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HST - InterCity 125 (Class 43)

The HST or InterCity 125 has undoubtedly become an icon of modern British railways, celebrating its 40th year of service this year and still going strong. Originally conceived as a cheaper and more reliable alternative to the Advanced Passenger Train in the early 1970s, the British Railways Board authorised the development of a prototype High Speed Diesel Train with two locomotives designated as Class 41. These aerodynamic power cars were constructed by BREL at their Crewe Works and outshopped in June and August 1972, fitted with Paxman “Valenta” 12RP200L engines which developed 2,250 hp.

After a short period, the Mk.3 passenger cars from BREL’s Derby Litchurch Lane Works completed the prototype set, which then became British Rail Class 252. The power cars, having initially been numbered 41001 and 41002, were later given the coaching stock numbers 43000 and 43001 for operating trials on the Eastern Region and subsequent transfer to the Western Region. This prototype InterCity 125 clinched the world record for traction of 143mph (230kmh) on June 12, 1973.

Following evaluation of this prototype design and a change of name to High Speed Train, British Rail placed orders for similar trains for use on the Western, Eastern, Scottish and London Midland Regions. When originally built at BREL Crewe Works, the InterCity 125 units were considered to be diesel multiple units and allocated as Class 253 to the Western Region and Class 254 for the Eastern Region, as it was envisaged that the sets would remain in fixed formation.

Most of the HST fleet is still in operation under privatisation, although from 2017 it will be replaced by the InterCity Express Programme's Hitachi Class 800 and 801 on the East Coast and Great Western mainlines.

The InterCity 125 celebrates an impressive 40 years in service in 2016, and as part of the celebrations the very first HST has been renamed Sir Kenneth Grange after the man who designed it.

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