Class 303 History


The class 303 multiple units were built between 1959 and 1960 by Pressed Steel from Elderslie to operate on the newly Electrified lines from Balloch, Helensburgh Central and Milngavie to Springburn, Bridgeton Central and Airdrie on the North Clyde Line. Originally 35 sets were ordered, but this was soon changed to 91 when another 56 sets were ordered in 1960, both to allow for more trains to operate on the North Clyde line and also in anticipation of the forthcoming electrification of the Glasgow Central - Cathcart Circle/ Newton/ Neilston/ Motherwell lines on the south side. Electrification took place on these lines during 1961 allowing the equipment to become operational in 1962.

Each class 303 was formed as a 3 car set and outshopped in an attractive Caledonian Blue livery with thin yellow band underneath the windows.   Each set contained 2 driving trailers, one of these being a Battery Driving Trailer with the motor coach housing all the electrical equipment and the guards van, complete with door controls and space for luggage sandwiched between them in the centre. The class 303’s were semi permanently coupled allowing vehicles from other sets to be swapped over if need be, which is something that happened a fair bit in later years.  Also the driving trailers had coupling, air and electrical connections on the outer ends to allow 2 sets to be coupled together to work in 6 car formation at busier times.

Another key feature was the installation of electrical equipment which allowed the units to operate at either 6.25kv in the city centre areas (due to bridge clearances) or 25Kv in the outlying areas. This equipment was eventually to become obsolete during the 1970's when all lines were energised to 25Kv.

Originally the sets were classified AM3 before being reclassified as Class 303 on the introduction of the TOPS system in 1968 and the 303032 at Boness303032 at Boness303032 in the display shed at Boness 27.12.14 units were allocated with 001 – 056 operating on the North Clyde routes and 057 - 091 operating on the south side of the Clyde.  This brought problems if a number of units from either the north or the south side were out of service and soon a common user approach had to be adopted meaning any unit could operate on any route (as long as the route was wired!). There was other problem which wasn’t solved until 1979, this was that there was no electrified route between the North and South Side systems as both systems were totally independent of each other so the North Side units had to be dragged by either a Diesel Locomotive(usually a class 20) or Steam Locomotive from the Depot at Hyndland to the depot at Shields and vice versa.   The units were originally serviced and had major work done Hyndland depot on the North side, which was built especially for the 303's, before major work was transferred to the new depot at Shields, on the Ayrshire lines just outside Glasgow Central in 1967.

Introduction to service

Prior to introduction, some of the earliest sets built were sent for testing on the Styal Line in Manchester whilst electrification on the North Clyde Lines was completed.   Initial testing in Glasgow took place on the Milngavie branch as the electrification was completed here first and as other sections of line were completed, testing was expanded.   During the final week before introduction, a full shadow test service was run to check the timetable.   A problem arose on 30th October, when an empty 6 car train made up of 003 and another unit was approaching Charing Cross when there was an explosion in the Guards Van of set 003, which blew in the partition between the Guards Van and the passenger saloon.   The cause was later found to be a mixture of oil vapour and air mixing in the equipment compartment.   Modifications were made to ventilation of equipment to try and resolve the problem.

On 5th November, class 303s were introduced into service for the first time,  64 of the 91 sets were available in time for their introduction to service.    They were liked by the drivers as they had large roomy cabs whilst guards had their own fairly large compartment in the centre of the train. Passenger flocked in increasing numbers to use the services as the trains were a vast improvement on the old steam services being clean, bright, modern, comfortable and fast, the total opposite of slow and dirty steam engines they replaced.

Each set had seating for 236 passengers on comfortable deep sprung seats set out in 2+3 formation.  Passengers sitting at the front of the train had a forward view, the same as what the driver could see.   The introduction of the 303s also had the added advantage of the atmosphere in the underground and partly open stations becoming less smoky, cleaner and more pleasant. Journey times dropped as the faster acceleration and higher speeds compared with the steam trains allowed for quicker journey times into and out of the city.

However soon after their introduction to service on 5th November 1960, problems arose when set 042 failed with a loss of power on 13th November, upon checking, the secondary winding on the motors was burnt.   Worse was to come when there was an explosion in the motor coach of set 051 at Renton on 13th December.   On 14th December passengers had to be detrained from set 031 at Carntyne after smoke was seen pouring out from the transformer, the set was then moved to a siding. On 17th December smoke was seen coming from 014's transformer as it departed Garrowhill, these incidents resulted in withdrawal of the full fleet of new trains to find the cause of the fires and explosions and make modifications. The motor coaches of units already in service had to be sent to England for modifications, whilst units still under construction had modifications made at Pressed Steel.   The withdrawal meant the steam engines and coaches, most of which had been sent to the scrap yard had to be recalled, repaired and brought back into service within a very short time span.

