Class 395


By January 2007, the body shells of the vehicles destined for the first unit had been completed. Over the subsequent months, these were extensively wired and fitted out – each six-vehicle Class 395 unit takes approximately eight weeks to fully assemble from start to finish. On 20th February 2007, Hitachi announced that it had enlisted the consultancy services of French State rail company SNCF for the domestic train project. SNCF has considerable experience in validating and certifying European signalling equipment on high-speed lines. The organisation will assist Hitachi in configuring the four onboard signalling systems required on the fleet: TVM430 (Transmission Voie Machine); TPWS (Train Protection Warning System); AWS (Automatic Warning System); and KVB (Contrôle Vitesse par Balise – Speed Control by Beacon). TVM430 was used to signal the Channel Tunnel, and this same system was also employed on the CTRL. TPWS and AWS are well-known on the British rail network, and the KVB system is fitted to all French TGV trains. Configuration of the systems would be undertaken both before the units left Japan, and after their arrival in Britain. The construction of the fleet was being undertaken by Hitachi in a large factory in Kasado, on the southern edge of Japan, which housed a production line facility capable of manufacturing varying classes of EMU.

On 9th March 2007, the first high-speed domestic six-vehicle unit was completed. Long before this, the type had been designated ‘’Class 395’’ and had been referred to as ‘’Javelins’’, in light of their streamlined appearance and proposed use on Olympic services in 2012. It became clear at this stage that the proposed white, yellow, and black livery associated with the ‘’Southeastern’’ franchise had been abandoned in favour of an attractive dark blue scheme. Throughout June, the first unit underwent extensive acceptance exams in Japan, and in the following July, began its six-week 10,760 mile-long voyage to the United Kingdom. Scandinavian shipping company ‘’Wallenius Wihelmsen Logistics’’ was awarded the contract to transport the Class 395 fleet from Hitachi’s Kasado factory to Southampton Docks, via the Japanese Port of Kobe, and on this occasion used the roll-on-roll-off vessel ‘’MV Tarago’’. The ship docked at Southampton on 23rd August 2007, with the six ‘’Javelin’’ vehicles being unloaded and lowered onto the adjacent tracks that day. On the night of Thursday 30th August 2007, the complete Javelin formation was moved by rail from Southampton to Ashford, via Woking, the Hounslow Loop, Clapham Junction, Catford Loop Line, Bickley Junction, and Tonbridge. An EWS Class 67 was the traction for this move, complete with the customary barrier wagons. At Ashford, the Class 395 unit was bound for a new £53 million Hitachi maintenance facility, tailor-made to service the ‘’Javelin’’ fleet. The depot was built just to the east of the station, on the former site of rolling stock stabling sidings; the latter were consequently realigned. Hitachi has been awarded a seven-year contract to maintain the Class 395 fleet at Ashford, and a modified depot at Ramsgate will supplement this operation. Despite the arrival of the first ‘’Javelin’’, formal opening of the Ashford depot did not occur until 2nd October of that year, the ceremony being led by the UK Secretary of State for Transport and the Japanese Ambassador. October also marked the commencement of night testing of the Class 395: on 1st of the month, No. 395001 ran between Ashford and Headcorn, whilst the line was under possession, being coupled to a Class 375 unit. A top speed of 50 MPH was achieved on this first test run, followed by a 100 MPH run the next night. Static examinations at the freight inspection yard at Dollands Moor allowed initial testing of the pantograph system to take place. Running of the unit on ‘’High Speed 1’’ commenced on 1st November, and on the 20th of that month, sister unit No. 395002 arrived at the Ashford depot, after similarly being dragged from Southampton Docks behind an EWS Class 67, via the Hounslow Loop.

By the end of 2007, a total of four Class 395 units should be in the country, bringing a temporary end to the production of the type at Hitachi’s factory in Kasado, Japan. Until September of the following year, the factory’s production line will turn its attention to the manufacture of trains for the Japanese market, after which time the ‘’Javelin’’ construction programme will recommence. Train operating company ‘’Southeastern’’, which will run the domestic CTRL services as part of its franchise commitment, has enlisted the services of Corys T.E.S.S. (Training & Engineering Support Systems) to install a Class 395 driving simulator at the railway company’s training centre at Ashford. At Ashford, there are already six Corys T.E.S.S. simulators, these having been procured during 2002. To create room for the new simulator, three of the 2002-built machines will be cascaded to a new £325,000 crew training centre within the former steam engine shed building at Orpington. The Class 395 simulator was due to come into use during September 2008. Commencement of the full ‘’Javelin’’ domestic service was on 13th December 2009, coinciding with the start of the National Winter Timetable.  

Journey Times

28th November 2007

The body shell, bogies, and traction equipment are of Japanese origin. Signalling is provided by the French, and as mentioned in the main text, SNCF are assisting Hitachi in the configuration of this system. The units' brake components and pantographs are also produced in France. © David Glasspool

28th November 2007

The shell has been based heavily on the design of Hitachi's ''Series 885'' formations, which came into use in Japan during the year 2000. The cowling at the front hides the coupling system which makes it possible to run twelve-vehicle formations, a practice which, reportedly, will be followed during peak periods. © David Glasspool

28th November 2007

A view of the second side elevation of the unit, through the glass façade of Ebbsfleet International, reveals the single sliding doors. Units are air-conditioned throughout. © David Glasspool