British Rail Class 165

British Rail Class 165 Network Turbo

Chiltern Railways refurbished Class 165/0 No. 165001 at London Marylebone

The refurbished interior of a Chiltern Railways Class 165/0
In service 1990 - present
Manufacturer BREL York
Constructed 1990 - 1992
Refurbishment 2003–2005 (165/0)
Number built 39 trainsets (165/0)
37 trainsets (165/1)
Number scrapped 1 trainset
(due to the Ladbroke Grove Rail Crash)
Formation 2 or 3 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers 165001 - 165039
165101 - 165137
Operator(s) Chiltern Railways
Great Western Railway
Line(s) served Great Western Main Line and branches
Chiltern Main Line and branches
Car body construction Welded aluminium
Car length DMS/DMSL - 22.91 m (75 ft 2 in)[1]
MS - 22.72 m (74 ft 6 in)[1]
Width 2.81 m (9 ft 3 in)[1]
Height 3.79 m (12 ft 5 in)[1]
Maximum speed 75 mph (121 km/h) (165/0)
90 mph (145 km/h) (165/1)
Weight 2 Car - 74 tonnes (73 long tons; 82 short tons)[1]
3 Car - 111 tonnes (109 long tons; 122 short tons)[1]
Prime mover(s) One per car, Perkins 2006-TWH Diesel[1]
Power output 350 hp (261 kW)
Transmission Voith Hydraulic T211r
2 axles driven per car
Safety system(s) AWS, TPWS
ATP, Tripcock system (165/0)
Coupling system BSI[2]
Multiple working Class 166, Class 168
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 165 Turbo is a fleet of suburban diesel multiple units (DMUs), originally specified by and built for the British Rail Thames and Chiltern Division of Network SouthEast. They were built by BREL York Works between 1990 and 1992.[3] The trains were originally known as Network Turbos. An express version was subsequently built in the form of the Class 166 Turbo Express trains. Both classes are now sometimes referred to as "Networkers", a name which was derived some three years later for the project that resulted in the visually similar Class 465 EMUs.

The class is still in service, and is now operated by Great Western Railway on services out of London Paddington station and by Chiltern Railways on services out of London Marylebone station. When operated originally by Network SouthEast, along with that operator's Class 166 trains, the Paddington suburban units were initially known as Thames Turbos, whilst the units operated on the Marylebone suburban network were known as Chiltern Turbos.


Two batches of units were built for different subdivisions of Network SouthEast to replace elderly "Heritage" DMUs as well as locomotive-hauled trains on services out of London Paddington and London Marylebone. The fleet is wide-bodied to take advantage of the loading gauges of the former Great Western Railway and Great Central Railway on whose lines it runs.

Both have a 350 horsepower (261 kW) Perkins 2006-TWH diesel engine on each car, Voith Turbo-transmissions, and Gmeinder final drive.

When new, the units were branded as either Thames Turbo or Chiltern Turbo between the two first class windows of the DMCL carriage.

Class 165 units were some of the first trains in Britain to be designed for Driver Only Operation- in cases where a Guard is required, the Guard must carry out their door operation duties via a bell system to signal the Drivers to close doors and start the train. This requires the Guard to return to a vacant cab at each station to carry out these duties. Examples of this include Chiltern Railways services north of Banbury or Great Western Railway services on the Cotswolds and Reading to Gatwick lines.

Class 165/0

Thirty-nine Class 165/0 Turbo trains were built in 1990-91, in two batches, for the Chiltern subdivision of Network SouthEast, numbered 165001-039. Both 2-car and 3-car variants were built. Initially, thirty-three units were ordered (comprising the vehicles that made up units 165001-165022 and 165029-165039) but an additional order was placed for a further six units (165023-028). Units 165001-028 were delivered consecutively, as 2-car units, whilst units 165029-039 were delivered as 3-car units. These vehicles have a top speed of 75 mph (121 km/h). They are now all fitted with tripcocks for working over the London Underground lines between Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill, although upon delivery this equipment was only fitted to 165006-028. Automatic Train Protection is also fitted, making them one of the few classes to have both these features in Britain.

