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Classes 170 and 171

photograph by Richard A

Unit N° 170307 running into Clapham Junction on 1st March 2003. Note there is a 4 Cep in the background!

The class 170 "Turbostar" is the diesel hydraulic multiple unit designed for longer distance services from builders Adtranz, now Bombardier. Vehicles, which are of nominal 23m long, are of welded aluminium with steel ends construction and all cars are motored providing 422h.p. @ 1900 r.p.m. per car. Units can be formed of either two, three or four cars. Cars are gangwayed within the unit and are air-conditioned. First deliveries of 170/1 two car units began in January 1999 to Midland Mainline.

This class gains eligibility to be included on the SREmG site with the commencement in the May 2000 summer timetable of Anglia Railways' innovative Crosslink Service. Crosslink connects East Anglia to Basingstoke avoiding a change in Central London. There were six services each way Monday to Saturday on a two hourly interval with most currently starting at Chelmsford or Colchester (although a small number start from Ipswich or Norwich). The trains called at Stratford (interchange with First Great Eastern, Docklands Light Railway, Silverlink Metro, and LUL Central and Jubilee Lines), Highbury and Islington (interchange with West Anglia Great Northern, Silverlink Metro and LUL Victoria Line), West Hampstead (interchange with Thameslink, Silverlink Metro and LUL Jubilee Line), Feltham (for Heathrow Airport Gateway), Staines, Woking and Farnborough. From the North London line the service was routed from South Acton junction reaching Southern territory at Old Kew Junction and thence via the Hounslow loop.

For Crosslink Anglia Railways drew on their eight strong fleet of 170/2 three car units which are leased from Porterbrook. Deliveries from Adtranz were between May and July 1999. The units are formed DMCL (driving motor composite lavatory) - MSLRB (motor standard luggage buffet) - DMSL (driving motor standard lavatory). However, the Crosslink service was terminated at the end of the summer 2002 timetable. Although passenger loadings were initially encouraging the service failed to catch on. Additionally train paths along the North London line are tight and the SRA felt that reliability of other services would be improved if line capacity was prioritised on the better used services.

The Southern's association with the class was completely cemented when on 12th December 2000 South West Trains commenced services with its eight two-car 170/3 fleet. Strangely SWT have chosen a first class heavy DMCL - DMCL formation. These units are also leased from Porterbrook. Individual cars are numbered DMCL(A) 50301-8 and DMCL(B) 79301-8. Like SWT's class 159 fleet they are based at Salisbury and 170301 arrived there in October 2000. Further unit arrivals were 170302/3 in early November, 170304/5 on 17th November, 170306 on 23rd November and 170307 on 5th December.

The first service SWT class 170 passenger working was on 12th December 2000 with the 5:10am Salisbury to Southampton using units 170301/2. This formation was then due to work the 5:52am Southampton to Eastleigh service however it was delayed after it was discovered that the safety case for this stock on this route had not been completed - it was by 6:15am when the units eventually departed! 170304 was the first representative of the class to work into Waterloo, doing so on 18th May 2001 with a special from Salisbury. As this was a day of industrial action on South West Trains with 95 percent of services cancelled this happening was missed by many! SWT now regularly work 170s in multiple with their 159s on west of England services into and out of Waterloo.

Govia South Central selected this class to replace their venerable mk1 DEMUs on their Uckfield branch and Ashford-Hastings services. As a franchise commitment a new Ashford-Brighton service is to be introduced in 2005 using these units. Govia's order, financed by Porterbrook, is for nine two car 170s formed DMCL - DMSL and six four car units formed DMCL-MS-MS-DMSL. The latter are to be used on Uckfield - London Bridge (low level) services which will be extended to all day operation, formerly only peak services operated into central London. The destination in London has been switched from Victoria to London Bridge since the diesel fume extractor hoods "under the raft" at Victoria are only positioned for Class 205/7 units.

The first South Central 170, 170721 was delivered to Selhurst on 6th August 2003 with 170722 following two days later. Test running on the Uckfield branch began on 14th August, though there was also some testing between Oxted and East Grinstead due to signalling problems on the branch. The first passenger working was the 12:48pm from East Croydon on 8th December using 170721. Thereafter 170s mostly worked this diagram until their full introduction on Oxted-Uckfield shuttles on 28th February 2004.

The first working of a 170 across the Kent marshes was of a unit in South Central colours but it was not actually a SC unit! With the commencement of a new Solent area service serving Chandler's Ford, South West Trains required an additional 170 and arranged to lease one from Porterbrook out of the lessor's intended lease pool. The quickest and most economical way this could be sourced was by adding it without an expensive variation order onto the batch then being built for South Central. Thus this unit was built to SC not SWT specifications, appearing from Derby in SC colours as 170727 and delivered to SC at Selhurst. The best quote for re-painting was from Chart Leacon which resulted in a journey of 170727 from Selhurst to Chart Leacon (Ashford) via Eastbourne and Hastings on 21st October 2003. It returned across the marshes on 12th November in SWT colours in its eventual number, 170392. Note this unit retains a SC style interior and is formed DMCL-DMSL.

