43159 was ordered in December 1978 as part of the contract for Cross Country sets (then known as North-East – South-West). The more pressing requirement for additional sets for East Coast – for which a further build was added – saw 43153-162 delivered instead to the East Coast at Neville Hill. Release from Crewe Works was on 14 March 1981 and acceptance to service was on 19 April, as part of set 254036 with 43160.
On 1 November 1987 it was part of the set that broke the world rail diesel speed record (the other power car was 43102), setting a maximum of over 148mph just south of Northallerton whilst engaged on Mark 4 bogie trials.
When sectorisation took place it was placed in the East Coast IECP fleet, followed by a move to the Midland Mainline IMLP pool in May 1989. Following East Coast electrification, a re-appraisal of the HST fleet was undertaken with 43159 reallocated to Great Western’s IWRP pool at Laira. With ATP fitting taking place on the Great Western fleet a further swap round took place in April 1992 with the power car transferred to the Cross-Country ICCP fleet before privatisation saw Porterbrook take ownership from April 1994.
The introduction of Virgin’s Voyagers saw it first transferred to Longsight as part of the ‘Challenger’ fleet, before becoming part of Midland Mainline’s ‘Project Rio’ IMRL pool in May 2003 for services between St. Pancras and Manchester during West Coast Route Modernisation, having become one of the first pair of power cars (with 43180) ever to visit Brush on 3 March 2003 when they arrived for their ‘Rio’ upgrade. Having been taken off lease when the ‘Rio’ service ended in September 2004, it was soon taken back on temporarily by Midland Mainline to cover OTMR modifications on their core fleet.
May 2006 saw 43159 taken on long term lease by First Great Western, initially based at Laira, with the power car again visiting Brush between February and July 2007 for MTU engine conversion. Based at Old Oak Common from December 2007, the rundown of the depot saw a return to Laira in January 2018 before it worked its final services on 7 April 2019, ending with 1C20 1527 Paddington-Bristol TM with 43018 before running empty to Laira for handback to Porterbrook. Taken off lease on 3 May 2019, it was subsequently stored at Long Marston and, latterly, Burton-on-Trent.
Given its place in railway history, we were delighted when Porterbrook generously donated the power car to the group in June 2021, with the power car subsequently returned to operational status. 43159 is currently at Midland Railway – Butterley and is available for service.