TWO high speed trains (HSTs) could be seen operating on the West Somerset Railway (WSR) heritage line last weekend.
It was the result of the WSR agreeing to store two ‘Castle Class’ high speed trains for Great Western Railways (GWR), which is withdrawing them from mainline service this autumn.
GWR has experienced short term storage problems and as a thank you for the WSR’s help it agreed the HSTs could run on the steam railway’s track between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard last Saturday and Sunday.
The HSTs operated a normal WSR passenger service on both days, allowing passengers to enjoy a return run in the train starting from either end of the line for normal fares.
British Railways introduced HSTs more than 40 years ago and they remain the fastest diesel-powered trains in the world.
Since 1976, they have run in many parts of the UK and were particularly familiar on the former Western Region lines out of London Paddington to South Wales and the Westcountry.
As electrification spread out of Paddington the HSTs have been replaced by Inter-City Express Trains (IETs) which can run on both electricity and diesel power.
For Great Western, some of the former HSTs have been reformed into sets of four coaches, with a power car at each end (2 + 4).
It is two of these sets that are being taken by the West Somerset Railway, which at 22 miles is Britain's longest heritage line.