UK Transport Wiki

British Rail Class 43 (HST)[]

Jump to navigation Jump to search For the earlier railway locomotives called Class 43, see British Rail Class 43 (Warship Class).

The British Rail Class 43 (HST) is the TOPS classification used for the InterCity 125 High Speed Train (formerly classes 253 and 254) power cars, built by British Rail Engineering Limited from 1975 to 1982, and in service in the UK since 1976.

The class is officially the fastest diesel locomotive in the world, with an absolute maximum speed of 148 mph (238 km/h), and a regular service speed of 125 mph (201 km/h). The record run was led by 43102 (43302) and trailed by 43159.


  • 1 History and background
  • 2 Development and design
    • 2.1 Prototype
    • 2.2 Production series
    • 2.3 Buffered units
    • 2.4 Engines
    • 2.5 Diesel-battery hybrid trial
  • 3 Life extension
  • 4 Operations
    • 4.1 Future
  • 5 Fleet
    • 5.1 Summary
    • 5.2 List
  • 6 Fortieth anniversary
  • 7 Accidents
  • 8 Replacement
  • 9 Preservation
  • 10 Model railways
  • 11 See also
  • 12 References
  • 13 Further reading
  • 14 External links

History and background[]

In the early 1970s, the British Railways Board made the decision to replace its main-line express diesel traction. Financial limitations were tight, so mass electrification was not possible. As a result, a new generation of high-speed diesel trains had to be developed.

Experience with the high-speed Class 55 Deltic locomotives had shown that a low axle weight was essential to avoid damage to the track at sustained high speed, and that high-speed engines were the only way to provide a good enough power-to-weight ratio for diesels. To power the HST at up to 125 mph (201 km/h), each power car had a new diesel engine, the 12-cylinder Paxman Valenta, running at 1,500 rpm and developing 2,250 bhp (1,680 kW). The 70-tonne weight of the power car gave it a 17.5-tonne (per-)axle loading.

Development and design[]


Main article: British Rail Class 41 (HST)

Prototype power car 41001 (left) with first production power car 43002

The prototype set was developed at the Railway Technical Centre, Derby, the power cars having been constructed by British Rail Engineering Limited's (BREL) Crewe Works and the British Rail Mark 3 passenger cars by BREL's Derby Litchurch Lane Works. The engine used in the prototype power cars was the Paxman 'Valenta' 12RP200L, which developed 2,250 horsepower (1,680 kW). The electrical equipment was supplied by Brush. The power cars had a main driver's position at one aerodynamically shaped end with the other flat and gangwayed end having only an auxiliary driving position for shunting purposes.

The two prototype power cars emerged from the works in June and August 1972 and were initially numbered 41001 and 41002, but after a short period the entire set, including the passenger coaches, became reclassified as a diesel-electric multiple unit: British Rail Class 252. The power cars were given the coaching stock numbers 43000 and 43001. After proving trials on the Eastern Region the prototype High Speed Diesel Train (HSDT) was transferred to the Western Region, where it was deployed on Paddington Bristol/Weston-super-Mare services.

In May 2011 the National Railway Museum (NRM) announced that the remaining HST prototype power car 41001 would undergo full restoration work. A long-term loan was agreed between the NRM and the 125 Group of volunteers for the locomotive and a Paxman Valenta RP200L engine. The replacement engine (no. S508) was required as the original Valenta engine (no. S183) had been sectioned for display purposes. The S508 engine was lifted into the locomotive at Neville Hill TMD on 29 June 2012. The loan agreement ended in November 2019 and 41001 returned to the NRM.

In order to facilitate a main line move, Class 41 prototype HST power car 41001 was re-registered as a Class 43/9 locomotive, with the number 43000. It is the only locomotive in this sub-class.

Production series[]

Driving cab of 43185.

The design was successful and led to production orders being placed for similar trains for the Western, Eastern, Scottish and London Midland Regions. The production power cars featured a redesigned front end without conventional buffers, although a rigid drawbar can be used to connect an HST to an ordinary locomotive. Following the introduction of production HST sets, the prototype unit was withdrawn, the power cars passing to the Research Division at Derby. Of the ten prototype coaches, two were adapted for use in the Royal Train, five were modified for use with the production HSTs, and three were transferred to Departmental stock.

