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Units 8001-8005

8001
8001 under test at Wimbledon station Whilst being the first 458 unit it was far from being the first into service, however with continued life with Gatwick Express it may just stay in operation on the Southern Electric system longer than most of its contemporaries.

8001 was hauled from Washwood Heath to Wimbledon on 31st October 1998. At this stage it was painted undercoat white with warning yellow front and red details. Full livery was due to be applied before full introduction to traffic which was originally projected to be in May 1999. No seats were fitted and test gear was installed. Testing on Shepperton Branch took place in later half of November 1998 with further testing within the confines of Wimbledon depot during December 1998. 8001 was then used for running tests up to 90mph between Woking and Basingstoke during January 1999 and was by then accumulating testing mileage at approximately 250 miles per day. 8001 donated its test equipment to 8002 sometime after the latter arrived in February 1999. 8001 and 8002 were being tested as 8 car train from March 1999, initially with only eight motors cut-in, then latterly twelve.

Still not ready for service, 8001 was returned to Alstom’s Washwood Heath works on 10th January 2000 and is though to have returned to Wimbledon on 14th August 2000. The unit was recorded as being back at Washwood Heath works on 24th January 2001. This unit’s tour of the Alstom empire continued as it was then taken to Alstom Eastleigh for fitting out 16th March 2001 and was then recorded as going to Wolverton for a refit late that year.

(above) 8001 in Wimbledon station whilst testing during May 1999.
photograph by Mike Wilson.
(below) 8001 at Eastleigh during 2003 when it was being stripped for spares. Its cab door had been donated to 8026 which had been side-swiped by shunters
photograph by Dave Hickson.
8001 at Eastleigh robbed for spares
By January 2002 8001 was still not in service and speculation was by then rife that this and five other units might be rebuilt for another TOC or converted to be a test train and never see SWT service. The unit was recorded as moving from Wolverton to Eastleigh in March 2002, whereupon it was stored, receiving further modifications there during November and December 2002.  During early 2003 8001 was thought to be stripped of parts to provide spares for others, however whatever the state the unit was in it was running test out of Eastleigh that summer and had moved back to Wimbledon July 2003.

8001 was finally put into in passenger service early in November 2003, just over five years after delivery, however it was recorded as being 8001 at Eastleigh on 30th December 2003. With just under two years of service for SWT the unit was selected with 8002 to be sub-leased to Gatwick Express as a reserve train and it was moved to Stewarts Lane on 2nd September 2005. The units will only be used if sufficient 460s are unavailable, likely to be after 2030 when maintenance cover may be required, estimated no more than 70 days a year. Both units have had their SWT livery rebranded Gatwick Express, had luggage racks installed and seating converted to 2+2. An exemption order for Gatwick Express for 8001 and 8002 was applied for on October 14th 2005, granted on March 28th effective 4th April 2006. However, 8001 (not a stranger to inactivity) and 8002 did not move out of Stewarts Lane until June 30th 2006 (ironically due to be the last day of 458 operation on SWT) when they finally went for a test run on the Wimbledon loop. This unit returned to South West Trains on 15th December 2006 having not run in passenger service for Gatwick Express. On 8th July 2008 8001 was conveyed by 8020 to Bournemouth T&RSMD for refurbishment.It emerged on 29th July and returned to traffic the following day.

8002
8002 at Waterloo 8002 arrived at Wimbledon 19th February 1999 in plain livery without branding and sometime after received test equipment from 8001. This unit also had a cab interior revised following staff consultation over the cab in 8001. 8001 and 8002 were being tested as 8 car train in June 1999, initially with only eight motors cut-in, then latterly twelve. 8002 was hauled to Reading on 22nd August 1999 for signalling checks in platform 4a/b.

During May 2000 the unit was recorded at Clapham Junction. 8002 was sent to Alstom Wembley for modification during August 2000 and returned to Wimbledon in October 2000. However the unit was back at Wembley in November until taken to Eastleigh in early March and was reported as still being there on 6th October 2001.

By January 2002 8002 was still not in service and speculation was by then rife that this and five other units might be rebuilt for another TOC or converted to be a test train and never see SWT service. Along with 8001, 8002 was taken to Wolverton and was recorded as being there in March. The unit was returned to Eastleigh on 11th July 2002 and was receiving modifications there during November and December 2002. 8002 was at Wimbledon for acceptance trials in December 2002, in early 2003 was used on driver training duties and finally entered public service in May 2003. However two months later the unit was again taken to Eastleigh.

The unit was selected with 8001 to be sub-leased to Gatwick Express as a reserve train and it was moved to Stewarts Lane on 2nd September 2005. The units will only be used if sufficient 460s are unavailable, likely to be after 2030 when maintenance cover may be required, estimated no more than 70 days a year.  Both units have had their SWT livery rebranded Gatwick Express, had luggage racks installed and seating converted to 2+2. An exemption order for Gatwick Express for 8001 and 8002 was applied for on October 14th 2005, granted on March 28th effective 4th April 2006. However, 8001 and 8002 did not move out of Stewarts Lane until June 30th 2006 (ironically due to be the last day of 458 operation on SWT) when they finally went for a test run on the Wimbledon loop. This unit returned to South West Trains on 15th December 2006 having not run in passenger service for Gatwick Express.  On 1st October 2008 8002 went down to Bournemouth to take part in regenerative braking tests between Weymouth and Dorchester South/Wareham, returning to Wimbledon on 22nd October.

