British Rail Class 165

British Rail Class 165
British Rail Class 165 Networker 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
Family name Networker
Constructed 1990 - 1992
Refurbishment 2003 – 2005 (165/0)
Number built 39 trainsets (165/0)
37 trainsets (165/1)
Formation 2 or 3 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers 165001 - 165039
165101 - 165137
Capacity ? seats (2 Car)
? seats (3 Car)
Operator Chiltern Railways
First Great Western
Line(s) served Great Western Main Line and branches
Chiltern Main Line and branches
Car body construction Welded aluminium
Car length DMS/DMCL - 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)[1]
3 Car - 111 tonnes (109 long tons)[1]
Engine(s) One per car, 350 hp (261 kW)
Perkins 2006-TWH Diesel[1]
Transmission Voith Hydraulic T211r
2 axles driven per car
Safety system(s) AWS, TPWS
ATP, Tripcock system (165/0)
Coupling system BSI[2]
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 British Rail, the then United Kingdom state owned railway operator. They were built by BREL at York Works between 1990 and 1992.[3] The trains belong to the Networker family of trains, and were originally known as Networker Turbos to distinguish them from the electrically propelled members of that family. An express version was subsequently built in the form of the Class 166 Turbo Express trains.

The class is still in service, and is operated by First Great Western on its services out of London Paddington station and by Chiltern Railways on its services out of London Marylebone station. The trains operated by First Great Western, along with that operator's Class 166 trains, are often known as Thames Turbos, while the units operated by Chiltern Railways are 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 gauges of the former Great Western Railway and Great Central Railway on whose lines it runs. As a result, it is restricted to these routes.[citation needed]

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 Chiltern Turbo or Thames 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 were a Guard is required they 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 First Great Western services on the Cotswolds Line.

Class 165/0

Thirty-nine Class 165/0 Turbo trains were built in 1990-91 for the Chiltern subdivision of Network SouthEast, numbered 165001-039. Both 2-car and 3-car variants were built. Units 165001-028 were delivered as 2-car units, and were followed by eleven 3-car units numbered 165029-039. These vehicles have a top speed of 75 mph (121 km/h). They are fitted with tripcocks for working over the London Underground lines between Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill. Automatic Train Protection is also fitted, making them one of the few classes to have this feature 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 DMSL+MS+DMS. Individual carriages are numbered as follows [1]:

  • 58801-58833 and 58873-58878 - DMSL
  • 55404-55414 - MS
  • 58834-58866 and 58867-58872 - DMS

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 DMCL+MS+DMS. Individual carriages are numbered as follows:[1]

  • 58953-58969 and 58879-58898 - DMCL
  • 55415-55431 - MS
  • 58916-58932 and 58933-58952 - DMS

Two coaches of no. 165115 were destroyed in the Ladbroke Grove rail crash. The remaining driving motor carriage remains as a spare vehicle.[4][5]


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, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Solihull and Birmingham Snow Hill, and local services from Aylesbury to London and Princes Risborough. In this role they replaced the Class 115 DMUs

Two units (165003 and 165005) were later repainted into Thames Trains livery.

Chiltern Railways inherited 34 Class 165/0 units from Network SouthEast, and the remaining five others were transferred 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 have been pushed down the pecking order, are found less often on expresses to Birmingham, instead 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 short services.

A new depot built at Aylesbury for the maintenance for these trains has been enlarged since its inception during British Rail days. Light maintenance and refuelling is carried out at Wembley LMD and Tyseley Depot and can occasionally be found at Stourbridge LMD. Units are also regularly stabled at Marylebone and Banbury.

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 seating. 3+2 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.

Thames lines

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

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 produced. 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 the First Group, who operated the company as 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.

A rail user's group has suggested that Class 165 Turbo and the express variant, Class 166 Turbo Express will work services on the Cardiff Central to Portsmouth Harbour route after the Thameslink cascade, subject to line clearance.[6] However, a Network Rail document released in 2011 cast doubts on whether this would actually happen after revealing the gauge between Cardiff and Portsmouth is currently not suitable for Class 166s. [7]

London and Thames Valley Refresh

A First Great Western service from Paddington formed of 165123 and 165114 terminates at Oxford

Towards the end of January 2010, First Great Western have announced an £8,000,000 refresh programme to their fleet of Classes 165 and 166 Turbo DMU trains.[8] The seats will be retrimmed, interiors repainted, Passenger Information Displays replaced with a GPS based system and toilets upgraded. The refresh work is being carried out in house at Reading Depot, with the first two vehicles already arrived (165109[9]) and five vehicles will be in the works at any one time. The refresh will be completed by the end of March 2012, by which time 151 vehicles will have received the refresh work.

Units 165101, 165102, 165103, 165106, 165109, 165119, 165120, 165123 and 165124 have so far been refreshed and out in traffic.

Current fleet details

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos.
Class 165/0 Chiltern Railways 28 1990-91 2 165001 - 165028
11 3 165029 - 165039
Class 165/1 First Great Western 17 1992 3 165101 - 165117
20 2 165118 - 165137


Class 165 First Great Western Diagram.PNG


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