Class 319

With the reopening in the mid 1980s of the Snow Hill Tunnel between Farringdon and the Blackfriars to Holborn Viaduct line, and the laying of track in 1986 with electrified third rail between those two points, cross London train services (as championed by the former Greater London Council) became a reality. To run these services dual voltage stock would be needed to accommodate 750v dc third rail running south of Farringdon and 25kV ac overhead running north. Electronic control systems had improved considerably since the last class of dual voltage units, the 1976 generation class 313, had been introduced and indeed the Southern Regions last class 455 unit had proven the concept of "chopper" (thyristor) control which was to be used on this new stock.

To commence the cross London service, which became branded "Thameslink" by Network SouthEast, an initial batch of 60 class 319 units was constructed. These used the same Mk3 EMU body shells as class 317 and 318 units, but with slightly increased passenger space in the driving cars by eliminating the vestibule behind the driving cab and without unit end gangways. However doors in the cab fronts were still required to enable evacuation of the units in the Metropolitan Widened Lines tunnels between Farringdon and Kings Cross. As a departure from normal Southern practice, and not learning from the lack of unit compatibility experienced with class 508 units whilst they were operating on the Southern region, high level MU jumper cables were not fitted. However a tidy looking cab front design was the result. These units were fitted with retention tank toilets, also because of the tunnels.

The initial batch units, class 319/0, were formed Driving Trailer Standard (DTS), Pantograph Motor Standard (PMS), Auxiliary (i.e. containing the motor-alternator set) Trailer Standard (ATS) and another DTS. Mileage accumulation on 319 units began on 1st March 1988 and in passenger service on some Southern Region internal services from the weekend of 9th/10th April 1988. Full Thameslink service commenced in May 1988 and proved to be an immediate and considerable success, even far exceeding the expectations of the far sighted people who proposed the concept.

319002 The brand new front end of state-of-the-art EMU design (of the day) on display at the Network Day at Waterloo on 24th October 1987.

photograph by Colin Duff

An unidentified 319/0 unit departing London Bridge on a down service on 28th August 1988.

photograph by Colin Duff

Following protests by holders of First Class season tickets who found they no longer had first class accomodation available to them, a further batch of 20 units containing first class accommodation was constructed for the longer distance Bedford and Gatwick Airport/Brighton services. Designated class 319/1 these units had a Driving Trailer Composite (DTC) in place of one DTS. The first recorded working of a 319/1 was on 23rd October 1990 on the 6:36p.m. Victoria-West Croydon via Crystal Palace service and it worked a Thameslink service the next day. The full Bedford to Gatwick/Brighton service began on 21st January 1991.

In their early days the 319 units experienced an number accidents with their pantographs striking overhead structures whilst incorrectly raised on the Southern. This was found to be due to a wiring design fault - operating the overload reset whilst working in the 750v dc mode also disastrously raised the pantograph unless dc traction mode was first re-selected. Unit utilisation allowed use on internal workings both north and south of the Thames, but such workings increased on the Southern following a major revision of the Thameslink timetable cutting back on the number of destinations served south of the Thames.

319186 This class 319/1 unit ran for a time with car 77380 from class 319/0 unit 319046, after 318186 had been involved in a derailment. Note the differing liveries carried by the leading coach (77380) and the rest of the train, also the way the recess behind one of the end handrails has been painted black. Photographed at East Croydon, 27th December 1993.

photograph by John Lewis

The same unit as above, but now formed with the correct carriages. Note the rather curious weathering caused by deposits from the overhead lines. Photographed at Purley.

photograph by John Lewis

319008 In March 1994 319008 was running with "Network SouthCentral" in place of "Network SouthEast", but still with the NSE markings - and with the Thameslink diamond present next to the doors. Photographed at Victoria.

photograph by John Lewis

This unit was seen at St Pancras newly painted in the "Graffitti" livery in April 1995. Note "Thameslink" now on the ends of the unit in an italic style font and the unit number is in a different font than in the NSE livery.

photograph by John Lewis

Thameslink Close up of the Thameslink lettering on the side of unit 319051, Purley March 1996.

photograph by John Lewis

Close up of the Thameslink "graffitti" symbol. The grey of the coach side is used to symbolise buildings in silhouette, the shape of St Paul's dome can be seen on the left, and to the right of it the towers of Tower Bridge, with a City office block between.

photograph by John Lewis


Unit 319052 at Purley June 1996. The coach number is now on the dark blue at the base of the side, immediately to the left of the lamp post. Note that in this livery "Thameslink" was always to the left of the two symbols, even on the driving trailer at the other end of the unit.

photograph by John Lewis

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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