Advanced Passenger Train - Experimental

During the early years of APT-E I was working in the DM&EE testing section and had little to do with the train. By the time I joined the R&DD in April 1974 the major test programme was drawing to a close so I really missed out again. However I did get the chance to have a ride to Kettering and back in 1976 on a staff special which was exhilarating to say the least. Some photos of the train at Kettering are included below.

The APT-E consisted of two driving power cars (PC1 and 2) and two trailer cars (TC1 and 2). The power cars were equipped with four 300 HP Leyland 350 gas turbines (and a fifth for auxiliary power supplies) and two GEC 253AY nose-suspended traction motors on the leading bogies. Each vehicle was approx 70ft long with articulated bogies between them.

It was the world's first self-propelled active tilting train and the first to use computer designed wheelsets and active suspension to eliminate hunting.

 A great deal of testing was carried out at the Old Dalby test track in connection with the APT development programme using various vehicles including the open frame units known as POP train. This name was derived from the fact that there were two power bogies surrounding an articulated trailer bogie (hence Power nil Power) and the whole formation was loco-hauled to test the tilt, bogies and suspension.

For more pictures and information about POP train look here!

Initial proposals

Original concept drawing

The original concept drawing of the Advanced Passenger Train

BR official

Early proposal An early mock up

BR official

Final version

A later version model which was not unlike the final design

BR official

Sunday Telegraph front cover The front cover of the August 1971 Sunday Telegraph Magazine featured the above model of the proposed APT-E


The disused main line from Melton Mowbray to Nottingham was converted into a test track, known as Old Dalby and was used intensively to test the APT-E.

In January 1976 the train ran at a speed of 143.6 mile/h at Old Dalby, some achievement on a limited length line. It was withdrawn after it had completed its test programmes and on 11th June 1976 made its final journey to the NRM at York where it now resides.

On 10th August 1975 APT-E achieved a speed of 152.3 mile/h whilst on test on the Western Region.

On 24th May 2013 the APT-E received an IMechE Engineering Heritage Award in recognition of the 13 years of hard graft which the volunteers of the APT-E Conservation & Support Group had put in to cosmetically restore the vehicles to something like new.

Here are some reminders of the APT-E at the Old Dalby test track and at the Railway Technical Centre and a few other places besides . 

Click on the image for a bigger picture - photos are the author's where not credited

E train in the test hall The APT-E is pictured here undergoing end-loading tests in the R&DD Test Hall

Colin Marsden

More work on the coaches In this shot two of the vehicles are being fitted out as test cars

Colin Marsden

Structural testing One of the driving car bodyshells pictured in the Vehicles Lab at the RTC when undergoing structural testing in 1971. This part of the RTC is now RVEL's maintenance workshop

Author's collection


APT-E undergoing a side pull test in the Vehicle's Lab during its initial test programme

Peter Keen collection

APT-E at the Mickleover test track in the early 1970s

Gerald Anthony

Heading north on the Midland main line near Loughborough

J A Lower

Driver's cab

The cab layout was designed around a central seating position.

Author's collection


PT-E pictured in the Vehicles Lab at the RTC in the company of one of the power cars of the prototype HST then identified as class 252 001 - October 1974

Author's Collection

APT-E at Derby Station

APT-E sits on the Goods Road at Derby Station prior to its first run to Duffield, 5 miles to the north, on July 25th 1972. Photographed from Hulland Street bridge.

Author's collection

 APT-E at Old Dalby

A head-on view of APT-E at the Old Dalby test track in the vicinity of MP111 at the north end of Grimston Tunnel

Author's collection

Where is this?

Another shot on the test track. I'm not sure exactly where this was taken but it may be the southern side of Stanton Tunnel

Cecil J Allen collection


The articulation between the vehicles

Author's collection

Passing 111MP at speed

APT-E flashes past MP 111, just north of Grimston Tunnel, on a northbound high speed test run. 

Author's collection

Off to Dalby again

In  June 1974 the APT-E takes the curve at London Road Junction on its way to Old Dalby.

Off to Old Dalby again

'E-Train' manoeuvres on the loop at the RTC sidings in June 1974 prior to departing for Old Dalby.