Fortunately on 1st October 1961 following a number of modifications, test runs and driver training, the class 303 made its return to service.    In May 1962, the 303's made their debut on the Cathcart Circle, Neilston, Kirkhill and Motherwell services, Sets 015 and 075 were used on the first test run from Glasgow Central out to Neilston.   The first reported breakdown on the Cathcart Circle happened just 4 days after introduction, when a set failed and had to be hauled back behind a steam loco to the new depot at Hyndland for repair.  

In 1965, Her Majesty the Queen made a journey on board 303008 from Helensburgh Central - Dalmuir, she was also presented with a model of a class 303.

Many modifications were made to the 303’s during the early years such as strengthening the entrance vestibule floors as stiletto heels were causing damage. 303035 was to be the subject of an experiment trialling plug doors made by a company called Peters.   These doors opened outwards and slid along the body side just like the class 334's do today.  303035 was also fitted out with thrystor controls in 1967.  

303071 also became the subject of a trial using silicon rectifiers instead of the mercury rectifiers used by the other units.   The trial was a success and all units were refitted with silicon rectifiers albeit smaller than the ones used in 071.

From early in their lives the 303’s were allocated in such a way that they allowed 19 sets to be diagrammed to be out of traffic for repairs and modifications at a time, however this was seen as a waste of resources and in the 1980s surplus units were sent to England.

Into the 1970's

Electrification was once again extended in 1967 with Glasgow Central – Wymess Bay and Gourock going live.   In anticipation of this, 19 new trains were built, these were classed as 311’s as they were built by Cravens rather than Pressed Steel, who unfortunately by this time ceased trading.   The class 311’s were almost identical in many ways to the class 303’s however it was possible to tell them apart from the outside as the class 311 had extra grilles on the body sides next to the guards room to allow more air in to cool the motors.   They were also fitted with fluorescent lighting inside from new, rather than the tungsten lights fitted to the 303’s.   Also the 311’s were fitted with more powerful motors and also were only able to operate on lines powered to 25Kv unlike the Class 303’s.   From new the 311’s were delivered in the new BR all over Blue livery.   In order to have a standardised fleet, the 303’s received their first change in livery with the rather drab all over Blue livery replacing the attractive Caledonian Blue Livery.

In late August 1973 vehicle 75857 from set 303091, whilst working a 21.35 service from Weymss Bay to Glasgow Central, was severely damaged following a collision with an Ayr DMU at Gower Street not far from Glasgow Central. The unit was rebuilt in and returned to service in 1977 and was noticable by having different cab control desks from the rest of the fleet.

In 1974, the Electrification of the West Coast Main Line, the Lanark Branch and the Hamilton Circle was completed allowing the introduction of the Blue trains to the Hamilton Circle, Lanark and Carstairs Lines.   303007+303012 were the units that formed the first service into Lanark.

303032 at Boness 30.5.09303032 at Boness 30.5.09303032 at Boness 30.5.09 From April 1975, units started to be fitted with toughened glass windscreens after a driver was struck and killed by an object thrown from the lineside.  1975 also saw further accidents, whilst operating the 8.25am Glasgow Central – Motherwell via Hamilton service on 31st May, 303007+311101,  was involved in a collision with a cement train at Rutherglen resulting in severe damage to 303007, which was leading.   The lead driving trailer and the motor coach were scrapped as the damage was considered severe, whilst one trailer survived for further use. Just 3 weeks later, on 20th June, 303022 also suffered crash damage when it hit the buffers at Lanark.

On 16th April 1979, a serious accident took place at Paisley Gilmour Street when an Ayr DMU passed a red signal and crossed the path of the 19.40 Glasgow Central – Wymess Bay service operated by set 303074 and another class 303. The lead vehicles of both the DMU and of 303074 were scrapped and the set later disbanded.

A happier event happened in 1979 when reopening of the low level line from Rutherglen to Partick happened in November. This move allowed Motherwell, Hamilton Circle and Lanark services to be diverted along this new line called the Argyle Line. This move saw Motherwell and Hamilton services terminating at Dalmuir whilst Lanark services Terminated at Milngavie on the North side of Glasgow. At last, the north and south lines were joined up.   With the opening of the Argyle Line came 16 brand new Class 314’s, which took over a number of services on the Argyle Line and some on the North Clyde Line with 303’s and 311’s working the remainder.  The opening of the Argyle Line saw the closure of Bridgeton Central and its branch from the North Clyde Line, this station became a stabling point for some class 303, 311 and 314's.

1980's and Refurbishment

In 1980, 303002 suffered cracked underframes after the set ran away from Neilston Station and presumably crashed into the buffers.

In 1981 the unique 303035 was withdrawn as being non standard and less reliable than the other units. The motor coach was scrapped whilst both trailers were refitted with normal controllers and doors saw use on other units in later years.

