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  • Hey folks, welcome back to the channel, and welcome back to High Speed Rail Explained.

  • This video is on the UK means the channel will now have covered every Nation with a

  • major network of high speed rail and that's cause for celebration! If you haven't yet,

  • make sure to check out the other videos in the series!

  • I've had plans for this video since this series started, but I wanted to make things

  • just right so I enlisted help from two excellent creators from the UK - David Frankal - whose

  • videos of various systems in Europe and across the UK are really awesome and Gareth Dennis

  • who's RailNatter series is a lot of fun, I'll link their excellent channels below.

  • If you aren't already, consider following on Twitter and Instagram and consider supporting

  • the channel on Patreon!

  • As with most stories about the UK and railways, this one spans a long period of time, as it

  • turns out the UK has a long and somewhat unusual history with fast trains, or should I say

  • trains which are capable of high speeds.

  • Mallard which debuted in the late 1930's being roughly where the story starts for me.

  • Mallard is the world record holder for fastest steam locomotive and was created by LNER - London

  • & North Easten Railway. The locomotive has hit speeds over over 125 miles per hour, meaning

  • it is capable of speeds higher than the in service speeds of almost all trains in North

  • America to this day, despite being nearly 100 years old. I have a bit of a personal

  • connection with Mallard too, as I used to have a large poster of it hanging in my room

  • when I was a kid.

  • As you may or may not have imagined, this high speed rail explained is going to be somewhat

  • unconventional. As it turns out, the UK's approach to high speed rail, for much of the

  • last century consisted of piecemeal upgrades to existing lines, largely limiting upgrades

  • to around 125 miles per hour.

  • Since the UK's High Speed Rail is less defined by its corridors and more defined by its incredibly

  • varied rolling stock, this video will spend more time focusing on and explaining that;

  • which is why I started with Mallard. This fits in with the purpose of the series, in

  • that unlike many countries, the actual routes are the simple part of this story while the

  • rolling stock is the complex part; well except for Japan, gotta love Japan.

  • As it turns out the high speed rail we know in the UK today, which is largely dominated

  • by upgraded lines capable of roughly 125 mph, started in the early 1970's with the upgrade

  • of the Great Western Main Line for service with the iconic HST, sometimes known as the

  • Intercity 125.

  • This was followed in the late 1970's and the early 1980's by similar upgrades to

  • the East Coast Mainline and then by upgrades to the Midland Main Line throughout the 1980's.

  • As it turns out there were also further improvements made to the West Coast Main Line in the 2000's

  • in order to adapt it for use by high speed tilting trains, which we will discuss later.

  • Of course the UK does have one modern purpose built high speed rail line in the form of

  • High speed 1. At the time of construction it was the first new mainline built in one

  • hundred years.

  • If the name confuses you, high speed 1 is also sometimes referred to as the channel

  • tunnel rail link, which as the name suggests, links the channel tunnel and Kent with London.

  • What you may not be familiar with is that the Channel Tunnel Rail link did not open

  • with the tunnel, and so Eurostar services originally went to London Waterloo on the

  • conventional network, rather than London St. Pancras.

  • Even with phase 1 of the Channel Tunnel Rail link, trains still spent some time slowly

  • running along the conventional network to access Waterloo. As mentioned in a previous

  • video , the original Eurostar stock included third rail pickups, which is very unusual

  • for a high speed train.

  • The second section of high speed 1 which passes through Stratford and East London before arriving

  • at St. Pancras Station was opened in 2007.

  • All in all high speed 1 has 3 intermediate stations appended with International, though

  • only some of the intermediateinternationalstations actually provide international services

  • from Eurostar. Those intermediate stations are served by Southeastern high speed commuter

  • rail services.

  • HS1 also carries freight trains, which is unusual for a purpose-built high speed railway.

  • And that's what high speed rail looks like in the UK right now, a handful of upgraded

  • lines North from and North of London travelling across the country and High Speed 1 linking

  • London to Kent and the rest of Europe.

