First it was the final Class 315 on the Romford-Upminster line and just two weeks later the final one too on the ‘Jazz’ suburban route from Liverpool Street to Enfield as well as the Southbury line to Cheshunt as well as the Chingford branch.
It was said a class 315 was seen on these routes all weekend and that surpassed expectations. The class continued its unexpected forays on the penultimate day, Monday 18th October with Class 315 802/807 covering practically all the diagrams.
I previously featured the final 315 on the Upminster Branch and also some pictures and videos of the 315s using the Lincoln Road foot crossing near Enfield Town. My main interest however really is the Great Eastern route as I’ve known this since about 1959 and the 315s have only been the second generation of local passenger stopping trains ever to use the line since its electrification in 1949. The first were the 306s and these were some of my favourite units. As I have detailed elsewhere occasionally these were used on the Southend Victoria services and by that it must be noted the 315s also sometimes reached Southend too but they were often found on the Liverpool Street to Southminster services. It must be said those services on the West Anglia routes were part and parcel of my experience due to the fact both routes ran parallel for a distance out of Liverpool Street.
315807 waits out in the sun at Chingford before its final public trip to Liverpool Street and back (via Enfield Town.) The rear unit was 315802. Source: Twitter
I know some may well point out that the other EMUs (such as the 305s and 307s) were too used on Liverpool Street-Shenfield services. Yes I am fully aware of those and remember these in fact at time we could get home quicker using one of the limited stop services operated by these units and in fact both units ran services which ran non-stop from Stratford and non stopping Ilford too en route to our station. But occasionally it would be a 306 that did the job instead! Which station was that? Well it was the one having the same initials as Soren Kierkegaard! No prizes for guessing but whether that station was a Stage on Life’s Way for me is a big question! As a small kid it was a special place because we had these lovely electric trains and that is me speaking of the late 1950s and the Class 306s in their original form! It all seemed so modern in those days (even though the station buildings themselves at SK were old stuff and the only sort of modern stations at the time were in fact Forest Gate, Maryland and Stratford.) Apart from these extra special train services there were also the peak hours only services from Ilford to Liverpool Street – possible because there was a bay platform at Ilford. Now its all changed and that platform has gone. Yes they have semi fast Crossrail trains these days but the pattern of services isn’t as complex or as interesting as it was fifty, sixty, years ago.
Just to briefly interject, here’s the final timetable for the Class 315’s last turn of duty on London Overground’s lines on the 20th October 2020!
Class 315 timetable for 20th October 2020. Source: Twitter
In terms of the Great Eastern electric services, of course with the current set-up the Ilford stoppers are no longer possible and they cant be restored because the bay platform was taken out of use and the track layout since realigned to give a better run to the Ilford flyover. It was this former arrangement that required some services to be operated in the way they were because the bay platform was better served from the down fast line. But with that now gone a more even sort of service can be offered evne though there is perhaps less flexibility – whilst not forgetting that conflicting movements are still necessary to gain Ilford Car Sheds (or ‘traincare depot’ if you prefer!)
It hasn’t been the same for the West Anglia suburban lines however because all in all the services have almost invariably been along the entire route and rarely has any there been any need for these services to have an intermediate turn back point. So what is being said here is London Overground (compared to TfL Rail) are still operating a pattern that has remained much the same over the decades – save for the time when, among other things, until recently when some of the West Anglia outer suburban services were diagrammed to end their duty on a local Chingford service in order to reach the depot there. But now the line is exclusively London Overground this is perhaps the biggest change over the years and that alone has given the three routes out of Liverpool Street a far more consistent identity than has been possible for a very long time.
The most unusual aspect of these lines is perhaps the fact they don’t have a dedicated depot thus the stabling of trains has always been a bit spread out. Its not so much of an issue now that these lines are operated entirely by London Overground and stabling can be mostly concentrated at the small Chingford depot with some outliers at both Enfield Town and Liverpool Street. Major servicing and repairs for the 54 Class 710 units are of course conducted at Willesden with both Ilford and East Ham being a further option.
The Class 315 were a late introduction to these lines in much the same way they were too on the Great Eastern and Romnford to Upminster lines. The 315s were mostly used on the Enfield Town services to begin with because Chingford services enjoyed a good portion of 317s on its services. They soon became the staple diet too on the outer suburban route to Hertford East which of course serves Cheshunt.
Its just these last few years the 315s have become the one and only stock operating the three inner suburban routes displacing the 317s from Chingford completely thus the 315s have in fact had had a good innings – and were supposed to have been withdrawn a couple of years ago!
It is with much regret the 315s have now ended their service life working to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town. RIP.
The final Class 315 service 20th October 2020:
The screens at Hackney Downs announcing the train on platform 3.
I didn’t travel the entire farewell tour on the 315 only part of the return journey (Hackney Downs-Liverpool Street-Chingford) however I made up for that by being the one and only person to take some photographs of the final Class 315 in public service rounding the curves into Hackney Downs station! It surprised me no-one had the same idea as I did as there’s a nice sweeping curve just before the junction itself.
315807 on the curved viaduct approaching the junction at Hackney Downs. This picture marks the end of the Class 315’s jaunts on the former ‘Jazz’ lines in public service.
