APT in service What's it all about ?

APT In Service

The following is reproduced from a leaflet titled "APT in service What's it all about ?".

PDF English


The first of the three prototype Advanced Passenger Trains is scheduled to enter advertised passenger service from Monday 6 October 1980 in the following times, Monday to Friday only.

Glasgow Central
London Euston

It is planned to operate the second service, based on London, early in 81. Timings will be, Monday to Friday only.

London Euston
Glasgow Central

The third train will be held as a spare to cover the service in the event of failure or to allow for programmed maintenance.

The Train

Each APT has 14 vehicles. Two Power Cars (4,000 horse power each) are marshalled in the centre of the train and two identical rakes of six articulated passenger carrying vehicles are located either side of the power cars. Only train crew will normally be allowed to pass through the power cars between each half of the train but the guard could accompany passengers through in exceptional circumstances.

In total each train contains 536 seats made up as follows :-

First Class smoking 50
First Class non smoking 94
Second Class smoking 160*
Second Class non smoking 144
Unclassed dining car 86
Wheelchair accommodation 2
* includes 56 seats in the Buffet Cars.

The coaches are constructed of aluminium and this, combined with adjacent articulated coaches sharing a common set of wheels, has enabled considerable weight savings to be made.


Buffet and restaurant car services will be provided in both halves of the train for all passengers, also a trolley service will bring an "at your seat" service of light refreshments to passengers travelling second class.

Seat Reservations

The normal seat reservation system will apply to APT and all seats will be reservable. Any unreserved seats will be allocated during the hour prior to departure by the issue of free boarding cards available from a Kiosk near the ticket barrier. Telex links between Glasgow, Motherwell, Preston, Watford and Euston will allow reservation details to be passed rapidly.

Standing passengers will not be permitted as it is desired to maintain high standards of comfort at all times.


All types of tickets, except Awayday and Big City Saver will be accepted on APT and there are no supplements payable.


Although APT achieved a British speed record of 160 mph on a test run on 20th December 1979 it will run at a maximum speed of 125 mph in passenger service. However the unique tilting mechanism means that full passenger comfort is maintained when curves are negotiated up to 40% faster than conventional trains. this high speed on curves means that the 401 miles between Glasgow and London are covered in four hours 10 minutes - an average speed of 96 mph and 58 minutes faster than todays best timing with the 'Royal Scot'. In the event of a failure of the tilt system it is still perfectly safe to travel at APT speeds.


Another unique feature is the toilet system which retains effluent in special tanks which are hygienically emptied at Polmadie and Willesden servicing sidings.


External sliding doors are fitted to APT and these are operated by the passenger at the push of a button - but only after the guard has "released" the system from his control panel, so there is no danger of the doors being inadvertently opened en route. Each door is nearly 4 feet wide so access with luggage is made easy.


Passengers luggage may be stored on the overhead racks, also between and under the seats. The two brake vans allow adequate space for bulky luggage. Accompanied cycles and prams will be permitted.

Only letter mails and premium parcels traffic will be carried by APT.


In the event of a power failure, or the need to divert the train away from the electrified route, a diesel locomotive can be coupled easily by lifting the APT nose cone to reveal conventional buffers and drawgear.

A diesel generator aboard APT will give enough power to operate the air conditioning, lighting and kitchen facilities so that passenger comfort is maintained.

The Future

The Government have told British Rail that money to build a fleet of APT's for all electrified West Coast Main Line services by the mid 1980's depends on the success with which we run the three prototypes so it is up to all of us to see that the services are first class in every respect.

If the go ahead is given then the future build will not have central power cars like the prototype but each train will consist of one driving power car, nine intermediate passenger vehicles and one driving van trailer.

If you have to be on the track and particularly
if you are the Lookoutman, be prepared for the APT
- it moves VERY… VERY… FAST.

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Last Revised: 28.06.2022 10:12
by R G Latham
© 1998