165029-039 were temporarily allocated to the Thames line in 1992. This was necessary as resignalling of Paddington station meant that Network SouthEast could no longer run locomotive-hauled trains to and from Paddington. Insufficient numbers of Class 165/1 Turbo trains had been delivered by this date to operate all the locomotive-hauled services, so all the 3-car Class 165/0 Turbo trains were diverted to the Thames line as replacements. Once sufficient Class 165/1 Turbo trains had been delivered, 165029-039 were returned to the Chiltern line.

Each unit was formed of two outer driving motors, with an additional intermediate motor in the 3-car units. The technical description of the formation is DMOSL+MOS+DMOS. Individual carriages are numbered as follows:[1]

Class 165/1

No.165119 at Didcot Parkway. This unit is painted in the original Network SouthEast livery.

Thirty-seven Class 165/1 Turbo trains were built in 1992 for the Thames line subdivision of Network SouthEast, numbered 165101-137. Like the Chiltern units, both 2-car and 3-car variants were built. Units 165101-117 were delivered as 3-car units, followed by the 2-car units 165118-137. They are re-geared and fitted with bogie yaw dampers to allow top speed of 90 mph (145 km/h), more suitable for mainline use.

Each unit was formed of two outer driving motors, with an additional intermediate motor in the 3-car units. The technical description of the formation is DMOCL+MOS+DMOS. It should be noted that although still listed on the vehicle data sheets at DMOCL vehicles, the first class area has been removed on all 165s operated by GWR, as such these vehicles are now technically DMOSL vehicles. Individual carriages are numbered as follows:[1]

Two coaches of no. 165115 were destroyed in the Ladbroke Grove rail crash. The remaining driving motor carriage remains as a spare vehicle.[5][6]

Accidents and incidents


Chiltern lines

Chiltern Railways refurbished three car Class 165/0 No. 165032 at London Marylebone

The 165/0 units were originally delivered in Network SouthEast livery for used on routes including fast services from London Marylebone to Princes Risborough and Banbury and local services from Aylesbury to London and Princes Risborough. In this role they replaced the Class 115 DMUs. They were later used further afield, when Chiltern services were extended to serve Leamington Spa, Solihull and Birmingham Snow Hill.

In December 1993, due to a downturn in traffic as a result of the recession, units 165001-007 were transferred from the Chiltern lines of Network SouthEast to the Thames lines (from Aylesbury to Reading depots). All vehicles had their tripcock equipment removed before transfer. The following year, unit 165007 was returned to the Chiltern lines, followed by 165006 in 1995. Due to unavailability of tripcock equipment upon their return, the units were coupled cab-to-cab and operated for some months between the vehicles of other units as semi-permanently formed four car units - until tripcock equipment became available, allowing them to be restored to operational two car units. Following privatisation, two former Chiltern units (165003 and 165005) were repainted into Thames Trains livery. Chiltern Railways inherited 34 Class 165/0 units from Network SouthEast, and the remaining five others were returned from Thames Trains in 2004 - leaving Chiltern Railways operating the whole subclass.

After privatisation they continued to work similar services as before but, with the arrival of the faster Class 168 Clubman units, the 165 Turbo trains were displaced and are now found less often on expresses to Birmingham, generally working on shorter routes such as stopping services to Aylesbury, High Wycombe, and Stratford-upon-Avon and also the Birmingham Moor Street - Leamington Spa local services.

A new depot was built at Aylesbury in 1990/1991 for the maintenance of these trains and has been enlarged since British Rail days, with the addition of a wheel lathe. Light maintenance and refuelling is carried out at Wembley LMD and Tyseley TMD and units can occasionally be found at Stourbridge LMD. Units are also regularly stabled in the Marylebone station environs, Aylesbury South Sidings and at Banbury, where a further depot is currently under construction at the south end of the station on the western side of the line.

All Chiltern units were refurbished between late 2003 and early 2005.[3] Air conditioning was added and the opening hopper windows replaced with sealed units. A new passenger information system, similar to that on the Class 168 Clubman trains, CCTV cameras and an area designated for the use of wheelchair-users were added and the first-class section was removed, as Chiltern became a standard-class only railway in 2003. The original 3+2 seating at the outer ends of the driving vehicles was replaced by new 2+2 high back seating. The existing 3+2 low back seating was retained in the centre areas of the driving vehicles and throughout the centre vehicles of the three-car units. A cycle/wheelchair area with tip up seats was also added to each unit. A further refurbishment commenced in 2015, concentrating on the toilet areas, to make these units fully Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) compliant for operation beyond 2020.

