6th May 2021 · High Speed Testing in the UK since 1970

Presenter: Dave Coxon

We had another healthy attendance of 61 members and non-members at our May meeting to hear from Dave Coxon the fascinating story of high-speed testing on the UK railways over the past 50 years. The story started with Class 86s on the West Coast Main Line and bringing us right up to date ended with the Class 800 series, the most recently introduced high speed passenger fleet.

Dave’s involvement in this story took us back to late 1970/early 1971 when the first tests at 125mph were undertaken using Class 86s at Cheddington. These electric locos were used for various tests and one – E3173 – earned the unlikely unofficial name of ‘Zebedee’ in honour of its flexicoil bogies. It also had a period fitted with an unflattering nose cone as a prototype design for the HST.

During the mid-1970s, Dave was involved with the APT – Advanced Passenger Train – which was never allowed the time to settle down into regular service, or the investment to refine the design. Later in his career Dave was part of the project to commission the Class 91 and Mk. IV coaches, 91010 setting a new UK railway speed record in September 1989 achieving 161.7mph on the East Coast Mainline.

Dave brought us right up to date via further speed records set by Eurostar Class 373 and Class 395 ‘Javelin’, to the much more recent Class 800 series IET testing.

An interesting evening, populated with many anecdotes and accompanied by a fine array of rare and unusual photographs. Highly recommended.