Happy 41st Birthday HST!

High Speed Train power car W43014 leads the 13.00 Paddington to Swansea Inter-City 125 service into Reading station, 4th Dec 1976. © Richard Clayton

41 Years Ago today, 4th October 1976 saw the launch of regular 125mph passenger running in the UK when the new fleet of High Speed Trains was introduced on timetabled services between London Paddington, Bristol and South Wales. The streamlined Inter-City 125s transformed long distance rail travel, bringing new levels of comfort and shrinking journey times. Over the past 41 years the iconic HST has become a firm favourite with railway passengers, staff and enthusiasts however big changes are now afoot with the impending introduction of new generation trains to Great Western and East Coast Main Lines.

125 Group is working hard raising funds to achieve our goal of preserving a production HST powered by the original Valenta type engine. Established in 1994 we are now a registered charity with a proven track record, having restored prototype 41001 from static museum exhibit to working order, Sir Kenneth Grange is our Hon President. If you are interested in HSTs then please support our cause by joining us, members receive our exclusive quarterly magazine with detailed behind the scenes information on our preservation activities plus informed articles on the changing HST scene. Membership is £17 for 12 months or sign up to our direct-debit scheme for as little as £5 per month, this really helps our preservation efforts and includes free membership. JOIN HERE!

Meet HST designer Sir Kenneth Grange on-board The Somerset Explorer

Sir Kenneth Grange with his namesake GWR High Speed Train power car 43002 ©125 Group

125 Group is delighted to announce that our Honorary President Sir Kenneth Grange, distinguished industrial designer of the High Speed Train nosecone and Inter-City 125 original livery, will be VIP guest on-board ‘The Somerset Explorer’ Great Western Railway charity railtour on Saturday 13th May, raising funds for Weston-super-Mare Hospice.

In addition to the HST, Sir Kenneth also designed many everyday items including the Kenwood food mixer, Kodak instamatic camera, Wilkinson razor and London taxi, and was recently interviewed on BBC ‘Desert Island Discs’. Sir Kenneth will be available for photographs at Paddington before the railtour departs, and will travel on-board the outward journey, walking through the train meeting passengers, pleased to give autographs and selfies in return for a donation to charity. This is a rare opportunity to meet the man behind the look of the iconic Inter-City 125.

Celebrity power cars 43002 ‘Sir Kenneth Grange’ (Inter-City 125 original livery) and 43185 ‘Great Western’ (INTERCITY Swallow livery) with green GWR coaches are planned to work the train (subject to operating conditions on the day). A full buffet service will be available plus the on-board 125 Group Sales Stand.

*** UPDATE  –  ALTERATION TO RAILTOUR TRAINPLAN ***

Due to operational reasons, the High Speed Train can no longer run all the way to Minehead as originally planned, this has resulted in a change to some of the itinerary. The railtour will still run from London Paddington depart 08.36/arrive 18.57, Ealing Broadway 08.44/18.46, Reading 09.14/18.19 and Didcot 09.34/18.02, these times are unchanged.

The special will continue onto the scenic West Somerset Railway and will now terminate at Bishops Lydeard. Passengers have the option of joining a special connecting service to Minehead and back hauled by Diesel Hydraulic class 52 locomotive D1010 Western Campaigner, arriving back into Bishops Lydeard to connect into the return HST. Alternatively, passengers may remain on the HST for an extra return trip from Bishops Lydeard to Taunton and back, tickets will be valid. Other off-train, bus tour options are available. GWR apologise for the late notice change of plan.

Full Details and Tickets still available – See GWR Eventbrite Website HERE

Questions about Existing or New Bookings – Contact the Organiser HERE

Special Offer for 125 Group Members plus one accompanying person, £25.50 discount off the adult standard class fare giving a price of £41.00. Enter the promotional code of HST_Group_41 when booking. Note: This cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, is valid for the HST all day option only, and a current 125 Group membership card must be presented on-board to validate this special offer.

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

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!

Happy 40th Birthday HST!

Power car 43002 leads HST 253 001 at Sydney Gardens, Bath Spa in 1976. ©Richard Clayton

40 Years Ago today, 4th October 1976 saw the launch of regular 125mph passenger running in the UK when the then new fleet of High Speed Trains was introduced on timetabled services between London Paddington, Bristol and South Wales. The streamlined Inter-City 125s transformed long distance rail travel, bringing new levels of comfort and shrinking journey times. Over the past 40 years the iconic HST has become a firm favourite with railway passengers, staff and enthusiasts and is still going strong!

To celebrate this important anniversary, with the support of the railway industry, 125 Group has sponsored the fitment of ‘40 YEARS’ plaques to power cars across the different fleets of HSTs which still operate front-line services countrywide today. A pair of the cast metal plaques has already been fitted to Grand Central’s power car number 43423, Cross Country’s 43321 and Network Rail’s 43013, soon to be joined by Virgin Trains East Coast and East Midlands Trains power cars.

Manufactured by Newton Replicas, the plaques are being fitted to power cars by depot staff at Heaton, Craigentinny and Neville Hill, with the support of Porterbrook Leasing and Angel Trains. At such time as they come to be removed, the plaques will return to 125 Group.

Grand Central CSA Andy Rose and HST Designer Sir Kenneth Grange with 42423 and 40 YEARS plaque ©125 Group

125 Group Chairman Gary Heelas said, “125 Group is pleased to join the railway industry in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the HST. We are grateful to all of the companies and staff involved who have enabled us to display our ‘40 YEARS’ plaques on their iconic trains, which will ultimately support our long term objective of preserving a production Inter-City 125 fitted with original Paxman Valenta engine.”

125 Group’s own preserved Mk3 catering vehicle RFM 10206 also carries an internally mounted ‘40 YEARS’ plaque. This former HST kitchen car TRUK 40507 now provides tasty hot food to travellers behind preserved prototype HST power car 41001 at Great Central Railway (Nottingham).

The ’40 YEARS’ plaque was first produced by graphic designer Paul Gentleman of Great Western Railway and is already mounted on pioneer production power car 43002 which was unveiled repainted in original Inter-City 125 livery at St.Philips Marsh depot open day in May this year. This power car was named ‘Sir Kenneth Grange’ at the same event after the designer of the HST’s iconic nosecone and now 125 Group Honorary President, 125 Group also sponsored these nameplates. Special thanks to GWR for allowing 125 Group to use their design and for playing a leading role in supporting HST40 celebrations this year. #HST40

Buy your own ’40 YEARS’ enamel pin badge and official HST40 merchandise from our on-line shop HERE.