Please be aware of our copyright notice. If you have a good reaon for using a photo from this site ask permission from first - it is frequently given.

4-EPB (Class 415) and 2-EPB (Class 416)

photograph by Ray Soper

An unknown 4-EPB joins the South Western mainline near Wimbledon with a West Croydon to London Holborn Viaduct via Wimbledon service on 16th November 1966.

In 1951 the Southern Region starting building a new type of suburban EMU - the EPBs - so named because they were fitted with electro pneumatic brakes. Although mechanically different and not compatible with earlier stock they essentially took over from where 4 Sub construction ended. Indeed many early 4 car units had trailers released from withdrawn 4 Sub units and in true Southern tradition underframe units from older withdrawn EMUs were re-used. The 1951 units were to SR Bulleid design, the chief spotting differences between the Subs and the EPBs being that the EPBs had roller blind headcodes (except for the few Subs that also did...), the driving cab front widows were more upright and rectangular on the EPBs, and most obviously the EPB driving cabs had side windows which were not mounted within a door - the cab now being reached from a door serving a vestibule. Early SR design 4-EPBs also had a rainstrip high up the roof - as on the Subs - but the later BR designed EPBs and all 2-EPBs had their rainstrip at cantrail level. BR designed EPBs were introduced in 1957. These were built to BR standard designs and so their body sides did not have the pronounced Bulleid curvature nor the lights above the doors. They also had a slight roof overhang on their cab ends (as with the contemporary Ceps/Beps).

Mention should be given fifteen 2 car BR standard design EMUs built in 1954/5 that were inherited by the Southern Region in 1963 after the Newcastle to South Shields line was de-electrified. These were classified as 2-EPBs and whilst being similar to the 1957 2-EPB units for BR(S) they were distinguished by considerably larger guards vans in their motor coaches so reducing seating capacity by ten seats. They also had shallower roller blind windows compared with their southern counterparts and a slightly greater roof overhang over their cab ends.

Under BR TOPS 4-EPBs became class 415 with sub class /1 being the SR designed units and /2 the BR design units. Similarly the 2-EPBs became class 416 with the same sub class distinctions. When introduced the EPBs wore the smart BR(S) EMU green livery. In the 1960s they succumbed to the BR corporate blue image - being suburban units they were initially overall blue. This looked smart and had a very pleasing deep lustre when new and clean but this colour scheme weathered dreadfully. The EPB stock (excepting those units fitted with large amounts of blue asbestos which were withdrawn) started being refurbished in 1980 and these were renumbered and outshopped in blue and grey. There were reformations of units throughout this process. Whilst the main line livery did not fit the class particularly comfortably it reduced the impact of weathering.

From May 1985 facelifted 2-EPBs fitted with window bars were deployed to work the North London Line after it had been converted to third rail only operation. Following the murder of a young lady in an EPB compartment in March 1988 EPB units were again reformed to concentrate all compartment stock in a limited number of units. Known to the SE Division as 4 Com units this designation only appeared on documentation and not on the units, although compartment stock was denoted by a red strip at cantrail level, the first use of such colour coding for non-catering use. Such units were diagrammed not to be used after 8 pm, although they were used to maintain service if no other stock was available. Compartment EPB stock was finally withdrawn by December 1991.

In November 1990 4-EPB 5001 was reformed and painted into green and deployed as a "celebrity" unit in addition to its everyday usage. EPBs continued to be withdrawn over an extended period. By October 1994 only seven SR design EPBs remained although a number were kept in store for at least six months after the final EPB had been withdrawn. BR design 4-EPBs were the last to remain in service, the last working being on 31 March 1995. The EPBs served an unglamorous life plying the suburbs and serving commuters well - if not exactly in great comfort.

As many an SREmG member has discovered whilst constructing the DC Kits 2/4-EPB kits getting the underframe and bogie detail accurate is an absolute nightmare since there were many variations within the EPB build.  Indeed knowing and understanding what was fitted to a particular batch is a major topic in itself which will not be covered here other than to advise that careful research is needed to get such details right. SREmG members are now fortunate that as a result of many a complex discussion over this topic they now have access to photo studies by SREmG member Mark Brinton illustrating the details under 1951 and 1957 EPB stock.  For public consumption there follows a series of photographs illustrating various details.