The 197 power cars produced are numbered 43002-43198. 43001 was applied to the second of the two prototype power cars, while the first of the pair (now preserved and operational at the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) became 43000, which is unusual because BR TOPS classification numbered its locomotives from 001 upwards (this was because it was not, at the time, classified as a locomotive).

Buffered units[]

43468 Departs London King's Cross

In 1987, as electrification of the East Coast Main Line was under way, British Rail realised that the new Mark 4 carriages for the Class 89 and Class 91 locomotives were not going to be finished in time for the introduction of electric services on the East Coast Main Line so, in late 1987, a total of eight Eastern Region power cars (Numbers 43013/014/065/067/068/080/084/123) conversions (on 43014/123) were carried out at the Derby Engineering Development Unit, whilst the other six (43013/065/067/068/080/084) were converted by the diesel repair shop at Stratford to have the lower valancing removed and buffers fitted.

After being fitted with buffers, these power cars began work as surrogate DVTs to work with the Class 91s and 89. The locomotives, working with conventional Mk3 stock, worked on the line between 1987 and 1991, when the last Class 91 locomotives entered service. As well as buffers being fitted to these powercars, special remote control equipment was also added to the locomotives so they could be controlled by the locomotive at the front. Once these locomotives left DVT duties, the remote equipment was removed.

After privatisation, these power cars joined the Virgin Trains fleet working both Virgin CrossCountry and Virgin Trains West Coast routes, where they displaced loco-hauled stock. All the units were repainted from their original InterCity colours to the Virgin red livery. Later, Virgin Trains withdrew the HSTs when new Class 220 and 221 units were delivered, and nearly all of these power cars went into storage at Long Marston.

After years of storage, several of the powercars were bought by Midland Mainline to be part of Project Rio, special services running from London St Pancras to Manchester while major engineering works were undertaken on the West Coast Main Line. These units were kept in the de-branded Virgin Trains livery throughout their time with Midland Mainline and put back in storage once Project Rio had finished in 2006.

43013 and 43014 joined Network Rail's New Measurement Train in 2003 and have continued to work with this service ever since. Both of these units have now had MTU engines fitted.

43080 was leased to GNER as a one-off powercar, working as a spare unit that could be easily called for if a HST failed. For most of its time with GNER, it was based at Craigentinny yard in Edinburgh and was painted into GNER colours. This locomotive's lease ended in 2006 and it was returned to storage at Long Marston.

In 2007, Grand Central took an interest in the stored power cars and amalgamated them into its fleet of three HST sets. In total, 43065/067/068/080/084/123 were bought by the company and now run high-speed services between Sunderland and London Kings Cross. HSTs 43084 and 43123 were the final operational Paxman Valenta power cars, being re-engined in 2010 with the MTU treatment. While at the works being re-engined, Grand Central added the orange stripe that appears on its Class 180 units, re-painted the front ends (making them look more like the non-buffered HSTs), and re-numbered the power cars into the four-hundreds. These are the current numbers: 43465 (065)/467 (067)/468 (068)/480 (080)/484 (084)/423 (123).


Paxman VP185 engine in a class 43 of East Midlands Trains

Play media

Video of a GWR High Speed Train with MTU engines

British Rail experimented with Mirrlees Blackstone MB190 engines in four Western region examples (43167–43170) between 1987 and 1996, but this experiment was unsuccessful and the standard Paxman Valenta engines re-installed. These four locomotives have since all been re-engined with the MTU 16V4000 engines. 43167 is now 43367 and operates with London North Eastern Railway, whilst 43168-43170 are still in service, in the former Western region area under Great Western Railway

Paxman began development of the Valenta's successor, the VP185, in 1987. The suggestion that British Rail participate in a trial of the new VP185 engine in the IC125 was first mooted in January 1991, and a formal agreement for the trial was signed in May 1993.