In 1981 12 sets,303036, 041, 048, 049, 050, 053, 057, 059, 060, 066, 067, 078, 082, which were deemed as being surplus were transferred to Manchester. They were painted in the Greater Manchester PTE livery of Orange and Brown and operated services to and from Crewe.  During their time in Manchester, 303066+303067 made it as far as London Euston on a railtour.   These units would remain in the Manchester area until 1993 although most were withdrawn and scrapped long before this with 2 sets even making it to Wales for scrapping. There was three exceptions, set 048 was sent back north in 1990 for restoration back to its original style, whilst 060 and 082 were sent north to Yoker depot to be stripped for spare parts before being scrapped.

303048 returned to use in Scotland, restored to near original condition in Caledonian Blue livery and would be the last class 303 to remain in service in an unrefurbished condition and was still available for use both in service if need be or for railtours until 1996 when it was withdrawn when asbestos was discovered in the unit and was scrapped in 1998. 303059 didnt last long at Manchester, shortly after arriving there the transformer caught fire whilst stabled at Longsight depot resulting in the unit being scrapped and causing damage to some class 506 units stabled next to it.

December 1982 saw the first full Class 303 to be scrapped, when 303002, which was withdrawn in 1980 with cracked underframes, was moved to Millerhill to await its fate.

In 1983, the Strathclyde Orange and Black, livery which would for most of the fleet be the livery they carried for the rest of their time in service was applied for the first time with 303008 becoming the first unit outshopped in this livery.

After almost 25 years in service, the 303’s were beginning to show their age and a program of refurbishment was started in 1984.   However before this was started, withdrawn vehicle 75850 from set 303084 was partially refurbished to evaluate how the refurbishment would look.

303006 became the first unit to be refurbished.  Over the next few years 50 303s were refurbished and emerged wearing the new Strathclyde PTE Orange and Black livery and refurbished interior, new seats and new lights.   The down side to the refurbishment was the loss of the forward view in the driving trailers, replaced with a yellow panelled wall, the springy seats were replaced with plastic 2+2 seats similar to those on the Class 314’s, also the seating capacity was reduced from 236 to 160 in each set.  New Beclawat hopper windows and gangways between the carriages were also fitted although the first units to be refurbished including 303006 had the gangways retrofitted as this feature was only to unit when Strathclyde Transport brought in Driver Only Operation on some lines. 303051, 055, 056 and 085 retained their Widney sliding windows and did so for the remainder of their operating career. New high intensity headlights were fitted in place of the headcode box on the front end, 303089 was the last refurbished unit to lose the headcode box.

As part of the refurbishment program, the 303's required the removal of deadly asbestos, withdrawn units 017 and 022 were used as asbestos storage vehicles for a time during the program.   The sets refurbished were:
303001,003-004,006,008-014,016,019-021,023-025,027-028,032-034,037-038,040,043,045-047,051,054-056,058,061,065, 070-071,077,079-080,083,085,087-091.

Unrefurbished set 303072 hit a girder placed on the track at Singer on 7th March 1985.   The unit was working the 22.46 Airdrie to Balloch service and the front bogie of vehicle 75782 was ripped off.   In 1986 the motor coach of set 303057 caught fire and was withdrawn.

Whilst being towed back to Yoker depot following refurbishment in 1987, 303051 and 303090 ran away crashing into and 303032 at Boness303032 at Boness303032 at Boness 12.8.11 severely damaging the loco 37011 which had been towing the unit to Yoker but had gone further down the line to run round the sets, resulting in the withdrawal of unit 051. One trailer car from that set was later reused in set 303033, whilst the damaged trailer and motor coach were scrapped.  303090 however was returned to service and remained in use until 2002.

In 1988 303033 became the first 303 to be formed from 3 vehicles from 3 seperate units, gaining driving trailer 75595 from set 303030,motor coach 61860 from 303084 and 75817 from 303051.

In 1989 303005 and 303071 were involved in a fatal head on collision at Bellgrove causing severe damage to both trains and led to the scrapping of all of set 005 and a trailer and motor coach of 071, with undamaged trailer 75781 being retained for future use.


In 1990, following the introduction of the class 320s to the North Clyde lines, the remaining unrefurbished class 303s except for 303048, which was retained in original condition for special occasions and all the class 311s were withdrawn from service.   303048 operated the last scheduled service for the unrefurbished units on 9th November 1990 when it operated the 23.38 service from Balloch - Dalmuir.

On 21st July 1991 303037 and 314203 were involved in a fatal crash at Newton. Both units were reformed with 303037 being reformed using trailer 75781, the spare trailer from 303071 which was involved in the Bellgrove Crash 2 years earlier, whilst 61513, 303037’s motor coach, was swapped over with 61508, the motor coach from set 303028 and both sets continued to run for a number of years.  1991 also saw the return to service of set 303048 in original 1960's livery and interior, with 303063 being stripped to provide spares.   Vehicle 75773 was to remain at Yoker as a store for parts needed for 303048 until 2002 when it moved down south to an MOD base for store.   Unfortunately 75773 was gutted in an arson attack in 2000.

