40 years ago the High Speed Train was delivered from concept to testing in only 22 months. 40 years later, the 125 Group’s Project Miller – the restoration to working order of the surviving original HST prototype power car, number 41001 – is currently going at a similar pace.
Hard work by the group and help from East Midlands Trains (who have given the power car house room at their Neville Hill depot) meant that 41001 was able to make a triumphant return to the museum in June, fully braked, for Railfest 2012. There it shared the Railfest site with the largest gathering of railway record breakers ever seen.
It then returned to Neville Hill for a heart transplant…
When 41001 was preserved, thirty years ago, the intention was that it would be displayed in the Science Museum in London with all the covers off, so that the public could see what made BR’s new ‘cutting edge’ train go. It was to be the diesel equivalent of Bulleid Pacific Ellerman Lines, and to this end the Paxman ‘Valenta’ engine in it was sectioned.
The display never happened – but it did leave the current restoration with a major headache. How to replace the prime mover of such a significant machine?
Fortunately, the museum gets good support from all sides of the rail industry, and when the current HST fleet was re-equipped with new engines, a ‘pre-loved’ Valenta, new in 2000 and with only light usage to 2008, was secured for 41001. At the end of June this engine (S508: a “flat top/wide flanged” Valenta last used in HST 43143) was fitted into 41001. The sectioned engine will now go to the Anson Engine Museum in Cheshire.
So now all that is required to get 41001 powered up and on the load bank at Neville Hill is a replacement carriage connection and 4 km or so of new wiring. If the architects of the HST, Walter Jowett and Terry Miller, were still around, they would surely be well pleased.