Fixed formations stand the test of time
Although it was always intended that HSTs would run in fixed formations for ease of operation and maintenance, it is remarkable that some of the trailers have stayed together throughout the many fleet reshuffles and privatisation.
However, for those originally allocated to BR’s Western Region, this is likely to end as they are cascaded to Scotland following the introduction of the Intercity Express Programme trains.
The success of the original plan can be seen by examining the notes from my February 23 1977 trip. On the day of the journey described, the outward 1115 PaddingtonSwansea was formed with power cars from sets 253011/ 017 (the unit numbers on the front ends were soon abandoned because they were meaningless), with 253005 on the return journey from Cardiff to Paddington.
Three of the vehicles listed - a power car and two trailers - are among the small handful of the fleet no longer in existence, having been destroyed in two of the only three HST accidents over the past 40 years.
43011 was the leading power car in the October 5 1999 tragedy at Ladbroke Grove, two miles out of Paddington - 31 people died and more than 500 were injured when a signal was passed at red and the HST struck a Thames Trains commuter DMU. HST restaurant car 40213 (ex-40013) was also lost in the same accident.
The collision between an HST and a car parked at a level crossing at Ufton Nervet on the Berks & Hants Line on November 6 2004 claimed the lives of seven people. Trailer second coach 42017 was one of the write-offs.
In 1977, Western Region HST sets comprised two power cars and seven trailers. There are eight today. Although intended to be short term, the original formation was TF ( Trailer First)+TF+TRUK ( Trailer Restaurant Kitchen)+TS ( Trailer Second)+TRSB ( Trailer Buffet Second)+TS+TS.
The guards compartment was incorporated in the rear of the power car, but complaints of noise and vibration later led to the construction of an extra vehicle, the TGS (Trailer Guards Second), which also added another 62 seats.
Between ordering the HST sets in 1974 and their introduction, it was clear that the Western Region would not require the full at-seat restaurant service as well as a buffet car, and so quick revisions were made to replace the TRUK (which also had meal provision for Second Class) with another Second Open. A revised design - the TRUB (restaurant/buffet) - was already planned for introduction in 1977, with the redundant cars displaced to the East Coast Main Line.
With the HST monopoly on the Western now almost at an end, ScotRail will take 54 power cars and 121 trailers to convert into 17 five-coach and nine four-coach trains (with two spare power cars), serving the country’s seven cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness. Entering service between summer next year and May 2019, all will be limited to 100mph.
As well as a makeover for the power cars at Brush, the trailers will gain power-operated doors, a business coach conversion, and 15cm more legroom for Standard Class passengers.