Testing the APT-P

The most Advanced Passenger Train

                                                     Probably the best train BR ever had

As part of the development of the BR/Brecknell Willis high speed pantograph the author was involved with pantograph testing on the ill-fated 25 kV electric Class 370 prototype version (APT-P) on the WCML in England and in Scotland.  This built upon the successful development of the pantograph at Old Dalby and the APT-P (or P-train as it was known) was the only traction unit which could test the pantograph to its limits. After much in-fighting between the Research Division and the DM&EE, the BR/Brecknell Willis high speed pantograph was eventually fitted to an APT power car in mid-1980 after one of the original APT pantographs had struck and damaged an OHLE registration arm at Blisworth, due to excessive pantograph uplift.

I remember travelling to Glasgow to fit the pantograph in Shields Road depot, where the APT-P's were based. We stayed at nearby small hotels, initially the Dalmeny and later the Sherbrooke Castle hotel both of which were in Pollockshields, within walking distance - no cars for us in those days. We spent a few weeks in Scotland carrying out various tests with the Highspeed pantograph.

Here are some photographs of P-train in action and at rest!

Click on the image for a bigger picture - all pictures are the author's unless otherwise credited


On June 7th 1978 the APT-P was unveiled to the public - pictured in the Carriage and Wagon works, Derby is a driving car and a couple of trailer vehicles. Author's collection


Inside the coaches the upholstery exuded a distinctly Scottish theme

Author's collection

RTC yard Part of set 370001 in the yard at RTC in 1978 - probably being equipped with instrumentation

BR Official

APT pan

Built at Derby in the Locomotive Works, here's a shot of an early power car in works grey and fitted with the original modified Faiveley pantograph in the Vehicle's Lab at RTC during its acceptance testing - probably late 1977 Author's collection
BR BW pan By early 1980 the BR/Brecknell Willis pantograph had replaced the original APT pantograph on PC6 48006

Author's collection

Willesden sidings

Set No: 370004 sits in Willesden Carriage Sidings, London after failing on a VIP test run from Euston Station. In early summer of 1980 the BR/Brecknell Willis pantograph had been installed on this set and this was one of its first runs. Needless to say the failure was unconnected with the pantograph!
Cab desk A view of the driver's desk - note the two cancellation buttons in front of the power handle. One was for the AWS and the other for C-APT

Peter Kelly


A tantalising half frame photo of set No: 370001 at Crewe next to a Class 47 in the summer of 1980. Who would have thought that the Class 47 would outlive the APT?

This was one of those Murphy's Law events when this frame happened to be the last one of the film!

Stafford APT-P leaving Stafford - seen from a passing test train - probably sometime in 1979-80 Stafford again With what appears to be one car tilted out of line - where the punters are gathered on the platform - the set departs towards London.
Power car test train formation Due to an extended delay in the delivery of the first trailer rake from Derby C&W it was decided to test and commission the power cars which were sitting around at Derby, having been delivered on time from the Locomotive Works.

This is the Power Car test train- Test Service Car 8 housed a generator and compressor (since the trailer rake carried this equipment normally) and Test Car 5 was fulfilling its normal role. The HST power car was the only traction that could run at 125 mile/h officially - well it tried. Unfortunately one PC struggled to reach 125 mile/h so eventually the original HST PCs were used back-to-back

Once at Crewe and under the knitting the HST was turned into a DVT and traction was supplied by the APT power car

Author's collection

APT trailer rake The trailer rakes were also commissioned separately 'off the wires' with Test Service Car 9 masquerading as an APT power car

Author's collection

APT test train

Once it was all together and under the wires it began to look like the real thing but it was only 2+6 cars

Author's collection

Test train formation

A diagram of the converted test vehicles within the APT test train trailer rake No:1. The author remembers dashing up and down the Scottish part of the WCML at various times. I was fortunate enough to grab a ride in the cab sometimes - brilliant!

Author's collection

outside the EDU The power car test train pictured in the RTC sidings formed as noted in the above diagram TSC No8, power car SC49001 and Test Car 5

Author's collection

Inside RTC sidings

Another view of the HST power car, Test Service Car 8, APT power car SC49001 and Test Car 5 outside the power box at Derby

Author's collection

The power car test train pictured near Crewe on 1st June 1981 with what looks like class 25 haulage

Arnie Furniss

The power car test train pictured somewhere on the main line with Lab 6 'Prometheus' at the rear


The power car test train pictured north of Rugby station in 1978

Stewart Warrington

Ex prototype HST power car W43000 leads an APT test train with power car sc49004 and two test coaches through Bee Lane just south of Preston on 25th September 1978.

Roger Sutcliffe

Converting into a test car Converting the intermediate Trailer Car S2 into a test car

Author's collection

Another view inside intermediate Trailer Car S2

Author's collection

Converting intermediate Trailer Car S2 into a test car

Author's collection

Control desk

The control desk at one end of the finished test car

Author's collection

 Instrumentation racks The finished test car's instrumentation racks

Author's collection

Instrumentation racks

The view from the control desk looking down the vehicle

Author's collection

Class 56 hauled The APT-P featured at the anniversary celebrations of the Rainhill Trials where set 370003 is pictured being hauled by Class 56 No:56077 on 25th May 1980.

