The last bastion of the HST ‘Castles

Iconic is often an overused and even abused word in railway writing. But for the High Speed Train (or InterCity 125), if you are of a certain vintage, the word is most certainly apt. 

Despite their introduction as long ago as 1976, remarkably there are still three passenger train operating companies (TOCs) using these stylish trains. But that won’t be the case for much longer, with two of them expecting to end their use “within the next 12 months”. 

Earlier this year, Great Western Railway (GWR) announced that some of its HSTs would be retired in May and the remainder in December, although the current lack of replacement diesel stock has led to a reprieve to (at least) May 2024 for some sets. 

CrossCountry has also announced that its last two remaining HST diagrams should cease “by December”, if not before. 

That will leave ScotRail as the last user of HSTs in frontline passenger use. And even it is being threatened by union boycotts of the trains. 

Network Rail will retain its New Measurement Train, which uses HST power cars (although it too is ‘under threat’). And Colas uses them on some of its infrastructure monitoring trains, although an expected mass replacement of Class 37s by HSTs has (so far) not materialised.

In 2019, having taken delivery of a full fleet of new Hitachi AT300 trains, GWR replaced the last of its HSTs on long-distance trains from Cornwall and South Wales to London Paddington. 

And it put on a great farewell show on May 18 2019, when it lined up the last four sets for their respective departures, after which HSTs were relegated to local and semi-fast workings from Cornwall via Devon and Somerset to Cardiff and Gloucestershire.

To read all our magazine articles, choose from either a Digital Edition Membership from just 99p for your first month, or a Print & Digital Edition package from just £9.50 per month. Choose your Membership here

Read this article in full in RAIL issue 990 here

Comment as guest

Login  /  Register


No comments have been made yet.

RAIL is Britain's market leading modern railway magazine.

Download the app