|InterCity 125 or High Speed Train (HST)|
|HST power car 43127 in the revised British Rail livery, crossing the Kennet and Avon Canal.|
|Top speed||148 mph (238 km/h)|
|Power output||Engine: 2,250 bhp (1,678 kW)|
|Tractive effort||Maximum: 17,980 lbf (80.0 kN)
Continuous: 10,340 lbf (46.0 kN) @64.5 mph (104 km/h)
|Disposition||still in service|
The InterCity 125 was the brand name of British Rail's High Speed Train (HST) fleet. The InterCity 125 train is made up of two power cars, one at each end of a fixed formation of Mark 3 carriages, and is capable of 125 mph (201 km/h) in regular service. Initially the sets were classified as Classes 253 and 254. A variant of the power cars operates in Australia as part of the XPT.
After three decades, the majority of the HST fleet is still in frontline revenue service to the present day under privatisation, and while the InterCity 125 brand is rarely used officially by the private Train Operating Companies (TOCs), the HST still forms the backbone of express services on several British main lines, although they are expected to be replaced within the next 10 years by the InterCity Express (IEP) programme.
An InterCity 125 consists of two Class 43 diesel-electric power cars and a set of Mark 3 coaches (typically 8 or 9). Normally there are two types of HST sets, 8+2 (5 standard class, 1 buffet, 2 first class) and 9+2 (6 standard class, 1 buffet, 2 first class), where the +2 refers to the power cars at each end of the formation.
Key features of the design are the high power-to-weight ratio of the locomotives (1678 kW per ~70-tonne loco), which were purpose-built for high speed passenger travel, improved crashworthiness over previous models, and bi-directional running avoiding the need for a locomotive to run around at terminating stations.
The concept of the HST dates from the late 1960s. British Rail decided to pursue a parallel approach to future express trains. To complement the advanced technology tilting train project APT-E, being developed by the Research Division in Derby, it was decided in 1970 to build two lightweight 125 mph (201 km/h) capable Bo-Bo locomotives, to top and tail a rake of the new 23-metre-long Mark 3 coaches. These trains would be designed by the Chief Mechanical and Electrical Engineer's Department, also in Derby, and were intended as a stop-gap until the APT was proven.
The prototype train of seven coaches and two locomotives was completed in August 1972. By the autumn it was running trials on the main line and in May 1973 the prototype, now designated Class 252, set a world diesel speed record of 143.2 mph (230.5 km/h). The concept was proven during trial running between 1973 and 1976, and British Rail decided to build 27 production HSTs to transform Inter City services between London Paddington, Bristol, and South Wales.
The first production power car, numbered 43002, was delivered in 1976, with a significantly different appearance from the prototype. The streamlined front end lacked conventional buffers and the drawgear was hidden under a cowling. The single cab window was much larger than the prototype’s, and there was no driving position at the inner end.
Deliveries continued through 1976, and in October a partial service of HSTs running at 125 mph (201 km/h) began on the Western Region. A radical update of the standard BR livery on the power cars was complemented by the 'Inter-City 125' branding, which also appeared on timetables and promotional literature. By the start of the summer timetable in May 1977, the full complement of 27 Class 253 sets (253001 – 253027) was in service on the Western Region, completely replacing locomotive-hauled trains on the Bristol and South Wales routes. Usage of the trains rapidly increased due to the speed and frequency of the service, an effect previously only seen when electric trains had replaced diesel or steam services. The displacement by HSTs of the British Rail Class 50 locomotives to slower services effectively finished off the last 'Western' diesel hydraulics Class 52 by early 1977.
The production of Class 254 continued through 1977 for East Coast Main Line services. Initially, British Rail planned to fit uprated 2,500 bhp (1,900 kW) Valentas to these longer HSTs, but this plan was shelved as the intensive running on the Western Region began to result in a high level of engine failures, often due to inadequate cooling; for a while, the WR power cars were derated to 2,000 bhp (1,500 kW). The Class 254s began to work important ECML expresses such as the Flying Scotsman from the summer timetable in May 1978. Within a year they had displaced the Deltics to lesser workings and reduced the journey time to Edinburgh by up to an hour.
