High Speed Trains

With a new fleet of Hi­tachi-built Azu­mas due to en­ter ser­vice from De­cem­ber 4, HST op­er­a­tion on the East Coast Main Line is draw­ing to a close. DAVID CLOUGH looks back at the HSTs’ pro­cure­ment and in­tro­duc­tion

Rail (UK) - - Contents - About the au­thor David Clough, Con­tribut­ing Writer

RAIL re­calls the pro­cure­ment and in­tro­duc­tion of the High Speed Trains, as they en­ter their fi­nal months of ser­vice.

AS Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy once put it, in a speech about the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis, suc­cess has a hun­dred fa­thers but fail­ure is an or­phan. This much-bor­rowed Ital­ian proverb can also be ap­plied to tak­ing credit for the con­cept of the ex­traor­di­nar­ily suc­cess­ful High Speed Train (HST). If it had failed, few would have ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity.

In 1968, BR re­luc­tantly com­mit­ted it­self to the Ad­vanced Pas­sen­ger Train (APT) project but there were more than suf­fi­cient peo­ple in se­nior posts who wanted the in­sur­ance of a less ‘techy’ op­tion and in a shorter timescale in or­der to com­pete with the growth of air travel.

At the BR Chair­man’s Con­fer­ence, held on Fe­bru­ary 21 1969, the view was ex­pressed that there was a high pri­or­ity for the de­sign of a high-speed diesel mul­ti­ple unit (DMU) as an al­ter­na­tive to APT or as an in­ter­me­di­ate stage be­fore APT be­came avail­able. At the time, Terry Miller, the Chief Me­chan­i­cal & Elec­tri­cal En­gi­neer (CM&EE), was con­sid­er­ing op­tions for new lo­co­mo­tives, in­clud­ing one of 4,500hp that would be ca­pa­ble of speeds up to 125mph.

On March 18 1969, a meet­ing chaired by Miller was still con­sid­er­ing op­tions for new high-speed lo­co­mo­tives, though some­one who had at­tended the Chair­man’s Con­fer­ence men­tioned the dis­cus­sion con­cern­ing the use of a high-speed DMU.

Con­cur­rently, the BRB Mem­ber for BR’s work­shops wrote to Miller to ex­press his view that the lat­ter should work up pro­pos­als for an al­ter­na­tive to APT. On June 30, BR’s Chief Plan­ning Man­ager pro­posed an op­tion to in­tro­duce a pre-APT in­ter­me­di­ate mul­ti­ple unit so­lu­tion of 40 sets per year from 1974.

The East­ern Re­gion’s Gen­eral Man­ager also weighed into the dis­cus­sion by show­ing that his stud­ies sug­gested an un­ac­cept­able loss of traf­fic be­tween Lon­don and the North East if the route had to wait for APT. He also favoured an in­ter­me­di­ate phase that would in­volve a new de­sign of DMU for high speed. It is there­fore clear that a num­ber of se­nior of­fi­cers had con­cluded that some form of 100+ mph train­set would be an ad­vis­able, per­haps es­sen­tial, in­terim trac­tion op­tion be­fore APT be­came avail­able.

On July 1 1969, a work­ing party was set up to eval­u­ate the use of a DMU in­stead of

a lo­co­mo­tive-and-stock for­ma­tion as a pre-APT high-speed train­set. In­ter­est­ingly, its pro­pos­als, one of which was for a train­set with light­weight pow­ered ve­hi­cles at each end, did not come from Miller, while the meet­ing on Novem­ber 7 at which it was dis­cussed was chaired by one of BR’s deputy chair­men, with Miller as an at­tendee.

A 4,500hp lo­co­mo­tive, favoured by Miller ear­lier in the year, was one of the op­tions con­sid­ered, as was a 3,000hp ma­chine that could be used in mul­ti­ple, if nec­es­sary.

The prob­lem was the prac­ti­cal­ity of de­sign­ing a suit­able unit with an axle load low enough to per­mit speeds up to 125mph. The work­ing party pro­posed in­stead a train­set with a light­weight 2,250hp trac­tion unit at each end. This pro­posal went suc­cess­fully through the BR com­mit­tee mill and the 125mph HST was born.

