British Rail Class 252

Class 252 was the classification allocated to the prototype High Speed Train (HST) unit, numbered 252001.

British Rail Class 252
Prototype HST
252001 - weston s mare - 1975.jpg
252001 at Weston-super-Mare in 1975
In service1972-1982
ManufacturerBritish Rail Engineering Limited
Built atCrewe Works
Family nameHigh Speed Train
Scrapped1990-93 (partly)
Number built1 set
Number in service9 carriages
Number preserved1 power car
Number scrapped1 power car, 1 carriage
FormationTwo power cars flanking Mark 3 carriages
Fleet numbers252001
Operator(s)British Rail
Line(s) servedWestern Region
Car body constructionSteel
fully integral, monocoque
Car length56 ft 4 in (17.17 m)
Width8 ft 11 in (2.72 m)
Height12 ft 10 in (3.91 m)
DoorsHinged slam, centrally locked/automatic plug doors, centrally locked
Maximum speed143.2 mph (230.5 km/h)
Weight68.5 tonnes (67.4 long tons; 75.5 short tons)
Prime mover(s)Paxman Valenta 12RP200L, 2 off
Power supply3-phase 415/240 V (Mark 3)
1,000 V DC (Mark 3A/B)
BogiesBREL BT10
Braking system(s)Disc, air operated
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge


252001 at Reading in 1975
One of the first Mark 3 carriages No:E12000 to be delivered to the Railway Technical Centre, Derby in 1972

When originally built, in 1972, the prototype High Speed Train (HST) units were considered to be formed of two locomotives at either end of a rake of carriages. As a result, the power cars were designated Class 41 and numbered 41001/41002, while the carriages were given numbers in the new Mark 3 carriage number series.[1]

Shortly after their introduction, it was decided to classify the unit as a Diesel Electric Multiple Unit. It was allocated Class 252, and the whole formation was renumbered into a new carriage number series for HST and Advanced Passenger Train vehicles (4xxxx). Two coaches were not included in the renumbering (one Trailer First and one Trailer Second), as these were transferred for use in the Royal Train as part of its upgrade before the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The power cars were allocated numbers in the 43xxx series, and the two prototype cars took the numbers 43000/43001. Thus, the production-run cars were numbered from 43002 onwards.

Ironically, the situation reversed again in the 1980s, and the production power cars were then considered to be class 43, as this time around no power car or carriage was renumbered. By this time, the prototype cars had been transferred into departmental (non-revenue earning) service and had taken numbers in the departmental carriage 975xxx series, so they were not involved in this redesignation, and they retained their departmental carriage numbers rather than being transferred to the departmental locomotive list.

The former 41002/43001 has now been scrapped, but the other prototype locomotive, 41001/43000, was preserved at the National Railway Museum, York. Of the passenger-carrying vehicles, all remain in use on the mainline, except for one of the former restaurant cars, which was scrapped in 1993.

The 125 Group restored prototype powercar 41001 back to operational condition in 2013.[2][3] This entailed a complete restoration of the vehicle and a fitment of a Paxman Valenta engine at Neville Hill TMD. The engine was successfully started in July 2013, and on 31 May 2014 the loco moved under its own power for the first time in over 30 years.[4][5][6]


The vehicles that made up the prototype High Speed Train are listed below, together with their current identity and use:

Key: In service Special service Scrapped Preserved Departmental
First Number Second Number Type Converted to Current Location
10000 40000 Trailer Buffet (TRSB) Departmental, 975984 New Measurement Train
10100 40500 Trailer Kitchen (TRUK) Departmental, 977089 Scrapped (1993)
11000 41000 Trailer First (TF) Departmental, 975814 New Measurement Train
11001 - Trailer First (TF) Royal Train, 2903 In service
11002 41001 Trailer First (TF) Production TF, 41170 In service, in LNER
11003 41002 Trailer First (TF) Production TF, 41174 In service, as TS 42357, in LNER
12000 42000 Trailer Second (TS) Production TF, 41172 In service, as TS 42355, in LNER
12001 - Trailer Second (TS) Royal Train, 2904 In service
12002 42001 Trailer Second (TS) Production TF, 41171 In service, as TS 42353, in GWR
12003 42002 Trailer Second (TS) Production TF, 41173 Withdrawn - preserved Northumbria Rail as TSD* 42356, in GWR
41001 43000 Driving Motor Brake (DMB) Departmental, 975812 Preserved, National Railway Museum
41002 43001 Driving Motor Brake (DMB) Departmental, 975813 Scrapped (1990)


  1. ^ "HSDT power cars near completion" Railway Gazette International April 1972 page 146
  2. ^ "Prototype HST to run again" The Railway Magazine issue 1323 July 2011 page 11
  3. ^ "Pioneer HST power car at Leeds to aid restoration" Rail Magazine issue 694 18 April 2012 page 12
  4. ^ "Prototype HST is fired up" The Railway Magazine issue 1349 September 2013 page 96
  5. ^ "Prototype HST power car returns to service" The Railway Magazine issue 1365 December 2014 page 9
  6. ^ 41001 - Prototype HST Powercar 125 Group

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