Production of HSTs continued until 1982, allowing them to take over services from London to the West Country, many Cross-Country express trains, and finally the Midland Main Line. Ninety-five HST sets including 197 Class 43 powercars were built between 1976 and 1982. More Mark 3 trailer cars were built in the 1980s for the Western Region Class 253s, making them eight-car rakes in common with those used on East Coast and Midland Main Line services. During the 1990s only the Cross-Country sets remained as seven-car rakes, with just one First Class carriage.
Until the HST's introduction, the maximum speed of British trains was limited to 100 mph (160 km/h). The HST allowed a 25% increase in service speeds along many lines they operated. British Rail initially used the fleet starting in 1976 on the Great Western Main Line, on the East Coast Main Line, on the Cross Country Route and latterly on the Midland Main Line, serving destinations such as London, Bristol, Edinburgh, as far south as Penzance and as far north as Aberdeen and Inverness. Not only did the HST bring considerable improvements in service upon the railways, British Rail entered a period of active marketing which happened to accompany and support the train's success.
The lighter axle loading allowed the trains to travel faster than conventional services along lines not suited to full-speed running, such as the Edinburgh to Aberdeen line. Known as HST differential speeds, coupled with superior acceleration capability over older locomotives, this allowed substantial cuts in journey times over these lines. The increased speed, rapid acceleration and deceleration of the HST made it ideal for passenger use. The prototype InterCity 125 (power cars 43000 and 43001) set the world record for diesel traction at 143 mph (230 km/h) on 12 June 1973. An HST also holds the world speed record for a diesel train carrying passengers. On 27 September 1985, a special press run for the launch of a new Tees-Tyne Pullman service from Newcastle to London King's Cross, formed of a shortened 2+5 set, briefly touched 144 mph (232 km/h) north of York. The world record for the fastest diesel-powered train, a speed of 148 mph (238 km/h), was set by an HST on 1 November 1987, while descending Stoke Bank with a test run for a new type of bogie - later to be used under the Mk4 coaches used on the same route.
On Western Region, InterCity 125 trains (designated class 253) were introduced initially for all services from London to Bristol and South Wales, and then extended for most day-time services from London to Devon and Cornwall.
The Class 47 locomotives still operated the cross country services from Cornwall and South Wales to the Northeast via the West Coast Main Line, as well as London to the Midlands/Welsh Marches. However, Class 43s also replaced these services once the third batch of power cars was delivered. All of these HSTs consisted of a 2+8 formation, normally with two first class carriages, a buffet car and then five second class carriages, all sandwiched between two power cars.
Great Western Trains was formed out of the privatisation of British Rail and operated the Intercity routes from London Paddington to the west of England. In 1998 FirstGroup acquired Great Western Trains and rebranded it First Great Western, InterCity 125s continued to work the same diagrams they had under British Rail, albeit in a different livery. Between 2001 and 2009 the HSTs were supplemented by British Rail Class 180 DMUs, but these have since been returned to the leasing company as they proved less reliable than the older HST.
First Great Western use their large fleet of 43 HST sets to operate most long-distance services from Paddington to destinations such as Swindon, Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, Cheltenham, Oxford, Worcester, Hereford, Plymouth and Penzance. As of 2009 all express services in the South West region are performed by HST's with the exception of some sleeper services.
From 2005 the First Great Western HST's were re-engined with MTU power units. At the same time as the overhaul they refurbished the coaches. Units for services in the M4 corridor/Thames Valley to Bristol, Hereford, Oxford, Exeter and Cardiff were converted into a high-density layout of mostly airline seats (only two tables per carriage): This was to provide more seats for commuters. The remainder (for the routes to Swansea and the West Country) kept the tables.
The refurbished carriages have new seating (leather in first class), at-seat power points and a redesigned buffet bar.
On the East Coast Main Line, the InterCity 125 designated Class 254 was the staple stock from the retirement of the Class 55 locomotives in 1980–1982 to the introduction of the Intercity 225 following electrification in 1990.