It had, at this time, been in­tended that the East Coast Main Line (ECML) would be the first re­cip­i­ent of APT, which would be gas­tur­bine pow­ered but this changed when a suit­able tur­bine proved elu­sive. Now the ECML had to stand be­hind the Western Re­gion (WR) for an al­lo­ca­tion of the new HSTs.

A na­tional HST pro­gramme en­vis­aged the pro­duc­tion of sets for WR, ECML and North East to South West (here­inafter termed CrossCoun­try) ser­vices, with other routes to fol­low. Sets would have a Bo-Bo power car at each end, with a quick-run­ning Pax­man Va­lenta diesel of 2,250bhp at 1,500rpm as prime mover.

There would not be uni­for­mity in set for­ma­tions, how­ever, with seven trailer cars for the WR and CrossCoun­try (Class 253) and eight trail­ers for the ECML (Class 254). WR ‘253s’ would have two First Class cars, whereas those for CrossCoun­try would only have one.

On April 11 1974, BR au­tho­rised the build­ing of 42 Class 254s and four spare Class 43 power cars for the East Coast, to­gether with as­so­ci­ated track and sig­nalling up­grades and new de­pot fa­cil­i­ties. The De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment (which in­cluded Trans­port at the time, DTp) dis­agreed with both the fore­cast growth in de­mand that would come from the HSTs and also the rev­enue ben­e­fit claimed from the dis­placed coach­ing stock. It ap­proved only 32 sets but all the de­pot and in­fra­struc­ture pro­pos­als on Au­gust 28.

De­spite this set­back, BR pre­pared a fresh sub­mis­sion in Au­gust 1975 for an ad­di­tional ten sets to re­place the re­main­ing Class 47-hauled rakes that would have to be de­ployed on the semi-fast ser­vices south of York. There was no pro­posal to life-ex­tend the Class 55s be­yond 1981 for these du­ties.

This sub­mis­sion was not sent to the DTp be­cause the lat­ter sig­nalled a re­view of in­vest­ment aris­ing from the poor state of the coun­try’s fi­nances. BR also did not want to

The De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment (which in­cluded Trans­port at the time) dis­agreed with the fore­cast growth in de­mand that would come from the HSTs.

jeop­ar­dise its bids for West of Eng­land and CrossCoun­try HST pro­grammes.

The lat­est BR Trac­tion Plan had been based on the re­lease of seven Class 47s from the ECML for freight work, fol­low­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of a 42-set HST ser­vice on the route. If these seven were not now to be cas­caded, then an equal num­ber of Class 56s would have to be built in sub­sti­tu­tion.

The op­tion of run­ning the en­tire ECML timetable with just 32 HSTs was eval­u­ated. Not only would this cause a re­duc­tion in ca­pac­ity from the pre­vail­ing to­tal seat-miles but also the route had seen a con­tin­u­ous, al­beit mod­est, traf­fic growth since 1968. With that year as a base­line of 100, the 1974 fig­ure rep­re­sented a rise of 32%. There would be ab­so­lutely no ca­pac­ity to cater for growth fol­low­ing HST in­tro­duc­tion if the to­tal rolling stock pro­vi­sion was just 32 ‘254s’.

The orig­i­nal sub­mis­sion for 42 sets had fore­cast first in­tro­duc­tion in May 1976, with all com­mis­sioned by April 1977 and the smaller au­tho­rised pro­gramme brought for­ward the an­tic­i­pated full de­liv­ery to Jan­uary. Slip­page in the na­tional HST pro­gramme up to June 1975 meant that the re­duced quan­tity was not now sched­uled un­til April 1978. Sev­eral fac­tors had caused this.

First, there had been a de­lay in ob­tain­ing au­thor­ity for the 27 ‘253s’ for the WR. Then a Re­view in 1974 cut the num­ber of sets that could be built an­nu­ally from 40 to 30. Fi­nally, pro­vi­sion had been made in the con­struc­tion pro­gramme be­tween com­ple­tion of the WR and start of the ECML sets for ex­port busi­ness.

Rolling stock de­sign work had been com­pleted, in the main, by May 1974. Progress on the four East Coast HST main­te­nance fa­cil­i­ties was patchy. Only Craigentinny was un­der way, con­tracts had not been let for Heaton, only just signed for Neville Hill, while Bounds Green had seen only lim­ited ground clear­ance. Noth­ing had been ap­proved for the ser­vic­ing fa­cil­i­ties at Aberdeen, or the fu­elling bay at York. The same was true for sta­tion shore sup­ply equip­ment.