  • There is also major expansion to the UK's High Speed Rail

  • network underway in the form of High Speed 2 which Reece covered in a previous Demystified

  • video. High Speed 2 is a new high speed rail line from London to Birmingham and then further

  • North to Manchester and Leeds. High Speed 2 would be a new purpose built high speed

  • railway much in the spirit of High Speed 1, but with higher top speeds.

  • Much like high speed 1, high speed 2 will be built in phases with the first phase from

  • London Euston to Birmingham already under construction with an opening projected for

  • around 2030. Phase 2A will take the line further northwest to Crewe, a major junction for trains

  • continuing north, while Phase 2B will extend the line from Crewe to Manchester while creating

  • a separate branch from Birmingham through the East Midlands to Leeds and York.

  • These sections are projected to open in roughly 2030 and 2035 respectively, but with those

  • dates so far out they could very easily slip, and by the time the UK has its major new High

  • Speed Network, Japan will probably be opening its first intercity maglev line.

  • The network will tie into existing lines at Wigan and York, allowing high speed trains

  • to serve destinations not on the high speed lines themselves, such as Liverpool, Newcastle,

  • Edinburgh and Glasgow , though the trains which will travel at speeds in excess of 200

  • mph on HS2 itself will need to slow down to the regular 125 mph speeds.

  • HS2 has faced criticism from across the political spectrum, on grounds of its high cost and

  • the environmental impact of constructing the line, though significant measures have been

  • included within the plan to minimise these, such as the planting of 600Ha of new woodland

  • and the creation of one of Europe's largest areas of chalk grassland.

  • Beyond HS2, planning is underway on a further high speed corridor known as HS3 or Northern

  • Powerhouse Rail, to better connect the North of England, including planned high speed routes

  • between Liverpool and Manchester and Manchester and Leeds. This will also double as an extension

  • of HS2 to Liverpool.

  • These plans are politically popular in the North of England, where major investment into

  • our transport links have been needed for a very long time, though we're still yet to

  • see confirmation of funding or a timescale for this project.

  • As mentioned before, the most intriguing element of High Speed Rail in the UK is perhaps the

  • rolling stock, which has varied largely because of the number of different models used by

  • varying franchises in the last 20 years.

  • Of course, while things all started with Mallard, a locomotive largely limited by sub 100 mph

  • line speeds, perhaps the most significant developments in British High Speed rail technology

  • came in the late 20th century, inspired by the development of the Japanese Shinkansen

  • and the French TGV, train systems you can learn about in my other high speed rail explained

  • videos.

  • The next major development for high speed trains in Britain came in the 1970s with the

  • Advanced Passenger Train, or APT for short. The APT was meant to compete with the developing

  • fast trains in Japan and, later on, France, and included features such as hydrokinetic

  • brakes and active tilting to allow for higher speeds through curves.

  • The first version of the APT was the experimental APT-E, which was powered by a gas turbine

  • for its many thousands of miles of testing.

  • Following many years of development, the prototype APT-P came along, which after some deliberation

  • was specified to use overhead power. Diminishing interest from British Rail management meant

  • that APT-P's development was mired in challenges and delays,

  • and whilst it did manage to set a number of records and spent a short time in revenue

  • service on the West Coast Main Line in the process, eventually the project was cancelled

  • and most of the futuristic looking trains were cut up for scrap. As we'll see, though,

  • it wasn't an entirely wasted effort.

  • In parallel with the development of the futuristic APT, another more conventional fast train

  • was working its way off the drawing board. This was the Intercity 125 or High Speed Train

  • Introduced in 1975. This train, formed of top-and-tailed diesel locomotives with a rake

  • of coaches in between, is able to operate in service at 125 miles per hour, though trains

  • have achieved speeds of nearly 150 mph out of service. Thanks to its immense power, innovative

  • brakes and relative design simplicity, the HST was the first modern high speed train

  • to operate commercially in the UK, and despite their advanced years can still be seen operating

  • services to this day.

