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Author Topic: "The Class 43 High-Speed Train is literally the best train ever"  (Read 1403 times)
Bmblbzzz
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« on: December 12, 2019, 11:39:12 am »

Quote
The Class 43, or the  High-Speed Train (HST) as it is more commonly known, has been a ubiquitous sight on Britain's railways for over 40 years. All good things must come to an end however, and the HST is about to retire from the East Coast Main Line (although they will be staying for a little while longer on the Midland Mainline, in Scotland and on routes to Cornwall).

The HST also happens to still hold the record for the world’s fastest diesel train – a record unbeaten since 1987. But any train can be fast. What makes this one so special I felt the need to write a whole article about it?

Well, aside from being called Britain’s favourite locomotive, it’s also my favourite train. Here’s why.
Click on the link below to read on:
https://www.citymetric.com/transport/here-s-why-class-43-high-speed-train-literally-best-train-ever-4869


Note to mods: I was going to post this in 'The Wider Picture' but for some reason I was unable to start a new topic there: button missing. Hopefully this is an equally good place.
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broadgage
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2019, 12:38:53 pm »

Certainly hugely popular, and ARGUABLY the best train ever, though "best" is very subjective.

In terms of speed, yes the best in the UK at the time, and still not exceeded.(except for one high speed route)
In terms of acceleration, nothing remarkable.
Seating comfort, good, though nothing special.
Seating capacity, usually acceptable but less than a full length loco hauled train.
On board facilities, good by todays standards but they date from the era when buffets and even restaurants were common.
Mechanical reliability, nothing remarkable but had the "get you home redundancy" of two power cars.

It certainly seems most regrettable that with the country now twice as wealthy as it was when the HSTs were developed, that new trains are subjectively so much worse in terms of facilities and passenger comfort. And often also a backward step in capacity also.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
IndustryInsider
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2019, 12:49:57 pm »

For people of a certain generation they are very hard to beat.  Every generation has a different favourite though. 

For me, and I’m probably a generation or two away from where I should be really, but you can’t beat a good old fashioned Mk I carriage with a compartment - as long as you had the compartment to yourself and didn’t sit down too quickly and get asphyxiated by dust!  Wink
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Witham Bobby
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2019, 01:09:49 pm »

Certainly hugely popular, and ARGUABLY the best train ever, though "best" is very subjective.

In terms of speed, yes the best in the UK at the time, and still not exceeded.(except for one high speed route)
In terms of acceleration, nothing remarkable.
Seating comfort, good, though nothing special.
Seating capacity, usually acceptable but less than a full length loco hauled train.
On board facilities, good by todays standards but they date from the era when buffets and even restaurants were common.
Mechanical reliability, nothing remarkable but had the "get you home redundancy" of two power cars.

It certainly seems most regrettable that with the country now twice as wealthy as it was when the HSTs were developed, that new trains are subjectively so much worse in terms of facilities and passenger comfort. And often also a backward step in capacity also.


I think that at the time of their introduction, their acceleration was, in fact, something remarkable.  And the scream of thos e Paxman Valenta motors was a joy  (Unless you were trying to make yourself heard, that is)
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Umberleigh
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2019, 06:04:43 pm »

I believe that the layout of the HSts had a lot to do with their early popularity. You knew which coach was which and it hardly ever changed. This was opposed to tramping through nine coaches to find a buffet on a loco-hauled set (happened to me).

Then there was the smoothness of the push/pull of the two power cars. There was always a big difference in ‘feel’ between a 47 +7 and an HST. Also the reliability of the two engines (its easy to forget how often BR diesels rain into trouble and had to be rescued).

Next, everything worked: from the PA to the sliding doors, to the toilet engaged lights.

Also, the buffet was quite a radical design and a big improvement on what had gone before.

Finally,  the “nose cone effect”: the HSTs looked modern, unlike the motley collection of grimy 60s-built locomotives. Add to that the screaming Valentas and the fact it was faster than your car and you had a winner.