Mind my car!

APT-E in the sidings at the Railway Technical Centre in 1975 prior to a trip to Old Dalby. The Triumph Spitfire was owned by the author at the time.

Heading south from Derby

In this overall view from the top of Brunel House, the APT-E can be seen leaving Derby en route to the test track in June 1974. There's a wealth of detail in the background of this picture - now mostly gone

 Kettering Station in Feb 76

On 27th February 1976, just one month after attaining nearly 144 mile/h at Old Dalby, APT-E stands at Kettering Station after a high speed dash down the Midland main line from Derby. The occasion was a special run from Derby conveying staff from the RTC on a jolly.

 In the Yard at Kettering

Later the train was stabled in the Down Goods road awaiting a return path home

On the next road is one of the ubiquitous 16T mineral wagons, which in a lot of people's eyes represented the old railway.

 Down platform

Staff from the Railway Technical Centre admire the sleek lines of the APT-E whilst it waits in Kettering Down platform ready for the return run

In the yard

Back home in the Research Division yard outside the Test Hall 'E-Train', as it was more commonly known, rests in the sunshine

Mick Wright

In the yard again

APT-E gets some attention in the sidings at the RTC in the summer of 1974 between trips to the test track

3-car version During its trials at Old Dalby 'E-Train' often ran as a three car set and here it is approaching the EDU as a three car sometime in 1974

Mick Wright

Off we go to Melton Moments later it's past and away towards Trent Junction and on to Old Dalby

Mick Wright


APT-E pictured on the Goods Road at Derby in September 1974

Ian Walmsley

In this view of the first re-furbished MetCam class 101 arriving at the RTC yard in June 1974, the APT-E can be seen sticking out of the Vehicles Lab workshop. Also in the shot is part of the 'POP' train, the Baby Deltic 5901, the Battery railcar 'Gemini' and the Elliott 4-wheel Track Recording Car - Lab 20.


APT-E near Goring on the West of England main line on 27th July 1975 whilst on a test run

D E Canning


APT-E passes Steventon on the West of England main line on 27th July 1975 whilst on a test run

D E Canning

St Pancras

On 28th October 1975 APT-E is pictured arriving at St Pancras during a series of test runs on the Midland line

BR Official

St Pancras

APT-E waiting to depart from St Pancras for the run back to the RTC

BR Official

If you have found this page related to the APT-E of interest, then perhaps you would like to look at my Old Dalby site  where there are more pictures of APT-E.

Or for a more comprehensive view look here

Personal recollections

The following photos are from the collection of the late Ben Taylor who was one of the first APT-E drivers

Ben in front of the train just north of the Control Centre at Old Dalby sometime in 1974

Looking north from the Control Centre sees the train heading south

Family at the RTC open day in 1974 (?)

Ben with the traction inspector and a fellow driver (white shirt) and the guard plus a technician just north of the Control Centre at Old Dalby sometime in 1974

Ben in front of the train in the Up side sidings at Kettering in 1974

Two examples of the security pin badges issued to staff and drivers who required to work on the train

No pin badge no entry

Neglect and restoration

What a mess

By April 2003 three of the four cars were languishing in the yard at the National Railway Museum in York. PC1 is on the left

this too

Another shot of the intermediate car at York in 2003 - they were cosmetically restored for the '200th Anniversary of Rail' in May 2004

Locomotion May 2013

On 24th May 2013 the APT-E received an IMechE Engineering Heritage Award in recognition of the 13 years of hard graft which the  APT-E Conservation & Support Group had put in to cosmetically restore the vehicles to something like new. I wonder what state the train would be in without these guys' efforts

Locomotion May 2013

The APT-E has also been restored internally and one vehicle is now equipped with seating

The Group is small team of dedicated volunteers and was formed by Paul Leadley.

Here is the APT-E at the NRM's other site Locomotion at Shildon, Co Durham in 2013

Locomotion May 2013

A picture of the other driving car

Well deserved award

Prof Isobel Pollock, past President of IMechE, presents APT-E Conservation Group founder Paul Leadley with an Engineering Heritage Award at the NRM Shildon on 24th May 2013


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