Good News Friday: Your weekly roundup of positive rail news!

Posted: 5 April 2024 | | No comments yet

In this week’s installment of ‘Good News Friday’ read about SWR’s celebrity visitor and the success of Railway Children’s fundraiser!

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South Western Railway (SWR) and special guest Francis Bourgeois have unveiled a retro look for a Class 455 London commuter train.

francis swr

Class 455 trains are one of TikTok star Francis Bourgeois’ favourites, and the avid trainspotter was given a special preview of the train – number 455-868 – at SWR’s depot in Wimbledon, the home of its 455 fleet.

Francis Bourgeois, after seeing the train for the first time since its makeover, said:

“The Class 455s mean a huge amount to me, so I am overjoyed to see the class’ heritage and service celebrated with a British Rail-inspired blue and grey repaint on 455-868.

“When I first saw 455-868’s new appearance for the first time I was gobsmacked by the finish, attention to detail, and also the refresh of the bogies received during it’s recent maintenance, which without the British Rail-inspired livery is a very welcome sight on the network, but with the livery, makes an overwhelmingly beautiful appearance!

“Well done to all those at South Western Railway who did such a great job with this. I can’t wait to ride on this on the network, and happily see it spontaneously on my trainspotting outings!”

The retro look, applied at SWR’s Bournemouth Depot, is inspired by the original British Rail Blue and Minerva Grey livery that customers would have seen when the trains first arrived on the Southern Region of the British Rail network in 1982.

To meet modern accessibility standards, some slight changes have been made, with the unit’s doors fully painted in Minerva Grey.

SWR’s name is proudly displayed as are 12 Golden Spanners, commemorating Wimbledon Depot’s 12 award wins at the Modern Railways Golden Spanner awards, in the category of Ex-British Rail Electrical Multiple Units.

Over the last 42 years SWR’s Class 455 fleet has carried many millions of customers across its suburban network, serving busy stations such as London Waterloo, Guildford, Hampton Court, Kingston, Richmond, Twickenham, Wimbledon, Windsor & Eton Riverside and Woking.

After more than four decades of hard work, the fleet will eventually retire and make way for SWR’s new, £1 billion fleet of new Arterio trains, which will become the beating heart of SWR’s suburban network.

Claire Mann, South Western Railway’s Managing Director, said:

The Class 455 fleet has worked tremendously hard over the last 42 years. As we look to the future with the introduction of our Arterio trains, we feel it’s only right that we celebrate their service and the people who have worked on them, and we were delighted to show Francis this very special livery.

“The livery was painted with a great deal of care by our colleagues in Bournemouth last month, and it’s a nod to the original paint scheme from the unit’s introduction in 1983 – though we’ve made a few adjustments to ensure that it meets today’s standards.

“It’s a special moment for our colleagues at our Wimbledon Depot, the place this train calls home. These colleagues work every day to keep the 455 fleet running, and their efforts are regularly recognised at the Golden Spanner awards, something we’ve commemorated in this livery.”

Railway Children’s ‘Big Station Sleepout’

railway children sleepout

In March, over 400 amazing individuals spent the night on a hard, cold train station floor to raise money and awareness for vulnerable children on streets and at transport hubs around the world.

The fifth Big Station Sleepout had record numbers of people taking part at twelve locations across the UK. And, despite the cold, the noise and the discomfort, spirits were high!

“The atmosphere’s really good and everyone’s really friendly,” said Elinor who was taking part from Glasgow. “When my friend, Theresa, suggested we take part, I thought it would be a great idea – and it gives us a chance to catch up too!”  

“This is our chance to raise a bit of awareness for Railway Children and a bit of money too,” adds Teresa, “we’re delighted to be here.”

From pig onesies to sleeping bag suits, fleece airbeds to fluffy socks, participants did what they could to keep warm (aided by their Railway Children bobble hats!).

But everyone taking part knew they could look forward to a shower and the safety of a warm bed and shelter following their uncomfortable night – luxuries that remain out of reach for many thousands of the vulnerable children and young people Railway Children help. 

So far, the night has raised a staggering £152,500 – and money is still coming in. 

Thanks to sponsorship from VolkerRail and the support of Network Railall the money raised will go straight to support vulnerable children, young people and their families who desperately need help.

Rob Capener, Railway Children’s CEO, said:

“It was so great to see a record number of people taking part in the Big Station Sleepout this year. Each year, the event brings people together for a night which – while uncomfortable – is a great chance to raise money and raise awareness so that we can reach more children around the world who have no one to care for and protect them.

“A huge thank you to everyone who took part and to our sponsors and supporters, VolkerRail and Network Rail. We couldn’t do what we do without you.”