  • Despite being called the InterCity 225, the next generation of British high speed train

  • actually owed a lineage to the APT rather than the diesel InterCity 125, relying on

  • several technical innovations from the development of that train. The 225, formed of a fixed

  • push-pull formation of coaches hauled by a Class 91 electric locomotive, was introduced

  • in 1988 alongside the electrification of the East Coast Main Line.

  • Unfortunately, despite the confusing nomenclature the Intercity 225 is capable of 225 kph rather

  • than miles per hour putting it roughly in line with the Intercity 125 with a top speed

  • of about 140mph though is limited to 125mph by signalling and line capacity constraints.

  • Though it was initially intended to be part of a larger order to match a larger programme

  • of electrification, the early 1990s recession put paid to that, and the fleet remained isolated

  • on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Though the Class 91 remains one of the most advanced passenger-only electric locomotives

  • in the world, it has already been largely replaced by newer Hitachi electric multiple

  • units. It's still a glorious beast, though.

  • As it turns out, following the Intercity branded trains came a large number of different high

  • speed train models all capable of 125 mph as the UK transitioned into its franchised

  • rail model - which will be the subject of another video. These included the:

  • Adelante or Class 180 a DMU manufactured by Alstom and first introduced in 2000.

  • The Voyager or Class 220 a DEMU manufactured by Bombardier and first introduced in 2000.

  • The Super Voyager or Class 221 also manufactured by Bombardier and first introduced in 2001.

  • These trains feature active tilting, though the system has been disabled on some sets.

  • The Meridians or Class 222, another DEMU manufactured by Bombardier and first introduced in 2004.

  • The Pendolino or Class 390 a tilting electrical multiple unit which was manufactured by Alstom

  • and introduced in 2002. If you want to learn more about other Pendolino tilting trains

  • check out our video on Italian high speed rail in the top right corner.

  • The Nova 2 or Class 397 an electrical multiple unit manufactured by CAF introduced in 2017.

  • And the latest and greatest is the class 80X Intercity Express train. The IET consists

  • of three classes of trains, the 800 and 802 are bi-mode multiple units capable of operating

  • on diesel fuel or overhead wires, while the 801 is a more traditional electrical multiple

  • unit. The 80X series are all manufactured by Hitachi, who incorporated learnings from

  • the Japanese Shinkansen into the trains which have been ordered en masse to replace old

  • Intercity 125 and 225 trains.

  • Of course, beyond the 125 mile per hour national network, there is also High Speed 1, which

  • has its own unique set of rolling stock in order to make use of the line's 186 mph top

  • speed.

  • The first train is the original Eurostar Class 373 from Alstom, based on TGV technology,

  • the 373 is a locomotive hauled train with a top in service speed of 186 mph. Of course

  • as mentioned earlier the 373 had to be outfitted with third rail pickup shoes in order to run

  • on the third rail electrified network between Waterloo and the Channel Tunnel.

  • Notably the class 373's are designed with a more limited profile to comply with the

  • more restrictive loading gauge of the UK National network. Seven so-calledNorth of London

  • sets were originally built for regional Eurostar services to Manchester and Leeds, which never

  • actually launched.

  • Between 2000 and 2005, some of these trains were used to provide domestic services on

  • the East Coast Mainline, the so-called White Rose services from London King's Cross to

  • Leeds and York.

  • The next is the replacement for the Class 373, Eurostars Class 374 or Eurostar e320

  • is a Siemens Velaro high speed multiple unit train with a top speed of 200 mph or 320 kph,

  • hence its name. Unlike the previous class 373 units, the class 374 did away with the

  • third rail shoes from day one and feature a larger profile limiting them to operations

  • on high speed 1 only within the UK. These trains are virtually identical to the ICE

  • 3 Class 407 trains operating in Germany, though are twice the length.

