GWR Charity HST to Minehead

125 Group is very pleased to help support this special High Speed Train charity railtour:

West Somerset Railway Explorer – Saturday 13th May 2017

Great Western Railway with Visit Somerset, West Somerset Railway and Buses of Somerset, a special HST (hoped to be celebrity power cars 43002 & 43185 with green livery set) will work the charity railtour, raising funds for Weston-super-Mare Hospice to celebrate the life and work of Bob Smart, the former chairman of Visit Somerset who sadly passed away last year.

There will be the GWR buffet car with GWR souvenirs available and the 125 Group Sales Stand on-board.

Various ticket options are available:

‘Explorer Option’:  Paddington depart 08.36/ arrive 18.57, Ealing Broadway 08.44/18.46, Reading 09.14/18.19, Didcot 09.34/18.02 via Frome and onto the WSR and through to Minehead (13.00/14.50) returning via Taunton Platform 2 and crossover at Taunton East JnWeston-super-Mare and booked Bristol TM Down Through Line in the Up direction.

There is the option of travelling to and from Paddington but leaving the train at Frome at 10.33 for a luxury coach or open top bus on a mystery land cruise re-joining at Weston 17.00.

Part Fare ‘Round Robin’ option for passengers joining the train at Frome from the 08.36 train from Swindon via Melksham, leaving at Weston for service train connections to the 18.32 Westbury to Swindon and 18.40 Westbury to Frome. Coach connections are also available to connect at Frome/Weston.

There are no pay on the day tickets, only on-line bookings are available (but with various options for group and staff fares etc).

Full details and ticket bookings available here: http://wsr_explorer.eventbrite.co.uk/?s=73482104

SPECIAL OFFER: For 125 Group members plus one accompanying person, early bird £25.50 discount – adult standard class only and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, VALID for the HST all day option ONLY, enter promotional code:  HST_Group_41
Current 125 Group membership card must be presented on-board to validate this special offer.

Easter Saturday HST Valenta action at GCRN

Prototype HST Power Car 41001 and 125 Group’s matching Mk3 Coaches at Barnstone on the scenic Great Central Railway-Nottingham ©Jason Cross

Easter Saturday 15th April sees Prototype HST Power Car 41001 and 125 Group’s matching Mk3 coaches working passenger services for the first time this year at Great Central Railway-Nottingham, following important winter maintenance. The ‘Yellow Timetable’ will be in operation with departures from Ruddington at 1030, 1215, 1400 and 1545, Class 25 locomotive D7629 is planned to be on the south end of the set.

Services depart from Ruddington and head through the scenic Nottinghamshire countryside almost 10 miles southwards to Loughborough High Level where there is no station but the train gives a great view of the Midland Mainline and BRUSH Locomotive Works with class 73s and 92s usually on display. Ruddington station (parking available, sat-nav postcode NG11 6JS) is the operating base of GCRN with attractions for all the family, historic rolling stock under restoration plus a working ride-on miniature railway and model railway to watch, Rushcliffe Country Park is also close by. Trains also call at Rushcliffe Halt in the village of East Leake (sat-nav postcode LE12 6JT) where parking is also available.

Prototype Power Car 41001 is part of the National Collection and was restored to working order by 125 Group under the ‘Project Miller’ banner, GCRN is our home base. 41001 is fitted with a Paxman Valenta engine, the type originally used in all production Inter-City 125s. Join us on Easter Saturday and experience the marvellous screaming Valenta powering our historic HST on the former Great Central mainline!

Hot and cold drinks, also snacks will be available on-board the train, plus 125 Group sales items. Buy your ‘Bound for Craigy’ pin badges and quality HST merchandise here. For more information about tickets, timetables and how to get to GCRN, view their website www.gcrn.co.uk.

Bound for Craigy – Record Breaking Fundraiser!

Virgin Trains Power Car 43300 leads the ‘Bound for Craigy’ charity railtour around York Avoiding Line past the Regional Operations Centre, Saturday 18th March 2017. ©Robin Patrick

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the iconic High Speed Train, the Branch Line Society marked this milestone by chartering a special train, in conjunction with Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), 125 Group and the Preserved Locomotive Enthusiasts Group. Over £43,000 was raised on the day for the charity Railway Children, which supports children at risk on the streets in the UK, India and East Africa who run away from home or are forced to leave due to poverty, violence or neglect.

Starting from the newly renovated Kings Cross station, the special Inter-City 125 chartered by the Branch Line Society took rail fans from London to Edinburgh and back on March 18, 2017. Ticket-holders travelled in style, enjoying an array of food and drinks as they journeyed along the famous East Coast Main Line, also taking in the Blyth and Tyne route plus very unusual visits to Bounds Green and Craigentinny maintenance depots.

Those on board the nine-coach High Speed Train, included its original designer and godfather of British modernism Sir Kenneth Grange. Not just train designer royalty, Sir Kenneth is also the designer of the celebrated Kenwood Mixer, the 21st century revamp of the Anglepoise lamp, and the classic ‘Venner’ parking meter, not forgetting Kodak’s Instamatic camera. Sir Kenneth is now Hon President of 125 Group, the enthusiasts’ society which aims to preserve one of the iconic trains when they are finally taken out of service.

Sir Kenneth said: “Four decades on, the high speed train remains the backbone of the rail network and has had a major impact on the general life of most people in this country. I think it’s still fair to say that the Inter-City 125 remains one of my proudest achievements and it has given me a great deal of pleasure to share this anniversary with so many other HST fans for such a good cause.”