The basic East Coast (ECML) formation was originally 2+8, increased to 2+9 in 2002 when extra stock became available. The ECML formation is nominally two first class carriages, one buffet (with further 1st Class seating) and five (later six) standard-class carriages, sandwiched between the buffet and power car.
For a few years, formations included a TRUK (trailer restaurant kitchen) and Buffet car, many formations being 4xTS, TRUK, Buffet, 2 x TF. Nine trailer car units followed this formation, with the addition of a TS. 'Pullman' services replace a TS with an additional first-class coach.
After privatisation InterCity sets were operated by GNER, alongside electric InterCity 225 units from London to Newcastle and Edinburgh, as well as beyond the electrified sections (or where British Rail Class 91s cannot operate due to route availability restrictions) such as services to Hull, Skipton, Harrogate, Inverness and Aberdeen.
In January 2007 the first of GNER's 13 refurbished HSTs was unveiled, with the coaches rebuilt to the same 'Mallard' standard as its InterCity 225 electric sets with similar seating, lighting, carpets and buffet cars. Members of this fleet which have been refurbished have had 200 added to their original numbers. The power cars were upgraded with MTU engines. The first of the HST Mallards was in service by Spring 2007.
In 2007 the franchise was taken over by National Express East Coast, who continued the re-engining program begun by GNER, and completed the refurbishment of the fleet in March 2009. Two power cars were transferred to First Great Western early in 2009. The final Mallard-upgraded Mark 3 coaches entered service with NXEC in October 2009.
On 1 July 2009 following an announcement by the National Express Group that it refused to provide further financial support to its subsidiary National Express East Coast. The NXEC franchise ceased on 13 November 2009, and the operation of the route returned to public ownership.
As a result the 13 sets are now operated by Department of Transport operator East Coast(as of late 2009).
In 2006, Grand Central Railway obtained six Class 43 Power Cars to operate its London-Sunderland passenger service via the East Coast Main Line.
The service was due to begin in December 2006 although upgrade work to enable the coaching stock (which was formerly used for locomotive-hauled services and has a different electric heating/power supply system) to operate with Class 43 powercars was heavily delayed and therefore pushed the starting date back to 18 December 2007.
On London Midland Region, InterCity 125 trains were introduced later than on the other regions. They initially appeared on the former Midland Railway route from London St. Pancras to Sheffield and Nottingham. Although they were not permitted to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h) on any part of the route, they still delivered time savings compared with the loco-hauled trains they replaced.
The Midland Main Line received a series of speed improvements over the next two decades, until it became possible for HSTs to run at up to 110 mph (180 km/h) on some sections. An upgrade to the full 125 mph (201 km/h) was proposed by British Rail in the early 1990s, but because of privatisation this did not happen.
HSTs remain the backbone of expresses on the route, although they are now supported by new Class 222s on semi-fast services. They normally run in 2+8 formation, normally with two first class trailers, one buffet (at the end of the first class section) and five standard class trailers, all sandwiched between the two power cars.
Midland Mainline inherited HST's from BR after privatisation - and operated them on its primary services at up to 110 mph
At the time of the West Coast Main Line upgrade by Network Rail, it became necessary to operate diversionary routes whilst work was going on. As a result Midland Mainline were asked by the then Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) to operate London to Manchester services via the Midland Main Line and Hope Valley Line into London St. Pancras station whilst West Coast Main Line renovation works took place. In an operation dubbed Project Rio, a large percentage of the stored Virgin Cross-Country power cars were overhauled and returned to service in an enlarged Midland Mainline fleet. Ending on 10 September 2004, the Project Rio fleet was gradually disbanded, with power cars moving to First Great Western, GNER or Cross Country.
HSTs operate the faster services to Nottingham and sometimes Leeds and York, (Class 222 DMUs working the slower stopping services due to their better acceleration). Members of this fleet are currently being re-painted at the company’s Neville Hill Depot in Leeds; they have been refurbished with a different power unit to FGW and NXEC sets and are retaining their original numbers.
As of 2009 26 are in service with East Midlands Trains.
