British Railway’s HST 40 years on.

It’s been more than 40 years since British Railway’s HST (High Speed Train) made its commercial debut.

These comfortable diesel powered 125mph push-push train-sets have worked intercity services on a variety of routes ever since.

Today they are one of the few types of 1970s-era equipment surviving in regular traffic in the United Kingdom.

I detailed the history and development of the HST in my book Railway Masterpieces (Krause Publications, 2002). Here’s an except from my text:

“[British Rail marketed the HST] as the Intercity 125, a name obviously playing on the HST’s high-speed ability. The most successful aspect of the HST development and where BR really scored a coup was how they used the trains. Where the old school might had ordered just a few trains to offer just a handful of premier high speed services, BR introduced a full service of high speed trains on the lines west of Paddington. The Intercity 125 was not just fast, new, clean and more comfortable than older trains, but operated frequently as well and did not cost any more to ride. When the full HST schedule was in service, there were some 48 daily Intercity 125s. This was exactly the sort of convenience needed to lure people away from their cars, and the strategy worked.”

HST at Reading on the old Great Western Railway route from Paddington.
HST at Reading on the old Great Western Railway route from Paddington.
Trailing view of an HST Class 43 locomotive power car at Reading. All HST sets work with Class 43 diesels at each end with Mark3 carriages between.
Trailing view of an HST Class 43 locomotive power car at Reading. All HST sets work with Class 43 diesels at each end with Mark3 carriages between.
Evening view of an HST at Reading. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.
Evening view of an HST at Reading. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Rebuilt HST sets continue to serve several private operators in Britain.

Earlier this month, I traveled on HSTs with my father, and made several opportunities to photograph the trains in some of their most recent paint liveries.

In the shadow of Mallard; a Virgin HST idles at London's Kings Cross on 3 May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
In the shadow of Mallard; a Virgin HST idles at London’s Kings Cross on 3 May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

 

 

4 thoughts on “British Railway’s HST 40 years on.”

  1. Possibly the best diesel passenger trains ever built anywhere, and still in front-line service.

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