Written by: TrainSim-James
Prepare to experience the Southern Region of the mid-20th Century, as the iconic Class 402 ‘2-HAL’ is coming soon to Train Simulator!
Electrification of railway lines in Kent was in full swing by the late 1930s, third rails were being laid from Gravesend to Maidstone, Gillingham to Swanley in an effort to modernise the Southern Railway. In total, some 117 route miles were brought into the future throughout Kent, and to utilise the newly placed rails, a new fleet of Electric Multiple Units was to be brought into service.
In April, 1938, an order was placed for Eastleigh & Lancing Works to produce 76 brand new 2-car EMUs for the newly electrified lines of Kent. The new units were similar to the previously introduced 2-BIL (2-Car Bi Lavatory) stock for London Waterloo operations, but instead only featured a lavatory in the Driving Trailer, and as such were classified as the 2-HAL (2-Car Half Lavatory). Other differences included the corridor location, being situated on the opposite side, and that the outer shell was slightly modified, thanks to welded steel and domed cabs. Other than that, the units were operationally indistinguishable, and in later years would frequently mix on mainline services.
The 2-HAL fleet began entry into service in 1939, initially being ran-in on the Central section of the Southern Railway, based at Selhurst, before spreading to their intended routes in Kent. A second batch was quickly ordered, which focused on the route to Brighton, Ore & Seaford. When the Second World War started, the 2-HALs were the only units allowed down to Brighton, as they featured window blinds, vital for blackout procedures, which previous traction like the 2-NOL did not have. The 2-HALs were hit hard throughout the conflict, but thanks to ample numbers, efficient repairs, and basically luck, none of the units were actually destroyed.
After the war, the 2-HALs dominated Kent, running in anything upward of 10-car formations out of Victoria or Charing Cross, serving the Medway Towns and Maidstone. The fleet wouldn’t start to deviate until the late 1950s, when withdrawal of the 2-NOLs began, and by the 1960s, the 2-HALs were operating out of Victoria and Waterloo to serve Central and Western sections of the Southern Region. Some 2-HALs were even used to strengthen the service to Gatwick Airport, the genesis of what is today’s popular Gatwick Express service. The move from Kent sparked renovations of the 2-HAL fleet, and the start of yellow warning panels on the units.
In their later years, the 2-HALs began to see BR Blue treatment, with as many as 44 units receiving the new scheme. Some would also return to Kent for a short while, putting the Kent Coast Electrification scheme to good use while the new 2-HAPs were still in production. While withdrawals began in 1969, the units lasted long enough to be classified under TOPS as the BR Class 402. The last of the Class 402s remained in service on Brighton Coastway services until 1971, when the last units took their final passengers.
Aside from minor parcel and departmental use in the early 1970s, the entire Class 402 fleet was subsequently scrapped with no examples in preservation. The closest living example to this early generation of Southern Region EMU is a single 2-BIL, which lives today at the National Railway Museum.
The Networker of its day, the Class 402 ‘2-HAL’, may have passed in the real world, but it will soon make a return to the rails as the classic EMU is making its way to Train Simulator! ■