I make no apologies for this blog. These are the trains from my area of the country (North Kent) when I was growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The familiar sound of these “Slam Door” trains were the soundtrack to the rush hour, with the sound of said doors ringing through the major London Termini of Charing Cross and Victoria. So here is a short history of these workhorses of the North Kent and Chatham Main Line.
The 411 unit, also known as the 4Cep, were built for British Rail between 1956 and 1963, mainly ran on the Chatham/North Kent lines. A total of 133 units were made, mainly just passenger based, although around 22 had buffet cars installed, these were re-categorised as 4 Bep units. The 4 referred to the 4 car formation, two driving cars which also had standard seating, the middle two cars having a mix of 1st class corridor and standard class corridor coaches. They had a maximum speed of 90 Mph.
Each area of seating contained a door, which was inherently dangerous as it could be opened at any time. This lead to many doors being opened way before the stopping, and people would literally jump from a moving train onto the platform. You really had to stand away from the platform edge when a slam door was coming in, otherwise you may had had a door in the head!
If you had ever ridden in one, or heard one you would not forget it. They were dangerous, accidents such as the Clapham Rail Crash of 1988 with Vep and Rep variants would prove to be catastrophic. Replacements such as the Networker and Electrostar would follow, with their automatic doors and safer designs. But they never quite recaptured the feel and seating comfort of these trains.
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That’s all for now, thanks for reading and I’ll blog again soon.