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c2c Class 387 DC Testing

One of the significant features of the way the railways were privatised in the UK in the 1990s was the majority of rolling stock being owned by leasing companies (ROSCOs) and the potential of rolling stock being ordered speculatively, and also moves between Train Operating Companies (TOCs) occurring more regularly than stock transfers within British Railways. Thus in future trains would need "off the shelf" generic designs. However, speculative orders did not happen for about the first twenty years as orders for new-build rolling stock were TOC-specific agreed between the builder, ROSCO, and TOC. However, on the back of the 387/2 order for Gatwick Express Porterbrook speculatively ordered twenty 387s from Bombardier. These were to be "off the shelf" electric units so were specified to run operationally on 750c DC and 25kV AC. Even before construction commenced these did not remain without customers for long, with c2c taking six to provide much needed additional capacity pending the arrival of a new fleet of trains and GWR taking the balance in part in place of the twenty nine 387s they are no longer getting from GTR. To complete the picture, GWR also ordered a further thirty one to make up the difference of absence of 387s from GTR and also for no longer getting half the fleet of 365s from GTR. Excellent news for us who live in the GWR part of the Thames Valley as we will be getting new trains rather than hand-me-downs! We might even get electricity to run them eventually...
c2cs second unit, 387302, in platform 17 at Clapham Junction on its way south to Lovers Walk on 19th October 2016

photograph by Stuart Hicks

This has resulted in 387s being tested and commissioned on DC on the Southern Region even though they will only be running under catenary in day to day service. Testing and commissioning of 387s remains at Bletchley TMD and in addition to running on the West Coast Main Line for AC units have been run to Lovers Walk for commissioning on DC. Above is c2c's second unit, 387302, in platform 17 at Clapham Junction on its way south to Lovers Walk late morning on 19th October 2016.