Greater Anglia Class 745/315 Flirt!

Greater Anglia Class 745/315 Flirt!

This is a video of the Greater Anglia Flirt (16.30 > Norwich) on 28 March 2022, but that’s not the important bit! Rather its the Class 315 which can be seen constantly in the 745’s windows as the trains race each other to Stratford! The 315s are still doing several duties a day from Liverpool Street to Shenfield, mostly in the late pm/evenings. Despite previous announcements 2018 > 2022 that the class was ending its days, it hasn’t happened yet! Recently TfL announced the 315s would solder on until February 2022. Well its the end of March 2022 now – and one wonders whether the 315s might be joining the Elizabeth Line!

The Class 315 consisted of 315857 at the rear and 315847 at the front. I travelled on it as far as Seven King’s, partially because that’s where I began my forays with the Shenfield Electrification system in 1958/9, from where we travelled either to London or to Southend Victoria, the latter having been under the wires just over two years. As I have related elsewhere the Class 315s are essentially the Shenfield Electric’s second generation units, the first being the venerable Class 306s. (Not forgetting Class 307s operated peak hour semi fast Shenfield services to and from Southend Victoria.)

Its amazing that 73 years after the Shenfield line was electrified its still seeing its second generation units at work! The 315s have been at work 42 years compared to the 306’s 32 years of service but this wont be for much longer of course. One wonders whether the Class 345s will attain such a lengthy spell of service or not?

The video in its fullness is show above. I had hoped to show the full trip right into Stratford station itself however another 745 passed in the direction of Liverpool Street as we entered the station so that wasn’t to be. By the way the 315’s windows were so dirty that I had to move the camera a number of times as both trains departed Liverpool Street station to try and find the cleanest spot for the filming!

In terms of discussing the original scope of the Shenfield electrification, when one says the 306s and 315s are Shenfield Electrics in a way that’s a little misleading. The 306s were indeed built for the new services to Shenfield from 1949, however for most of the second half of the 20th Century the local services mostly compromised Liverpool Street to Gidea Park. This was the case especially after 1956 when the wires were extended to Southend thus running the 306s the full distance to Shenfield was no longer necessary. Its the later Class 307s (built for the Southend line) which serviced stations beyond Gidea Park, and its why in peak hours these had stops that included Romford, Seven Kings, and Ilford.

Class 315857 (unit 847 on the other end) at Liverpool Street 28 March 2022.

What it means is few ‘Shenfield electrics’ between 1956 and the first decade of the 21st Century actually reached Shenfield itself. Gidea Park was almost always the terminus with just a handful of 306s or 315s continuing to Shenfield (and the occasional 306 or 315 to Southend in place of the 307s or the 321s – not forgetting the 315s for some years ran the through services between Liverpool Street and Southminster!) Some services ran in peak hours non stop to or from Ilford or Seven Kings or Romford (there was a pattern that alternated between these stations) and these were utilised by either the Gidea Park (and occasional Shenfield) or the Southend services, with the 306s, and 315s on the former duties and the 307s or the 321s on the latter duties. By the way this isn’t meant to be any comprehensive description of the full Shenfield services that existed for much of its first fifty years, rather its a very brief summary.

The outer end of the unit, 315847, seen at Seven Kings en route to Shenfield. Note the new footbridge for the station’s lifts.

All of the above mentioned classes also operated the handful of peak hour services (stopping or otherwise) between Liverpool Street and the former platform 5 at Ilford. When one considers the cessation of those duties, it was the fact platform 5 was somewhat operationally awkward – especially after some track rationalisation had taken place which limited its access somewhat. With the higher frequency services offered these days, running services into platform 5 at Ilford was no longer worth the effort.

I have a number of other videos & pictures of the Class 315s this year – below is a short clip of 315838 at Stratford in January.