The state of play con­cern­ing in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments in June 1975 was the fol­low­ing: while track work would be fin­ished by May 1978, the full high-speed timetable would have to wait un­til May 1979 when res­ig­nalling the route had been com­pleted. Work on track im­prove­ments was un­der way, al­beit hit­ting prob­lems.

The Sandy to Stoke (be­tween Peterborough and Gran­tham) sec­tion had in­suf­fi­cient avail­able man­power and train re­sources.

Aero­dy­namic work in Stoke and Pease­cliffe (north of Gran­tham) Tun­nels to raise speed lim­its had been found to be too costly and aban­doned. The con­se­quen­tial im­pact on jour­ney times was put at one minute.

Be­tween Stoke and Selby, sev­eral mi­nor re-align­ments as­so­ci­ated with res­ig­nalling had been com­pleted, but the project had been slow to get go­ing be­cause of recruitment re­stric­tions.

Realign­ment of the curve at Relly Mill, Durham, was done, with track­work near Tyne Yard the next ma­jor task.

Up­grad­ing the track be­tween New­cas­tle and Ber­wick was ex­pected to be sanc­tioned by the end of 1975. Apart from some mi­nor

Rolling stock de­sign work had been com­pleted, in the main, by May 1974. Progress on the four East Coast HST main­te­nance fa­cil­i­ties was patchy.

Forty years on, HSTs have proved to be prob­a­bly the best train­set ever de­signed for the UK’s rail­ways.

work, track­work in Ber­wick sta­tion had been re-aligned and the same ap­plied in the Scot­tish Re­gion (ScR).

Level cross­ing re­place­ment was ei­ther planned or un­der way at Tux­ford, Lin­coln Road, Ne­wham, Beal and Chris­ton Bank. Ul­gham Lane was no longer be­ing charged to the HST scheme, while Wid­dring­ton was to be un­al­tered. Of 227 pri­vate cross­ings on the ER, only 34 were ex­pected to re­main open.

On­board cater­ing was be­ing re­viewed across the na­tional HST fleet to ad­dress losses in its pro­vi­sion and in re­sponse to a fall in de­mand for full-meals ser­vices. This led to cater­ing ve­hi­cles pro­vided for the WR trans­ferred to the ECML, with sim­pli­fied pro­vi­sion sub­sti­tuted on the for­mer.

Au­thor­ity for the route up­grade be­tween New­cas­tle and Ber­wick, to­gether with the ser­vic­ing fa­cil­i­ties at Aberdeen, came in Au­gust 1976. The In­vest­ment Re­view that year had caused the de­lay and the track­work north of New­cas­tle, as well as be­tween Stoke and Selby, were not ex­pected to be com­pleted un­til 1979 and 1980 re­spec­tively. The cost of sub­sti­tut­ing a bridge for the level cross­ing at Chris­ton Bank caused this work to be can­celled.

Heaton De­pot was se­lected as the base for com­mis­sion­ing the sets. The first did not ar­rive un­til Au­gust 11 1977, de­layed by slip­page in the HST pro­gramme for the WR. A for­mal han­dover took place at York on Septem­ber 7.

Avail­abil­ity prob­lems on the WR brought the de­ci­sion to loan the third ECML set to the Re­gion for sev­eral months. This af­fected East Coast staff train­ing in con­se­quence. The plan re­mained, how­ever, to in­tro­duce four sets at con­ven­tional speed be­tween King’s Cross, New­cas­tle and Ed­in­burgh from Jan­uary 1978 and eight at 125mph by May. May 1979 was the date for the full HST timetable, which would com­prise 25 daily di­a­grams.

Con­se­quent on Class 254 hav­ing an ex­tra coach, con­sid­er­a­tion was given to push­ing the rat­ing of the Pax­man Va­lenta en­gine up from 2,250hp to 2,500hp to cope with the ex­tra train weight. Mind­ful of how highly rated the Va­lenta was at the lower set­ting, the BR Board Mem­ber for En­gi­neer­ing queried with the CM&EE whether such a de­ci­sion was wise. In the event, a uni­form en­gine rat­ing of 2,250hp was adopted across the fleet.

