Class 442s: The Wessex Electrics (Key)

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Volume 27 of the Britain’s Railways Series, Class 442s: The Wessex Electrics is a pictorial tribute from author, Mark V. Pike, to these popular electric multiple units which, until recently, ran on the former Southern Region.

In 1988 British Rail launched the new Class 442s for use on the South West Main Line, running from London Waterloo to Weymouth; their introduction coincided with the electrification of the last stretch of the line, from Bournemouth to Weymouth. Known as Wessex Electrics, these five-car units were produced at the Derby Litchurch Lane Works and replaced the old Southern slam-door stock. A total of 24 units were built, with new features included air conditioning and an extensive use of plastics in their construction, the latter earning them the nickname “Plastic Pig”.

After the privatisation of British Rail the class were bought by Angel Trains and worked on various routes, most notably Gatwick Express services from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport, and later from London Waterloo to Portsmouth with South Western Railway. In March 2021, the remaining 18 units were purchased from Angel Trains by South Western Railway, with the intention of minor refurbishment, but due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on rail services, were instead scrapped.

Captions accompany the 239 colour photographs. 96 pages.

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