A qualifying requirement for the trial was that the engine should undergo a British Rail Type Test which was carried out between December 1993 and February 1994. The test involved completion of 3,000 cycles, each of 10 minutes duration, with four minutes at the maximum power of 2,611 kW (3,501 bhp) and six minutes at idle, simulating the typical 'on-off' nature of IC125 duty. The test was much more severe than operational duty, where the train operates at a maximum of 1,678 kW (2,250 bhp). The successful results of the test cleared the way for installation of a VP185 in Power Car 43170 at Plymouth Laira Depot for in-service trials in the summer of 1994. Power car 43170 entered service on 22 September 1994. 43170 was given the nameplate "Edward Paxman".[clarification needed]

During the late 1990s twenty-five HST power cars were re-engined with Paxman 12VP185L engines in order to improve fuel consumption and reduce emissions.

The last VP185 engine to be manufactured at Paxman's Colchester Works was despatched from the factory on 15 September 2003 as part of a program to convert 14 Midland Mainline power cars to VP185 engines to supplement the four already converted during 1994/95, and this led to 43043/045/048-050/052/055/060/061/072/073/076/082 joining 43047/059/074/075 with this engine type.

Today there are no production power cars fitted with a Paxman Valenta engine, although the 125 Group have reinstalled a Paxman Valenta in the surviving prototype powercar, 41001 (formerly 43000).

Diesel-battery hybrid trial[]

In 2007 Brush Traction and Hitachi equipped Paxman Valenta powered 43089 and a semi-permanently coupled Mark 3 coach with a diesel-battery hybrid power system for experimental trials. The power car was named "Hayabusa" (Hayabusa, はやぶさ, Japanese for Peregrine falcon, project name 'V-Train 2'). It returned to normal service with East Midlands Trains.

Life extension[]

The HST, having been in operation since the late 1970s, is due for replacement by the Hitachi Super Express. The development cycle for the replacement series is such that the existing fleet may be required to operate through to 2019 or beyond.

  • During 2005, two Class 43 power cars (43004 and 43009) operated by First Great Western were fitted with new MTU V16 4000 engines before being tested in passenger operation on the Great Western Line. In December 2005, First announced that all its power cars would receive the MTU engine. The MTU engine offers improvements over the existing Paxman 12RP200 'Valenta' engines, with reduced noise, smoke and exhaust emissions, improved reliability and fuel efficiency.
  • East Coast also re-engined its fleet with MTU engines, a process begun under its predecessor GNER. East Coast's fleet of re-engined power cars have been renumbered into the 432xx and 433xx series by adding 200 to the existing power car number.
  • East Midlands Trains stated that it would install Paxman VP185 engines in all its powercars before the end of its franchise. It has since completed this operation, though the re-engined power cars retain their original numbers
  • Grand Central had fitted their HST fleet with MTU engines, with the first pair entering service on 21 September 2010; they have also been repainted with an orange stripe to match Grand Central's Class 180s. 43123 was the final Valenta powercar; it now carries a plaque reading "Valenta 1972-2010". The final passenger service of a Valenta engined power car was on 19 December 2010. On 22 December 2010 the Valenta was used in four farewell tours between York and Sunderland using 43123. All power cars have been re-engined by Brush Traction, Loughborough, and have been renumbered in the 43/4 range.
  • CrossCountry's first CrossCountry-liveried HST powercar, 43301 (formerly 43101) was released from its overhaul at Brush Traction, Loughborough on 16 July 2008. To identify its fleet, CrossCountry is renumbering all its HST units by adding an extra 200 to the old number.
  • Network Rail's New Measurement Train is a specially converted InterCity 125. It can check the condition of railway lines over a 13-week cycle. On the West Coast Main Line, care is taken so tilting trains can safely run. It measures contact between wheels, rails and overhead power lines and is equipped with lasers, video cameras and other instruments. It was launched in 2003, but the vehicles used for it are older. Its yellow livery has earned it the nickname "The Flying Banana", which was previously used for older High Speed Trains with a similar livery.


Main article: InterCity 125

An eight-car East Coast Main Line set in 1979

A seven-car Cross Country set in the 1980s

When Crewe Works built them, the InterCity 125 units were considered to be diesel multiple units, and were allocated Classes 253 and 254 for Western and Eastern Region services respectively. The locomotives were introduced in the Midland region later.

