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Northern Rail unveils new look Class 319s

Northern Rail has unveiled its new look Class 319 electric units, which will run on the newly electrified route between Liverpool and Manchester Airport.

The operator took ownership of the first of 20 units in summer 2014 and work to give them all a fresh new look is ongoing. The trains have had extensive cosmetic work done with a brand new exterior livery created by designer Ray Stenning and refreshed interiors which include new paintwork and improved seating.

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The improvements include changes to the on-board public information systems, including the installation of new digital screens and automated audio announcements. The refresh also brings the addition of extra handsets for the public announcement system in the middle carriages of the train and conductor door control panels at all doors of the units.

Alex Hynes, managing director for Northern Rail, said: “It’s an exciting time for us and our customers as more of our services and routes turn electric. This investment is paving the way for us to deliver better services and more seats. Our investment in these trains represents our commitment to providing a great customer experience alongside this; not only are we bringing a fresh new look but we’re improving our customers’ journey and how we keep them informed.”


Northern had originally hoped to launch the new electric services from December 2014, but overruns on the electrification of the line forced a delay, announced in November. The original plan was to start running two Class 319s after the December timetable change, with a gradual roll-out of a further 12 over the course of 2015. 

RTM understands from Northern Rail that the operator plans to initially have two 319s operating on route as soon as possible after the electrification work is completed, and then by May the number in traffic will increase to 10 covering that route and Liverpool to Manchester Victoria. 

A Network Rail spokesperson told us that work to electrify the line between Liverpool and Manchester Victoria via Newton le Willows is expected to be completed early this year. However, a date was not confirmed.


Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Manek Dubash   13/02/2015 at 12:45

Alas, poor Northern customers. Class 319s are better than Pacers but generally speaking, they're pretty poor rolling stock by today's measures, as southerners well know.

Neil Hughes   13/02/2015 at 14:22

319's are actual not a bad unit. A few years ago, on a harsh winters day, the only units we could run out of London Victoria Eastern were 319's. The 465's and 377's failed to get up the back. Having said that in this era air con, cameras and all other "hotel mode tools" are expected!

Ian Nicholls   13/02/2015 at 15:17

Good heavens we made 319's in York Carriage Works years ago. 'Solid' is one way to describe them! Not as good as the aluminium rolling stock we built afterwards.

Paul Reid   13/02/2015 at 20:09

The 319s are welcome, but they don't replace a single Class 142. The poverty of Northern's rolling stock is such that the probable arrival of refurbished D78s is anticipated with something approaching euphoria - it's difficult to believe that anything could be worse than the Pacers. But let's keep the 319's arrival in perspective, please. For most of Northern's passengers, they are no more than scotch mist.

Razz   14/02/2015 at 07:16

Is it me or is the refurbishment just cosmetic, so they can show off there new branding? Look at the bogies and under the bodies to see what I mean, they are not painted or cleaned?

Mikeyb   14/02/2015 at 16:31

The only tangible improvement for passengers around Liverpool and Manchester seems to be that the 319s are 4-car trains, replacing cramped 2-car Class 142s and 150s. Despite the fact that they are electric, there is some doubt as to whether their acceleration will be that much better than the diesels they are replacing. If that is the case, we can only live in hope that someone at the DfT will suddenly announce that a brand-new fleet of EMUs will be ordered for the Northern franchise.

Simon James   14/02/2015 at 18:04

Wish we had them instead of the wretched Desiro's that London Midland have given us to replace our nice 321's. As for acceleration, from a standing start a 319 out accelerates a 321 - used to have a parallel departure from Watford Junction Northbound in the evening and the 321 always won. As for the D78 rebuild - rather than make uninformed comment let's wait and see.

Simon James   14/02/2015 at 18:08

Sorry should have said the 319 ALWAYS WON - by the North End of Watford Tunnel the 319 was about 2 cars ahead of the 321 - both were 4 car formations too.

Simon James   14/02/2015 at 18:08

Sorry should have said the 319 ALWAYS WON - by the North End of Watford Tunnel the 319 was about 2 cars ahead of the 321 - both were 4 car formations too.

Nonsuchmike   18/02/2015 at 15:38

Thank you gentlemen all, I was going to enquire about the drives, and whereas they do not seem to have improved the efficiency or replaced any motor parts with more up-to-date and possibly lighter electro-mechanicals, nor improved suspension to give a less "solid" ride, it would appear that the seats have been re-upholstered, and you will get the benefit of that incredibly bewitching and somniferous Loreleien announcement of: "You are now @ ... Chat Moss Marina ... the next stop is ... Hellsmere Junction ... this train is for ... Ringway Carousel ... stopping @ ... " etc, etc. On the plus side you will have four car units instead of the measly two as a minimum, and also the fact that if they have lasted around 35 years already, they should not break down so readily as some other units one could mention. As Manesh says, an improvement on Pacers, but only just, and our brothers and sisters up north have waited long enough to expect a better and overall more rolling stock to improve frequency of an unacceptably miserly service on almost all routes beyond MKC. And I should know, as I have just returned from Wrexham.

Geoff Kerr   06/03/2015 at 23:20

I travelled on a 319 today on the Chat Moss line. We left Oxford Road 4 minutes late and arrived at Wavertree Tech. Park 3 early! Two minutes were recovered by Newton-le-Willows, despite being checked by the ATW service in front, and another five between St. Helens Jn and Wavertree. I've no real experience of 319s on the Thameslink line but would think they will be welcomed by regular users of Pacers and 150s, despite not having aircon and other accessories.

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