41001 – Prototype HST Powercar

41001 was built along with 41002 in 1972 at BREL in Crewe. The two powercars along with MK3 trailers were built as a trial by BREL in direct competition with the APT-E at a time when British Rail were looking for a new design of train to revolutionise train travel. The prototype HST was designed in a very short space of time. From the first thought around the idea in 1970 to its initial test runs in 1972 saw a period of just 22 months.

Shortly after introduction of the prototype HST it was decided to reclassify the set as a Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) and renumber the whole set under the class 252 series. 41001 and 41002 became 43000 and 43001 respectively hence why production powercars were numbered from 43002 onwards.

On June 12th 1973 the Prototype HST set travelled at a speed of 143.2 mph around Northallerton which gave the HST the honour of the world speed record for diesel traction. Following this the set continued to accumulate mileage on the Eastern Region and upon completion of 100,000 miles 252001 moved to the Western Region and on 5th May 1975 entered service on the BR Western Region between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads.

The prototype HST set is seen at Didcot heading towards London Paddington on 02/07/1975 © Robin Patrick

As you may have guessed the operation of 252001 was a success and led to the building and introduction of the production HST sets. In 1976 41001 along with the rest of its set was withdrawn from use and transferred to the departmental pool. 41001 was renumbered as ADB975812 and now based at the Derby Railway Technical Centre (RTC) operated many and various test trains giving the powercars the opportunity to explore more of the country. In 1983 the two powercars ended their short stint on departmental services and spent a short time out of use at Derby. In 1990 sadly 41002 was scrapped at Booths in Rotherham however luckily 41001 was saved by the National Railway Museum and placed into the National Collection. 41001 was placed on display in the Great Hall in the museum for all to see.

41001 at the National Railway Museum in York prior to restoration

In 2011 the 125 Group under the Project Miller banner became custodians of 41001 taking it on a long term loan from the NRM with the view of restoring the vehicle to an operational condition.

Initial work on the restoration of 41001 took place with thanks to our friends at East Midlands Trains at their Neville Hill Depot in Leeds.

In September 2013 41001 moved to Great Central Railway North in Nottinghamshire based at its Ruddington depot where the completion of the vehicles restoration and commissioning into service will take place. The powercar was first shown off as a static display at the GCRN Autumn Diesel Gala in 2013

Restoration work on 41001 continued in 2014 with a landmark event taking place on Saturday 15th November when 41001 operated its first passenger carrying train in preservation. The train called ‘The Screaming Valenta’ was operated by our good friends East Midlands Trains and saw a shortened EMT HST set operating to Ruddington where 41001 was placed on the other end of the set for a run down the line.

The team at Ruddington Fields during The Screaming Valenta tour.

The power car operated successfully for almost 5 years, regularly hauling public passenger trains at its home railway Great Central Railway (Nottingham), plus numerous visits to other preserved railways around the UK. 41001’s loan to 125 Group ended in November 2019 when it returned to its owners the National Railway Museum.

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