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Author Topic: A journey on a real HIGH speed train (HST 125) - perhaps my final one  (Read 4598 times)
grahame
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« on: August 07, 2023, 10:54:25 »

Yesterday, I took what might have been my final ride on an InterCity 125 High Speed Train. These were the mainstay of our long distance service here in the West Country and South Wales for over 40 years but with electrification of parts of the main lines to Plymouth, Bristol and Swansea were replaced by new bi-mode trains that operate on electric traction when it's available.  There are now just one or two journeys a day operated by High Speed Trains, run by Cross Country from Edinburgh and Leeds to Plymouth, and they are to be withdrawn from service in the next couple of months.

Over the years, we have come to love these trains. They were the "plan B" development as a stop-gap when they came in, but yet they represented a huge step forward with power cars at both ends removing the need for shunting and locomotive changes at route ends - the benefits of multiple units (except they could not work in multiple) and the quietness and smoothness of unpowered passenger carriages.

I joined the train yesterday at Cheltenham Spa and rode as far as Taunton. The train - 1V56, the 09:08 Edinburgh to Plymouth; due to leave Cheltenham it was quarter of an hour late there, and it recovered about 5 minutes by Taunton. Packed in standard class with what I would describe as leisure traffic, I wonder how this train would have looked had it been operated by a 4 or 5 carriage Voyager rather than the 7 passenger carriages + power cars.

The journey itself was, frankly, uneventful. HSTs (High Speed Train) are so smooth and noiseless that the passengers simply don't notice the speed at which they're travelling, and the miles just slip by.  The on-train announcements were notable for their clarity (what a contrast to other trains I was on during the day) and for their content, telling passengers of ongoing connections and of where seating was available for those standing in some coaches.

I caught up with the train manager and catering team as we approached Taunton and with permission took their picture and a couple of pictures in First Class too - very much to record something that's coming to an end.  They tell me they love doing the HSTs; they also work Voyager duties already and that'll be their standard job into the future. 

For all their great beauty and passenger experience - perhaps they "saved" the railway - these are 40 year old diesel trains and in spite of midlife (and late life) updates and refurbishments are getting worn out, corroding away, and less kind to the environment than more recent trains. Long mileages on electrified lines don't make sense either.

In their swansong, a number of high speed trains have been shortened and had their top speed clipped in the West of England. They're running around as "Castle Class" on regional rather than InterCity services, with only standard class and without any catering.  They're also a number runninng on services withing Scotland - again, shortened and with a lower top speed. But again, their days are numbered.  I do hope to have another ride or two on some of these grand dames of trains in their semi-retirement, but yesterday felt very much like the end of an era personally.















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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2023, 15:01:29 »

You could also try The Midland Pullman.

(Other excursion rolling stock is available !)
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JayMac
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« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2023, 17:06:03 »

8. Taunton.
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"Build a man a fire and he'll be warm for the rest of the day. Set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."

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PrestburyRoad
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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2023, 17:26:57 »

1. Cheltenham Spa platform 1
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2023, 17:46:37 »


From left to right: Broadgage, Red Squirrel and TonyK get to try out their dream jobs for a day.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2023, 17:54:49 »

Chap on the left has a bottle of Port in each hand!
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2023, 18:40:04 »


After releasing his "silent but deadly", Grahame was delighted to enjoy the luxury of an empty first class carriage.
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Waiting at Pilning for the midnight sleeper to Prague.
Timmer
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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2023, 19:20:25 »

Great report and pictures Graham. I’ve tried twice now these past few weekends to get a ride on the XC (Cross Country Trains (franchise)) HSTs (High Speed Train) before they go out of service. Both Saturdays where severe weather warnings put me off going. Just as well last Saturday as trees did fall on the line in the SW.

I would like to try again on Saturday the 19th only to find strikes over four Saturdays starting 19th of August on XC. So maybe late September. Time is running out.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2023, 21:00:50 »

I think they get withdrawn on September 18th?
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Timmer
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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2023, 21:14:34 »

I think they get withdrawn on September 18th?
Hmmm that date does ring a bell. I saw it somewhere but can’t remember where. I just have very few weekends available between now and then sadly, not helped by further industrial action on XC (Cross Country Trains (franchise)).
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johnneyw
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2023, 00:13:59 »

You could also try The Midland Pullman.

(Other excursion rolling stock is available !)

Thoroughly recommend by a member of the family who went on one of the recent excursions.
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TonyK
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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2023, 15:47:59 »


From left to right: Broadgage, Red Squirrel and TonyK get to try out their dream jobs for a day.

It's been a long time since I had that much hair!
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Now, please!
broadgage
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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2023, 09:46:15 »

And even longer since I was that thin !
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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 (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
Henry
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2023, 19:02:30 »


 Actually managed a trip on one today, purely by accident and due to the incompetance of GWR (Great Western Railway).

 Booked on the 1140 from Totnes this morning, short formed (5 coaches), no seat reservations, so full/Standing
 subsequently fast Plymouth to Exeter St Davids.
  Decided to take a refreshment break in the 'Signal Box' cafe,  also busy but the usual, efficient friendly service.
  When noticing the 1253 was a 'proper train' decided to forgo the pleasure of the 1240 IET (Intercity Express Train), spending a pleasant hour
  enjoying the pleasant, ambience of a XC (Cross Country Trains (franchise)) HST (High Speed Train).
  Talking to some enthusiasts on the journey, informed me that some of the HST's  are to be exported to Mexico !
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