The British Rail Class 322 electric multiple units were built by BREL in 1990. Five 4-car units were built for the dedicated Stansted Express service from London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport. The Class 322 fleet are operated by Northern Rail and are seen working services around the Leeds area.
In the late 1980s, British Rail (BR) was extending the electrification north from London Liverpool Street towards Cambridge. Included in this plan was the construction of new branch line, diverging from the mainline at Stansted Mountfitchet, to serve the newly built Stansted Airport, which opened in 1991. Therefore, BR decided to build a dedicated fleet of units to work the new Stansted Express service.
To reduce costs, the Class 322 units were built to the same design as the successful Class 321 units, which were still under construction for services on the GEML and WCML. Despite the Stansted route falling under the jurisdiction of Network SouthEast (NSE), the units were delivered into service in a special white livery with a broad green band, instead of the more usual NSE blue/red/white livery.
Five 4-car units were built, numbered 322481-485. Each unit consisted of two outer driving trailers, an intermediate trailer, and an intermediate motor. The technical description of the formation of each unit is DTCO+TSO+MSO+DTSO. Individual vehicles are numbered as follows:
- 78163-78167 - DTCO
- 72023-72027 - TSO
- 63137-63141 - MSO
- 77985-77989 - DTSO
The units were also the last of a long line of BR multiple units to be based on the Mark 3 bodyshell design.
The Class 322s operate services with Northern Rail and are used to provide additional services between Leeds - Doncaster.
Currently the fleet are operating on both the Leeds - Doncaster services and the Leeds-Skipton-Bradford-Ilkley "Triangle".
Small technical changes have been made in order for them to be utilised in the area. These include (but not limited to) Forward facing CCTV and saloon CCTV installation and electronic LED destination displays and automatic GPS based announcing system (as per the Class 321/9 units). The GSM-R radio systems have also been disabled in order for the units to operate in the Yorkshire regions due to the GSM-R system not being activated in the area yet. The NRN radios still exist and will continue to function for 2 years as a back-up system to the GSM-R once it comes into effect. After this time the NRN system will be removed and all units will be equipped with a single GSM-R radio in each driving cab.
The 322 fleet is easily distinguishable from the 321/9 fleet as they are currently in all blue livery with a single white stripe below the cant rail and Northern branding on the vehicle bodysides.
In 2001, the units were then used by First ScotRail, operating on the North Berwick Branch Line, between Glasgow Central/Edinburgh Waverley and North Berwick having been made redundant on WAGN services. They were transferred north to Scotland under their own power. They were put to work allowing the elderly incumbent Class 305 units to be withdrawn. One morning and one evening peak service was provided to Glasgow Central via the relatively quiet Edinburgh-Carstairs branch of the WCML to allow the units to receive maintenance at Glasgow Shields depot as First ScotRail's facilities in Edinburgh at Haymarket and Slateford depots are for diesel traction only.
Despite the fact their use in Scotland was originally meant to be long-term, none of the units were repainted. Instead, the Stansted Skytrain branding was replaced with ScotRail logo. The units continued to be used on these services until mid-2004, when the hire period ended. They were transferred south in two batches, and were replaced on the North Berwick branch by EWS Class 90 electric locomotives hauling former Virgin Trains Mk.3 coaching stock. To enable trains to reverse, the locomotive operates in push-pull mode with a Driving Van Trailer.
In mid-late 2005, the units were transferred back to Scotland for refurbishment prior to reintroduction on the North Berwick line, which was expected to be their permanent use. In Spring 2006, the first unit to be refurbished and repainted in the First ScotRail livery was unveiled. The class were refurbished at Hunslet-Barclay, Kilmarnock, from end of 16 July 2005 until end of 9 February 2007. 322481 was the first one repainted, and it took up the name that 485 owned when they previously operated the route. The remaining units have now been refurbished and repainted into First ScotRail livery. However, one unit, no. 322481, was named "North Berwick Flyer 1850-2000".
In 2010 with the introduction of Class 380 "Desiro", the North Berwick Line had a fleet replacement and began operations in June 2011. The last service operated by a Scotrail Class 322 was the 0756 North Berwick-Glasgow Central service on 2 August 2011 and all units have since been transferred to Northern Rail.
West Anglia Great NorthernEdit
Following privatisation, the fleet passed into control of the West Anglia Great Northern (WAGN) franchise. In 1996, WAGN introduced a revised Stansted Express livery, which was still mainly white, but with a yellow stripe replacing the green. At the same time, services were rebranded as the Stansted Skytrain.
Units continued to be used on these services until 1997, when they became common-user with the rest of the WAGN fleet. After this, it was common for units to turn up on London King's Cross to Peterborough services. Four of the five units were subsequently hired to North Western Trains, and two were painted in the company blue livery with gold stars. The other two units were frequently interchanged with the one remaining WAGN unit, and so were not repainted.
By 1999 the NWT units had returned to WAGN. They still did not have any specific duties to work, as dedicated rebuilt Class 317/7 units were introduced to the Stansted Airport services in 2000. The Class 322 fleet therefore remained non-standard in WAGN's fleet, so in 2001 all five units were hired to ScotRail, who operated similar Class 320 units. The class was transferred north to Scotland in two batches under their own power, routed via the West Coast Main Line.
North Western TrainsEdit
In the period 1997 to 1999, North Western Trains (NWT) hired four units from WAGN for a new Manchester Airport to London Euston service. Two of the units, nos. 322484 and 322485, were repainted into NWT's blue and gold livery, whilst the other two unspecified units remained in the revised Stansted Skytrain livery.
These services did not last long, and by 1999 the units had returned to WAGN. One of the two NWT blue units, no. 322485, was repainted back into Stansted Skytrain livery.
|Unit Number||Current Livery||Vehicle Numbers||Current Operator|
|322481||de-branded First ScotRail||78163||72023||63137||77985||Northern Rail|
|322482||de-branded First ScotRail||78164||72024||63138||77986|
|322483||de-branded First ScotRail||78165||72025||63139||77987|
|322484||de-branded First ScotRail||78166||72026||63140||77988|
|322485||de-branded First ScotRail||78167||72027||63141||77989|