39 Years of Inter-City 125 – Meet the Designer!

Today marks 39 years since the start of HST squadron service on the Western Region. The new timetable of 4th October 1976 introduced regular 125mph running for the first time on British Rail, with HSTs slashing journey times offered by the existing locomotive-hauled trains.

Inter-City 125 Power Car 43014 at Paddington ©John Zabernik

Back in the 1970s, Industrial Designer Sir Kenneth Grange produced the styling of the Inter-City 125 and you can meet the man responsible for the look of this iconic train, this coming Saturday 10th October on-board the ‘First Devon and Exeter Explorer’ HST Special from London Paddington. This charity railtour in aid of First Devon and Exeter Prostate Cancer Fund will be taking a GWR HST into unusual territory, through to Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway and the freight branch to Heathfield.

Sir Kenneth, 86, who is Honorary President of 125 Group, will be available for a chat and to sign autographs in return for a donation to this worthy cause. The 125 Group sales stand will also be on-board with a range of HST related merchandise. Our friends at the Branch Line Society are handling bookings for the railtour, ‘pay on the day’ fares will be available, for full details see their website www.branchline.org.uk/events.php

Great Western HST Charity Railtour

Saturday 10th October 2015 is the date for a very special charity railtour using a GWR High Speed Train from London Paddington and intermediate stations running through to Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway, also visiting the mothballed Heathfield freight branch line. ‘The First Devon and Exeter Explorer HST Special’ is being run by GWR (the franchise succeeding FGW) in conjunction with the Branch Line Society, in aid of First Devon and Exeter Prostate Cancer Fund, with the aim of raising £20,000 for a portable scanner.

Timings are provisional and subject to Network Rail validation with pick up and set down at: London Paddington (07.15/20.39), Reading (07.42/20.08), Didcot Parkway (07.55/19.52), Swindon (08.15/ 19.33), Bristol TM (08.52/18.50), Taunton (09.25/ 18.02) and Exeter St. David’s (09.54/17.37) through P6 requested both ways. Then via Newton Abbot (through P1 requested), Totnes facing crossover at 222m 33ch to P2 (reverse) via the mainline connection onto the South Devon Railway to Buckfastleigh (11.15). Enjoy a break on the delightful South Devon Railway or this small market town with all its amenities and attractions. Given the length of a HST the front should be well beyond the end of the platform to clear the starting signal for return. There will be workshop tours and services operating on the SDR.

Departing at 11.25 the HST makes an extra optional return trip to Heathfield (12.44/12.55) also for local people, returning to Buckfastleigh at 14.47. It then picks up all the passengers from the main tour before departure at 15.02 to Heathfield again (16.22/16.42) then back to London Paddington. This might be the farewell railtour to the mothballed Heathfield branch which has had no booked traffic since the timber trains to Chirk were transferred to Exeter Riverside on 2 April 2015.

We are pleased to announce that the 125 Group sales stand will be on board the train, with a range of HST merchandise including mugs, DVDs and our new 2016 Calendar, with proceeds going to our preservation fund. A comprehensive catering service will also be available on board including real ales and freshly cooked food from the Travelling Chef, all proceeds from these services will be donated to charity. We hope you can join us on this very special charity HST railtour!

Standard class fares for pick up between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads £75, or £50 from Taunton or Exeter St Davids. Special fare from Buckfastleigh – Buckfastleigh £25 which will be donated to South Devon Railway and the Devon Diesel Society. First class fares are not available and no child discounts on this occasion.

Our friends at the Branch Line Society are handling bookings for this special HST railtour, for full details including provisional timings and how to book tickets, see their website http://www.branchline.org.uk/events.php

41001 Public Launch Weekend

We are delighted that Prototype HST Power Car 41001 will be hauling its first public passenger trains since restoration by 125 Group Project Miller, at the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) on Sunday 24th & Bank Holiday Monday 25th May 2015.

41001 will be operating ‘top and tail’ with locomotive 56097, hauling a mixed rake of GCR(N)’s Mk2 coaches and 125 Group’s recently acquired Mk3s. Many of the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to bring this historic power car back to life will be present, we look forward to welcoming you and showing off our iconic Valenta powered wonder! Details of fares, timetables and how to get to the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) are available at their website www.gcrn.co.uk.


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