Thames lines

A First Great Western service from Paddington pictured at Twyford

The Class 165/1 fleet were built for local services from London Paddington along the Great Western Main Line; their main destinations included local trains to Reading, Greenford, Newbury, Bedwyn, Oxford, and Banbury, and services along the branch lines to Windsor & Eton Central, Henley-on-Thames, Marlow and Bicester Town.

Following privatisation of British Rail, the franchise was won by the Go-Ahead Group who operated it as Thames Trains from 1996 to 2004 and inheriting the all the Class 165/1 Turbo trains as well as the first five Class 165/0 Turbo trains that had been transferred from the Chiltern lines. As part of the franchise change they introduced a new blue, white and green livery. There were two variants of this livery; the Class 165 Turbo carried the non-express variant.

In April 2004, operation of the Thames Trains franchise passed to First Great Western Link. The livery remained the same, but First Great Western Link branding was applied over the Thames Trains logo.

In 2004, due to deliveries of new Class 180 Adelante units on sister company First Great Western, the five Class 165/0 Turbo units became redundant and were transferred to Chiltern Railways.

During 2007, the Class 165/1 Turbo trains were re-liveried with the First Great Western Neon Dynamic Lines livery.

In January 2010, First Great Western announced an £8 million refresh programme for its fleet of Classes 165 and 166 Turbo DMU trains,[10] undertaken by Dartford Composites Ltd at the then Cow Lane Depot in Reading:

In 2012, First Great Western took delivery of Class 180 Adelante units for Cotswold Line service, and three-car Class 150 Sprinter units for Reading to Basingstoke Line services, allowing Class 165 and 166 units to be used to reinforce Thames Valley services.[11]

In late 2015, as part of the rebrand to GWR, the Class 165 fleet had all first class sections removed to increase capacity.[12]

Great Western Railway are starting to do another set of refreshes to the Class 165 fleet from summer 2016. They are progressively being fitted with LED head/tail lights, a new, dark green GWR livery, a new toilet which is more accessible than the old toilet, new door buttons which are significantly easier to push than the original buttons, and new door buzzers.

The changes made during the 2010 refresh remain in place with the exception that first class has been removed from all units prior to the current refresh programme.

Function and Features

The main duties for the Class 165 are stopping services around the Thames Valley and Chiltern networks. Originally branded as Network SouthEast under British Rail they replaced services formerly made up either of older diesel multiple-units, or locomotive-hauled Mark 1/Mark 2 carriages. The two Networker Turbo classes provide many improvements over some of the trains that they replaced:

The second batch of 165/1s and their sister Class 166 allowed for an increase of top speed to 90 mph (145 km/h), allowing the trains to be used on Great Western stopping and semi-fast services.

Current fleet details

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 165/0 Chiltern Railways 28 1990-91 2 165001 - 165028
11 3 165029 - 165039
Class 165/1 Great Western Railway 16 1992 3 165101 - 165114
165116 - 165117
165115 destroyed in Ladbroke Grove rail crash
20 2 165118 - 165137


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Colin J Marsden. "Technical Data: Class 165". Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  2. "Mechanical And Electrical Coupling Index". Rail Safety and Standards Board. Archived from the original on 2013-12-21. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
  3. 1 2 "Chiltern Railways: About us - Our train fleet". Chiltern Railways. Archived from the original on 2010-07-03. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
  4. "Thames Trains fined £2m for Ladbroke Grove crash". The Daily Telegraph. London. 2004-04-05. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  5. "Train derails at Paddington: Services disrupted in and out of station". BBC News Online. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  6. First Great Western - Train operator gives Thames Valley Trains an £8million makeover
  7. "Return of Adelantes to First Great Western confirmed". 2011-11-23. Retrieved 2011-11-23.
  8. "First Great Western gets rid of First Class on Reading trains". Rail. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2016.

Further reading

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