125 Group looks forward to a bright year ahead
Group is forging ahead with its plans for 2022 after a busy couple of years with dramatic fleet expansion but very little in the way of operation of its High Speed Train (HST) power car and trailer coach fleet following the coronavirus lockdowns. The group’s most recent acquisition – Mtu4000-fitted Class 43 HST power car 43159 – was moved by road from its home base on the Nottingham Heritage Railway (NHR) to Loram in Derby in mid-january, as its owners work on getting the power car back into service. 43159 has had four new secondary suspension springs fitted at Loram. Following completion of this work, it was collected by 43048 and 43089 on February 5 and tripped over to the Midland Railway – Butterley (MRB). 125 Group spokesman Ben Webber told Railways Illustrated that the current plan is that once some further maintenance tasks have been completed on the First Great Western blue-liveried Class 43, it will be arranged for a test run to be conducted at the MRB.
Mr Webber said it is hoped that a public service train will be operated on the MRB once 43159 is fully serviceable, making use of the 125 Group power cars that are currently at the Derbyshire heritage railway.
The 125 Group also has a full rake of HST Mk.3 trailer coaches based on the MRB, so it is an appropriate choice of location to hold an Hst-themed running event.
The need to collect 43159 from Derby also coincided with the first main line running of Vp185-fitted power cars 43048 and 43089 for almost a year. They operated on February 5, running from the MRB to UK Rail Leasing’s Leicester depot, where they collected three Mk.3 coaches and a DVT for tripping over to the former Brush Works facility at Loughborough, before running to Derby to collect 43159 for movement back to the MRB. Mr Webber said that the main line trip had been a useful shakedown to assess the two power cars’ condition after a long period out of use. While 43089 performed very well throughout the day, 43048 proved to be slightly more problematical and the trip has highlighted a few faults requiring attention. The 125 Group’s other HST power car is 43044, which is awaiting the installation of a Paxman Valenta engine at some point in the future at the NHR.
At the present time, the NHR is not operating any trains, although the 125 Group is still committed to the Nottinghamshire line, which hosted the group throughout the time it was custodians of the National Railway Museum’s prototype HST power car 41001. Mr Webber also said that a few things were being pencilled into the diary for possible heritage railway running days and events later in the year.
The 125 Group has also made no secret of its desire to keep its power cars and Mk.3 trailer coaches operating on a number of main line charters each year. Mr Webber explained that the group remains committed to main line running, although it is currently looking at ways of fitting toilet retention tanks to its coaches. The group is speaking to potential suppliers about the design and fitting of retention tanks, but the required work will require funding which the group currently doesn’t have.
Mr Webber added that the 125 Group is keen to attract more members and volunteers to join up, as well as anyone who would like to support it through financial support and donations. More information about membership and how you can get involved in the 125 Group can be found at www.125group.org.uk