So here we are. 31 years on from when the first two Class 43s 43002 and 43003 first set off as there number of 253001.
The train was developed in the early 70s as there would soon be high demand for a new faster locomotive. The train needed to be cheap, reliable, comfortable and fast. For this they came up with the prototype class 41. The train used the brand new Paxman Valenta engine able to develop 2,250 hp. The train used all the latest technology and was aero dynamically shaped and could be driven at both ends to make shunting easier. The two prototypes emerged as 41001 and 41002. The ends did trials on the Eastern Region and Western region lines but the trains were withdrawn shortly after. But they put in a bid for a similar design which would run on all the high speed lines in the UK. So then after the Class 43 Intercity 125 was born. The trains were built from 1976 to 1982 numbered 43002-43198. Maximum speed before the train was 100mph. But because of the 125’s rapid acceleration and deceleration this was therefore increased to 125mph. This slashed journey times across the country and a top speed of 148mph means that the train still holds the record today. The southwest got the third batch of trains.
The trains were set out in a 2+8 format. 2 being the power cars and 8 the carriages. First Great Western was by far the largest buyer of the train with 117 operating last November. During the early 90s most of the fleet received newer versions of the Paxman engine in a bid to reduce emissions and fuel costs for the trains though the engine proved fairly unreliable and did not prove to be much more efficient that the older engine therefore this project was scrapped. And so the date of December 1st 2007 came round on the calendar. This would mark the day of the last ever running of the Paxman Valenta engined Class 43 Intercity 125 31 years on from when they first started. Many many enthusiasts came to witness the final running of them. The train many us have grown up with would have a set farewell tour of the Western Region railway.
At 0640, renumbered 253001 which was the prototype number 43002 and 43003 departed Exeter for London Paddington. At 1005 she would become the London Paddington to Exeter. Then onto the 1300 to depart Exeter for the last time to Paddington. Then after the 1600 Paddington to Bristol. She then left Bristol for the last time at 1830 to head back up to Paddington. And then for her last time she left Paddington for Swansea. She came into Swansea dead on time. There after final tributes were made to the most successful HST ever made now to be replaced by the horrible sounding MTU which by I would say all enthusiasts views not even a shadow on the Valenta. And so we leave the station to where they first set off 31 years ago. Will it ever be the same again? The triumph of 20th Centaury engineering comes to a close. The Paxman Valenta. Serving us from 1976-2007. R.I.P