Driver training for 170 operated Marshlink services commenced in the week of 5th April 2004 from Brighton. Trials across the marshes started on 14th April which included observation by an HMRI Inspector of the selective door opening arrangements (SDO) required at Doleham and Three Oaks where there are very short platforms. From 10th May one Marshlink diagram was due to be worked by a 170 with all diagrams on this line nominally being 170 operated from 24th May. However, with only six units to cover an overall five diagrams and considering maintenance and coupler conversion requirements it took a bit more time before Marshlink was fully Class 170 operated.

In order to allow their Turbostars to be able to couple with their Electrostars in an emergency South Central, rebranded from April 2004 as the Southern Railway, are converting their Class 170 units to Dellner couplers, at which time they are re-designated as Class 171/7 for the 2 car units and 171/8 for the four car ones. This re-designation may also be the solution to a potential numbering conundrum. 170727 was originally intended for the first two car unit for the Southern Railway's second batch but it has already been used initially for 170392. On TOPS numbers can only be re-assigned after five years. If 170727 has been fully registered on the system it will not be available for Southern thus leaving a gap in their original 170 sequence. It is not known if it was fully registered, but with all Southern Turbostar deliveries as 171s then the problem went away.

Ten 170/7 two car sets were built during 2003 and 2004, subsequently converted and carrying the numbers 171721/30, and six 171/8 during 2006, numbered 171801/6. Unit N°171730 is the above-mentioned 170392 which was aquired from South West Trains, which then had the subsequent change of coupling to the Dellner type

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.
  • 170206
    Progress over the North London Line for Crosslink services is slow since they have to fit in between Silverlink Metro stopping services at 15 minute intervals (for most of the day) and many slow moving freight trains. 170206 is passing north/eastbound through South Acton station on 14th June 2000
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 170306
    Unit N°170306 stands in platform 3 at Eastleigh on the very murky morning of 21st March 2001 awaiting its 8:02 a.m. departure to Brighton.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 170303
    Unit N°170303 approaches platform 2 at Eastleigh on 17th April 2002 and will be the 8:50 a.m. departure for Reading.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 170727
    Unit N°170727 - The train that never was!
    As explained in the text, N°170727 was painted in South Central livery at Derby and is seen here at Eastbourne en route to Ashford on 21st October 2003 to be repainted into South West Trains livery and TOPed as N°170392.
    Photograph by Edmund Copping.
  • 170392
    Then on 12th November 2003 unit N°170392, ex-N°170727 was seen at Lewes making the return journey and wearing the correct livery and number!
    Photograph by Edmund Copping.
  • 170725
    The new order on the Uckfield branch! The first Class 170/7 "Turbostar" for South Central, 170721, was delivered to Selhurst on 6th August 2003. Test running on the Uckfield branch began on 14th August. The new units started working one diagram (commencing with the 12:48pm departure from East Croydon to Uckfield) on 8th December 2003. Here 170725 arrives at Uckfield on its first trip of the day on this particular diagram on 12th February 2004.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 170724
    Later 171724
    As mentioned in the text, for TOPS reasons the class 170 sub-classes progressed not from 170/7 to 170/8 but to 171/8. Here we see unit N°170724 leaving East Croydon in February 2004, before it was renumbered as N°171724.
    Photograph by John Lewis.
  • 171802
    As mentioned in the text, for TOPS reasons the class 170 sub-classes progressed not from 170/7 to 170/8 but to 171/8. Here we see unit N°171802, which was first shown to the public at the York Railfest, photographed on Sunday, 30th May 2004.
    Photograph by Adam Warr.
  • 171802
    A three-quarter rear view of one of the driving cars of four car unit N°171802 at York taken on Sunday, 30th May 2004.
    Photograph by Adam Warr.
  • Dellner
    This is what makes the DMU a 171 instead of a 170 - the Dellner coupler. Existing 170/7s will have their couplers changed to Dellners, becoming 171s in the process.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • MS Car
    Whilst most concentrate on photographing the driving cars, it is the MS cars which are the significant difference from the two car units!
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 1st Class
    The interior of the first class saloon of unit N°170725. This photograph was taking on 12th February 2004 during the early weeks of Turbostar operation on the Uckfield branch. For those who do not recognise the location through the windows - it is at the town end of Uckfield station.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • Standard Class
    The interior of one of the Motor Seconds of unit N°171802.
    Photograph by Adam Warr.
  • Doors
    A pair of doors into the DMCL showing the contrasting colours required for determining the door position by travellers with impaired eyesight (required by disability access regulations).
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • Connections
    The connections between the DMCL and DMSL.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • Door
    The door lobby in the standard saloon of the DMCL of unuit N°170725.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.

This page was last updated 25 November 2010

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