Until the HST's introduction, the maximum speed of British trains was limited to 100 mph (160 km/h). The increased speed and rapid acceleration and deceleration of the HST made it ideal for passenger use, and it slashed journey times around the country. The prototype InterCity 125 (power cars 43000 and 43001) set the world record for diesel traction at 143 mph (230 km/h) on 12 June 1973. An HST also holds the world speed record for a diesel train carrying passengers. On 27 September 1985, a special press run for the launch of a new Tees-Tyne Pullman service from Newcastle to London King's Cross, formed of a shortened 2+5 set, briefly touched 144 mph (232 km/h) north of York.

During 1987, eight HST power cars were converted for use as driving van trailers (DVTs) with Class 91 locomotives during trials on the East Coast Main Line. The power cars were fitted with buffers and Time Division Multiplex equipment that allowed them to directly control a Class 91, and were moved over to the ECML where they were used on workings with Class 89 and then Class 91 locomotives from London to Leeds. After the Mk 4 stock had been delivered, the HST power cars had the TDM equipment removed, and then reverted to their normal duties. The power cars used for this project can be easily identified as they are still fitted with buffers. They were then transferred to Virgin Cross Country, and put in storage when Virgin replaced its HST fleet with Bombardier Voyagers (though Arriva, upon later taking over the franchise, acquired 10 power cars, 4 of which were buffered). Grand Central bought six of these for services from Sunderland to London, the remaining two having been integrated into Network Rail's New Measurement Train.

After the privatisation of British Rail the HST sets continued to be used. 194 of the 197 locomotives built remain in service. The three units that are not in service, 43173, 43011 and 43019, were written off by fatal rail accidents in 1997, 1999 and 2004 respectively.

All HSTs operating with Great Western Railway, London North Eastern Railway were replaced by Class 800/801/802s in 2018/2019. Twenty-seven sets each with four or five carriages moved from Great Western Railway to Abellio ScotRail and be refurbished with controlled emission tanks and plug automatic doors. They will operate on services from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Aberdeen and Inverness. The first two were delivered to Craigentinny TMD for crew training in September 2017. The first entered service in October 2018.

Great Western Railway retained 24 powercars to form 11 four-carriage formations known as "Castle Class" sets for use on local services between Cardiff and Penzance.


GB Railfreight have expressed interest in the possibility of converting displaced HST sets for use carrying parcels and other mail.




This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

Find sources: "British Rail Class 43" HST – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

British Rail Class 43 (HST)
Powercar 43002 'Sir Kenneth Grange' restored to the original Intercity 125 livery in May 2016
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-Electric
Builder British Rail Engineering Limited Crewe Works
Build date 1975–1982
Total produced 197
• UIC Bo'Bo'
• Commonwealth Bo-Bo
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Bogies BP10
Wheel diameter 3 ft 4 in (1.016 m)
Length 17.79 metres (58.4 ft)
Width 2.74 metres (9.0 ft)
Loco weight 70.25 tonnes (69.14 long tons; 77.44 short tons)
Fuel capacity 990 imp gal (4,500 l; 1,190 US gal)
Prime mover Paxman 12VP185

MTU 16V4000 R41R Paxman Valenta 12RP200L

Alternator Valenta, VP185: Brush Traction BA1001B

MTU: Brush Traction BA1001C

Traction motors GEC G417AZ (43124-43152)

Brush Traction TMH68-46 Both frame mounted, four off.

