The British Rail Class 442 (Wessex Electrics) are a class of electric multiple-units introduced in 1988 by Network SouthEast on the South Western Main Line from London Waterloo to Weymouth to coincide with the electrification of the line from Bournemouth. Twenty-four five-car units were built by British Rail Engineering Limited’s Derby Litchurch Lane Works.
Following the privatisation of British Rail, the fleet was sold to Angel Trains and operated by South West Trains up until February 2007, when replaced by Class 444 and Class 450s. After a period in storage, they were leased to Southern for use on Gatwick Express services from Brighton to Gatwick Airport and London Victoria. The units were withdrawn in 2016 from Gatwick Express services and in March 2017 from peak time Southern services (Brighton to London Bridge and Eastbourne to London Bridge).
Eighteen units are to be reintroduced on London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour services by South Western Railway in December 2018. These 18 units will be refurbished before their use on this service. South Western Railway has awarded Kiepe Electric UK the contract to undertake the £45m refurbishment. Work will include replacing the life-expired DC traction equipment with an AC package incorporating IGBT technology from Kiepe Electric Düsseldorf. New brake controls from Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems will permit regenerative braking.
The class holds the world speed record for a third-rail train with 108 mph (174 km/h), attained on 11 April 1988