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.
  • Interesting
    An interesting photo, but what exactly was going on? Out-of-service EMUs were frequently towed to and from the place of repair/maintenance by steam engines, but that doesn't seem likely here. Q1 Class N°33018 is attached to an unidentified 4-EPB at Guildford in 1958, but is it towing or propelling? The EMU hasn't had its shoes lifted, nor is there a brake van at rear (as the loco was vacuum braked and the EMU was air braked there should have been a brakevan at the rear for towing) so is the loco simply moving the EPB for some local requirement?
    Photograph by John Wills.
  • 5738
    London Bridge
    The DTS of 2-EPB (class 416/2) unit N°5738 is seen basking in the sunshine, thought to be at London Bridge low level.
    Photograph by Michael Taylor.
  • 5030
    Unit N°5030 photographed at Purley during 1980.
    Photograph by Rod Williams.
  • 5125
    EPB N° 5125 captured at Victoria (Eastern) during April 1986 whilst it was allocated to Slade Green.
    Photograph by Jeffrey Lynn.
  • Inner
    Rarely seen - the inner end of DTS S77505 from 1951 stock 2-EPB unit 5706. Note the jumper cables and central single buffer.
    Photograph by David Smith.
  • Hybrid
    A hybrid BR/Bulleid class 415 unit seen departing the high level platforms, also at London Bridge on 28th August 1988.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 5765
    Mitcham Jn
    2-EPB N°5765 taken from the signal box at Mitcham Junction looking towards Croydon. This was the usual West Croydon to Wimbledon service.
    Photograph by Michael Taylor.
  • 5759
    2-EPB unit N°5759 photographed at Wimbledon on its very first day in service.
    Photograph by Mike Morant.
  • 5010
    In the winter sunshine of early 1967 4-EPB N°5010 calls at Datchet on a Windsor to Waterloo service via Richmond.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.
  • 5763
    N°5763 is seen at Sanderstead, on what is thought to be the last day of the service. The date, however, is unknown, and any further information would be appreciated.
    Photograph by Chris Ralls, courtesy of Mike Morant.
  • 5715
    Hungerford Br.
    2-EPB N°5715 taken from another train on Hungerford Bridge in 1961.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.
  • 5749
    2-EPB N°5749 at Sanderstead station. Note the use of the tail lamp instead of a red blind in the headcode window.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.
  • 2-EPB MBSO
    This is the underframe detail on BR 1951 design 2-EPBs and is from a MBSO.  The equipment from left to right is - shoe fuse, main power switch, equipment fuse, reverser, line breakers (louvered cover) and weak field contactors, contactors and parallel group switch (PGS), train line fuse and DH25 compressor
    Photograph by David Smith.
  • 2-EPB MBSO
    This is illustrating the equipment on other side of the motor coach on the MBSO S65348 of unit N°5734 (also of 1951 stock). Equipment from left to right is - motor generator set, compressor, contactor, battery box, no's 1 2 and 3 banks of resistor grids, reservoir (thought to be the auxiliary), J3 brake chest and shoe fuse.
    Photograph by David Smith.
  • 5759
    The interior of the DMBS of EPB N°5759 which has been preserved and works on the East Kent Railway in conjunction with their MLV 680001..
    Photograph by Paul Ferbrache.
  • 5759
    Cab controls
    The driver's controls in the cab of N°5759.
    Photograph by Paul Ferbrache.
  • 5667
    An EPB emerging from the bushes! At the Coventry Railway Centre is Bulleid design 2-EPB unit N°5667 DMBSO 14573 & DTSO 16117. This was renumbered unit N°6307 after refurbishment. These sets were built in 1959 on underframes from withdrawn 2 Nol units - a classic case of SR recycling. The window bars, resulting from the classe's deployment on the North London Line, can be seen. From the shade of green it is presumed that this unit was on 18th August 2002 in undercoat.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • Junction
    One end of the trailer of TSO 15354 from Bulleid design 4-EPB unit N°5176 showing the junction box just below roof level, seen here on 18th August 2002.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.

This page was last updated 14 November 2003

SR Target