Memories of working on APT

Duncan Edwards

During the summer of 1984, as part of my technician training based at the RTC, I had a 5 month spell with the Vehicle Testing Section (Passenger). The vast majority of my time there I was involved with the testing of the class 141, however, I was given the opportunity to have a couple of runs on the APT-P.

At the time, test runs with the APT were made between Glasgow Central and Preston with staff passengers travelling in one full half set.

The formation was 2+2+6 with all the test gear in the shortened half set.

On the days of my trips, I would catch a service train from my home station, Chesterfield, to Preston where I would meet the test train. After introducing myself to the test team, I would get my instructions for the test run.

My first task would be to do the commentary from the cab reporting mile posts and speeds for recording on the data tapes.

This commentary was basic compared to what I had been doing on the class 141. This was because of the speeds involved in comparison and the fact that track conditions and features were very well known on the WCML test route.

Imagine being a wide eyed 19 year old travelling in the cab of the most advanced train in the country at ridiculous speeds around the curves of that section of line between Preston and Carlisle. It was a real treat to experience the immense power with two power cars motoring a shortened formation. The acceleration was very impressive getting up to line speeds coming out of Preston heading North. I had travelled in the cab on conventional trains on the mainline before but I wasn't prepared for the incredible performance of the APT.

The run to Carlisle was a blur, having to concentrate on looking for the mile posts on an unfamiliar, to me, route and calling out the mile post number and speeds into the microphone that was connected to the test rig.

Shap was totally flat that day, with over 8000hp on tap. 

Carlisle was reached all too quickly in my opinion as I was enjoying the ride up front.

The test train then reversed to do a quick return trip to Carnforth. On the South bound run, I was put on one of the UV paper trace recorders to note the mile post numbers and speeds on the paper rolls as they were being called out. As I was quite busy doing that, I didn't get to enjoy the sensation of the performance of the train concentrating on listening to the commentary and my task at hand.

On arriving at the loops at Carnforth, I relinquished my seat at the test rig and was allowed to enjoy the passenger experience back to Carlisle in a first class seat.

As a passenger, I thought the ride was very impressive and exciting, enjoying the performance and seeing the scenery out of the windows at crazy angles.

On arrival at Carlisle, it was time for me to leave the train and catch a service train back home with the knowledge that I was going to do all this again in two days time.

During both of my runs on this wonderful train, there were no technical troubles recorded, all vehicles behaving as they should do.

Little did I know at the time that the whole project was soon to be binned. I was extremely fortunate to have experienced this amazing train from the cab as well as a passenger.

Wonderful times, wonderful memories.

If you have any memories of working on the APT - Please let me know !

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Last Revised: 18.06.2022 8:28
by R G Latham
© 1998