The rear of the train at Hackney Downs station. The rather strong colour in this picture is due to the sunlight being bounced off the large 1960s built Hackney Downs signal box. This substantial building was closed in 2001 and operations centred on the new Liverpool Street IECC.
Before I travelled up to Hackney Downs, I caught some interesting activity going on at Liverpool Street well over half an hour before the final 315 arrived here.
This was the scenes at Liverpool Street half an hour before the Class 315 arrived!
Cakes galore waiting at Liverpool Street for the arrival of the hard working train staff!
315807 just after arrival at Liverpool Street. Was it somehow intentional to path the train here as it stood in platform 7 rather than the usual 1 or 2! It was probably because it is a wider platform and could be used solely for the train itself.
Some of the Class 315 enthusiasts at Liverpool Street enjoying a specially framed photo session!
The hashtag #ProudtobeARL refers to the fact London Overground trains are actually managed by Arriva Rail Limited.
Guy looking up apprehensively at the departure boards no doubt asking himself ‘is this really the train I have to use? Why have they put a dodgy old train in service!’ And the LO staff are enjoying a final walk along the train itself the guy is pointing at the train decor and explaining how he’ll miss it! The 710s are definitely not a patch on these 315s!
Some will of course think the 315s were dodgy old trains! They weren’t. They have given exceptional service and have managed to provide a more consistent service on the adjacent Great Eastern lines compared to the 345s! And to be honest, they didn’t look old either! It was just the seating layout didn’t suit modern needs among other things such as on board indicators, air con and the lack of wi fi.
Rail staff preparing for the final public trip ever by a London Overground 315!
Faithful enthusiasts waiting for the train to depart. Almost immediately after I took the picture the signals (and the banner repeater just behind me) gave the all clear for departure.
Enthusiasts on the London end of the platforms at Hackney Downs photographing the train’s arrival at the station.
The staff at Hackney Downs watch the Class 315 draw alongside platform 2.
Walthamstow Central station – just three more stops and that’s it!
The ubiquitous level crossing at Highams Park (and formerly Hale End too!) This major road level crossing is the only one left on a branch line in North London.
Staff at Chingford stabling sidings wave at the train as it passes towards the terminus station. Hopefully the pictures on his Canon DSLR came out well!
As our train comes to a stop at Chingford and the doors open, this is the final moment London Overground’s Operations Manager and ARL’s Engineering Director step off a Class 315. I hadn’t realised I was in the same carriage as them when I switched carriages en route!
Both directors were instrumental in getting the Class 710s off the ground and into service. ARL’s Kate Majoribanks is one of the most senior women in the rolling stock industry. The business structure of TfL is a bit complicated as London Overground itself is LOROL and so on. How it works basically (as I have discussed before elsewhere) is TfL has various umbrella companies all working at arms length from the main TfL body but they’re still accountable to the main managing body though. As for the guy well I memorised his name but forgot! He’s no doubt accountable to John Fox, Director of London Rail and he works alongside ARL (Arriva Rail Limited) to ensure the new trains are running as they should and sort out any problems in conjunction with ARL as well as stipulate service requirements and the rest of it. Yes I know the trains are built by Bombardier but that’s another chain in the process and its rather confusing to say the least!
What this means is on this very day for both these senior management staff an important stage in the London Overground new rolling stock programme has now been reached with the retirement of the Class 315. All of LO’s trains are now the new walk through, energy efficient, Class 710s – albeit this is some two years late in the running!
The two senior executives posing for the camera in front of the final Class 315 – his attention was at that very moment distracted by a dog (off screen) being walked by the guy in the grey bob hat.
Once all the rail staff had vacated the Class 315’s cab and rear lobby area another member of staff proceeded to clean all the controls and the seat, walls etc – no doubt part of the current measures to keep infections down to a minimum.
No sooner than that had been done the cab vacated and the door closed, someone should come along and peer through the windows. Is he thinking to himself ‘has that guy done his job properly?’ His friend’s pulling him away, probably saying something like ‘why worry, that guy no doubt knows his job better than you do!’ Oops!
DJ So Good plays some music on the platform whilst others dance. Its slow at first but it soon warms up when most people return from the station forecourt having facilitated themselves to free food and drink!
One of the theatrical guys does a bit of dancing in an attempt to get others interested in the latest masked dancing to be offered anywhere. But at that very moment most people preferred a free cup of hot chocolate elsewhere!
Free refreshments at Chingford station! Source: Twitter
As our train left Chingford Station, a group of enthusiasts were spotted on the other platform waiting for the Class 315 to depart for the sidings and the train on the other side (units 710 114/124) to make its way to the platform and thus begin a full complement of London Overground Class 710 service on the operator’s OHLE lines.
During the final trip badges and pens commemorating the end of the 315s were handed out.
Here’s the LO pen commemorating the last run of the 315s. I photographed it in front of an LO illuminated roundel sign seen on the new Class 710 back to Central London.
Later that day Chingford station (in perhaps a turn of bitter irony) suffered a power cut. There were complaints Oysters were being charged the maximum fares because the automatic barriers were out of action!