A progress re­port in March 1977 re­vealed that Mk 3 ve­hi­cle con­struc­tion for the WR was com­plete and six TRUK kitchen cars would go direct to the ECML. The crit­i­cal path for the East Coast sets ini­tially was power car avail­abil­ity. From Set 13, how­ever, this changed to whether the WR had re­ceived TRUB buf­fet cars, so re­leas­ing TRUK and TRSB buf­fet ve­hi­cles for the East Coast. The change in ve­hi­cle type on the WR fol­lowed the re­view of the de­mand for a full-meal ser­vice.

A mi­nor dis­pute arose in July 1977 over ECML Set 3, which was on loan to the WR. The Re­gion wanted to keep the set un­til fleet avail­abil­ity im­proved but the ER gen­eral man­ager weighed in to ar­gue that the loan had been lim­ited to the end of the year. He claimed the ab­sence of the set on the ECML would jeop­ar­dise the start of the planned timetable in May 1978.

By the end of 1977, nine sets had been de­liv­ered but con­struc­tion of buf­fet cars for the WR was six weeks be­hind pro­gramme and af­fect­ing the re­lease of cater­ing cars from the Re­gion to the ER. It wouldn’t be BR, if the in­tro­duc­tion of some­thing new didn’t spark an in­dus­trial dis­pute. In the case of ECML HSTs, it was Car­riage & Wagon staff on the ER, and this de­layed driver train­ing.

As 1978 dawned, the com­ple­tion of the four main­te­nance de­pots was be­hind sched­ule, as also was deal­ing with some level cross­ings on stretches passed for 125mph.

The first set en­tered rev­enue ser­vice on March 20 1978, cov­er­ing the 0745 King’s Cross to Ed­in­burgh and 1500 re­turn at con­ven­tional speeds. At the May 8 timetable change, six HSTs were di­a­grammed be­tween Lon­don,

New­cas­tle and Ed­in­burgh. With Class 254 con­struc­tion in full swing, Pax­man Diesels, the en­gine man­u­fac­turer, was hit by strike ac­tion. This caused a break in the sup­ply of Va­len­tas to Bri­tish Rail En­gi­neer­ing’s (BREL) Crewe Works, where the Class 43 power cars were be­ing built. In ad­di­tion, en­gines were fail­ing across the en­tire fleet at an av­er­age rate of more than four per month dur­ing 1977 and 1978 and many needed re­pair be­yond what was pos­si­ble at de­pots. As 1978 wore on, an en­gine short­age loomed.

When Pen­man­shiel Tun­nel, north of Ber­wick, col­lapsed on March 13 1979, all ser­vices north of New­cas­tle were di­verted via Carlisle. In­tro­duc­tion of the full, 32-set ser­vice planned for May was post­poned un­til the route re-opened on Au­gust 20, though ‘254’ de­liv­er­ies had been com­pleted by May.

The start of 1979 brought a fresh at­tempt to get ex­tra HST ca­pac­ity. Over­crowd­ing soon emerged on cer­tain trains and two op­tions were put for­ward, adding an ex­tra Sec­ond Class car and build­ing more sets or both. Ser­vices to be turned over to the ex­tra HSTs were the morn­ing busi­ness trains from Mid­dles­brough, Hull and Sh­effield to Lon­don and the bal­anc­ing even­ing work­ings.

Re­tain­ing lo­co­mo­tive-hauled sets on the Lon­don to York semi-fast ser­vices, and also on the Lon­don to Cleethor­pes di­a­gram, meant the new ap­pli­ca­tion need only be for seven ‘254s’. Re­fur­bish­ing stock from the pro­to­type Class 252 HST would save money. One view be­lieved that adding an ex­tra coach to make 2+9 sets would cre­ate sur­plus ca­pac­ity and of­fer only a “mar­ginal” in­crease in seats. Just why mov­ing from four to five Sec­ond Class trail­ers could be con­sid­ered to be mar­ginal was not ex­plained!

Not all BR Board mem­bers gave un­qual­i­fied sup­port to the pro­posal, which was ap­praised in June 1979. To­gether with the DTp, there was con­cern over the re­li­a­bil­ity of the ad­di­tional rev­enue fore­cast that would re­sult from the ex­tra seven Class 254s. The case was not helped be­cause the WR fleet was av­er­ag­ing only 34% oc­cu­pancy and a trans­fer of some of these to the ECML was mooted.

