Class 456

The 24 two car class 456 units were built by BREL York between 1990-91 to provide operational flexibility on the Central Division's suburban services. Like the class 455 and 319s their bodies are based on the Mk3 bodyshell. However a third design of cab front is used similar to that on the class 320/321/322 but with high level jumper cables. As on the 319s GTO thyristor control is used and the class 456 is the last Southern EMU to employ English Electric 507 traction motors. The class can work in multiple with other members of its class and classes 455, 457, 507 and 508.

The units are formed DMSO (driving motor standard open) - DTSO (driving trailer standard open) and they are only gangwayed within the unit. The motor bogie is positioned under inner end of the DMSO. The motor coach seats 79 passengers and the driving trailer 73. The class wore NSE livery from new and were then repainted into Connex SouthCentral livery.

456011 in platform 14 at London Bridge, shortly to form the 11:12am to Victoria, on 10th December 1997.

photograph by David Overall

456006 456006 at London Bridge on 14th June 1999, waiting to work a West Croydon service.

photograph by Michael Taylor

The first delivery (456001) was on 14th December 1990 for commissioning at Strawberry Hill depot. However the class immediately hit a problem. Being designed for driver only operation the driving seat was incorrectly positioned to allow the driver both to observe the platform VDUs through the cab door and to be able to drive in the more forward position. Meanwhile units were arriving from York, being commissioned and then being placed immediately into store not only at Strawberry Hill, which rapidly became full, but also Clapham Yard and Battersea Pier. The solution devised by Selhurst depot was to provide a new driving chair which could slide between the two positions but being interlocked so that traction power could not be applied unless the chair was in the driving position. The new chairs were installed at Fratton depot, though Selhurst, the final home of the class, again had to farm out units for storage until they finally entered service. The fact that such an obvious design fault had been overlooked was an embarrassing episode for Network SouthEast.

The class finally entered service on 30th September 1991 although not on the South London Line until further problems associated with driver only operation had been resolved. 456s were seen working on the South London Line by late 1991/early 1992. In practice the class works as a single unit on lightly used services, and in multiple any permutation of 456s and 455s up to a total of eight cars. Unit 456024 has been named Sir Cosmo Bonsor (with a nameplate on its DTSO) after the late chairman of the SER and also prolific property developer who built many of the suburban housing estates served by Central Division/Connex SouthCentral trains.

456005 and 456006 side by side at London Bridge during the off peak lull in services on 17th May 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

456015 456015 trailing an unidentified 456 departs London Bridge on 17th May 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

In the autumn of 1996 unit 456024 (together with class 455 unit 455804) was selected to be repainted into Connex SouthCentral livery for the launch of the "South London Metro".
Unit 456024 in its new livery at Purley, June 1997. Note the Connex SouthCentral wording and logo. Either side of the pasenger doors were "South London Metro" signs.

photograph by John Lewis

456024 The "South London Metro" signs either side of a door and internally at Wimbledon, 28th November 1996.

photograph by John Lewis

In October 1997 unit 456024 was named "Sir Cosmo Bonsor" as part of the centenary celebrations of the Tattenham Corner branch, which opened as far as Kingswood on 1st November 1897, Bonsor being one of the three promoters of the Chipstead Valley Railway Act. This photograph shows the nameplate and was taken at Purley in June 1998. Note that by now the "South London Metro" signs have gone, although they were still present when the unit was named.

photograph by John Lewis

456024 Here is 456024 as running in June 2000 at London Bridge. The nameplate can be seen but the Connex branding no longer includes "SouthCentral".

photograph by John Lewis

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This page was last updated 12 November 2003

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