1991 also saw 303038 being scrapped after its motor coach caught fire gutting the entire unit and causing damage to other units stabled around it. The unit had been left stabled at Shields with its pantograph up. Following this, a rule was enforced by BR that a class 303 could not be left unaccompanied for more than 15 minutes with its pantograph up. Set 303049 was sent to Clacton in South East England to see use as a sandite vehicle and was painted in Network South East Livery and renumbered 303999, whilst Class 311's 311103 and 104 were used as sandite trains in the Glasgow area, being renumbered 936103 and 104.

1994 saw the Fatal Derailment of 303046 at Branchton on the Wymess Bay Branch after objects were placed on the track by vandals causing the train to derail and hit a road bridge. The vandals were later caught and received life in jail and 303046 was scrapped.   Also in 1994, 303089 became the first and only 303 to be named, it was named Cowal Highland Gathering 1894-1994 at Glasgow Central High Level.

In 1996, following the discovery of deadly asbestos in set 303048, the unit was withdrawn and dumped at Shields Depot.  

In 1997 British Rail was privatised with National Express taking over the Scotrail franchise. 4 units (303019, 303021, 303023 and 303087) were repainted into the new SPT Carmine and cream livery as well as receiving an overhaul, but shortly after their return to traffic, all major overhauls and repaints were stopped following the announcement as part of their franchise agreement, that new trains (334s), were to be built to replace the 303s and would be in service for 1999.

In 1998 the scrapping took place of withdrawn set 303048 which had been vandalised following its withdrawal from service.

There was a delay to the introduction of the Class 334’s due to serious reliability and computer software problems and the introduction date of 1999 was missed. 

In 1999, 303040 was withdrawn and used as a source of spare parts for other units.   It was stabled in a siding outside the maintenance sheds until early 2003 when it was taken away for scrapping on the back of a low loader.   303055 and 061 were also withdrawn around the same time.   In October 1999 a swap took place which saw the Class 314’s move from the Argyle Line to the Cathcart Circle, Newton and Neilston lines.   The 303's operated on all Argyle line services although they were still also being used on the other lines to cover peak time workings, some diagrams, failures and shortages of stock and indeed the North Clyde lines still had a few 303 operated diagrams, the Cathcart Circle, Gourock and Wymess Bay lines had regular 303 operation especially at peak times. Less common was the use of 303s on the Ayrshire services as they were dominated by the class 318's.

In 1999 there were still 43 units in service, these were


2000's, Decline and Withdrawal

303032 at Boness303032 at Boness303032 stabled in the yard at Boness 29.7.12 In 2000, some of the new Class 334’s were beginning to make test runs throughout the system, however this came to an abrupt end when 334001, which was stabled at Platform 11a at Glasgow Central, rolled away and derailed on the Catch Points.  

For the class 303’s it was to be an eventful year with 7 withdrawals taking place.   Sets 024, 028 and 089 were withdrawn early on in the year, whilst 303025 and 303056 were withdrawn prematurely when they became victims of arson attacks which destroyed the whole of 025 and all but one driving trailer from 056 was destroyed. In September 2000, 303058 was withdrawn and later scrapped after a fire started and destroyed the motor coach as the train pulled into Blantyre station whilst operating a service to Coatbridge Central. 303010 was withdrawn after its motor coach caught fire at Bishopton in December.

The withdrawal of 303056 allowed a strange looking hybrid unit formed of 056's remaining driving trailer, vehicle 75766, complete with original sliding windows becoming part of set 303043 following the withdrawal of trailer 75752 joining with 303043's motor coach and remaining driving trailer (which both had hopper windows) giving the set a rather strange look which it would retain until scrapping.   Reliability was beginning to drop by 2000 and it became a regular occurrence on the Argyle line for the peak time express services to and from Lanark, diagrammed for a 6 car set, to be operated by a 3 car set and packed to the rafters.   The service from Carstairs - Garscadden in the morning peak was regularly cancelled whilst the 16.55 service from Anderston – Coatbridge Central was reduced from 6 cars to 3 cars, to allow capacity to be maintained on some of the busier routes elsewhere.   The remaining sets in service began to take on a battered and unloved look as the sets were filthy on the outside with peeling and faded paintwork, indeed on some sets it had been so long since they had been washed that it was almost impossible to see out the windows.   Many sets also had leaking roofs and leaking windows.

Units 303001,3,4,6,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,16,19,20,21,23,27,32,33,34,37,43,45,47,54 ,65,70,77,79,80,83,85,87,88,90,91 were the 36 remaining units at the end of the year.