Mean­while, the BREL man­ag­ing di­rec­tor ex­pressed con­cern about or­ders for 1980-1, es­pe­cially at Crewe Works, in the ab­sence of ad­di­tional HSTs be­ing au­tho­rised. There was a cost to be borne some­where, funded by the DTp, if no work was forth­com­ing.

Fi­nally, in Fe­bru­ary 1980, the BRB agreed, sup­ported by the DTp, to four ex­tra ‘254s’ and one set des­tined for the WR West of Eng­land scheme was as­signed to the ECML in­stead. Then the ER and WR squab­bled over which Re­gion should re­ceive its re­quire­ments first.

The ER wanted ‘254s’ for the busi­ness-tar­geted trains from Mid­dles­brough and Hull to Lon­don; Sh­effield had been aban­doned for a ser­vice be­cause of doubts con­cern­ing its vi­a­bil­ity. The WR wanted its sets for the West of Eng­land line, where the re­ten­tion of lo­co­mo­tive-hauled rakes was viewed as re­duc­ing cred­i­bil­ity. Higher au­thor­ity opined that the ER re­ceived three sets from Au­gust, the WR its five next and the last two went to the ER in 1981. It was the CrossCoun­try pro­gramme that lost ground so that the ER queue-jumped to re­ceive its five sets quickly.

Hull joined the In­ter­City 125 (as HSTs were now known of­fi­cially) net­work on Jan­uary 2 1981, Mid­dles­brough fol­low­ing later that month. There were now 29 di­a­grams for 37 ‘254s’, of which 15 re­quired sets with both buf­fet and kitchen cars, and 14 with just buf­fet cars. While there had been a de­sire to stan­dard­ise all ECML sets with both a Sec­ond Class buf­fet and Restau­rant Kitchen car, by 1980 ex­pe­ri­ence on the ECML showed just a buf­fet car ful­filled most re­quire­ments be­cause a full meals ser­vice was largely de­manded only by busi­ness trav­ellers. This is why there was dif­fer­ing cater­ing pro­vi­sion and two sets of train­set di­a­grams.

The de­bate and ar­gu­ments over pro­cure­ment just de­scribed took place in one part of BR, but tech­ni­cal is­sues were caus­ing fur­ther de­lay on the en­gi­neer­ing side. BR pur­sued a dual sourc­ing pol­icy for equip­ment when­ever pos­si­ble and this ap­plied to Class 43 power car elec­tri­cal equip­ment. While Brush Elec­tri­cal Ma­chines had won early or­ders, sub­se­quently a con­tract was awarded to GEC Trac­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, its trac­tion mo­tors quickly proved to be un­re­li­able on the WR, af­fect­ing de­liv­er­ies by 1980 be­cause GEC strug­gled to re­solve the prob­lem and there­fore could not pro­vide the equip­ment.

Ten sets with GEC mo­tors for both the WR and ER were be­ing held up and a switch to Brush equip­ment for the ECML ‘254s’ aimed at speed­ing up de­liv­er­ies. It was only par­tially suc­cess­ful be­cause a dis­pute be­tween BR and Brush over gear­boxes meant suf­fi­cient

"There was an ad­mis­sion of short­com­ings by BR staff in de­sign and un­der­stand­ing the cost im­pli­ca­tions of mov­ing from 100mph to 125mph."

com­po­nents were not to hand when needed.

The above in­ter­rup­tion to Class 43 con­struc­tion meant Sec­ond Class trail­ers were avail­able at BREL work­shops and in or­der to deal with over­crowd­ing dur­ing the Sum­mer 1980 timetable, eight ECML sets were strength­ened to 2+9 for An­glo Scot­tish di­a­grams. Neville Hill de­pot, Leeds, could not han­dle the longer rakes and so these were con­fined to op­er­a­tion be­tween Lon­don, New­cas­tle and Ed­in­burgh.

Re­view­ing the re­sults of 2+9 op­er­a­tion, no prob­lems with en­gine re­li­a­bil­ity from the higher load fac­tor and no im­pact on punc­tu­al­ity had emerged. Short plat­form lengths north of Aberdeen had been an is­sue for parcels traf­fic. Up Aberdeen trains had, how­ever, been among the most over­crowded with the 2+8 for­ma­tion.

