A Kentish Odyssey

Written by: TrainSim-James

The Southern Railway’s 2-HAL is right around the corner for Train Simulator, a once-classic on the commuter scene that is almost ready to make a return!

Derived from the 2-BIL EMUs of the Southern Railway, the 2-HAL fleet was built with the purpose of populating the spate of newly-electrified main lines in Kent – from London Victoria and Charing Cross to Gillingham and Maidstone. The electrification project was monumental, and would transform the Chatham Main, North Kent and Medway Valley lines into how they more-or-less stand today.

As the railways were modernised, engineers at Eastleigh and Lancing Works began to produce a fleet of 76 brand new electric multiple units. The on-order fleet for the Southern Railway was of similar specification to the older 2-BIL, the most significant change was half as many toilets (BiLavatory/Half Lavatory), however differences in construction lead to quite a different aesthetic for the new units.

The construction of the 2-HALs beat the electrification project, and so the new fleet was ran-in on the Southern Railway’s central section – running suburban services out of London Victoria – until Kent’s modernisation was complete. 2-HALs would finally arrive in Kent, more specifically the Chatham Main Line, in July 1939, and get to work on commuter services to Maidstone and Gillingham.

Services formed of 2-HAL sets, typically in 8 or 10-car formation (8/10-HAL), would depart London Victoria and split at the relocated Swanley station, with each half bound for Gillingham and Maidstone respectively, before performing the opposite operation on the journey back up to the capital. 2-HALs would also work the North Kent “metro” services, them too splitting at Strood and serving Gillingham and Maidstone out of London Charing Cross & Cannon Street.

Perhaps the most prestigious working that the 2-HALs partook was long distance services from Gillingham to Portsmouth, these weekend excursions were mainly put in place for naval personnel but could also accommodate regular passengers. The popularity of the 2-HALs was so just, that a second batch was fulfilled at the outbreak of war.

The Second World War was harsh on the 2-HALs, but none were totally destroyed, instead they would survive beyond the conflict and eventually wind up on the Brighton Main Line in the advent of the 1955 Kent Coast electrification scheme. The final passenger work for the 2-HALs, which had now been officially re-classified as the BR Class 402, was on the Coastway routes out of Brighton.

Some Class 402s were re-purposed as parcel stock, but all services ceased in 1971. Throughout the next several years, the entire fleet would be sold for scrap, none survived into preservation. The 2-HALs’ story has spanned decades, and a new chapter is due to be opened as this Kentish classic is coming soon to Train Simulator!

The BR Class 402 for Train Simulator will include:

  • 2-HAL EMU in Southern Green and BR Blue liveries
  • Era-appropriate features; Southern Green is fitted with a whistle, and BR Blue is fitted with a two-tone horn etc.
  • Early prototypical ‘Southern Region style’ cab
  • Dynamic headcode functionality (see right)
  • Intricately detailed, period, passenger compartment view
  • A trio of ‘alternative reality’ Career scenarios for the Chatham Main Line – no 2-HALS survived into preservation, what if that was not the case?
  • Quick drive compatibility – the 2-HAL is perfect from Kent & Sussex to Surry & Hampshire, where will you take it?

The BR Class 402 ‘2-HAL’ is right around the corner, keep an eye out for updates! 

Multiple 2-HAL units form a Medway-bound service, seen ready to depart from London Victoria. Note, screenshots depict content still in development.

The cab of the 2-HAL remained relatively unchanged throughout its lifetime, with perhaps the only addition being a two-tone horn lever (not pictured). Seen here is the original Southern Green cab variant.

Before the introduction of standardised Mk1-derived rolling stock, early slam-door EMUs were built upon existing designs, with the 2-HAL sharing heritage with Bulleid’s coaching stock of the Southern Railway.

A nostalgic view for many, passenger compartments instead of the modern, open-plan interiors of the recent past. Southern Railway treated the cabins with care, detailed seat patterns and paintings that adorn each wall (above). While enjoying the view, another 2-HAL set passes by, bound for London, featuring the full-yellow front and corporate BR Blue scheme (below).

Back when the 2-HALs were in service, the chimney’s of Battersea Power Station would have been bellowing fiercely. Today, the same cannot be said and this sight is now impossible to reproduce, apart from in Train Simulator!

The town of Longfield sees some historic action as two sets of BR Green 2-HALs roar into the platforms. These units were the “networkers” of their day, and frequent stopping would be standard operation throughout the Kent countryside (above and below).

Grosvenor Carriage Shed, just outside London Victoria, populated with classic Kentish traction after a hard day’s work. The 2-HAL, the BR Class 402, a unit of history soon being revived in Train Simulator!

We’re always happy to receive your comments below but please ensure they are related to the subject of the article, we’ll remove any that appear to be unrelated.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.