British Rail Class 43 (HST)

British Rail Class 43 (HST)

Infobox Locomotive
name = British Rail Class 43
powertype = Diesel-electric

caption = 43058 at Leicester railway station in May 2008
roadnumber = 43002–43198
totalproduction = 197
builder = BREL Crewe Works
builddate = 1975–1982
primemover = Paxman Valenta 12RP200L, later Paxman 12VP185, most now MTU 16V4000
alternator = Brush Traction BA1001B
tractionmotors = GEC G417AZ or Brush Traction TMH68-46, frame mounted, four off
whytetype = Bo-Bo
uicclass = Bo'Bo'
wheeldiameter = convert|3|ft|4|in|m|3|abbr=on
minimumcurve =
trainbrakes = Air
locobrakeforce = convert|35|LTf|kN|sigfig=3|lk=in
wheelbase =
length =
width =
height =
weight =
topspeed = convert|148|mph|0|abbr=on|lk=on
poweroutput = "Engine:" convert|2250|bhp|0|abbr=on|lk=on
tractiveeffort = "Maximum:" convert|17980|lbf|kN|sigfig=3|abbr=on|lk=on
"Continuous:" convert|10340|lbf|kN|sigfig=3|abbr=on
trainheating = Electric Train Heat
multipleworking = Within class only
axleloadclass = Route availability 5
railroad = British Rail
East Midlands Trains
First Great Western
Grand Central
Great Western Trains
Midland Mainline
National Express East Coast
Network Rail
Virgin Trains
The British Rail Class 43 is the classification used for the InterCity 125 High Speed Train power cars, built by BREL from 1976 to 1982.

The class is officially the fastest diesel unit in the world, with an absolute maximum of 148 mph, and 125 mph regular service speed (200 km/h), although there are claims that this diesel rail speed record has been broken twice unofficially: by Russian (168 mph, 1992) and Spanish (159 mph, 2002-07-09). [ [ Intelligence] "Railway Gazette International" August 2002] trains.

InterCity 125 is a brand name used to describe two Class 43 power cars with a rake of Mark 3 carriages between them to form a complete train. Both power cars operate at the same time, pushing and pulling simultaneously.


In the early 1970s the British Railways Board (BRB) was in the unenviable position that within a few years the majority of their main-line diesel traction would need replacement. Financial limitations were tight, and mass electrification was not possible, so a new generation of high-speed diesel trains had to be developed.

The BRB wanted a cheaper and more reliable alternative to the Advanced Passenger Train, and the "prototype" high-speed train set was the result. The power cars, or locos as they were initially known, were designated Class 41 (later Class 252).

The prototype set was developed at the Railway Technical Centre, Derby, the power cars having being constructed by BREL Crewe Works, and the Mk3 passenger cars by BREL at Derby Litchurch Lane Works. The engine used in the prototype power cars was the Paxman 'Valenta' 12RP200L, which developed 2,250 hp. The electrical equipment was supplied by Brush. The power cars had a main driver's position at one aerodynamically shaped end. The other, flat end, had an auxiliary driving position for shunting purposes.

The two prototype power cars emerged from the works in June and August 1972 and were initially numbered 41001 and 41002, but after a short period the entire 'set', including the passenger coaches, became British Rail Class 252. The power cars were given the coaching stock numbers 43000 and 43001. After operating its initial proving trials on the Eastern Region the prototype High Speed Diesel Train (HSDT) was transferred to the Western Region where it was deployed on Paddington Bristol/Weston-super-Mare services.

After seeing the advantages of this design, production orders were placed for similar trains for operation on the Western, Eastern, Scottish and London Midland Regions. The production power cars feature a redesigned front end without conventional buffers. A rigid drawbar can howover be used to connect a HST to an ordinary locomotive. Following the introduction of production HST sets the prototype unit was withdrawn, the power cars passing to the Research Division at Derby for use powering various high speed development trains.

BR deployment

When originally built at Crewe Works, the InterCity 125 units were considered to be diesel multiple units, and were allocated Classes 253 and 254 for Western and Eastern Region services respectively.

However, following problems with the power cars and the operational ease of removing power cars to perform scheduled maintenance, unit formations were abandoned and from then on HSTs were considered to be formed of two power cars with a rake of semi-permanently-coupled Mark 3 carriages in between.