The fi­nal re­port on the ECML HST project was dated Jan­uary 27 1981, though the project com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cate was de­layed for more than two years await­ing fig­ures. The lat­ter ad­mit­ted that broad as­sump­tions in the orig­i­nal in­vest­ment sub­mis­sion made it very dif­fi­cult to as­cer­tain the im­pact. The ar­gu­ment used was that only 55% of the fore­cast mileage in the 1974 sub­mis­sion had been run, while pas­sen­ger growth had been 52%. Just why BR as­sumed a direct cor­re­la­tion be­tween these fig­ures lacked ex­pla­na­tion.

Con­versely, when loaded train miles in 1980 dropped 2.5% and rev­enue by 25% from the year be­fore, this was as­cribed fully to eco­nomic re­ces­sion and not in­cor­rect BR fore­cast­ing which was claimed to have been ac­cu­rate (see ta­ble).

BR ad­mit­ted that the 1973 base­line fig­ures had un­der­stated the true po­si­tion, which then made the growth look more favourable than it was. The ac­tual train work­ing costs were 20% higher than those used in the in­vest­ment sub­mis­sions. This is a large dis­par­ity, even al­low­ing for the un­cer­tainty of op­er­at­ing a new train­set, main­te­nance charges hav­ing seen the big­gest over­shoot.

Some blame was fairly placed on the per­for­mance of man­u­fac­tur­ers in deal­ing with com­po­nent is­sues but there was an ad­mis­sion of short­com­ings by BR staff in de­sign, un­der­stand­ing the cost im­pli­ca­tions of mov­ing from 100mph to 125mph and in­suf­fi­cient ex­pe­ri­ence with the Class 252 pro­to­type. In view of these un­der-es­ti­mates, it was wor­ry­ing that BR had to say that its CM&EE was “con­fi­dent” main­te­nance costs would be re­duced and so not jeop­ar­dise the vi­a­bil­ity of the HST project. In sum­mary, great trains but un­eco­nomic com­mer­cially on early ex­pe­ri­ence.

No won­der the DTp and HM Trea­sury usu­ally dis­trusted BR’s fi­nan­cial es­ti­mates in in­vest­ment sub­mis­sions! In­deed, as seen above, the DTp had cut BR’s bid from 42 to 32 ‘254s’ and seven to four more be­cause it doubted the fi­nan­cial fore­casts put up for some of the pro­posed ser­vices.

Forty years on, HSTs have proved to be prob­a­bly the best train­set ever de­signed for the UK’s rail­ways. Con­ceived as a stop-gap in­sur­ance against the fail­ure of the APT, the early tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties set­tled down and en­sured re­li­able run­ning. As In­ter­City strug­gled to break even dur­ing the 1980s, one won­ders whether the fi­nan­cial fore­casts made to jus­tify their pro­cure­ment did ma­te­ri­alise even­tu­ally.


Heaton de­pot han­dled ECML HST com­mis­sion­ing. Snow picked up on the run to York oblit­er­ates the set num­ber in this Fe­bru­ary 1978 view.


Led by 43115, the 1215 Ed­in­burgh-King’s Cross ser­vice ap­proaches Don­caster on July 27 1981.


Ber­wick-upon-Tweed’s sta­tion track­work was re­vised as part of route up­grad­ing for HST op­er­a­tion. 43074 and 43084 ar­rive at the sta­tion with an Ed­in­burgh-King’s Cross ser­vice on March 7 1980.


Be­fore the open­ing of the Selby di­ver­sion, 43079 passes through the now re­moved cen­tre road at the head of an Up ser­vice for King’s Cross on April 14 1981.


Forty years old and still go­ing strong. On March 9, Vir­gin Trains East Coast 43318 ac­cel­er­ates away from Ne­wark North­gate with the 1202 York-King’s Cross.


On June 30 1978, set 254012 ap­proaches jour­ney’s end at King’s Cross as it drops down the bank un­der the North Lon­don Line.

David Clough has been writ­ing forRAIL on trac­tion-re­lated top­ics since Jan­uary 1983. He is the au­thor of 14 books about Bri­tain’s rail­ways.

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