303032 interior303032 interiorThe interior of vehicle 61503 of 303032 29.7.12 2001 started in much the same way however on 3rd April 2001 334010+334020 became the first Class 334’s to operate in passenger service, operating on the Glasgow – Gourock service. The first class 334’s in service would signal the beginning of the end of the class 303’s as a number of class 334’s started to appear on the Ayrshire routes, the 318s started cascading onto the Argyle and North Clyde line, which at that time was exclusively run by 303s, initially only working peak time and a couple of off peak diagrams.  From October 2001, the Class 303’s disappeared completely from the routes out of Glasgow Central High Level, as there were enough 334's in service to allow the 303's to be confined to the Argyle and North Electric services.   A number of Class 303’s were withdrawn as the class started to dwindle in numbers.   11 sets were withdrawn during 2001, these were 303013, 14, 23, 34, 43, 47, 65, 70, 80, 87 and 88. Sets 303010, 14, 55, 58, 61, 89 were towed by rail in convoys to Immingham for scrapping.

This left 303001,3,4,6,8,9,11,12,16,19,20,21,27,32,33,37,45,54,77,79,83,85, 90 and 91 as the 24 units in service heading into 2002.

In January 2002, 4 more 303s were withdrawn and sent for scrap, units 8, 12, 16 and 77 were towed away to Immingham. (at least 3 of these units were still in service 2 days prior to going) temporarily reducing the numbers in service to 20, however in February 2002 303023,43 and 88 were reinstated to service and it was announced that only 23 sets were required to operate 16 diagrams these were 303001, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, 19, 20, 21, 23, 27, 32, 33, 37, 43, 45, 54, 79, 83, 85, 88, 90, 91. An Emergency timetable was brought into use as drivers were on a work to rule which banned overtime.   This resulted in the end of electric services off peak to Coatbridge Central. To compensate for the reduced timetable, a number of services were operated in 6 car formation.   A regular pairing during February / March was 303023+303079 which were seen together almost everyday for around 3 weeks.   March 2002 saw, 303013, 19, 34 sent to Immingham for scrap.

March 2002 also saw the premature demise of another class 303, when set 054's motor coach caught fire at Bellshill on a late evening Lanark - Milngavie service and the set was withdrawn. Set 033 was also withdrawn around the same time reducing the numbers down to 21.  Towards late June/ early July 2002 another mass withdrawal took place with 10 sets being withdrawn, these were sets 303006, 20, 21, 23, 32, 33, 37, 79, 85 and 91 reducing the numbers remaining to 11 sets.  Sets 6,21,23,33,37,54,65,70,79,80,85,91 were all sent to Immingham for scrap in convoys during July, August and early September whilst 303032 was withdrawn for preservation,

August 2002 saw the withdrawal of 303009 after the motor coach caught fire at Springburn.   It had been rumoured that motor coach 303032 at Boness303032 at Boness303032 being returned back to the yard by 26038. 303032 is seeing its first use in service at Boness since 2005. 29.7.12 61867 from 303091 was to replace the damaged vehicle 61504 from 303009, however it was decided that there was enough sets remaining in service to cover. However 303027 was withdrawn soon after with electrical and motor faults, leaving sets 303001,3,4,11,43,45,83,88,90 in service. A further reduction in numbers took place in late October when sets 45,83 and 90 were withdrawn. In early December 303020, 027 and 045 were taken to Immingham for scrapping, leaving 303001, 3, 4, 11, 43 and 88 in service for the final few weeks of their working lives.   Also in December, the last 5 334's, (334001, 002, 009, 039 and 040) came into service and this signalled the end for the 6 remaining 303's.   


Last Day in Service

The final day in service came on 30th December 2002, when 303011+303088 worked an ECS move from Yoker to Bellgrove before taking over an Airdrie - Helensburgh service from 334032, which worked on ahead ECS to Helensburgh.   303088+303011 then worked the service from Bellgrove – Helensburgh Central.   On arrival at Helensburgh, a wreath was placed on the front of 303011 whilst a piper played a lament.   All too soon 303011+303088 departed with a few passengers who were dropped off at Dalmuir as an ECS back to Yoker for the final time.

Once back at Yoker, where 303011+303088 were coupled to 303043 and for the final time, their pantographs were lowered bringing 42 years of service to an end.   303003, 303083 and 303090 had already been coupled together to await collection for their final journey to Immingham for scrapping.

Removal of the final 303s

For a few weeks after withdrawal, 303001 and 303004 were used as depot shunters at Shields, indeed 303001 was reported to have made an unofficial, unannounced farewell journey somewhere on the system in this time. On the 13th of January 003,083,090 left Yoker depot for the last time and were taken to Immingham.