The 197 power cars produced are numbered 43002-43198. 43001 was applied to the second of the two prototype power cars, while the first of the pair, now preserved, became 43000, an unusual number as no other loco carried a triple-0 number (this was because it was not, at the time, classified as a locomotive).

Until the HST's introduction, the maximum speed of British trains was limited to 100 mph (160 km/h). The increased speed and rapid acceleration and deceleration of the HST made it ideal for passenger use, and slashed journey times around the country. The prototype InterCity 125 (power cars 43000 and 43001) set the world record for diesel traction at 143 mph (230 km/h) on June 12, 1973. An HST also holds the world speed record for a diesel train carrying passengers. On September 27, 1985, a special press run for the launch of a new Tees-Tyne Pullman service from Newcastle to London King's Cross, formed of a shortened 2+5 set, briefly touched 144 mph north of York. The current world diesel traction record of 148 mph (238 km/h) was set by an HST set on November 1, 1987, while descending Stoke Bank with a test run for a new type of bogie (which now runs under the Mk.4 coaches used on the same route). The record stands to this day.

BR Western Region

On Western Region, InterCity 125 trains designated Class 253 were introduced initially for all services from London to Bristol and South Wales, and then extended for most day-time services from London to Devon and Cornwall.

The Class 47 locomotives still operated the cross country services from Cornwall and South Wales to the Northeast via the West Coast Main Line, as well as London to the Midlands/Welsh Marches. However, Class 43s also replaced these services once the third batch of power cars was delivered. All of these HSTs consist of a 2+8 formation, normally with two first class carriages, a buffet and five second class carriages, all sandwiched between two power cars.

BR Eastern/Scottish Regions

On the East Coast Main Line, the InterCity 125 designated Class 254 was the staple stock from the retirement of the Deltic locomotives in 1980-82 to the introduction of the Intercity 225 following electrification in 1990.

During 1987, eight power cars were converted for use as Driving Vehicles with Class 91 locomotives during trials on the East Coast Main Line. The power cars were fitted with buffers and Time Division Multiplex equipment that allowed them to directly control a Class 91, and were moved over to the ECML where they were used on workings with Class 89 and then 91 locomotives from London to Leeds. After the Mk4 stock had been delivered, the power cars had the TDM equipment removed, and then reverted to their normal duties. The power cars used for this project can be easily identified as they are still fitted with buffers. They were transferred to Cross Country services, and placed into storage when Virgin replaced their HST fleet with Voyagers and Super Voyagers. Grand Central Railway purchased six of these buffer fitted examples to operate services from Sunderland to London.

Class 43 formations are still used today on Hull, Edinburgh and north of Edinburgh services (i.e. where electrification has yet to reach). The basic East Coast formation is 2+8 (although this increased to 2+9 in 2002 when extra stock became available), normally with two first class carriages, one buffet (at the end of the first class section) and five (now six) standard class carriages, all sandwiched between the two power cars.For a few years, formations included a TRUK (trailer restaurant kitchen) and Buffet car, many formations being 4xTS, TRUK, Buffet,2xTF. Nine trailer car units followed this formation, with the addition of a TS. 'Pullman' services replace a TS with an additional 1st class coach.

BR London Midland Region

On London Midland Region, InterCity 125 trains were introduced later than on the other regions. They initially appeared on the former Midland Railway route from London St. Pancras to Sheffield and Nottingham. Although they could not exceed 100 mph on any part of the route, they still delivered time savings compared with the loco-hauled trains they replaced.

The Midland Main Line received a series of speed improvements over the next two decades, until it became possible for HSTs to run at up to 110 mph on some sections. An upgrade to the full 125 mph was proposed by British Rail in the early 1990s, but this did not happen because of privatisation.

HSTs remain the backbone of expresses on the route now, although they are now supported by new Class 222s on semi-fast services. They normally run in 2+8 formation, normally with two first class trailers, one buffet (at the end of the first class section) and five standard class trailers, all sandwiched between the two power cars.

HSTs have also regularly worked out of London Euston on West Coast Main Line services, particularly to Holyhead and the North Wales coast, until they were re-deployed in May 2004.

