HST visits heritage railway

29 September 2022
The Severn Valley Railway welcomed an unusual visitor this week, when a CrossCountry railtour arrived for a special visit to its line.

The Severn Valley Railway welcomed an unusual visitor on Tuesday September 27, 2022 with the arrival of a CrossCountry HST railtour. Organized by CrossCountry to mark 40 years of the company’s HST operation, a ceremony took place at Kidderminster Town station to rename CrossCountry’s power car 43366 as HST 40.

The HST railtour arrived at Kidderminster having travelled from Leeds via Wakefield, Doncaster, Sheffield, Derby and Birmingham New Street. As well as celebrating the 40th anniversary of HSTs operating on CrossCountry, the trip raised vital funds for the Railway Benefit Fund, a charity which supports people working in the rail industry. Sixty additional passengers joined the HST at Kidderminster to take part solely in the SVR leg of the railtour, which saw the train make two return trips along the 16-mile line to Bridgnorth.

“An InterCity 125 travelling along the length of our beautifully preserved line isn’t something you see every day,” said Helen Smith, the SVR’s managing director.

“In fact, it’s more than 20 years since an HST has hauled a charter visit here. It’s been a pleasure to welcome this special celebratory railtour, and add our own sprinkling of heritage magic to the day.”

The Severn Valley Railway TTI team get ready to work aboard the HST, credit David Bissett

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The Severn Valley Railway TTI team get ready to work aboard the HST. DAVID BISSETT

The HST was introduced by British Rail in 1976, and with some notable exceptions, including CrossCountry, it’s now been largely replaced on the main line. It represented a ‘quantum leap’ from previous trains in terms of both comfort and speed. It revolutionised rail travel and made Inter City rail travel a serious competitor to the motorway network. With a regular service speed of 125 mph, and capable of travelling at 148.5 mph, the HST power cars are officially the fastest diesel locomotives in the world.

Ironically the Severn Valley Railway, as a heritage line, has a maximum speed limit of 25 mph, a fact which wasn’t lost on CrossCountry’s managing director Tom Joyner, “It means you can enjoy the trip even more; you get longer to spend on the train itself, so that’s no bad thing. When we were thinking about how best to celebrate 40 years of CrossCountry operating HSTs, we needed somewhere that represents a great day out and really has some meaning from a railway perspective, and this is it! Where else would you go?

“Not only was it an opportunity to celebrate the iconic and much-loved HSTs but also to support our heritage lines who have struggled during the pandemic. They are working railways which are major tourist attractions and therefore provide valuable support for the local economies of the regions they serve.”

From today (Thursday September 29) the Severn Valley Railway sees a complete diesel takeover, with the start of its four-day Autumn Diesel Bash event. A range of home-based locomotives will be joined by VIP visitors Class 46 No D182 and two GB Railfreight Class 56 locomotives.

Further details and information is available on the Severn Valley Railway website.


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