Dave Godfrey


Bringing up the rear is driving trailer Sc48104

Dave Godfrey

On 16th April 1980 at 1500: APT set 370004 leads 370003 at speed on a test run through Nuneaton. One of several runs that day.

Graham Shaw

Testing outline plan

Here is the Testing outline plan drawn up by the Testing section - whether it was all completed without a hitch is doubtful

Author's collection

When's tea break?

A view inside the test car during the extensive acceptance tests with the workers at the coal face


370006 on the middle road at Carlisle

P Searle

Power car Sc49004 at Carlisle

P Searle

Set No 370007 leans to the curve at Dodford Road, north of Weedon



370003 on the front cover of a BR promotional brochure from the mid 1980's

BR official

370 003

Another shot of 370003 from the brochure

BR official

BR-Brecknell Willis Pantograph

Set No 370004, now fitted with the BR/Brecknell Willis pantograph, heads south through Rugeley in the Trent Valley sometime in 1982



370006 in service at Preston on 7th December 1981


Hademoor Crossing July 1982 a shortened test APT-P comprising set No:370 004 heads south past Hademore Level Crossing, Staffordshire with the vehicle behind the power car seemingly suffering from a tilt pack failure.  

Richard Billinge 

370005 at Euston on a test run sometime in 1981

Tom Connell

High speed pantograph testing in Scotland in October 1983

Click on the image for a bigger picture - all pictures are the author's unless otherwise credited

Murthat 150

A shortened APT-P Set No: 370005 rounds the curve at Murthat, just north of Lockerbie on the Scottish section of the WCML. The set would be travelling at around 150 mile/h on the Up run from Glasgow to Carlisle, during very high speed pantograph performance tests in October 1983. The OHLE neutral section at this point was instrumented and was also being filmed as the pantograph traversed it at speed.

Infamous place

APT-P Set No: 370005 in a six-car formation sits in the Up loop at Quintinshill, infamous as the scene of the worst railway accident in UK history. It is awaiting a path to return to Glasgow in October 1983, during the pantograph test series. APT-P attained a speed of over 150 mile/h with the BR/Brecknell Willis pantograph over the week's test runs.


A sylvan scene at Quintinshill - taken from the overbridge

This is the view out of the rear cab window of 370005 at high speed, thrashing down the bank towards Lockerbie.

Off the scale And here’s the proof! The speedometer needle is past the 150 mile/h mark in this photograph inside the rear cab of Set No: 370005 and going off the scale Murthat Set No: 370005 heads north past the Murthat test site at approx. 150 mile/h during the high-speed pantograph tests. (End of film!)
Engineers set up the pantograph on 370005 inside Glasgow Shields Depot prior to one of the test runs in October 1983 Two APT's for the price of one in Glasgow Shields Depot in October 1983. On the left 370006 receives attention to its pantograph whilst on the right Set No: 370005 has the tilt safety devices in place on the coaches.

An awesome sight!

Set 370006 in Glasgow Shields Road Depot - October 1983


And later testing

Preston plat 7 Still running on 4th April 1986 set 370001 is pictured in platform 7 at Preston at the end of a test run from Crewe. The train crew are walking down the platform and appear to be changing ends Chris Ward WCML 370008 pictured somewhere on the WCML with a shortened rake - probably a test train - on 14th March 1984

A Stobbs

inside Inside the test vehicle in 1986

Chris Ward

Here are some scans from the 1981 Scottish Region APT-P Class 370 training manual. The drawings are by David Gibbons who used to illustrate the informative centre spreads of the staff newspaper Rail News and had several books of his drawings published. From memory these drawings convey an accurate impression of the vehicles and interiors.

All scans from author's collection


The cover of the part relating to Tilt systems


Inside the cab


Another angle in the cab


and another

Power car

The power car

Driving trailer

The driving trailer car


The intermediate trailer car


The van trailer car


The guard's compartment


The door controls

Nose end

The nose ends showing the emergency coupling arrangements


Here are the three formations in which P train might have run - if it had survived

Author's Collection

Here are a couple of pictures of a model of P train taken at NRM spring 2003


The driving car 


The power car

And finally a few of pictures of 'P Train' in service 


An unidentified APT-P set awaits departure from Euston sometime around 1981/82



Set 370 006 ready to depart with the 16.30 Euston to Glasgow on 7th December 1981 

Stephen Wilkins


Set 370 005 arriving at Glasgow Central

Author's collection


..... and here's an appropriate luggage label



The 'City of Derby' nameplate from one of the power cars now resides on the wall inside the NRM.

If you have found this page related to the APT-P of interest, then perhaps you would like to look at a few other sites devoted to APT-P and also one to the original gas turbine version called APT-Experimental, which was tested at Old Dalby.

Gerry Bates also has a site with some photos of APT-P on OHLE uplift tests in Scotland in 1979.

And another site with photos of a class 40 hauling 370006 APT set on Leeds Whitehall triangle in early afternoon on Thursday 17th March 1983.

Click on the pictures to get connected.

APT-E site


APT-P site


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