Transmission Engine driven alternator and rectifier supplying DC to traction motors
MU working Within class only
Train heating Electric Train Heat
Train brakes Air
Performance figures
Maximum speed Service: 125 mph (201 km/h)

Record: 148 mph (238 km/h)

Power output Engine: 2,250 hp (1,678 kW)

At rail: 1,320 kW (1,770 bhp)

Tractive effort Maximum: 17,980 lbf (80.0 kN)

Continuous: 10,340 lbf (46.0 kN)

Brakeforce 35 long tons-force (349 kN)
Operators Current:[show]



Numbers 43002–43198
Axle load class Route availability 5
Withdrawn 1997 (1), 2002 (1), 2004 (1)


Disposition 4 preserved, 126 in service

73 stored, 3 scrapped

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

Find sources: "British Rail Class 43" HST – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (May 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Status/Operator Image Number Unit nos.
Abellio ScotRail 53 43003, 43012, 43015, 43021, 43026, 43028, 43031-43037, 43124-43139, 43141-43152, 43163-43164, 43168-43169, 43175-43177, 43179, 43181-43183, 43185
  • The first of 54 former Great Western Railway power cars entered service in October 2018 on InterCity routes from Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street to Aberdeen and Inverness.
  • 43185 used for spares donor.
Colas Rail 2 43050, 43060 Former East Midlands Railway cars to be repainted and used for test train purposes.
CrossCountry 13 43207, 43208, 43239, 43285, 43301, 43303-43304, 43313, 43321, 43357, 43366, 43378, 43384
  • 12 Class 43/0 powercars, all with MTU engines. Renumbered into the 432xx and 433xx on installation of MTU engines by adding 200 to their original number.
  • 43313 used for spares donor.
East Midlands Railway 18 43238, 43251, 43257, 43272, 43274, 43277, 43290, 43295, 43302, 43305-43307, 43309-43310, 43316-43317, 43319-43320 19 Class 43/0 powercars, all with MTU engines. Former London North Eastern Railway powercars.
Great Western Railway 34 43004-43005, 43009-43010, 43016, 43022, 43040-43042, 43088, 43092-43094, 43097-43098, 43122, 43153-43156, 43158, 43160, 43162, 43170-43172, 43186-43189, 43192, 43194, 43196, 43198
  • These will be retained by GWR to operate local West of England services, and will be known as “Castle Class” sets. They are now operating in a 2+4 formation.
  • Four extra PCs (43088, 43156, 43160 and 43162) have been bought from Porterbrook leasing as part of a company review and may be used on additional 2+4 sets.
Locomotive Services Limited 5 43046, 43055, 43058-59, 43083 Former East Midlands Railway powercars.
Network Rail 3 43013, 43014, 43062
  • Used for the New Measurement Train. All are in Network Rail's yellow livery, fitted with external video cameras and MTU engines.
  • 43013 and 43014 are buffered from previous use as surrogate DVTs. Retained their original numbers on installation of MTU engines.
Off-lease / Stored 61 43030, 43140 Stonehaven derailment stored at Glasgow Works.
43017, 43020, 43023-43025, 43027, 43029, 43053, 43056, 43063, 43069-43071, 43078-43079, 43086-43087, 43091, 43159, 43161, 43165, 43174, 43180, 43190-43191, 43193, 43195, 43197 28 former Great Western Railway powercars which have been stored at Long Marston, Laira and Ely.
43206, 43300, 43311, 43312, 43315, 43367 6 Class 43/0 former London North Eastern Railway powercars were replaced by Class 800/Class 801s in December 2019.
43043, 045, 43047, 43049, 43052, 43054, 43061, 43064, 43066, 43073, 43075-43076, 43081-082 The former 24 East Midlands Railway VP185 engine power cars were replaced by MTU engine power cars from London North Eastern Railway in December 2020.
43296, 43299, 43308, 43314, 43318 Former East Midlands Railway became off-lease.
43423, 43465, 43467-43468, 43480, 43484 Former East Midlands Railway replaced by Class 180 "Adelante" in December 2020.
Preserved 5 43002, 43018, 43044, 43048, 43089
  • 43002 is now at the National Railway Museum.
  • 43018 is now at Crewe Heritage Centre.
  • 43044, 43048, 43089 are owned by 125 Group.
Scrapped 3 43011, 43019, 43173
  • 43173 - written off in the Southall crash of 19 September 1997, being disposed of after completion of the inquiry into the accident. Cut up by Serco at MoD Shoeburyness.
  • 43011 - written off in the Ladbroke Grove crash of 5 October 1999, being disposed of after completion of the inquiry into the accident. Cut up by Sims Metals at Crewe Works in June 2002.
  • 43019 - written off in the Ufton Nervet level crossing collision of 6 November 2004. Cut up by Sims Metal Management of Beeston in July 2005.
Key: In service Stored Scrapped Preserved
Original Number New Number Name Operator Previous Operator Status
43002 Sir Kenneth Grange National Railway Museum Great Western Railway Preserved Preserved at the National Railway Museum. Part of the National Collection.
43003 Abellio ScotRail Great Western Railway In Service Formerly Isambard Kingdom Brunel
43004 Caerphilly Castle Great Western Railway
43006 43206 London North Eastern Railway Stored Used in LNER HST charily railtour along with 43312.

