Edition Two Is Here! Welcoming The Class 442 Wessex Electrics

by | Feb 4, 2023

We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming the unusual yet charming Class 442 Wessex Electrics to the Rail Tags fleet!

Units 2421 & 2424 join us after being retired to the bustling sidings of Eastleigh Works and mercifully scrapped.

British Rail Class 442 424 at London Victora for a service to Gatwick Airport.442424 sits at London Victoria preparing for a service to Gatwick Airport. (CC BY-SA 2.0 – train_photos)
Network SouthEast Class 442 passing Eastleigh on December 30th 1991NSE Class 442s speeding through Eastleigh on December 30th 1991. (CC BY-SA 2.0 – Train Photos)
South West Trains Class 442 Wessex Electric passes Queenstown Road for London WaterlooSouth West Trains Class 442 passing Queenstown Road, running towards London Waterloo. (CC BY-SA 3.0 – Janderk1968)

Contradictory to the original plan by SWT, the actual final day of service for the 442s was February 3rd 2007. The last passenger run was honoured by 4212 `Special Olympics` operating the 21:05 Waterloo to Poole service. Earlier in the day 4212 also operated a staff tour via the Windsor and Shepperton branches.

That day marked the end of the Plastic Pig’s time with South West Trains, honoured with a bittersweet farewell.

On February 8th 2424 emerged carrying the same interim livery as 2421. 2424 was bound for Stewards Lane, unlike her younger counterparts. The majority of the fleet were sent for storage at Eastleigh Works.

By mid May the 442s were back out on the mainline in preparation to be moved to Stewarts Lane for the extension of Gatwick Express services.

The first test run was operated on Friday the 31st of August between Stewarts Lane and Three Bridges by none other then 442 424 with Class 73 136 for good measure.

On Tuesday the 9th of December 2008 the Wessex Electrics made their comeback into service, being used on Gatwick Express off peak services between London Victoria & Gatwick Airport. Peak time services to Brighton then commenced on December 15th.

Amazingly 2421 and 2424 both re entered service on December 15th working together from Brighton to London Victoria.

The Class 442s would  operate GatEx services until 2016 when they were replaced by Class 387/2s. They would then be displaced to peak time Brighton to Eastbourne services which would be operated by a pair of Class 442s until March 2017. The final passenger service took place on the 10th of March 2017 being the 17:57 service from London Bridge to Brighton being operated by unit 2410 & 2413.
Southern Class 442 Farewell Tour at Beckenham Junction Class 442 402 at Beckenham Junction on the Southern Class 442 Farewell Tour. (CC BY-SA 2.0 – Train Photos)

On March 12th The Branch Line Society would host the Southern Class 442 Farewell Tour using 2402 and 2408. After this all units were taken to Ely for storage with an uncertain future.

In August 2017 South Western Railway would take over the South Western franchise from South West Trains and committed to leasing 17 Class 442 EMUs for services to Portsmouth.

This left six units off lease being 2401, 2405, 2407, 2412, 2421 and 2424. 4204 DTS 77832 would be saved by Northumbria Rail Ltd and is now undergoing restoration. Meanwhile Arlington Fleet would purchase all remaining vehicles for component recovery and scrap. Miraculously a few trailer vehicles from 2405 and 2407 still survive including an unknown driving coach. 2412 would also survive except for its MBLS coach and is currently in cold storage.

Unfortunately 2421 and 2424 would meet the chop. While it is a sorrowful ending we’re proud to have been able to continue the legacy of these two units through Rail Tags.

Rail Tags Edition Two Class 442 Wessex Electrics Lineup

Rail Tags Edition Two Is Available Now On Our Store!