The Southern Railway’s 2-HAL, a once-classic on the commuter scene, makes a comeback in this detailed add-on for Train Simulator!
Derived from the 2-BIL EMUs of the Southern Railway, the 2-HAL fleet was built with the purpose of populating the spate of newly-electrified main lines in Kent – from London Victoria and Charing Cross to Gillingham and Maidstone. The electrification project was monumental, and would transform the Chatham Main, North Kent and Medway Valley lines into how they more-or-less stand today.
As the railways were modernised, engineers at Eastleigh and Lancing Works began to produce a fleet of 76 brand new electric multiple units. The on-order fleet for the Southern Railway was of similar specification to the older 2-BIL, the most significant change was half as many toilets (Bi–Lavatory/Half Lavatory), however differences in construction lead to quite a different aesthetic for the new units.
The construction of the 2-HALs beat the electrification project, and so the new fleet was ran-in on the Southern Railway’s central section – running suburban services out of London Victoria – until Kent’s modernisation was complete. 2-HALs would finally arrive in Kent, more specifically the Chatham Main Line, in July 1939, and get to work on commuter services to Maidstone and Gillingham.
Services formed of 2-HAL sets, typically in 8 or 10-car formation (8/10-HAL), would depart London Victoria and split at the relocated Swanley station, with each half bound for Gillingham and Maidstone respectively, before performing the opposite operation on the journey back up to the capital. 2-HALs would also work the North Kent “metro” services, them too splitting at Strood and serving Gillingham and Maidstone out of London Charing Cross & Cannon Street.
Perhaps the most prestigious working that the 2-HALs partook was long distance services from Gillingham to Portsmouth, these weekend excursions were mainly put in place for naval personnel but could also accommodate regular passengers. The popularity of the 2-HALs was so just, that a second batch was fulfilled at the outbreak of war.
The Second World War was harsh on the 2-HALs, but none were totally destroyed, instead they would survive beyond the conflict and eventually wind up on the Brighton Main Line in the advent of the 1955 Kent Coast electrification scheme. The final passenger work for the 2-HALs, which had now been officially re-classified as the BR Class 402, was on the Coastway routes out of Brighton.
Some Class 402s were re-purposed as parcel stock, but all services ceased in 1971. Throughout the next several years, the entire fleet would be sold for scrap, none survived into preservation. The 2-HALs’ story has spanned decades, and a new chapter is opened as this Kentish classic is ready to enjoy in Train Simulator!