  • Finally, there are the class 395 Javelin trains which are high speed multiple units based

  • on the same series of trains from Hitachi as the IET with a top speed of 140mph when

  • on high speed 1. The Javelins like the class 373s have a national network compatible profile

  • and third rail shoes in order to provide high speed commuter services in the Southeast of

  • England on a mixture of conventional lines and high speed 1.

  • Of course, there's also the rolling stock which will be used on HS2. While final decisions

  • have not been made yet, HS2 rolling stock will be capable of 220 mph or 360 kph top

  • speeds in the same vein as California High Speed Rail and most of the well known global

  • rolling stock manufacturers submitted bids to provide the stock. Much like with the Javelin

  • trains operating on HS1, HS2 will hostclassic compatibletrains capable of extending

  • onto the conventional national rail network.

  • Of course, as with every high speed rail explained video, I need to address the unique features

  • of the British High Speed Rail network and services.

  • Perhaps the most unique aspect of the British High Speed Rail network is the soon-to-be-defunct

  • franchise system where various routes and services are operated by different private

  • operators. This means one year you could be riding Company A's train and the next year

  • you could be riding Company B's on the same route. This is soon to come to an end, though,

  • as a new organisation called Great British Railways will be taking control of the whole

  • railway network over the next few years as part of widespread industry changes.

  • Of course we shouldn't forget that the network is linked to mainland Europe via the Channel

  • Tunnel as well, still a marvel of engineering. Of course, it still hasn't really been used

  • to its full potential. As Europe's high speed and conventional rail networks continue

  • to expand and develop, incredible opportunities are still presented by the channel tunnel

  • to connect the UK to the rest of the continent.

  • Another element worth pointing out with regard to the UK's rail network, in this case as

  • a whole, is the very restrictive loading gauges in many locations and along many lines. This

  • is due to the railways early and decentralized development. The restrictive loading gauge

  • of the railways presents a further challenge for high speed rail development.

  • Now, of course, I virtually always finish things with coverage of countries successes,

  • and sometimes failures at exporting their high speed rail technology, and as you might

  • expect the UK has been less than successful in exporting whole trains.

  • As it turns out, there has really only been one major export of British HSR rolling stock,

  • and that's in the form of the New South Wales XPT or express passenger train, a modified

  • version of the Intercity 125 with modifications made for operation in Australia.

  • It's me again!

  • As it turns out, the research and development that led to the Advanced Passenger Train wasn't

  • entirely wastedIn fact, in his efforts to reduce hunting at high speeds, the project's

  • lead engineer, Alan Wickens, developed the modern yaw damper, which alleviated hunting

  • for high speed passenger trains and freed steel-on-steel trains across the globe to

  • go faster and faster. It's not an exaggeration to say that every high speed train in the

  • world owes a legacy to Wickens and the work of the British Rail Research Division.

  • You can find out more about this in my video on maglev!

  • While the UK is often rightly criticized for it's generally slow and geographically limited

  • high speed rail network when compared to other European countries, on the whole the UK has

  • succeeded on delivering some level of high speed service to a fairly large portion of

  • the country and I think this does demonstrate some of the benefits of a “legacyupgrade

  • approach to your railway network. You don't get the same top speeds, but you get to use

  • what are frequently better alignments and station locations when compared to new build

  • lines.

  • As it turns out Great Britain long had the highest average passenger train speeds in

  • the world thanks to the ubiquity of fast regional and rural services. Of course the UK is also

  • getting a more European style HSR network in the form of HS2, and that will leave it

  • with a respectable two tier network with a very high speed backbone, and many redundant

  • high speed lines for connecting trips.

  • I hope you enjoyed this latest episode of High Speed Rail Explained - If you learned

  • something from this video, make sure to like and subscribe, and comment down below to let

  • me know what you want to see in the next episode of the series, and whether there's any