(above) 8002 at Waterloo prior to working a service with 8001 to Reading on 12th October 2004
photograph by Phil Scott

8003
8003 working singly at Clapham Junction 8003 working alone on a Reading-bound service at Clapham Junction on 20th May 2004

photograph by John S Patston

8003 was delivered to Wimbledon 9th July 1999 and was the first unit to be delivered with branding applied. It was sent to Alstom Wembley for modification 14th July 2000, returning to Wimbledon in October 2000. However the unit was back to Wembley in November and remained there until early March 2001 when it was taken to Eastleigh where it was put into store. By January 2002 8003 was still not in service and speculation was by then rife that this and five other units might be rebuilt for another TOC or converted to be a test train and never see SWT service.

8003 received further modifications at Eastleigh during November and December 2002, whereupon it was sent to Stewarts Lane during March 2003. It was back at Wimbledon on the 28th April and entered public service in May 2003.

8003 seems to have lived an unreportable life until February 2006 when it was noted to have been out of service for months. Its last noted working was on the 28th August 2005. On June 21st 8003 and 8007 were moved to Bournemouth TM&RSD to be prepared to be returned to the lessors, the first pair to receive such attention.   This unit was repatriated to Wimbledon on 13th November 2006 and was observed on a test run on 13th December. 8003 had returned to service by 18th December. On 24th June 2008 this unit was used as a tractor unit returning 8006 to Bournemouth T&RSMD for rectification after refurbishment. 8003 went back to Bournemouth on 20th August for its own refurbishment, returning to Wimbledon on 9th September 2008 and returning to traffic the next day.

8004
8004 through Longcross 8004 was delivered to Wimbledon on 6th August 1999 and was first unit to be fully fitted out. The unit was sent to Alstom Wembley for modification during August 2000, returning to Wimbledon in October 2000. However the unit was back in November and remained there until early March 2001 when it was taken to Eastleigh. 8004 was allocated to Wimbledon depot during June 2001 and used with 8021 for 12 car trials during July. The unit entered service during August 2001, some two years since delivery. 8004 received further attention at Eastleigh from February 7th 2002 for modifications, leaving there in May/June.

(above) 8004 passes through Longcross on 18th June 2004.
photograph by Chris Nevard

On 19th January 2004 8004 and 8028 worked to Shepperton, the class recently having been cleared to do so. In February 2006 the unit was noted to have been out of service for months. In July 2005 it was noted as being in need of a bogie change for which no spares were available.   8004 was the last unit to re-enter service, first being noted out running on 19th July 2007 and newly fitted with door well lights and CCTV. On 10th September 2008 this unit went to Bournemouth T&RSMD for refurbishment. It was released on 30th September and returned to traffic on 1st October.

8005
8005 at Clapham Junction working to Waterloo The photographer captured 8005 at Clapham Junction on what would prove to be its penultimate working, the 11.42 Reading to Waterloo service on 7th June 2006. The game-plan was to photograph this unit again at Reading as it arrived with the 13.20 from Waterloo but it never appeared, having failed en-route. On the way back from Reading it was sighted dumped in the sidings at Staines.

photograph by Colin Duff

Having been delivered in January 2000 and given the slow introduction to service of the first four units 8005 and 8006 (the first "production" units) were the first of the class to enter service. This being on the 25th February 2000, following test running on the Alton line from the end of January. The pair worked ECS from Wimbledon at 06.45 to Alton where there was a press launch at 09.20. They then worked the 10.34 Alton-Waterloo, 11.48 Waterloo-Alton, 13.01 Alton Waterloo and 14.20 Waterloo-Alton, finally ECS to East Wimbledon 15.42. Passengers were allowed to travel in one of the units only. There were no mishaps and it was the first time the class was recorded working into Waterloo. The pair were utilised on similar workings in subsequent weekdays. 8005+8006 failed at Waterloo on 13th March 2000 prior to working the 14.20 to Alton which was cancelled. The units later went back to Wimbledon slowly. These pair of units remained in service until October until stopped for repairs to the leaking unit gangway ends. 8005+8006 returned to service in late 2000 although not permitted to run coupled until gangway ends modifications were certified. 8005+8006 received attention at Eastleigh in December, being back in traffic from 11th December 2000 during the weekday peaks, plus working singly between Guildford-Ascot and Woking-Waterloo. The gangways between the units were out of use and two drivers were required if unit had to reverse where no suitable external walkway.

8005 failed twice on consecutive days during March 2002. 8005 received further attention at Alstom Eastleigh during the early part of 2002, autumn 2002 and spring 2003.

The last recorded working of 8005 was on the 7th June 2006 when it failed when working the 13.20 Waterloo-Reading and was sidelined at Staines. The next day it was moved back to Wimbledon Park.  On the 4th August this unit, with 8008, went to Bournemouth T&RSMD to be prepared for handing back to its lessors.  On 15th September 8005, with 8014, moved under their own power from Bournemouth to Wimbledon, for reasons unknown, the pair returning on September 22nd. 8005 was moved back to Wimbledon on 2nd November 2006 to be prepared to be reactivated. This unit had re-entered service by 12th December. It was observed on a test run with 8012 to Woking on 26th January 2007.It went to Bournemouth T&RSMD on 29th July for refurbishment.