Porterbrook’s generous donation completes HST story showcase

With the recent handover of 43102 (one of the power cars involved in the 1987 record breaking test run) to the National Collection at Shildon, the other power car 43159, has  faced a less certain future, having been in store for a prolonged period since retirement from Great Western operation.

125 Group is delighted to announce today that Porterbrook, the power car’s owner, has made a fantastic donation of this second world diesel speed record holder 43159, to 125 Group.

While we have always selected our vehicles based on condition and availability, rather than painted number, the historical significance has certainly played a large part in this case, but 125 Group still satisfied itself that the vehicle was in good overall condition before confirming to Porterbrook that they wished to proceed.

This puts 125 Group in a unique position, as not only one of the few owners of preserved HST vehicles, but the only one that can show such a wide range of the HST’s history; 43159 of-course being fitted with an MTU engine as part of its return to service with First Great Western in 2007.

The Group’s plan for the fleet will see a Valenta fitted, Marston cooled power car (43044), two VP185 fitted power cars with Brush coolers (43048 & 43089) and an MTU powered example with Voith cooler (43159).  All are planned to be maintained in an operational condition with main line certification.  These power cars will be utilised in conjunction with the nine HST trailer vehicles owned by the Group, allowing a variation of formations and uses depending on the market need.

125 Group again wishes to place on record its sincerest gratitude to Porterbrook for their amazing generosity in supporting our aims, but also wishes to thank its own members, for their support and financial backing to bring this small fleet of HSTs into the preservation circle. 

Ongoing support to our engineering/operational teams, or financial support towards the upkeep and operation of these fabulous vehicles, can be made through our Direct Debit schemes, or Group membership, as detailed on our website.  https://www.125group.org.uk/you-can-help/ 

43159 Life History

1 Dec 1978Ordered by British Rail under Lot No 30946.
14 Mar 1981Delivered from Crewe Works.
19 Apr 1981Accepted into traffic as part of set 254036, with 43160. The first allocation was to Leeds Neville Hill.
Nov 1983First overhaul, a ‘Light’ at Derby Locomotive Works.
1 Nov 1987Sets a new world diesel rail speed record of 148mph with 43102 whilst running a test train for the Mark 4 coach SIG bogies between Darlington and York.
28 Mar 1988Sector codes first allocated, with 43159 going to the East Coast IECP fleet.
14 May 1989Transferred from East Coast to Midland Main Line IMLP pool at Neville Hill.
6 May 1990Transferred to the Great Western IWRP fleet at Plymouth Laira depot.
12 Apr 1992Transferred to Cross-Country’s ICCP fleet, still at Laira.
1 Apr 1994Ownership transfers to Porterbrook Leasing as part of privatisation.
Jun 2000Repainted into Virgin livery during a ‘F’ exam at Neville Hill.
4 Oct 2002Transferred to Longsight as part of Virgin’s “Challenger” fleet.
3 Mar 2003Arrives at Brush, Loughborough for “Project Rio” upgrade.
13 May 2003 Released from Brush after upgrade and re-livery to MML’s blue livery.
16 May 2003Transferred to Midland Mainline’s “Rio” fleet (IMRL) at Neville Hill depot.
29 Aug 2004Named “Rio Warrior” at Longsight without ceremony.
14 Sep 2004Taken off-lease.
11 Nov 2004Back on lease to Midland Mainline’s IMLP pool, again based at Neville Hill
17 Jan 2005Off-leased again and transferred back to Porterbrook’s off lease SBXL pool.
27 May 2006Taken on lease by First Great Western (IWRP pool) and transferred to Laira.
11 Dec 2006Pool code altered to EFPC.
1 Feb 2007Arrives at Brush for re-engineering and repaint into FGW colours.
26 Jul 2007Released from Brush following MTU conversion.
Jun 2012Following an ‘F’ exam and repaint at Laira, is exhibited at the NRM’s “Railfest” exhibition.
7 Apr 2019Last day for GWR, working 5A81 1000 LA-PLY, 1A81 1100 PLY-PAD, 1C20 1527 PAD-BRI, 5C20 1722 BRI-LA with 43018 and set LA72.
16 June 2021Donated by Porterbrook to 125 Group.

