This is among the hundreds photos I chose for final consideration for my book on European Railway Travel. It is not an outtake. Instead this is among my selections for the section on railways of Great Britain.
In the text I discuss the great London terminals, and I use this photo to illustrate Kings Cross. I like it because it features a vintage HST in nice light with a dynamic view of the classic train shed beyond.
The HST (High Speed Train) was introduced by the then nationalised British Railways (BR) in the mid-1970s as the Intercity 125.
As a 125 mph train capable of operating on many existing lines with minimal changes to infrastructure and signaling this represented a significant improvement over older trains that allowed BR to speed schedules and more effectively compete with other modes.
More than 40 years later, many of the old HSTs are still on the move.
Exposed on 3 May 2016 using my Lumix LX7. This image was adapted from the camera RAW image for maximum dynamic range.
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.”
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.
Here we are with another catchy title. Yet, it’s fairly descriptive, and neatly covers for the fact that I’m separated from my notes from the day. What?
Back in July 2002, some of my Irish friends and I were photographing along former Great Western lines in the west of England. On this day, we scoped out an elevated location—often pictured in magazines—at Dawlish Warren.
When were arrived at there, I was shocked to find about 40 other photographers with a similar idea in mind.
My friends and I made a few photos, but it takes some of the fun out of the challenge when you’re in such a large group (and not really part of the group). I think most of the folks were after Class 47 diesels that were then still working some Virgin Cross Country trains.
So, we abandoned the popular place, and migrated east toward Exeter where we found this remote location along the River Exe. (And here I suffer from my notes being in Massachusetts, and me in Ireland; what was the name of this spot? It was near a church, along the River . . .Ah! sounds like the line from a song, oh well).
I was pleased to catch a bright red and yellow Virgin HST racing along. While not uncommon at the time, the HST is among my favorite trains in the UK. I think I was in the minority among the folks at Dawlish Warren; they didn’t seem to have any interest in the HST’s at all!
Back in July 2000, I changed trains here. That brief visit left me with a vague impression of a bouncy rail car in a bay platform. Back then, I was on my way to Brontë Country for a weekend on the Keighley & Worth Valley.
Fourteen Years seems like a long time. On this more recent visit, I had time to more thoroughly experience Leeds and its railway terminal. While not a Victorian throwback like London’s great terminals at Paddington or Liverpool Street, Leeds is a busy place with constant parade of trains.
There’s good variety too. In addition to a multitude of diesel and electric multiple units, there’s a fair few HSTs and Class 90 electrics on long distance trains. In the evenings, a the occasional freight rolls through.
In addition from platform views, I found some stunning vistas from the nearby Double Tree Hotel that overlooks the Manchester-end of the station.
Curiously, the bouncy railcars are still aplenty in Leeds, albeit painted differently than I remember from last time around.
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).