A trailer from 303040, which had lay out in the open at the back of Shields for a few years was spotted on a lorry on the M74 during that week, the other vehicles following later.   Vehicle 75624 from set 024 which had lay in the same siding at Shields as 303040 ended up at Shoeburyness.

On 20th January the remaining sets, 001,004,009,011 and 043 were removed to Immingham by rail, fire damaged 303009 had to have some remedial work carried out on it at Shields to allow it to travel by rail along with 001 and 004. 303088, which was supposed to go to Immingham along with 011 and 043, made a late attempt to stay when its brakes siezed and it developed a wheel flat. 303088 was dumped in Bridgeton Yard and was later moved to Shields Depot, where it remained for a couple of months. 303088 was uncoupled and split into 3 parts whilst awaiting removal to Immingham by road.    

Vehicle 75613 of set 303013 which was thought to have been scrapped, was saved for use at a police training centre at Gravesend.

26038 at Boness26038 at Boness26038 returning 303032 back to the yard following a run in service 29.7.12 March 2003 finally saw the departure of 303088, when it was finally removed by road to Immingham for scrapping. The trailers from 303088 were taken away to Immingham by road and motor coach 61864 from 088 was first stripped for spare parts for set 303032 before finally being removed and taken by low loader to Immingham for scrapping.


303032 was returned to Boness for preservation in April 2003.   Both trailers (75597 and 75632) are 303032s originals whilst the motor coach 61503 came from 303023.  61512 which was 303032's original motor coach was damaged at Immingham and scrapped.  

303032 is still occasionally hauled up and down the line at Boness by a Class 26, 27 or 37 working in blue star mode.  A ride on the set during the diesel galas brings back memories including the sound of the door closing alarm, the hiss of the air brakes and the driver having to get out and force a set of doors closed before the set will move!   303032 is still in the same coat of paint as it was when it arrived at Boness with the trailers in Orange and Black Strathclyde Transport livery and the motor coach in the SPT Carmine and Cream livery.   It is hoped that one day the set will receive a fresh coat of paint and the full set is restored to the Orange and Black Strathclyde Transport Livery.

Memories of the Class 303

I travelled on the class 303's regularly on both the Argyle line and Cathcart Circle lines regularly from 1999 - 2002, and they were excellent units to travel on.   In all that time, only one unit I travelled on broke down! (I cant remember the unit number but it was a Friday afternoon at Rutherglen in September 1999 and the service was the 16:08 Dalmuir - Lanark Express!)

The distinctive sounds of the class 303 are memorable with the Door closing alarms, the compressor, the hiss of the air brakes, the sound of the handbrake being wound on, the sound in the motor coach when you passed over a Neutral Section of overhead, the sounds of the motors and the sort of ticking sound as the set accellerated.

Then of course there was the units themselves that all had distinctive features.   The ones I remember in particular are

  • 303009 had really loud motors for a while over the last couple of years
  • 303012 with its faded yellow panelling between the passenger saloon and guards compartment
  • 303020 and 033 appeared to have really fast acceleration
  • 303043 (from 2000) with 2 different sets of windows
  • 303058 had cctv camera housings in both trailers
  • 303083 had one of its windows boarded up and painted black in the guards corridor
  • 303088 had '61864 Radio Box' written on what must have been the Radio box under a set of seats on 61864
  • 303089 was named Cowal Highland Gathering


I think its fair to say that there will never be multiple units as good as the Class 303’s and that their modern equivalents the 318, 320’s and 334's can, and will never be a match for them and probably won’t last as long as the 303s did.


 My last journey on a 303 was on 20th December 2002 on board 303003 on the 8:20 Motherwell - Dalmuir service. My last sighting of a 303 in service was 303011 and 088 heading out of Wishaw on a Dalmuir - Lanark service on the 28th December.


