Monday, December 15, 2008

West Coast Main Line

I usually keep my train-nerd side well hidden, but I did have a wry smile when I read about the WCML work being finished. Trains can now run at 125 mph! The fastest scheduled time from London to Glasgow is currently about 4 hrs 30, so we'll see how much it comes down. Ironically the old Advanced Passenger Train (APT) did it in 4 hrs 10 in 1980/81 when it was briefly in service. 140 mph too.

It's a pity about the APT. There were a few reliability issues (and it was a cold winter!) but the press took against it, with journalists saying they felt sick. Apparently other passengers didn't really complain about it, and the journalists coach had lots of free booze...

BR lost their nerve, pulled the plug, and sold the technology to an Italian firm that now makes, er..., Pendolinos which they sell back to us. WCML passengers were stuck with slow trains for another generation and even now can't travel as fast as the APT.

By the way, I gather they did a special run with a Pendolino for charity from Glasgow to London to set a record and it did it in 3 hrs 55mins - pretty good and only 3 minutes slower than the best APT time. What is it abut British inventiveness that means we (almost) always blow it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. We can add the APT to the long list which includes hovercraft then!