I should add that I grew up in mid-Devon, quite a way from the mainline at Exeter. The local kids I went to school with in the 70s/80s were not much bothered by trains and many had never been on one. Like for some many at the time, the family car was King and  the railways had become irrelevant to their everyday lives. But they all knew what an Inter-City 125 was, the school arranged a trip to Eggesford in 1978 to see an HST special on the Barnstaple branch and they all wanted to travel on one. By now, they probably all have.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2019, 06:10:12 pm by Umberleigh » Logged
broadgage
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2019, 06:25:59 pm »

And when the HSTs were newer, they featured draught beer in the buffet, and a public telephone, both of which were rather revolutionary.
Air conditioning, though not unique to HSTs was a welcome innovation.

I can even remember when HSTs had a buffet and a restaurant, in separate vehicles.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
eightonedee
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2019, 12:40:04 am »

My memory of their introduction at the time I started work was that people would time them between mileposts and swap timings - "I timed mine at 120 MPH between Maidenhead and Twyford!"

Sorry II - they were such a huge step forward from the locos and Mark 1s they replaced on some services.
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4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2019, 02:36:08 pm »

They were so much faster and, in their early days, so much smoother than those trains used immediately before.

Steam used to cover Paddington to Reading non-stop in around 40 minutes - some a bit slower and some a bit faster. It depended whether it was a worn out Hall or an ex-works Castle and whether the train was eight or twelve coaches long.

The diesels got the time down, eventually, to about 30 minutes. But the coaches were still tread braked and noisy and the bogies were, by the end of the the first generation diesel era mostly B4s, some Commonwealths and the occasional BR1. Mostly they rode well, aided by the Western's new and immaculate continuously welded rail. The traffic density wasn't yet at a level that put it all out of line and there was time to keep it fettled.

The HSTs were 35mph faster, had air sprung secondary suspension bogies, disc brakes (and a powerful smell when stopping - but that was solved within a few years by the addition of flaps on the the air conditioning inlets which closed on service brake application). They could reach Reading in 23 or 24 minutes reliably.

They halved the time needed for that journey - only 15 years after steam was disappearing.

The difference was astonishing.

And now, some £9 billion later - the journey time is back to where it was 40 years ago.

Sometimes I wonder - is it me...?
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2019, 05:42:08 pm »

The smoothness is what I remember when they took over. That and the looks.

As for steam, I remember being amazed that it wasn't just in stories and history books but my Mum and Dad had actually ridden in steam trains! In fact steam must have been running to within a few years of my birth, but it definitely marks a different era.
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Tuesday had come down through Dundrum and Foster Avenue, brine-fresh from sea-travel, a corn-yellow sun-drench that called forth the bees at an incustomary hour to their bumbling.
ellendune
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2019, 06:09:40 pm »

The HSTs were 35mph faster, had air sprung secondary suspension bogies, disc brakes (and a powerful smell when stopping - but that was solved within a few years by the addition of flaps on the the air conditioning inlets which closed on service brake application).

Yes the flaps worked until they failed. Those of us who remembered the early days were not that worried, but not many years ago when one had failed I had to persuade a passenger that it was perfectly OK and that she did not need to operate the emergency alarm. 
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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2019, 07:07:59 pm »

Note to mods: I was going to post this in 'The Wider Picture' but for some reason I was unable to start a new topic there: button missing. Hopefully this is an equally good place.

Note to Bmblbzzz  Grin:   "Wider picture (in UK)" - http://www.passenger.chat/b51 and "Wider picture (International)" at http://www.passenger.chat/b52 are open for new topics.  We closed the overall "Wider Picture" for new things as it was getting to be a silly-big area with content that needed strengthening by splitting the focuses.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2019, 07:32:47 pm »

Ah! That's why... But I think I'll leave this topic here now.
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grahame
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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2019, 07:40:22 pm »

Ah! That's why... But I think I'll leave this topic here now.

Totally AOK here ... and a fascinating topic it is too.  Not going to jump in on long distance "bests" as familiarity and daily use has brought my views from the heart rather than the head - and I'll go with 5009 and 153361 as my best of all times on shorter distance journeys.
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