Unit Number refrubished Original Vehicle Numbers replaced Vehicles livery Withdrawal scrapping Further Info
303001 yes 75566 61481 75601 ----- ST 2002 2003 Pioneer 303001 was the first and the last 303 to move under its own power It was used on trial runs when first introduced and was used to shunt units at Shields before being taken to Immingham for scrapping in January 2003. 303001 was one of the final 6 units left in service, being withdrawn on 29th December 2002.
303002 no 75567 61482 75602 ----- BR BL 1980 1982 303002 was the first 303 to be scrapped after it ran away from Neilston station in 1980. It was scrapped in 1982 after it was discovered that the underframes of the unit were cracked.
303003 yes 75568 61483 75603 ----- ST 2002 2003 303003 was one of the final 303s in service being withdrawn on 29th December 2002. It was taken for scrapping in early January 2003.
303004 yes 75569 61484 75604 ----- ST 2002 2003 303004 was one of the final 303s in service being withdrawn on 29th December 2002. It was used as a depot shunter at Shields following withdrawal before being taken for scrapping in January 2003.
303005 no 75570 61485 75605 ----- ST 1989 1990 303005 was involved in the Bellgrove crash in 1989. It was scrapped soon afterwards.
303006 yes 75571 61486 75606 ----- ST 2002 2002 Was the first unit to be refurbished. It was retrofitted with corridor connections. Was withdrawn and scrapped in 2002.
303007 no 75572 61487 75607 75572 replaced 75733 in set 043 BR BG 1974 1974 Was involved in a collision with another train at Rutherglen all but vehicle 75572 was scrapped.
303008 yes 75573 61488 75608 ----- ST 2002 2002 303008 was the first unit to be painted in the orange and black livery, the unit lasted until early 2002 before being scrapped.   303008 carried Her Majesty the Queen in 1965.
303009 yes 75574 61489 75609 61504 from 024 replaced 61489 ST 2002 2003 Vehicle 61504 caught fire in September 2002 at Springburn. Full set was subsequently withdrawn and taken to Immingham in 2003.
303010 yes 75575 61490 75610 ----- ST 2000 2001 303010 was withdrawn in December 2000 following a motor coach fire at Bishopton.
303011 yes 75576 61491 75611 ----- ST 2002 2003 303011 was one of the final 303s to be withdrawn, it worked the final journey to Helensburgh with 088 on 30th December 2002.
303012 yes 75577 61492 75612 ----- ST 2002 2002 Was withdrawn from service early in 2002.
303013 yes 75578 61493 75613 ----- ST 2001 2002 vehicle 75613 from this set survives as a police training vehicle at Gravesend.
303014 yes 75579 61494 75614 ----- ST 2001 2001  
303015 no 75580 61495 75615 ----- ST 1988 1988 Along with 075 was the first class 303 to do a test run on the Cathcart Circle in 1962
303016 yes 75581 61496 75616 75581 swapped with 75750 from 040 ST 2002 2002  
303017 no 75582 61497 75617 ----- BR BG 1991 1991  
303018 no 75583 61498 75618 ----- ST 1991 1991  
303019 yes 75584 61499 75619 ----- CC 2002 2002 One of 4 units painted carmine and cream.
303020 yes 75585 61500 75620 ----- ST 2002 2003  
303021 yes 75586 61501 75621 ----- CC 2002 2002 One of 4 units painted carmine and cream.
303022 no 75587 61402 75622 ----- BR BG 1991 1991 Crashed into the Buffers at Lanark. Lasted until 1991 before withdrawal
303023 yes 75588 61503 75623 61503 replaced 61512 in set 032 for preservation of a class 303 at Boness CC 2002 2002 One of 4 units painted carmine and cream.
303024 yes 75589 61504 75624 61504 replaced 61489 in set 009 ST 1999 2003 75624 from this was stored at Shoeburyness for a time.
303025 yes 75590 61505 75625   ST 2000 2001 75590 was set on fire by arsonists at Yoker in 2000.
303026 no 75591 61506 75626   ST 1991 1991 Collided with 2x314 at Bridgeton Depot 1986 
303027 yes 75592 61507 75627   ST 2002 2003 Was withdrawn with motor faults
303028 yes 75593 61508 75628 61508 swapped with 61813 from 037 ST 1999 ????  
303029 no 75594 61509 75629   ST 1991 1991  
303030 no 75595 61510 75630 75595 used in set 033 ST 1988 1988  
303031 no 75596 61511 75631   ST 1989 1989  
303032 yes 75597 61512 75632 61503 from 303023 replaced 61512 in preservation now at Boness ST 2002   303032  preserved at Boness and Kinneil Railway following asbestos removal at Immingham.
303033 yes 75598 61513 75633 75595 from 030 replaced 75598, 61860 from 084 replaced 61513 and 75817 from set 051 replaced 75633 ST 2002 2002 All 3 original vehicles were replaced on this set
303034 yes 75599 61514 75634   ST 2001 2002  
303035 no 75600 61515 75635   Cal 1980 1980 used as a test unit gained thrystor doors and silicon rectifiers. Motor coach scrapped as non standard and the trailers reused on other units
