Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
EMR were clearly not going to let the demise of the HSTs pass unnoticed. Not only had they repainted HST power-car 43102 in BR InterCity 'Swallow' livery (see post for 24/02/2021 below), on 14th April they revealed 43274 repainted very smartly in their deep purple house-style. Considering the design of the HST dates back to 1975, it carried the livery remarkably well. The pictures below show it at the head of the 16:29 from Market Harborough to Nottingham (15:34 from St Pancras) on 16th April 2021.
Speed King: HST power-car 43274 in the EMR deep purple livery awaits departure from Market Harborough with 16:29 to Nottingham on 16th April 2021.
(Photos: Steve Jones)
As the InterCity 125 HSTs near the end of their long careers on the Midland Main Line, EMR have taken the pleasing step of repainting power car 43102 in the stylish British Rail InterCity ‘Swallow’ livery. This power car, partnered with sister 43159, achieved the world speed record for a diesel train, on a test run between Northallerton and York on 1st November 1987. The record, 148.5mph, still stands.
HSTs have been running on our line for 39 years but this comes to an end with the timetable change in May 2021. The introduction of electric trains on the Corby services and a reshuffle of the Meridian fleet along with the recently introduced Class 180 trains means the HSTs can be retired. With the current timetable reduced because of Covid, only two HSTs are currently in use each day. It seems incredible now to think that they were built in the mid- to late-1970s as a temporary stop-gap pending development of the tilting Advanced Passenger Train (APT), and are still working with several train operators over 40 years later! They transformed long-distance travel in Britain and they will be much missed. 43102, however, is destined for dignified retirement at the National Railway Museum in York.
Design classic: HST power car 43102, freshly repainted in BR Intercity ‘Swallow’ livery, waits at Market Harborough with the 16:29 to Nottingham (15:34 ex-St Pancras) on 24th February 2021. After withdrawal from EMR service by May 2021, it is understood to be destined for the National Railway Museum in York. Photo: Steve Jones
Record-breaker: The nameplate on 43102, commemorating its achievement back in 1987. Photo: Steve Jones
Alongside the part-electrification of the Midland Main Line, EMR is replacing its entire InterCity fleet with new Hitachi bi-mode trains, which are due to enter service in 2023. (See this for more: https://www.harborough-rail.org.uk/home/new-emr-intercity-train-fleet-to-be-named-aurora). However, the InterCity 125 High-Speed Trains (HSTs), which form about half of the present services between St Pancras and Nottingham, are approaching life-expiry and are due to be withdrawn soon. Therefore, as an interim measure, EMR have received four Class 180 diesel multiple units transferred from Hull Trains. The first of these entered service today, 14th December, on a small number of services to and from St Pancras. This does not mean the end of the HSTs just yet, however, but there will be fewer of them.
Purple thing: a Class 180 train forms the 15:26 Market Harborough to St Pancras (14:45 from Nottingham) on Monday 14th December 2020, the first day in service with EMR for the type. (Picture: Steve Jones)
The Midland Pullman was an iconic luxury train of the early 1960s and regularly ran through Market Harborough on its journeys between London and Manchester. It last ran in 1966, and sadly none of the vehicles survived into preservation.
However, the modern diesel-electric air-conditioned train bore some similarity with the familiar InterCity 125 High Speed Trains, HSTs, which have been the mainstay of our train service at Market Harborough since 1982. As these, too, approach the end of their careers, it is pleasing that one of the type has been acquired by Locomotive Services Ltd, operator of heritage locomotives on the national network, as an excursion train. They have refurbished it as authentically as possible into the style of the original Blue Pullmans, for use as a tour train. Its inaugural run was delayed by Covid but took place on Saturday 12th December 2020, on a figure-of-eight circuit from St Pancras via Market Harborough, bypassing Sheffield, to the outskirts of Manchester, and back via Crewe, Nuneaton, Leicester, Oakham, Harringworth viaduct and Corby to St Pancras.
Despite murky weather, quite a few people turned out at Market Harborough station to see it come through a few minutes later than its booked time of 10:18. It is due to call at Market Harborough on Saturday 16th January on a tour to the Settle and Carlisle line.
Picture: East Midlands Railway
Regular readers will recall that EMR have ordered a completely new fleet of 33 five-car Class 810 Hitachi bi-mode electric + diesel trains for the InterCity services between St Pancras and Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield, including our services here at Market Harborough.
(See https://www.harborough-rail.org.uk/home/category/rolling-stock/2 and scroll down to 30/7/2019).
Rather imaginatively, EMR then announced a public competition to come up with a class-name for these trains, like the new ‘Azuma’ trains on the LNER services out of King’s Cross.
More than 2,000 entries were submitted, and result of the competition was announced on 26th October 2020, Aurora. To quote EMR: ‘Aurora is the name of the Roman goddess of the dawn, representing the new start Aurora provides for the railway serving the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. It is also inspired by the Northern Lights, created by the transfer of the sun’s solar energy – matching Aurora’s ability to run under electric power.’
Construction is due to start later this year, with the first trains starting mainline testing in mid-2022, before entering passenger service in early 2023. Here’s hoping they will provide a new dawn, especially as the railway and the nation recover after the Covid-19 crisis - and that solar-powered electricity will be available for them at least as far as Market Harborough!
More can be found at: https://www.railbusinessdaily.com/a-new-dawn-east-midlands-railway-new-intercity-fleet-to-be-named-aurora/