The diesel-powered High Speed Train (HST) known as the InterCity 125 was built by British Rail between 1975 and 1982. With its familiar sloping nose, it could run at speeds of up to 125 mph, hence its name.
The prototype InterCity 125 (power cars 43000 and 43001) set the world speed record for diesel traction at 143.2 mph on 12 June 1973.
The train proved an instant hit with the British public and cut the journey time between London and Edinburgh on the East Coast Main Line by an hour. The service holds the world record for the fastest diesel-powered train carrying passengers reaching a speed of 148.5 mph on 1 November 1987.
Each InterCity 125 train consisted of two Class 43 diesel-electric power cars, each powered originally by 2,250 bhp Paxman Valenta engines and a set of six to nine coaches.
The original Inter-City 125 livery was blue and grey, with a yellow front (to improve visibility) which continued down the side of the power cars.
The second livery had mostly grey power cars with a white band along the middle, and yellow underneath the white band, with the InterCity colours (cream, red, white, brown) for the parcel compartment of the power cars and the coaches.
There was brownish-grey, dark grey (almost black) around the windows with a red and white stripe below the windows.
The final variant of this livery saw the yellow side bands replaced with white and did not feature the British Rail name or logo – instead, it carried the new sector branding Intercity logo in serif type and an image of a flying swallow (commonly referred to as “InterCity Swallow” livery).
InterCity rail travel was heavily promoted with TV and print adverts in the 1980s – including the famous “This is the age of the train” adverts.
The InterCity 125 diesel locomotive was only intended as a stopgap before electrification (British Rail could not afford full electrification at the time) but linked Britain’s cities for more than four decades.
The last scheduled InterCity 125 journey took place on 19 May 2019.
The very first production Class 43 HST, built in 1975 and named after designer Sir Kenneth Grange – who also designed angle-poise lamps, the Kenwood Chef mixer and Britain’s first parking meter – is on display at the National Railway Museum in York.