On Saturday 15th November 2014 prototype HST powercar 41001 made its first passenger run in preservation following restoration by the 125 Group under the Project Miller Banner. Our good old friends at East Midlands Trains assisted us on this ground breaking day by providing a shortened HST set with powercars 43045 and 43054 running from Derby to 41001’s home of Ruddington Fields on the GCRN. Operating as 1Z25 the 2+6 HST for specially invited guests set left Derby’s platform 4 at 10:25, heading south to Loughborough Midland where it picked up more guests before shunting onto the down slow line. At this point the set reversed and became the first HST to travel along the GCRN route. The passengers onboard the train enjoyed the views of the South Nottinghamshire countryside and before we knew it we had arrived at 50 Steps Junction. This is the point where our train would reverse before heading into Ruddington Fields Station. 1Z25 passed over an ‘enthusiast jammed’ Asher Lane Level Crossing before rounding the final corner and arriving into Ruddington Fields to a crowd of expectant people and of course 41001
The guests from 1Z25 left the train to grab their photographs of this momentous occasion whilst the all important power car change took place. This gave people the chance to see a powercar swap, something that they wouldn’t normally have the chance to see. Their was a real sense of expectation as the passengers and special guests waited for 41001 to awake. Then much to everyone’s delight the old girl was started up and gave us all the much missed sound of a Paxman Valenta. At this point 43045 uncoupled from the set and pulled forward into the headshunt. The powercar then reversed into the relief road enabling 41001 to reverse out onto the relief road before moving forward (in rather spectacular and loud fashion) into the headshunt to enable the prototype to move onto the awaiting East Midlands Trains set. As 41001 coupled up to the set the power car was shut down and crowds gathered around the gleaming prototype power car to enjoy hearing some words from those involved in the project in many ways.
125 Group Chairman Gary Heelas was the master of ceremonies and started off with a few words thanking everyone for their support in attendance for the special occasion. We then heard speeches from, Sir Kenneth Grange the designer of the HST’s iconic shape, David Horne the Managing Director of East Midlands Trains, Tim Shoveller the Managing Director of South West Trains (Managing Director of East Midlands Trains at the start of Project Miller) and finally Andrew McLean the Head Curator of the National Railway Museum.
Following the speeches Sir Kenneth Grange was given the opportunity to start 41001 up prior to its departure on the maiden voyage. The passengers the reboarded the train and 41001 left Ruddington Fields Station on its journey. The journey was a wonderful trip with 125 Group and Project Miller volunteers getting the chance to talk to the invited guests and 125 Group members about the project giving everyone the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered by the people directly involved. A brief photo stop took place at Rushcliffe Halt giving people the chance to get more photos to remember this wonderful day. Upon departure from Rushcliffe Halt 41001 then headed south to Loughborough pausing round the back of the famous Brush works and within view of the Midland Main Line. 41001 then returned up the GCRN heading to Ruddington Fields. Upon arrival back at Ruddington Fields 41001 was removed from the train and 43045 placed back onto the set for the return run to Derby, this time via Leicester.
This day marked a wonderful moment in the history of the 125 Group and for railway preservation as a whole. After 38 years 41001 was able to return to hauling passengers and the Paxman Valenta able to be heard again (and boy was it heard!)