After 39 years of service on the Midland main line, the fleet of High Speed Trains (HSTs) operated by East Midlands Railway (EMR) will be retiring in May 2021.
Consisting of a rake of British Rail Mark 3 coaches with a Class 43 diesel locomotive at each end, HSTs were introduced from 1975 onto the Great Western and East Coast main lines, and onto the Midland main line a few years later. Today, East Midlands Railway operates a fleet of Porterbrook-owned HSTs, but these will be withdrawn at the May 2021 timetable change.
The HST is an iconic piece of British engineering and a much-loved part of the railway that still serves passengers on the Midland main line. It remains a true testament to TCB Miller and his design team at the BR Railway Technical Centre in Derby, who took the train from concept to working prototype in two years.
Power Car 43102 famously broke the Intercity World Speed Record in November 1987 when it reached 148.5mph between Northallerton and York during a test a run. Although it was formally renumbered to 43302 by its previous operator, today it regains its original number 43102 and the livery it carried when it broke the record.
Upon its retirement in May, after 43 years’ service, this Power Car will be donated by Porterbrook to the National Railway Museum in York, joining power car 43002 which carries the name ‘Sir Kenneth Grange’.
Neil Bamford, fleet director for EMR said: “The team at our Neville Hill depot in Leeds have been working hard behind the scenes to strip unit 43302 of its current livery, repaint it in its legacy colours and reinstate its original number in homage to the ‘end of the HST’ era.
“What an incredible way to pay tribute to the HSTs and the magnificent efforts from all our staff, who have operated and maintained the fleet over the years.
“I personally remember as a 19-year-old, way back in 1980, going on HST commissioning runs from Derby to Darlington, putting the trains through their paces and doing various tests before they entered into service, such happy memories.
“This is a fitting way to recognise the end for this iconic machine; a massive slice of railway heritage and history.”
Neil Foster, fleet services director for Porterbrook, added: “EMR and Porterbrook have worked closely together for many years to collaboratively manage the iconic HST fleet, these trains are much loved by the millions of passengers they have carried over the decades.
“With their reputation for comfort and speed, these icons of British engineering re-invigorated rail travel between Yorkshire, the East Midlands and London.
“Celebrity power-car 43102 will proudly display its original livery whilst it continues to serve EMR passengers, before undertaking its next journey to a new home at the National Railway Museum to be reunited with Sir Kenneth Grange.”
As an aside, HSTs were also used on the Midland main line for Project Rio – the 2003/2004 hourly service between London St Pancras and Manchester Piccadilly that was run by Midland Mainline as a substitute service while the West Coast main line route underwent engineering works. Northbound trains used the Midland main line and Erewash Valley line before crossing the Pennines on the Hope Valley line.