In-life development

When first built, the HSTs consisted of Driving Motor Brake (DMB - later Class 43), Trailer Firsts (TF), Trailer Seconds (TS), Trailer Restaurant Unclassified Kitchen (TRUK) and Trailer Restaurant Second Buffet (TRSB). Later power cars had no guard's equipment, due to the Trailer Guard Second (TGS) carriages being built. These later power cars were simply classified as Driving Motor (DM - later Class 43), although they still had luggage van space, so perhaps DMLV would have been more appropriate.

By 1987 most of the DMBs had lost their guard's equipment and were reclassified DM (although they retained a window by the luggage door on each side). By 1989 they were all designated Class 43.

British Rail experimented with Mirrlees Blackstone MB190 engines in four Western region examples (43167-43170) between 1987 and 1996, but this experiment was unsuccessful and the standard Paxman Valenta engines re-installed. These four locomotives have all been re-engined with the MTU 16V4000 engine. 43167 is now 43367 and operates with National Express East Coast, whilst 43168-43170 are still in service in the former Western region area under First Great Western.

During the late 1990s a batch of 25 HST power cars were re-engined utilising 12VP185L traction engines. These new Paxman engines attempted to bring improved fuel consumption and reduced emissions to the HST. However they have proved to be less reliable in service than hoped. The 12VP185L has also been introduced fleet wide within the Australian XPT series.

In 2007 Brush Traction and Hitachi, Ltd equipped Paxman Valenta powered 43089 and a semi-permanently coupled Mark 3 coach with a diesel-battery hybrid power system for trials to be undertaken with the power car running in Network Rail's New Measurement Train. [ Hybrid HST unveiled] "Railway Gazette International"] The power car was named "Hayabusa" Japanese for falcon).

Operating companies

As of November 2007, the 194 existing "Class 43" powercars are distributed as follows [ [ InterCity 125 Group fleet list] ] :
* 117 with First Great Western – the former Western Region services from London to Bristol, South Wales and the West Country. These have been refurbished but retain their original numbers.
* 32 with National Express East Coast – London-based services running beyond the extent of the overhead electrification programme (or where 91s cannot operate despite electrification) to Hull, Skipton, Harrogate, Inverness and Aberdeen. Members of this fleet which have been refurbished have had 200 added to their original numbers.
* 25 with East Midlands Trains – HSTs operate the faster routes to Sheffield, Leeds and York, alongside Class 222 DMUs. Members of this fleet are currently being re-painted at the company’s Neville Hill Depot in Leeds; they have been refurbished with a different power unit to FGW and NXEC sets and are retaining their original numbers.
* 6 with Grand Central – All are buffer fitted examples; most power cars are already in service with the rest to follow shortly. Operate on services from London King's Cross to Sunderland.
* 4 with Network Rail – Used to haul the New Measurement Train including two buffer fitted examples and 43089 which is fitted with a prototype Hitachi hybrid drive system.
* 10 with CrossCountry – Most of the fleet are undergoing or awaiting refurbishment at Brush Traction with the exception of 43301/303/321 which have already been refurbished.

In 2006, Grand Central Railway obtained six Class 43 Power Cars to operate its London-Sunderland passenger service on the East Coast Main Line. All of them have buffers (fitted in the past so they could work with electric locomotives) and once worked on East Coast services before spending some time on Virgin Cross Country. The service was due to begin in December 2006 although upgrade work to enable the coaching stock( which was formerly used for locomotive-hauled services and has a different electric heating/power supply system) to operate with Class 43 powercars was heavily delayed and therefore pushed the starting date back to 18 December 2007. A basic refurbishment at DML Devonport where they had been stored for some time proved to be inadequate and subsequently these power cars have had further work done at Loughborough alongside their classmates from other operators.

Three examples - 43011, 43019 and 43173, all of which were being operated on the Great Western Main Line - have been written off in the Ladbroke Grove, Ufton Nervet and Southall accidents respectively.

Project Rio

In conjunction with the WCML Upgrade, former TOC Midland Mainline were asked by the then-SRA to operate London-Manchester services via the Midland Main Line and the Hope Valley into London St. Pancras station. In an operation dubbed "Project Rio", a large percentage of the stored Virgin Cross-Country power cars were overhauled and returned to service in an enlarged Midland Mainline fleet.

Ending on 10 September 2004, the Project Rio fleet was gradually disbanded with power cars moving to First Great Western, GNER or Cross Country Trains.