Kev Adlam, Fixtures Secretary, Branch Line Society, said: “Thank you to everyone from Virgin Trains, 125 Group, PLEG, East Midlands Trains, Network Rail and Rail Gourmet that made Saturday’s special train such an interesting, enjoyable and record breaking railtour.

“At over 800 miles it was the longest distance travelled by a one day railtour in the Society’s 62 year history, and we believe the new UK record holder for a one day charity railtour in terms of funds raised. The atmosphere on board was amazing, and for the total revenue to be over £43,000 is red hot.”

Bound for Craigy Cheque Presentation at Newcastle, (from left): VTEC Edinburgh Driver Ross Clark, VTEC Newcastle Driver Hugh Cowan, Dave Ellis (Corporate Partnerships Manager, Railway Children), Sir Kenneth Grange, David Maidment (Founder of the charity Railway Children), Katie Mason (Events Manager, Railway Children).

Dave Ellis, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Railway Children, said: “The High Speed Train stands as testimony to the excellence of British Rail engineering and the genius of the industrial designer Kenneth Grange who created the aerodynamic front cab and nosecone of the Inter-City 125, giving the train its iconic shape. 

“It has been a fantastic experience to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the world’s most successful trains. Thanks to the support of the Branch Line Society, Virgin Trains, 125 Group, PLEG, East Midlands Trains, Network Rail, Rail Gourmet and enthusiasts, over £43,000 has been raised to help us in our fight to change the lives of street children, which is a huge achievement.”

Further information available through the Railway Children press office on 07932 725267 or andrew@acolliscommunications.com

About Railway Children
Railway Children is a leading children’s charity fighting for vulnerable children who live alone at risk on the streets, where they suffer abuse and exploitation. In the UK, society often denies their existence, and in other countries the problem is so prevalent that it has become ‘normal’.

Children and young people run away or are forced to leave home where they suffer poverty, violence, abuse and neglect. They find themselves living on the streets because there is nowhere else to go and no one left to turn to. The problems they face on the streets are often even worse than those they endured at home. Every day we fight to change their story.

Railway Children races to reach children as soon as they arrive on the streets and intervene before an abuser can. Our pioneering work in the UK, India and East Africa enables us to get to street children before the streets get to them. 

For more information on how you can get involved, visit www.railwaychildren.org.uk

HST Charity Railtour – Book Now!

*** UPDATE 23/01/2017 – 1st Class has already SOLD OUT! however Standard Class Seats are still available. ***
*** There will be a full buffet and catering trolley service on board the railtour. BOOK NOW to avoid disappointment! ***

The Branch Line Society in conjunction with Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), 125 Group and PLEG is delighted to announce ‘Bound for Craigy’, an exciting HST special celebrating 40 years of the iconic train, raising money for Railway Children.  Travelling from Kings Cross to Edinburgh and return on Saturday 18th March, the nine coach set will be taking an unusual route visiting Bounds Green and Craigentinny depots along the way, covering the Hertford loop and the Blyth and Tyne route for good measure.  To add a little more interest, we pay two visits to Millerhill Yard and cover the Edinburgh Suburban line too, plus many unusual loops along the East Coast Mainline!

This VTEC HST will be powered by one regular Virgin MTU power car and one Paxman VP185 power car, courtesy of East Midlands Trains. Looking for a little more fun?  OK then let’s throw in the use of FOUR Class 08 shunting locomotives to haul our train – two on each depot.  Free Wi-Fi throughout the train?  Of course!  Ok so what about food then – ‘cos it’s going to be a long day!  Well, for Standard Class we will have trolley service throughout the train of drinks and light refreshments or stretch your legs and pop down to the Café Bar for some hot stuff.  First Class?  Well, strap yourself in for a full English breakfast on the way out, a lovely two course light lunch and an amazing three course dinner on the way home with complimentary tea, coffee and soft drinks.  Real ale?  You bet!!

Tickets are available NOW! We hope you can join us on this very special charity railtour, discounted fares are available for 125 Group members and our roving sales stand will also be on-board. All bookings for this train are being handled by the Branch Line Society. Please note tickets are not available from Virgin Trains East Coast or 125 Group. For full details and to buy tickets, download the Branch Line Society booking form HERE.

Sir Kenneth on a Desert Island

Power Car 43002 ‘Sir Kenneth Grange’ leads GWR service 1A83 1000 Penzance-Paddington along the sea wall at Teignmouth, 21st December 2016. © D.Langham

125 Group Honorary President Sir Kenneth Grange is the guest on BBC Radio 4 ‘Desert Island Discs’ programme, at 11:15am on New Years Day. Sir Kenneth is of course eminent industrial designer of many things including the nosecones of both Prototype and Production High Speed Trains. The show will also be repeated during the week and should be available on the BBC iPlayer here www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b086l4zd

2016 has been a fantastic year for the HST and 125 Group, with many great events celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Inter-City 125, including St.Philips Marsh depot open day in May and HSTs@40 at Great Central Railway (Nottingham) in November, plus 41001’s many visits around the UK. Thanks to all of the railway industry folk and preservation volunteers who have toiled to organise the events and to everyone who has attended, raising funds for some excellent causes.

2017 promises to be an interesting year for the High Speed Train, with the first new replacement Hitachi units scheduled for introduction. If you are interested in HSTs and want to support our preservation cause then why not join 125 Group? Members receive our quarterly magazine ‘One Two Five’, packed with information and informed comment on mainline fleet developments plus the latest exciting news on our Prototype power car 41001. Join here: www.125group.org.uk/group-membership

Happy New Year from all at 125 Group!