In the 2007 the franchise passed to Cross Country (an Arriva Trains subsidiary). Because of overcrowding, Cross Country reintroduced five HSTs to supplement the Bombardier Voyagers it used. In late September 2008 Cross Country refurbished their first HST set. The coaches have been refurbished to the same "Mallard" standard as GNER trains, though their interior is in burgundy. They also differ from the National Express sets by having electronic seat reservations, and the buffet car has been removed, with all catering provided at-seat from a catering base in coach B. Most of the carriages are rebuilt from loco-hauled Mark 3s. The refurbishment was carried out by Wabtec, Doncaster Works.
5 HST sets are now in service.
When Crewe Works built them the InterCity 125 units were considered to be diesel multiple units, and were allocated British Rail Class 253 and Class 254 for Western and Eastern Region services respectively.
British Rail considered the HST, a fixed formation train with a locomotive at each end, as a multiple unit on introduction, and numbered them as such: 253 xxx (Western Region) and 254 xxx (Eastern and Scottish Regions). However, because two power cars carried the same 'set number', problems arose when for servicing reasons different units were used on a train, which would then display a different number at each end. For this reason, British Rail abolished the initial numbering system and all individual power cars became identified as such, using the format 43 xxx - this number was previously carried in small digits in the bodysides, prefixed by a 'W' or 'E' to identify the region, thus the power cars were reclassified as Class 43 diesel locomotives.
The vehicle types used to form High Speed Trains are listed below:
|Class 43||Diesel locomotive||125||201||197||1976–1982||Intercity 125's power cars, normally operated in pairs while placed at both ends of the train.|
|Mark 3 Coach||Passenger rolling stock||125||201||848||1975–1988||British Rail's third fundamental design of carriage, developed primarily for the InterCity 125.|
|400xx||Trailer Buffet (TRSB)||Renumbered 404xx in 1983; some converted to 402xx series|
|403xx||Trailer Buffet (TRUB)||All converted to 407xx series (first class)|
|405xx||Trailer Kitchen (TRUK)||All withdrawn and converted for other uses|
|41xxx||Trailer First (TF)||Majority in service, some converted or scrapped|
|42xxx||Trailer Second (TS)||Majority in service, some converted or scrapped|
|43002-43198||Driving Motor (Brake) (DM or DMB)||Majority in service, three scrapped after accidents
These are now classified as British Rail Class 43
|44000-44101||Trailer Guard Second (TGS)||Majority in service, some converted|
The 197 power cars produced are numbered 43002-43198. 43001 was applied to the second of the two prototype power cars, while the first of the pair (now preserved at York), became 43000 - unusual because BR TOPS classification numbered its locomotives from 001 upwards (this was because it was not, at the time, classified as a locomotive).
In 2002, Class 255 was allocated for the reformation of some HST power cars and trailers into semi-fixed formation trains, to be known as Virgin Challenger units, for use by Virgin Trains. These formations would have had power cars sandwiching one Trailer First, a Trailer Buffet, two Trailer Seconds and a Trailer Guard Second. These plans came to naught as the Strategic Rail Authority planned to transfer most of the stock to Midland Mainline for their London-Manchester 'Rio' services.
The original "Inter-City 125" livery was blue and grey, with a yellow front to improve visibility which continued down the side of the power cars.
The second livery had mostly grey power cars with a white band along the middle, yellow underneath the white band, with the InterCity colours (cream, red, white, brown) for the parcel compartment of the power cars and the coaches.
There was brownish-grey, dark grey (almost black) around the windows with a red and white stripe below the windows, and retaining the yellow bands on the power cars. The final variant of this livery saw the yellow side-bands replaced with white and did not feature the British Rail name or logo: it carried the new sector branding Intercity logo in serif type and an image of a flying swallow. This is commonly referred to as "INTERCITY Swallow" livery, and was applied to other locomotives in the sector.
The Intercity service proved an instant hit with the British public. By the early 1980s the HST had caught the travelling public's imagination, thanks in part to a memorable television advertising campaign fronted by Jimmy Savile, together with the advertising strap-line "This Is The Age Of The Train". British Rail enjoyed a boom in patronage on the routes operated by the HSTs, and InterCity's profits jumped accordingly, with cross-subsidisation safeguarding the future of rural routes that had been under threat of closure since the Beeching Axe of the 1960s.