Former operators

The first operator to dispense with its HST sets was Virgin Trains on both the Cross-Country and West Coast franchises in the period 2002-2004 following replacement by Voyager high speed DEMUs and the commencement of the Cross-Country Operation Princess timetable. The majority of the former Virgin Cross Country fleet went into storage for several years but a small number moved to Midland Mainline to supplement its fleet, which was suffering reliability problems at the time.

Hire company Cotswold Rail previously had two sets on lease from mid-2005, intended to be used for spot hire work with TOCs and also its charter operating arm Heartland Rail. This came to an end in August 2006 with the transfer of the lease to First Great Western as part of the massive expansion of its fleet. Ironically some of the power cars stored by VXC are now returning to Cross Country under the new franchise.

Life extension of HSTs

The Class 43, having been in operation since the late 1970s, is due for replacement by 'HST2'. The development cycle for the replacement series is such that the existing fleet may be required to operate through to 2015 or beyond. In support of this, a life extension programme is being considered.

During the late 1990s 25 HST power cars were re-engined with Paxman 12VP185L engines in an attempt to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. However they have proved to be less reliable in service than hopedFact|date=August 2007. The 12VP185L has also been introduced fleet-wide within the Australian XPT series.

During 2005, two Class 43 power cars (43004 and 43009) operated by First Great Western were fitted with new MTU 16V 4000 engines before being tested in passenger operation on the Great Western Line. In December 2005, First announced that all of its power cars will receive the MTU engine. First Great Western particularly compared the performance of the MTU-engined units with modified VP185 units. The re-engined power cars can be identified by their modified headlight clusters, the quietness of the engine and the new First Great Western livery. The MTU engine offers improvements over the existing Paxman 12RP200 'Valenta' engines, with reduced smoke and exhaust emissions and improved reliability.

National Express East Coast has obligations following its re-franchise to replace engines within its Class 43 fleet, and is also currently re-engining its fleet following the trials conducted by First Great Western. This re-engining program began under former franchise holder GNER. NXEC's fleet of re-engined power cars have been renumbered into the 432xx and 433xx series by adding 200 to the existing power car number.

East Midlands Trains has stated that it will install VP185 engines in all powercars before the end of its francise.

After introducing Class 180 "Adelante" trains as a replacement on the Bristol and Cardiff routes and increasing service, First Great Western has decided in the light of customers' adverse comments (noise and vibration of the underfloor engines compared to the HST), to withdraw the Adelante from the Great Western mainline and replace them with additional refurbished HST sets. The withdrawal process has almost finished, with 1 more HST to come later in the year, to replace the final Adelantes.


The youngest of the power cars is now 25 years old and thoughts are firmly set on the replacement for the High Speed Train. The project, known as Intercity Express Programme, is being spearheaded by the Department for Transport along with First Great Western and NXEC. It is "back on track" following a period of uncertainty during the reign of the now abolished Strategic Rail Authority, when it was known as HST2.


Of the total of 197 production power cars three have been scrapped:

* 43173 - written off in the Southall crash of 19 September 1997, being disposed of after completion of the enquiry into the accident. Cut up by Serco at MOD Shoeburyness.
* 43011 - written off in the Ladbroke Grove crash of 5 October 1999, being disposed of after completion of the enquiry into the accident. Cut up by Sims Metals at Crewe Works in June 2002.
* 43019 - written off in the Ufton Nervet level crossing collision of 6 November 2004. Cut up by Sims Metals of Beeston in July 2005. (Power car 43139 is dedicated to the driver, Stanley Martin, 54, of Torquay, Devon who perished in the incident.)

Additionally, of the two prototype power cars, 43000 is now preserved at the National Railway Museum in York, while 43001 was cut up by Booth Roe at Rotherham in December 1990.


In fiction

In The Railway Series of children's books originated by the Rev. W. Awdry, a High Speed Train visits the Island of Sodor. The two Class 43 power cars are introduced as Pip & Emma.

ee also

* InterCity 125 - Two Class 43 power cars sandwiching a rake of Mark 3 coaching stock.
* Mark 3 coaching stock - Sandwiched between two Class 43 power cars to form an InterCity 125 set.
* High Speed Train - History of High Speed rail transport in the UK in general.
* InterCity (British Rail) - General InterCity brand before privatisation of British Rail.
* XPT - Australian high speed train whose design was derived from the Class 43


External links

* [ The 125 group]
* [ Testing the prototype HST]
* [ The Railway Centre]

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