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Originally conceived as a cheaper and more reliable alternative to the Advanced Passenger Train in the early 1970s, the British Railways Board authorised the development of a prototype High Speed Diesel Train with two locomotives designated as Class 41. These aerodynamic power cars were constructed by BREL at their Crewe Works and outshopped in June and August 1972, fitted with Paxman “Valenta” 12RP200L engines which developed 2,250 hp.

After a short period, the Mk.3 passenger cars from BREL’s Derby Litchurch Lane Works completed the prototype set, which then became British Rail Class 252. The power cars, having initially been numbered 41001 and 41002, were later given the coaching stock numbers 43000 and 43001 for operating trials on the Eastern Region and subsequent transfer to the Western Region. This prototype InterCity 125 clinched the world record for traction of 143mph (230kmh) on June 12, 1973.

Following evaluation of this prototype design and a change of name to High Speed Train, British Rail placed orders for similar trains for use on the Western, Eastern, Scottish and London Midland Regions.
When originally built at BREL Crewe Works, the InterCity 125 units were considered to be diesel multiple units and allocated as Class 253 to the Western Region and Class 254 for the Eastern Region, as it was envisaged that the sets would remain in fixed formation.

Those original HST’s consisted of a Driving Motor Brake (DMB), Trailer Firsts (TF), Trailer Seconds (TS), Trailer Restaurant Unclassified Kitchen (TRUK) and a Trailer Restaurant Second Buffet (TRSB). Once the Trailer Guard Second (TGS) were introduced, the later power cars had no guard’s equipment installed. By 1987 most power cars were simply classified as Driving Motor (DM), although they still had luggage van space, retaining a window by the luggage door on each side.

2016 marks the 40th Anniversary of Kenneth Grange’s archetypal high-speed locomotive and to celebrate, Hornby have produced this Anniversary set featuring 43002 and 43003 together as set 253 001. HST service commencement was Monday October 4, 1976 (although some units were running prior to this date), with full services in operation from the following day. Running an interim timetable, with accelerated schedules between Paddington and Bristol/South Wales, the fastest recorded train that year was the 16:29 service from Reading to Bristol Parkway, with an average speed of 95.7mph.