To celebrate 40 years of the High Speed Train (HST), yesterday its designer, Sir Kenneth Grange, travelled from London Kings Cross to attend a special public ceremony at the National Railway Museum, taking Grand Central from the London to York.
To honour the distinguished industrial designer, Grand Central hosted a reception in London Kings Cross to kick-start the celebrations. Back in the 1970s Sir Kenneth designed the aerodynamic front cab and nosecone of the Inter-City 125 which gave the train its iconic shape. Before departure for York, he unveiled a 40th anniversary plaque on Grand Central power car number 43423.
The ’40 YEARS’ cast metal plaque depicts the iconic shape of the HST and has been sponsored by the 125 Group, a railway enthusiast group which aims to preserve one of the trains once they are eventually withdrawn from mainline service. Sir Kenneth is Honorary President of 125 Group which is also custodian of the National Railway Museum’s prototype power car which it restored under ‘Project Miller’ from static museum exhibit to working order for use on heritage lines.
The HST, also known as the Inter-City 125, is the world’s fastest diesel train started regular 125mph operation with British Rail on October 4th 1976. Originally powered by the Paxman Valenta diesel engine, these have since been replaced by more modern and efficient engines. 43423 was the last Class 43 power car to operate with a Paxman Valenta back in 2010 and was named “Valenta 1972 – 2010” to mark the occasion. Over the past 40 years the HSTs have accumulated millions of miles in service, it has been estimated that 43423 alone has travelled over 7.8 million miles since it was built.
The celebration at the National Railway Museum showcased Sir Kenneth’s HST power car in the original blue and yellow livery as applied when new. The Inter-City 125s entered service on the Western Region in August 1976 and were introduced onto the East Coast Main Line in 1978, as well as cross-country routes in 1980 and the Midland Main Line in 1982.
On the day, the public were able to learn about the history of the HST and hear first-hand Sir Kenneth’s experiences when designing what is widely considered the most successful British train ever. Today, Grand Central Rail, Cross County, East Midlands Trains, Virgin Trains East Coast, Great Western Railway and Network Rail use HSTs in regular service.
Richard McClean, Managing Director of Grand Central Rail, said: “It has been an honour to welcome Sir Kenneth Grange on board one of our trains. The introduction of the High Speed Train introduced faster travel all over the country, marking one of the most important events in rail history. It is fantastic to celebrate this milestone with an iconic figure like Sir Kenneth Grange, who is so close to the origins of the High Speed Train as we know it.”
Gary Heelas, Chairman of 125 Group, said “We are grateful to Grand Central for allowing their power car to carry this ’40 YEARS’ plaque. Passengers, staff and railway enthusiasts alike share affection for the HST and we are pleased to celebrate the 40th year of the train in this way”.
Grand Central provides an easy and direct train service from Yorkshire to London, offering passengers the best possible customer service, recently topping the National Rail Passenger Survey, as well as comfortable seats, free Wi-Fi and extra luggage space.