The Clacton Express Class 309s
Originally known as AM9 electrics, the Class 309s were built by British Rail at their York factory between 1962 and 1963. They worked exclusively between London Liverpool Street and Clacton/Walton-on-Naze until 1989, when Class 312 units were introduced on some services. They were used on some services to Harwich and Ipswich after 1985, but were transferred to the North West for use on services from Manchester Piccadilly to Crewe and as far as London Euston for First North Western trains.
I always remember these units as comfortable and fast, probably because they were based on Mk.1 coaching stock and Commonwealth bogies. They lasted until 2000, having been refurbished in the mid-1980s
Little has changed in the way that stock is cascaded through the railways it seems. New stock is provided for the London commuter, and the older stock is then sent for use on other lines. This happening right now with the cascade of 30-year old Class 319s for use on the North West electrification scheme. The brand new Class 323 EMUs were supposed to have been sent to the West Midlands by now, but acceleration of the Class 319s is so poor they cannot keep to schedules between Manchester and Stoke/Crewe….
The photograph was taken by Peter Collins and will form part of a collection showing trains in the London suburbs soon to be available at the Lineside Photographics website. We will be including steam, as well as electrics and diesels, so hopefully there will be something for everyone!
Now if it was me waiting for my train at Clacton and I was offered a Class 309 or a Class 360, I think I’d vote every time for the 309 and its Mk.1 carriages..