At 10:36 am today, a train will attempt to break a speed record set 36 years ago for the 401 mile journey between London Euston and Glasgow Central
Avanti West Coast, which operates trains on the main line between the two cities, receives assistance from Network Rail in a bid to break the existing record of 3 hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds.
The record, representing an average speed of 103 mph, was set in December 1984 by an Advanced Passenger Train (APT) – a revolutionary high-speed concept developed by British Rail for the West Coast Mainline.
Soon after, British Rail focused on the diesel-powered high-speed train, which is still in service, and the APT was scrapped. Its tipping technology was used in the development of the Pendolino trains currently used on the line.
Since the record-breaking race, billions of pounds have been spent on upgrading the West Coast Mainline to allow faster operation and less conflict with other services.
A special, freshly named Pendolino Royal Scottish, will make the trip without scheduled stops. Network Rail will seek to ensure that it has a clear route. The APT record was set despite being two minutes behind at a signal to Stafford.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said: “After nearly 40 years, it is time for this record to be broken, and I wish everyone the best of luck as they attempt this impressive feat.”
Phil Whittingham, Managing Director of Avanti West Coast, said: “The West Coast Mainline has a proud history of delivering industry firsts.
“We are delighted to partner with Network Rail in an attempt to break this record which has lasted for nearly four decades. “
Sir Peter Hendy, President of Network Rail, said: “Today marks a brilliant collaboration in the rail industry. I really hope we succeed today in our record attempt.
‘There will be more information on better rail connectivity and faster journey times between England and Scotland when I publish my last Union Connectivity Report for the Prime Minister this summer . “
The Railway Performance Society will be the official timekeeper for the record attempt.
Charities, including the Railway Benefit Fund (RBF), are expected to benefit from ticket sales. RBF President, music producer Pete Waterman said: “It is a real privilege for the Railway Benefit Fund to be involved in this record attempt.
“Time is of the essence for all of us. “
According to The real-time train website, the journey is scheduled for three hours 53 minutes – 20 seconds more than the record. But the hope is that the train can save time on its journey north.
The record attempt will involve Royal Scottish overtaking the regular passenger train from London Euston to Glasgow Central at 10:10 am, which will follow the exact same route. It is scheduled to leave 26 minutes before the Royal Scot and arrive 37 minutes after.
The nonstop train is expected to move ahead of scheduled service shortly after leaving Crewe in Cheshire.
On the east coast mainline, Wednesday’s auspices were not encouraging. The last train from Edinburgh on Avanti’s rival LNER was scheduled for a leisurely five hours and 39 minutes, but arrived late at London King’s Cross.
The southbound record from Glasgow to London is held by a Pendolino operated by Virgin Trains – the predecessor of Avanti West Coast. In December 2006, he walked the field between the two cities in three hours and 55 minutes.