Northern Lights HST at Kings Cross

Fast train delayed because of a suspected points failure.

On Monday, April 22, 2013, a well-known industry communications manager and I paused at an overhead bridge beyond London’s Kings Cross to watch the departure of the 1400 (2pm) East Coast train to Aberdeen. This is called the Northern Lights and features a 1970s-vintage HST, thus making it among the more interesting trains serving Kings Cross.

What ought to have taken just a few moments, dragged on and on. We could see the HST on the platform, but at 2 o’clock it failed to depart on time. I knew something was up when a man, who appeared to be the driver, left the cab of the train. (Just for clarification: in British terminology the person who runs—or ‘drives’—the train is known as a ‘driver’ rather than an engineer.)

Two minutes turned into five, and the HST still hadn’t left. Then two railway employees appeared by a slip-switch beyond the end of the platform. They began disassembling the cowling that covered the switch machine motor. The incident was shaping up to what they call a ‘points failure’. (In Britain, track switches are called ‘points.’)

Before it was all straightened out, there were four men dressed in orange safety clothing on the ground managing the uncooperative points. Finally, just after 1412 (2:10pm), the HST marched out of Kings Cross in parallel with another East Coast train, this one hauled by a common class 90 electric (and was probably destined for Newark Northgate).

Kings Cross, London
I used my Lumix LX3 to catch the late departure of East Coast’s Northern Lights (on left) on Monday April 22, 2013. On the right is the class 90 electric with another northward train. It’s been more than 45 years since the famous Gresley-designed A4 Pacific’s worked this route. Much more than the locomotives has changed, and continues to change. The whole area around Kings Cross is a construction site.



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3 comments on “Northern Lights HST at Kings Cross

  1. John O'Connor on said:

    Meant to say Brian – love your site. I recently bought your signalling book to try and understand some of US Railroad signalling. Esp as I travel to MA about once a year or so (company sister development site is in Westford MA).
    Rarely get the chance to do Rail tours, but the first railtour I did was around 1990 from Boston out to Leominster and other points. The only other one I did a few years back was an Irish one down to Waterford across to Limerick Junction and back to Dublin. Interest point was the trip through the Phoenix park tunnel.
    I also have a keen interest in photography, but my 16yr old daughter has now “acquired” my Nikon D700 for her Horse/showjumping photography (she gets a lot more published than I ever did).

  2. Sorry, yesterday was dedicated to paying work. Normally I try for six posts a week, usually Monday or Tuesday I take a break.

  3. John O'Connor on said:

    Glad to see you back – missed your entry yesterday.

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