Freedom Pass Project – Update

Time to catch up with last Friday’s trip. Like Thursday last week, I was looking to get some last shots of the Southern’s Class 455 units and visiting a couple of locations for my Freedom Pass Project.

I targeted Sutton as my initial destination. It’s actually one of the simplest of termini to get to for me. I take the Northern Line down to Kentish Town and get a Thameslink train to Sutton from there. The service is operated by 8-coach Class 700 units which route to their destination either via Wimbledon or Mitcham Junction. They’re actually working around a loop in south London with Sutton as a nominal terminating point. Some start from Luton or St Albans and others from Blackfriars (more on this later). When they arrive in Sutton the service terminates on the through platform where it arrives. It then immediately becomes the next departure going outbound in the same direction of travel to the other end of its route. So, if it came down via Mitcham Junction, it will return via Wimbledon and vice versa. Here’s a Map showing the Sutton loop…

Sutton Loop

Sutton is quite an interesting station with, in addition to the Thameslink services, Southern trains going through to Epsom and to Epsom Downs from Victoria. There’s a continuous stream of trains and passengers throughout the day, justifying quite a large station building…

Sutton Station

Back on the platforms, while waiting for the next train to Epsom Downs, I was treated to a light engine movement – 73961 ‘Alison’ came off the line from West Croydon heading towards Epsom…

73961 at Sutton

…It’s a handy shot to illustrate the state of the platform canopies – there is currently a major rebuild of the station going on.

The Epsom Downs services are why I went to Sutton – they were one of the routes operated by the Southern Class 455’s and I wanted Epsom Downs as a terminus. Here’s 455804 arriving at Sutton from Victoria on its way to Epsom Downs…

455804 at Sutton

… and here’s 455818 at the Epsom Downs terminus…

455818 at Epsom Downs

…There’s very little to show at Epsom Downs, just this narrow platform 🙄

Back to Sutton and a shot of ‘818 in the ‘Downs branch platforms…

455818 at Sutton

Sutton has one interesting photographic opportunity – trains arriving from Mitcham Junction approach up quite a steep incline…

377609 at Sutton

…The lines on the right go to Wallington and West Croydon. Class 377 units like the ones in this photo will be taking over the 455’s duties – something made possible by the reduction in passenger numbers following the COVID pandemic. No new stock – just a redistribution of the existing units and keeping to a slightly reduced service.

Speaking of timetables, Thameslink have probably changed theirs more often than any other operator during the pandemic. When I was setting up my Freedom Pass Project I thought I had captured all the existing Thameslink termini within my area. But I was in for a surprise – My train home from Sutton was terminating at Kentish Town! Some services used to terminate here, then they didn’t, now it seems they do again – duly added to my spreadsheet and ticked off on the same day 😂👍 Here’s 700035 terminated at Kentish Town…

700035 at Kentish Town

That was my last farewell to the 455’s trip – I didn’t go hunting for them on Saturday because there would be too many others pursuing that same objective. Instead, I went to photograph the Duchess at Alexandra Palace. I will post a final Southern 455 farewell sometime soon to share some shots that didn’t make these Freedom Pass posts.

Meanwhile, back on South Western Railway, the other 455’s remain in service…😉

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