43044 – Production HST Power Car

Like 43048, the history of 43044 is comparatively straight forward compared to many other power cars. Ordered by British Rail on 22 January 1974 under lot 30876, it was outshopped from Crewe Works on 19 March 1977 as one of power cars destined for the original Western Region order that revolutionised the Paddington to Bristol and South Wales route. Delivered to Old Oak Common depot in April 1977, it was at first formed into set 253022.

43044 at Liverpool Lime Street in Intercity days

Changes within British Rail’s structure in the early 1980s saw the new business sectors created and one of the InterCity sector’s first decisions was to move HST sets from Great Western and Cross Country duties to the Midland Main Line as, despite the line speeds remaining at 100mph initially, this offered both the prospect of improved journey times thanks to the HST’s superior acceleration and braking and also a better financial return. 43044 was one of the power cars involved, transferring to Neville Hill depot in October 1982, as the Midland service was resourced from an enlarged East Coast pool. 43044 would remain allocated to Neville Hill for nearly 38 years.

During this period it could be used on any East Coast or Midland HST duty, but was allocated to the Midland IMLP pool when sub-sector allocations were brought in during 1988. 21 October 1993 saw the power car selected to receive the name “Borough of Kettering”, predictably at Kettering station, where Transport Minister Roger Freeman performing the unveiling, with the plates being of the standard cast type, not including a crest. Remaining in the IMLP pool, at privatisation it passed to the new Porterbrook leasing business in April 1994, leased to the Midland Mainline (MML) franchise, being repainted into their teal and tangerine livery in May 1997.

43044 at Neville Hill in Feb 2021
43044 at Neville Hill in Feb 2021

In mid-2003, it was included in the VP185 engine conversion programme, making the trip to Devonport Dockyard on 28 May for DML to carry out the modifications and re-wire the power car; release back to MML being on 7 July. It was repainted into MML’s ocean blue livery in October 2004, losing its nameplates at the same time.

Following a re-mapping of franchise boundaries, the new Stagecoach-operated East Midlands Trains franchise commenced during November 2007, with 43044 transferring to the new operation, still working on the Midland route, but transferred to the new EMPC power car pool. It received EMT’s livery during a repaint at Neville Hill in October 2010. Transferred to the East Midlands Railway franchise in August 2019, it was taken off lease at the start of July 2020 as part of the rundown of the VP185 fleet. Purchased from Porterbrook, 43044 joined the 125 Group fleet in February 2021 and is currently undergoing repairs.