR 387133 (424133) seating.JPG
The interior of a GWR Class 387
In service8 December 2014 – present
ManufacturerBombardier Transportation
Built atDerby Litchurch Lane Works
Family nameElectrostar
Number built107 units (428 carriages)
Formation4 carriages per unit
Car length20.39 metres (66 ft 11 in)[citation needed]
Width2.80 metres (9 ft 2 in)[citation needed]
Height3.77 metres (12 ft 4 in)[citation needed]
Maximum speed110 mph (177 km/h)
Traction systemIGBT-VVVF
(Bombardier MITRAC DR1000)
Power output1.68 megawatts (2,250 horsepower)
Electric system(s)750 V DC Third rail
25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead
Current collection methodContact shoe
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge


The Class 387 is a variation of Bombardier’s Class 379 Electrostar with a higher maximum speed of 110 mph (177 km/h) and unlike the 379, the 387 is dual voltage, which means this train can go into the Southern Region's Third Rail network.


Class 387/1Edit

The first Class 387/1s were ordered for the Thameslink route, which enabled the existing Class 319s to be transferred to Northern Rail for use on the newly electrified Manchester Victoria to Liverpool via Newton-le-Willows route.[1][2]

On behalf of the Department for Transport, Southern issued an OJEU notice in December 2012[1] with proposals received in January 2013. The invitation to tender for the fleet was released the following month with final offers being submitted by 18 June 2013. Southern announced it had signed a deal with Bombardier on 30 July 2013 for 29 four carriage units.[3][4] The deal also included an option for 140 carriages which have since been taken up with 108 for Gatwick Express and 32 for Great Western Railway.

In October 2015, Porterbrook placed a speculative order for 80 carriages. Fifty-six were later leased to Great Western Railway and the remaining 24 to c2c as 387/3s.[5]

Class 387/2Edit

Gatwick Express Class 387/2 No. 387204 at Crewe.
The Standard Class Interior of a Gatwick Express Class 387/2
Between 2014 and 2017, Class 387s were used on the Thameslink route between Bedford and Brighton, as well as other services served by Thameslink.
The 1st Class Interior of Gatwick Express 387218

As part of Govia's bid for the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise, 27 four-carriage units were ordered to replace Class 442s on the Gatwick Express service, using some of the optional 140 extra carriages.[6] The order was announced in November 2014 with the first units on test in July 2015 and they began to enter service on 29 February 2016.[7][8][9] The deployment was disrupted by unionised drivers refusing to take passengers, claiming that the twelve coach Class 387 trains are not covered by their driver only operation agreement which is limited to ten coaches, and that running them without a conductor would be unsafe.[10][11]

Class 387/3Edit

In April 2016, c2c announced that it would operate six Class 387s.

Current operationsEdit

Gatwick ExpressEdit

Class 387 units began to replace the Class 442 EMUs from mid-2016, until the final 442 ran on 10 March 2017. The Class 442s were then stored.

Great Western RailwayEdit

The first Great Western Railway unit entered service on 5 September 2016 running between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington in peak hours to relieve congestion on some of the country's most crowded trains.[12][13] In January 2017 GWR began running a half-hourly Paddington to Hayes and Harlington service using pairs of these 387/1s.[12]

On 22 May 2017 Class 387/1 EMUs began operating suburban services between London Paddington and Maidenhead.

On 1 January 2018, following further electrification work, Class 387/1 EMUs began operating suburban services between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway, replacing GWR Class 165 DMUs on these services.[14] Due to electrification being suspended from Didcot Parkway to Oxford, the previous Oxford suburban service from London Paddington was cut back to Didcot Parkway to allow electric trains to operate this service. Oxford is still served by the fast services from London Paddington, and a DMU service from Didcot Parkway.[15]

In January 2019, Class 387/1 EMUs began operating between Reading and Newbury after electrification works on the Reading to Taunton line had been finished.


The first c2c Class 387 was delivered in October 2016 and entered service in November 2016.[16] These trains were built primarily as stock units; they were leased out to c2c which at the time was suffering with overcrowding.[17][18] The units were leased pending delivery of newer rolling stock. They will be replaced by Class 720/6 in 2021.

