The Prototype HST
The High Speed Train has proved to be one of the icons of British railway history since its inception almost half a century ago. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES finds out how the concept was developed and looks back at the first of the type.
Above: Prototype HST power car 41002, renumbered ADB975813 as part of the departmental fleet, is overhauled at Derby Works on September 6 1980 for use by the Research Centre. John Chalcraft/Railphotoprints.uk.
PASSENGER traffic on the railways was, in the late 1960s, coming under extreme pressure from other modes of transport. New motorways and better road vehicles were taking business away from the short-haul routes while airlines were picking off the lucrative long-distance business traffic. The average speed of an express train was usually little over 60mph, and management realised that the only way customers could be retained was to offer quicker journey times, in vehicles that offered improved levels of comfort and ride.