As someone who takes the train to work every day, and as a train enthusiast, it’s probably not a surprise to learn I’ve developed a fondness for certain classes of locomotive. This page is dedicated to a few of them.
I’ve probably done more mileage in one of these than any other class. They are generally reliable and have two qualities in particular (from my view as a passenger) that I appreciate. They accelerate quickly and decelerate quickly, which contributes to reasonable journey times. They’re operated exclusively on the Southend and Tilbury Line by c2c.
The class is capable of a top speed of 100 mph, but restrictions on the line mean they tend to run at around 75 mph. The 357 is a type of EMU (electric multiple unit) and each individual EMU consists of four carriages. Typically c2c run two or even three units linked together during peak hours, forming eight and 12 carriage trains respectively, though they also run as single units.
Nicknamed the ‘Happy Train’ (the air conditioning units at either end have earned this class that title, as you can see from the photo), the Class 365 runs exclusively between Kings Cross and Peterborough/Cambridge, with a few services running to Kings Lynn. They have the same top speed as the 357s, and because they operate over a stretch of the East Coast Main Line, they can run at higher speeds (as the ECML is set up for the running of express trains). Like the 357s, the 365s are EMUs and often run as eight-carriage trains. Unlike the 357s (which usually look quite clean on the outside) the 365s tend to look a bit grubby – then again, they share the route with diesel trains that pump out smog, which probably explains this. They’re pretty comfortable, and form the majority of my trips on the ECML.
An older class of train, this is the first class on this list to be used on more than one line. My experiences with them are on the ECML and the Hertford Loop, as they operate out of Kings Cross, though some units operate out of London Liverpool Street as well. First constructed in 1981, they are possibly getting upgraded soon, but might also be dropped from several routes as new rolling stock becomes available. They were never bad trains, but the requirements of the modern commuter and the train operators means they are going to be phased out sooner or later. The 317 can also reach a top speed of 100 mph.
The oldest class on this list (so far), the Class 43 is the engine of the Intercity 125 HST. They operate out of Kings Cross, Paddington and long-distance services from Plymouth. Being diesel trains, they are used across routes where electrification of the line has not yet taken place. First built in 1976, they have been updated and refurbished by their operators and continue to provide express services between major UK cities. As a kid, it was always quite exciting getting to travel on an express train – they have speed and power behind them, and also two features you won’t often find on EMUs – firstly, a buffet car, and secondly, first class coaches. Sadly, I have never travelled first class!
The Class 91 is similar to an EMU in that it draws power from overhead wires – it is however, closer to the Class 43 in terms of function, being a long-distance express train that operates exclusively on the ECML. Like the Class 43, there are plans to relocate where the Class 91 operates in the near future, as new classes of train come in to offer faster, more efficient journeys. Personally, I will miss the Class 91, as it’s a solid performer and it offers fast travel times.