Class 488

In early 1983 Derby Litchurch Lane Works started converting air-conditioned Mk2 coach stock for use on the new Gatwick Express services. This stock, which had originally been built in the same works between 1973 and 1974, had been cascaded from the Midland main line following introduction of HST units. It was originally intended to modify stock to form eighteen 4 car units (including 4 spare sets) formed TFO-3TSO but by the time work began this had been changed to nineteen 3 car units formed TSOH-TSO-TSOH (H= handbrake) and ten 2 car units formed TFOH-TSOH. The TFOs were re-numbered 72500-72509, the TSOHs 72600-72647 and the TSOs 72700-72718. The 2 car units were designated class 488/2 (8201-8210) and the 3 car units 488/3 (8301-8319).

Conversion involved fitting SR standard 27 way jumpers and modifying the brake control equipment to EP and Westinghouse systems to allow MU operation. Outer ends of the units retained drop head couplers and buffers otherwise bar couplings were installed within the unit. Internally handbrakes (not normally fitted on British coach stock without driving or guard's facilities) were fitted within internal cupboards on the outer cars of each unit. These handbrakes were recycled from withdrawn 2 Hap units. In second class the seating was moved bringing them slightly out of alignment with the windows and tables removed. Toilets at the outer ends of the TSOHs were replaced by luggage racks. In first class the existing 2+1 seating layout was retained but a single seat at one end was removed to provide wheelchair space. In both classes the internal sliding doors became motor-driven with footpad activation bringing them into line with Mk3 stock.

The coaches were delivered in Intercity "Executive" livery with lettering in black corporate font on the sides "Railair Link" at the left end and "Victoria-Gatwick" at the right end.

The first coach to arrive on the Southern region on 22nd July 1983 was a TSOH 72600 - note no "S" prefix. By the autumn sufficient vehicles available to form unit 8301 (72600-72700-72601) but no converted GLV or TFOH vehicles were available at this time.

The first full day of Gatwick Express service was 14th May 1984. After four weeks the 488/2 was marshalled in the centre of an 8 car set to bring the 1st class accommodation close to the escalators at Gatwick Airport station.

488205 TFOH 72504 of set 8205 at Gatwick Airport 12th May 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

TSOH 72603 of set 8303 at Gatwick Airport 12th May 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

488303 TSO 72702 of set 8303 at Gatwick Airport 12th May 2000.

photograph by Colin Duff

488303 As with all SR multiple operation the jumper cables need only be connected on one side of the train as illustrated above with the connections between the EDL and set 8303 (left) and set 8310 (right).

photographs by Colin Duff


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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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