PEP Across the Capital

Written by: TrainSim-James

In the 1970s, BREL (British Rail Engineering Limited) were developing a prototype electric multiple unit for both the Southern and Scottish Regions. Classified as the Class 445 & 446, the prototype electro-pneumatic ‘PEP’ units were meant for high density commuter operations. A trio of PEPs were built for testing and preliminary passenger service, 2 Class 445s (4-Car) & 1 Class 446 (2-Car). These units spent their life in the Southern Region, mainly serving South Western destinations in a 10-car long configuration. By the end of the 1970s, the PEPs had been withdrawn from passenger service, but a new design had been finalised for full production.

Capacity concerns in North London, plus the recent electrification of commuter lines out of Glasgow and the East Coast Main Line, necessitated new traction. It would be BR’s Second Generation of EMUs that would fulfil the role, starting with the Class 313. The oldest and most versatile of the family, the Class 313, was built between 1976 and 1977 to form a 64-strong fleet for the North London Line & suburban services on the East Coast Main Line.

On the ECML, the Class 313 would not only call at King’s Cross, but also take over the branch to Moorgate. Built as a ‘Tube’ line, the Moorgate branch was completely underground and was not capable of taking standard-sized rolling stock; as a result, the Class 313 was designed with a smaller loading gauge, making it short enough to safely fit within the tunnel boundaries. Some changes were also taken into account following the PEPs, mainly to comply with underground regulations, one in particular was the inclusion of a door at either end, compulsory for evacuations.

The Class 313s definitely spoke “revolution”, they were the first units to be fitted with multi-function Tightlock couplers, which allowed for complete coupling and supply line operations from the cab; and they were the first dual-voltage units with both a 25 kV AC pantograph and 750 V DC shoegear.

In the 1980s, Willesden-based Class 313s mainly served the North London Line, however it was decided that they would take over from the older Class 501s on the Watford DC Line. As there were long gaps in the third rail on this line, the several Class 313s were retrofitted with extra shoegears to maintain contact. All Class 313s that received this change were reclassified as the Class 313/1, and these units could be seen operating in North London/Watford right up until 2010.

Privatisation saw the Class 313 fleet divided between 2 operators, Silverlink & West Anglia Great Northern (WAGN). The former continued to operate the 313/1s on their respective routes until 2007, after which London Overground took over operations. Some minor modifications were made to the North London fleet after the TfL transfer, mainly the removal of the Silverlink brand and reduction in the number of seats to make more standing room.

In 2009-2010, the Class 378 ‘Captialstar’ gradually replaced the Class 313 on North London and Watford DC services. Subsequently, the displaced 313s were sent to work for First Capital Connect for the ECML, and Southern for Coastway services; those that were sent to the latter received major refurbishment. The Southern fleet was reclassified as 313/2 following the refresh. The Class 313/2s featured a modernised cab, refitted interior with high-backed seating, a unique take on the Southern livery, depicting various destinations on the East & West Coastways, and the pantograph was removed.

Not all the ex-North London Class 313s were taken by Southern and FCC, 313121 was acquired by Network Rail for European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) testing purposes on a short section of the Hertford Loop. 313121 was the last unit to wear the Silverlink livery, however this was quickly changed to an all-over bright yellow, standard for departmental stock.

WAGN & FCC retained the Class 313s for their duties on the ECML, however with Govia’s recent Thameslink & Great Northern takeover, it was decided for a lot of older BR rolling stock to be replaced. Thameslink saw the introduction of Class 700s in 2016, marking the gradual end of the Class 319s through the centre of London; and Great Northern will withdraw their Class 313 fleet in 2018, being replaced by the in-production Class 717, an underground-compliant derivative of Thameslink’s 700s.

The fate of the Great Northern Class 313s post-withdrawal is uncertain, given that most of the units will be in excess of 40 years old by 2018 (currently the oldest EMUs in service on mainland Britain), it is unlikely that any operator will want them and they’ll soon be sold for scrap.

With no doubt, the Class 313s have done their duty exceptionally well, connecting North London together and paving the way for future units that have also served throughout the country right up to today. Re-live the classic operations & nostalgic sounds of 313s in the Capital, as Armstrong Powerhouse’s authentic representation will soon be arriving at Steam for Train Simulator service!

To improve freight connections between Britain’s various routes, it was decided to convert a majority of the North London Line to overhead electrification for locomotive benefits. As a result, the dual-voltage Class 313s were brought in to replace older, third rail-only traction which could no longer do duty. At Acton Central, 313117 is seen arriving from Richmond on the third rail (above), before departing for Stratford with the pantograph high (below).

A hard-worked 313105 arrives at Stratford before returning to Richmond. For the longest time, Class 313s used to call at Stratford’s lower level platforms before continuing onto North Woolwich, but in recent years this has been changed significantly. New upper level platforms were introduced, so the lower level could be utilised by Docklands Light Railway services to Stratford Intl and the branch to North Woolwich is soon to become the eastern section of London’s Elizabeth Line.

The morning light starts to crawl across the sky over Willesden TMD, just in time for the driver to approach their 313 for the early shift (above). Once in the cab, it’s time to set up and head for Richmond (below), don’t forget the Saloon lights! Naturally, as the 313s were transferred to Southern’s Brighton Lovers Walk Depot, the sight of these units at Willesden became a rarity; however one single unit, 313121, can still be seen there on occasion as it is maintained by London Overground on behalf of Network Rail.

Seen during a typical downpour, circa 2009, 313119 passes one of its successors near West Hampstead, crossing the viaduct over the Midland Main Line. The Class 378 Capitalstars were originally delivered as 3-car units, similar to the 313s – however despite longer saloons and longitudinal seating, the classic formation wasn’t enough and today, all Class 378s are now 5 cars in length.

On a cloudy summer afternoon, 313134 makes the turn on approach to Hackney Wick, bound for Stratford. The true nature of the North London Line is apparent here, serve major locations in London all-while avoiding the bustling city centre, which can be seen in silhouette on the horizon.

After a long day, 313114 calls at Dalston Kingsland on a late-night service to Richmond. It’ll soon be time to park up for a rest, before the whole cycle starts again at dawn. Get yourself on the roster for handling the North London Line, the chance to pick up & drive the 313 from Steam is drawing ever closer!

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.



  • will this be out today

  • I noticed when this was out on Armstrong powerhouse I saw a video from Armstrong powerhouse version that you can open and close the doors by the push of a button will the same happen when it comes out for train simulator.

    • Yes you will and you will also be able to close the doors by the push of a button*.

      *(when doors are driver controlled)

      • does the same go with the outer cab door as well.

  • Can’t wait to drive the 313 around The North London Network!

  • So will this come with all the included liveries, or just the London Overground one?

    • Only the London Overground livery is included with this add-on

  • PLEASE say it’s gonna include more than the LOROL livery. I’d love it to also include the NSE and BR Blue/Grey liveries and possibly even the FCC livery because that would a) make it a better product for steam and b) make it more articulate for workshop without players needing to download reskins.

    • The developer has chosen to release the LOROL liveried version on Steam and may bring other liveries at a later date.

  • The AP Class 313 is an amazing DLC! The detail and sounds from this pack are truly something amazing. As you read in the article above these units ran in a lot of places making them a well worth it DLC for Train Simulator 2017.

  • It’s great to see more Armstrong Powerhouse addons on steam

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