Class 323

The Class 323 is a fleet of high-density electric multiple units built in the early 1990s for British Rail. They were built to replace older EMUs coming to the ends of their lives and to supply the Birmingham Cross-City Line which was finally being electrified [1]. Forty three three-car units were built by Hunslet Transportation Projects during 1992-3 for the Cross City Line and the North West for services to Manchester Airport.

Information
Number built: 129 (43 3-car sets)
Built: 1992-93
Builder: Hunslet TPL
Motor: 4 Holec DMKT 52/24 traction motors (25kV AC OHLE)
Power: 1, 566 hp (1, 168 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)+Pantograph Trailer
Standard Open Lavatory (PTSOL)+DMSO

The Class 323 proved unreliable when first delivered, the traction package causing a number of problems especially with cooling, and it was a couple of years after delivery before they became fully operational. Later on however Northern's fleet won awards for its reliability.


Twenty six sets currently serve with West Midlands Railway (previously London Midland) and seventeen with Northern Rail, operating on electrified commuter lines around Birmingham and Manchester. The EMUs have just completed a retractioning programme replacing the original Gate Turn-Off thyristor equipment with a more advanced Integrated Gate Bipolar Transistor set-up [2]. West Midlands Railway's 323s are due for replacement in 2020 with a Bombardier Aventra family EMU.
WMR 323 202 at Butlers Lane

WMR 323 216 at Chester Road

Northern 323 232 at Manchester Piccadilly

WMR 323 202 while back in London Midland livery, at Alvechurch

WMR 323 204 at Bromsgrove

Northern 323 239 at Crewe

[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 262
[2] Ian Walmsley, "A traction heart transplant", Modern Railways (March 2017) p. 43