One of the surprising impacts after introduction was that of increased house prices on routes served by these trains. Suddenly towns and cites such as Huntingdon, Peterborough, Swindon, and even as far afield as York and Bristol, were within commuter distances of London.
The Intercity 125 has become one of the recognised icons of Britain.
The success of the HST has had significant international impact. This impact is most obvious in Australia, where the HST was used as the base for developing their own XPT, in cooperation with British Rail. Foreign press for decades observed and praised the speed and quality of the service. It ranks as the world's second high speed commercial passenger service, following after Japan's Shinkansen, which first connected Tokyo and Osaka on 1 October 1964.
There have been many model and toy guises of the IC125. One of the very first in the UK was by Hornby Railways, who launched their first model version in 1977, it was later released in InterCity 'Swallow' livery, First Great Western green-and-white, Midland Mainline and Virgin Trains. Lima released their version of the IC125 in 1982, of which the Mark 3 coaches were much closer to the lengths of the real-life coaches. Hornby eventually followed suit in the late-1990s, when their Mark 3 coaches were lengthened. Hornby released a totally new version of the InterCity 125 power cars in late 2008.
In N scale, HST sets have been produced for many years by Graham Farish. These sets consist of the two power cars (one powered and one dummy), and a centre coach, and have been produced in a wide range of liveries.
Three Class 43 locomotives (43011, 43019 and 43173, all of which were being operated on the Great Western Main Line) have been written off in railway accidents; the Ladbroke Grove, Ufton Nervet and Southall accidents respectively. In the Ladbroke Grove and Ufton Nervet accidents neither the driver of the HST or the HST itself was at fault, however the Southall accident was actually caused by the driver of the HST going through a red light, and the train had a broken Automatic Warning System onboard, which if operational would have alerted the driver to his error. Following investigation, this system has since been required to be kept operational and switched on for all use of the Intercity 125 fleet.
In 2005, the train leasing company, Angel Trains, initiated and led an industry-wide programme to replace the 30-year old Paxman engines in the HST power cars with new MTU 16V 4000 engines. The upgrade which was part of a £110 million total investment made by Angel Trains on its fleet of high speed trains, included the re-powering and refurbishment of 54 HST power cars, currently on lease to GNER (now East Coast) (23), First Great Western (26) and Midland Mainline (now East Midlands Trains)(5).
Additionally many operators undertook some sort of reburbishment program on the Mark 3 carriages in the early 2000s. With the long term delay and change of direction of the HST2 program, operators began to refurbish their HST fleets in 2006 - both by remotoring with the more modern MTU4000 diesel generator, and by refurbishing the carriage interiors. It is anticipated that these overhauls will give the HST at least another 10 years in front-line service.
The first replacement of HSTs occurred from 1988 on the East Coast Main Line, with their partial replacement by the InterCity 225 when the line to Edinburgh was electrified. Some were retained for services to Aberdeen, Inverness, Skipton, Bradford and Hull.
As the Intercity 125 has become old compared to most stock used in passenger service, it has been recognised that is near the end of its days. More recently HSTs have been replaced (or augmented) by high speed DMUs such as the Voyagers and the UK express version of Alstom's Coradia.
These new DMUs have better acceleration than the HST due to a higher power/weight ratio, with greater efficiency and braking performance in addition. However passengers are often annoyed by the vibrations and the level of noise onboard many DMUs from the underfloor engines, compared to the Mark 3 coaches which are much quieter.
In 2005 the initial concept of HST2 was rejected by the Government and the rail industry as a like-for-like replacement for the HST fleet. In light of this rejection, in 2006 existing operators turned to refurbishments of the Intercity 125 trains.
Nevertheless, HST2 has been expanded and replaced by the Intercity Express Programme, with proposals for a joint replacement of both HST and Intercity 225 trains. The likely successor to the two Intercity trains is the Hitachi Super Express which has emerged as the preferred bidder.