Great NorthernEdit

From late 2016, 29 of the Class 387/1s operating on Thameslink were displaced by the delivery of Class 700 Desiro City units, and were transferred to Great Northern. They operate mostly on the Kings CrossCambridgeKing's Lynn route, though they can also be seen on other services. These units were delivered in a white livery, with Southern green doors and Southern moquette. Unit 387105 has been transferred to Gatwick Express on a permanent basis, but has not been relivered into Gatwick Express red. Great Northern Class 387s are allowed to be used at 110 mph but must observe the usual speed restrictions.

Future operationsEdit

Heathrow ExpressEdit

In March 2018, it was announced that Heathrow Airport Ltd, the owner and operator of Heathrow Express, had come to an agreement with Great Western Railway for the latter to take over Heathrow Express' running of the service between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport, beginning in August 2018. From December 2019, GWR will then run the service using a dedicated pool of twelve modified Class 387 units from its own fleet. These Electrostar units will be modified at Ilford HM Depot by Bombardier Transportation. [19]

Former operationsEdit


The first Thameslink unit entered service in December 2014 with all in service by July 2015.[20] They were operated by Thameslink on services between Bedford and Brighton. During Summer 2016, several of Gatwick Express’ 387/2 units entered service with Thameslink prior to introduction on Gatwick Express services due to the delay of the Class 700 units, although these returned to service with Gatwick Express after a few months. The 387/1s have now been transferred to Great Northern working services from Kings Cross to Peterborough and Cambridge/King's Lynn.


Fleet detailsEdit

Class Operator Number built Year built Cars per unit Unit numbers
Class 387/1 Great Northern 28 2014–15 4 387101–387104, 387106–387129
Great Western Railway 45 2016–17 4 387143-387174
Heathrow Express 12 2016-17 4 387131-387142 (units that have been modified from GWR)
Gatwick Express 1 2014–15 4 387105[24]
Class 387/2 27 2015–16 387201–387227
Class 387/3 c2c 6 2016 4 387301–387306

One unit so far has been named:

  • 387124 - "Paul McCann"[25]




  1. ^ a b "Bombardier to manufacture 116 new train carriages for Thameslink rolling stock cascade" (Press release). Southern. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  2. ^ Thameslink Southern & Great Northern Invitation to Tender Department for Transport 26 September 2013
  3. ^ Commuters to benefit from state of the art electric trains Department for Transport 30 July 2013
  4. ^ Bombardier Transportation Wins UK Rolling Stock Contract Archived 3 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine Bombardier Transportation 30 July 2013
  5. ^ "Porterbrook orders 387s to meet electrification demands" Rail Magazine issue 787 11 November 2015 page 13
  6. ^ Government welcomes new carriages for the Gatwick Express and Thameslink routes Department for Transport
  7. ^ "Govia and Bombardier sign Gatwick Express train contract". Railway Gazette International. DVV Media Group. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  8. ^ Gatwick Express Class 387/2 EMU on test Railway Gazette 23 July 2015
  9. ^ "Late-February debut for Gatwick Express Class 387/2s".
  10. ^ "Gatwick Express drivers' strike threat over longer trains".
  11. ^ The Safety Critical Role of the guard 2016 RMT PDF download
  12. ^ a b "Introducing our new trains". Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  13. ^ "First Electrostars enter service on Great Western Railway".
  14. ^ "GWR Electrostar fleet enters service after electrification completed". 2 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  15. ^ "New GWR trains enter service after electrification". 2 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  16. ^ "c2c Class 387s enter service". 22 December 2016.
  17. ^ "c2c delays: late night crush on trains so bad that 'businessmen wet themselves'". Evening Standard. 29 January 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  18. ^ "What complaints did you have about overcrowding before the timetable change, and how does it compare to now?". c2c. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  19. ^ "GWR to manage Heathrow Express service". Railway Gazette. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  20. ^ "New air-conditioned trains enter service on Thameslink : Thameslink and Great Northern".
  21. ^ [1]RAIB Accident Report. Retrieved 16 October 2018
  22. ^ Hartley-Parkinson, Richard. "Meanwhile, a train at London's King's Cross Station appeared to have hit the buffers on platform nine". Metro. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  23. ^ Trim, Liam (27 November 2018). "Photos show derailed train causing 'chaos' at Paddington". getwestlondon. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Image of 387105 on loan to Gatwick Express".
  25. ^ "387124 20170518 Biggleswade KingsCross". Flickr. Retrieved 18 May 2017.

External linksEdit

  Media related to British Rail Class 387 at Wikimedia Commons