303036 no 75746 61812 75802   GMP 1991 1991 Used in Manchester Area
303037 yes 75747 61813 75803 75747 was replaced by 75781 from 071 61813 was replaced by 61508 from 028 ST 2002 2002 unit was involved in the Newton Train Crash in 1991 later reformed
303038 no 75748 61814 75804   ST 1991 1991 motor coach exploded at Shields in 1991
303039 no 75749 61815 75805   ST 1991 1991  
303040 yes 75750 61816 75806 75750 was later used in 016 ST 1999 2003 Unit was stored at Shields and used as a source of spare parts for a few years before scrapping.
303041 no 75751 61817 75807   GMP 1991 1991  
303042 no 75752 61818 75808 both trailers used in 048 ST 1991 1991  
303043 yes 75753 61819 75809 75753 replaced by 75752 from 007 and later by 75766 from 056 ST 2002 2003 Was one of the last 6 303s to remain in service, in later years, 75766 had original sliding windows whilst other 2 vehicle had hopper windows
303044 no 75754 61820 75810   ST 1991 1991  
303045 yes 75755 61821 75811   ST 2002 2003  
303046 yes 75756 61822 75812   ST 1994 1996 303046 was involved in an accident at Branchton on Wymess Bay line in 1994.   Full unit was withdrawn and scrapped.
303047 yes 75757 61823 75813   ST 2001 2002  
303048 no 75758 61824 75814 Used in Manchester, last unrefurbished unit in service, was restored and given 042's trailers and 048's originals given to 052 Cal 1996 1998  
303049 no 75759 61825 75815   NSE 1996 1996 Sent to Manchester, Later used as a sandite Vehicle on the NSE Region
303050 no 75760 61826 75816   GMP 1991 1991  
303051 yes 75761 61827 75817 75817 was later used on set 033 ST 1987 1987 303051 involved in an accident following refurbishment, 75761 and 61827 were scrapped.
303052 no 75762 61828 75818 gained 048's original carriges ST 1991 1991  
303053 no 75763 61829 75819   GMP 1991 1991 Sent to Manchester
303054 yes 75764 61830 75820   ST 2002 2002 motor coach caught fire in 2002, unit withdrawn at this time
303055 yes 75765 61831 75821   ST 1999 2001  
303056 yes 75766 61832 75822 75766 was used in 043 from 2000 onwards ST 2000 2001  
303057 no 75767 61833 75823   ST 1986 1986 motor coach caught fire in 1986
303058 yes 75768 61834 75824   ST 2000 2001 motor coach caught fire in 2000 at Blantyre
303059 no 75769 61835 75825   GMP 1991 1991  
303060 no 75770 61836 75826   GMP 1991 1991  
303061 no 75771 61837 75827   ST 1999 2001  
303062 no 75772 61838 75828   ST 1991 1991  
303063 no 75773 61839 75829   BR BG 1991 1991 75773 was stored at Longtown for a time, last unrefurbished 303 vehicle in existance, gutted by fire in 2000.
303064 no 75774 61840 75830   ST 1991 1991  
303065 yes 75775 61841 75831   ST 2001 2002  
303066 no 75776 61842 75832   GMP 1991 1991  
303067 no 75777 61843 75833   GMP 1991 1991  
303068 no 75778 61844 75834   ST 1988 1989  
303069 no 75779 61845 75845   ST 1991 1991  
303070 yes 75780 61846 75836   ST 2001 2002  
303071 yes 75781 61847 75837 75781 later used in set 037 ST 1989 1989 Unit involved in the Bellgrove crash. trailer 75781 used to reform set 071.   61847 and 75837 were scrapped.
303072 no 75782 61848 75838   ST 1991 1991  
303073 no 75783 61849 75839   ST 1991 1991  
303074 no 75784 61850 75840   BR BG 1979 1980  
303075 no 75785 61851 75841   ST 1991 1991 Along with 015 was the first class 303 to do a test run on the Cathcart Circle in 1962
303076 no 75786 61852 75842   ST 1991 1991  
303077 yes 75787 61853 75843   ST 2002 2002  
303078 no 75788 61854 75844   GMP 1991 1991  
303079 yes 75789 61855 75845 75845 replaced with 75635 from set 035 ST 2002 2002  
303080 yes 75790 61856 75846   ST 2001 2002  
303081 no 75791 61857 75847   ST 1991 1991  
303082 no 75792 61858 75848   GMP 1991 1991 Used in Manchester
303083 yes 75793 61859 75849   ST 2002 2003  
303084 no 75794 61860 75850 61860 used to reform 033 blue 1980 1980  
303085 yes 75795 61861 75851   ST 2002 2002 last unit with sliding windows
303086 no 75796 61862 75852   ST 1991 1991  
303087 yes 75797 61863 75853   ST 2001 2002 one of the units in carmine and cream
303088 yes 75798 61864 75854   ST 2002 2003 one of the last remaining units in service, worked the last 303 journey with 011 on 30.12.02.
303089 yes 75799 61865 75855   ST 1999 2001 named Cowal Highland Gathering in 1994, also the last to carry a headcode box.
303090 yes 75800 61866 75856   ST 2002 2003  
303091 yes 75801 61867 75857   ST 2002 2002 Involved in the Gower St Collision in 1973, rebuilt with new cab ends.


ST = Strathclyde Transport Livery. (orange and Black)
CC = Carmine and Cream (SPT)
Cal = Caledonian Blue
BR Bl = BR Blue
BR BG = BR Blue Grey
NSE = Network South East