Stored at Ely to be preserved at One:One Collection, Margate

43007 43207 CrossCountry Midland Mainline In Service
43008 43208 London North Eastern Railway Formerly Lincolnshire Echo.
43009 Great Western Railway In service
43011 First Great Western Scrapped Scrapped after the Ladbroke Grove Rail Crash.
43012 Abellio ScotRail Great Western Railway In service
43013 The Railway Observer Network Rail Virgin CrossCountry Used for the New Measurement Train. Buffered.
43014 Mark Carne OBE
43015 Abellio ScotRail Great Western Railway
43016 Great Western Railway
43017 Great Western Railway Stored Stored at Ely.
43018 Crewe Heritage Centre Great Western Railway Preserved Preserved at Crewe Heritage Centre.
43019 First Great Western Scrapped Scrapped after the Ufton Nervet Rail Crash.
43020 Great Western Railway Stored Stored at Ely
43021 Abellio ScotRail Great Western Railway In service
43022 Great Western Railway
43023 Great Western Railway Stored
43024 Stored at Ely.
43026 Abellio ScotRail Great Western Railway In service
43027 Great Western Railway In service
43028 Abellio ScotRail Great Western Railway In service
43029 Great Western Railway Stored
43030 Abellio ScotRail Involved in the Stonehaven derailment, stored at Glasgow Works
43031 Abellio ScotRail Great Western Railway In service
43033 Formerly Driver Brian Cooper
43038 43238 East Midlands Railway London North Eastern Railway Formerly National Railway Museum 40 Years 1975-2015
43039 43239 CrossCountry
43040 Great Western Railway
43041 St Catherine's Castle
43042 Tregenna Castle
43043 East Midlands Railway Stored
43044 125 Group East Midlands Railway Preserved Purchased by the 125 Group in 2021.
43045 Colas Rail In Service
43046 Locomotive Services Limited East Midlands Railway Preserved Blue Pullman livery
43047 East Midlands Railway Stored
43048 125 Group East Midlands Railway Preserved Preserved at 125 Group. Formerly T.C.B. Miller MBE
43049 Neville Hill East Midlands Railway Stored
43050 Colas Rail East Midlands Railway In service
43051 43251 East Midlands Railway London North Eastern Railway
43052 East Midlands Railway Stored
43053 Great Western Railway Stored at Long Marston.
43054 East Midlands Railway
43055 Locomotive Services Limited East Midlands Railway Preserved Blue Pullman livery
43056 Great Western Railway Stored Stored at Long Marston.
43057 43257 East Midlands Railway London North Eastern Railway In service Formerly Bounds Green
43058 Locomotive Services Limited East Midlands Railway Preserved
43060 Colas Rail East Midlands Railway In service
43061 East Midlands Railway Stored Stored at Long Marston awaiting scrapping.
43062 - John Armitt Network Rail Virgin CrossCountry In service Used for the New Measurement Train.
43063 Great Western Railway Stored
43064 East Midlands Railway
43065 43465 Buffered.
43067 43467 Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue ServiceBritish Transport Police Nottingham Buffered.

One name on each side. Named after the crews responding to the Nottingham station fire on 12 January 2018.

43068 43468 Buffered.
43069 Great Western Railway Stored at Long Marston.
43072 43272 East Midlands Railway London North Eastern Railway In service
43073 East Midlands Railway Stored
43074 43274 East Midlands Railway London North Eastern Railway In service
43075 East Midlands Railway Stored
43077 43277 East Midlands Railway London North Eastern Railway In service