The day that many hoped would never come has arrived as GWR operate their last long distance train services from Paddington using the much loved HST.
The train was introduced in the mid-1970’s and the oldest models have served for 44 years. The HST was initially introduced as a temporary measure, but turned out to be a mainstay of the UK’s rail industry for far longer than anyone had expected.
Exceptionally reliable, with unmatched passenger comfort by modern rolling stock standards, the HST (officially designated the Class 43) remains officially the fastest diesel locomotive in the world, achieving regular 125 MPH passenger services on a daily basis and reaching a maximum maintained and recorded speed of 148 MPH.
Only three years ago, on Monday 2nd May 2016, I took my daughter with me to the St. Philips Marsh open day where the iconic train celebrated its 40th birthday.
Little did I know on that memorable day out, that just a few years later, I’d be writing about the demise of long-distance HST operations on the Great Western Mainline.
I have fond memories of HST operations as a youngster in and out of Penzance to the midlands on InterCity cross-country services, and spending hours travelling on HST services between the two.
My first Hornby train set was one in the InterCity Swallow livery.
The train will go down in history as one of the finest pieces of engineering that BREL came up with, and it will remain recognisable and iconic in the history books.
Indeed, my daughter still alerts me to a passing HST with the proclamation: “Look, its one of the trains with two engines!”
GWR Stream of the last HST’s to depart Paddington 18th May 2019