The East Midlands 125 Farewell – Thursday 13th May 2021

The Branch Line Society is delighted to announce, in partnership with East Midlands Railway and 125 GroupThe East Midlands 125 Farewell, raising funds for Railway Children and Railway Benefit Fund. Operated by EMR using Mark Three HST coaching stock, our special train is expected to feature two celebrity EMR Class 43 power cars, 43102 and 43274, of course subject to availability.  This is an exciting opportunity to celebrate the life of the high-speed train on the Midland Mainline, and their sterling work to revolutionise services since October 1982.

Our journey will take us from St Pancras International to Bedford and Kettering before taking the diversionary route via Corby and Manton to Leicester. There will be an opportunity for photographs at Leicester before we reverse and return to London once again via Corby.

There will be a charity raffle with a range of fantastic prizes, with all proceeds going to 125 Group. We hope to be able to provide a number of ‘money can’t buy’ auction items too!  

Seating will be allocated in line with Government social distancing guidelines and EMR Coronavirus Travel Information procedures, details of which can be found here: 


Where possible, families, household groups and those in ‘social bubbles’ from separate households should make a single booking for their entire party. Please rest assured we are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment on board, whilst adhering to all Public Health regulations. Our team will be following an enhanced programme of cleaning for your safety.

The Buffet Car will not be available but passengers are welcome to bring food and drink on board.  There are a wide range of retail outlets open at St Pancras International.

Our expected mid-afternoon arrival time back in to London will allow for a relaxing journey home, having celebrated the end of an era with our friends from East Midlands Railway.

Please note that all times and routing are indicative until confirmed by Network Rail. Final routing and timings will be confirmed two days before travel and will be enclosed with your e-ticket. As part of our procedures, part fares and pay on the day fares will NOT be available.

Our route in detail:

St Pancras International P1 (PU 10.21) – Bedford – Wellingborough P1 – Kettering P2 – Corby (avoid platform) – Syston North Jn – Leicester P4 (12.05 – 12.19 photo stop / RM) – Syston East Jn – Corby P1 – Kettering P1 – Wellingborough P4 – Bedford – St Pancras International P2 (SD 14.19)

Fares: £43 Standard Class, £125 First Class.

Book here

Mission Complete (Well, Almost…..)

125 Group is delighted to announce the acquisition of a further two MK3 HST trailers, one to join the permanent fleet and one as a spares donor. This brings our HST MK3 fleet to a permanent total of eight vehicles.

The make up of this is a TGS (44000), 3x TS (42111, 42119, 42337), 2x TF (41057 and 41067, which has a disabled toilet), plus 2x TRFB (40730 and 40741). This allows us flexibility in both extra catering capacity and redundancy of the restaurant/buffet vehicle itself.  TS 42120 is anticipated to become the spares donor, but this could be subject to change based on full condition assessments.

Further to this, we have some more exciting news in that we can confirm purchase of HST power car 43044 from Porterbrook. The Trustees would like to extend their thanks to two particular long serving group members who have very generously funded the purchase of this power car – they are both highly dedicated to the cause and 125 Group owes them huge gratitude – thank you!

125 Group’s 43044 stands in the Power Car bay at Neville Hill depot on 18th February 2021

The purchase of 43044 will help us achieve one of our famous core objectives, to own a power car that is powered by the original Paxman Valenta Engine, with a Marston Cooler group. This will join our existing two VP185 power cars, allowing us to show a significant portion of the HST story, but not all of it quite yet – if you’re an MTU fan, you’ll need to wait a little longer!

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Porterbrook for again supporting us in our aims – there is no doubt we would not have succeeded without their generous support and help. We also extend thanks to our friends at East Midlands Railway for assisting us in the handover of 43044.

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