Any first person anecdotes of the APT

MadMac

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Jus stumbled on to this topic. The Glasgow Signal Design office was responsible for the C-APT transponder placement etc, and the people who normally dealt with temporary speed restrictions handled this, an any transponders that fell within a TSR approach would have to be shielded.

When APT-P was doing test runs from Shields, we had a rep aboard the train, and I was duly designated for a week. There was a dot-matrix printer which printed out the speed in km/h with the digits reversed so that, in theory, the drivers didn’t know their speed was being monitored. It was supposed to go to Carnforth, but only made it there on one day. It didn’t run on three, and ground to a halt at Carstairs on the other after the pantograph dropped and took a long time to get back up - I think we eventually made it to Lockerbie.

At Carnforth, it was dragged round the triangle to get the recording gear on the front end for the return journey.
 
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100andthirty

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I made on trip with a colleague in the APT - from Glasgow to London and had the privilege of a cab ride from Glasgow to Carlisle. I recall that one technical feature which didn't work was the inflatable seal in the cab doors. You could see daylight all round them! I also recall running at 125mph along a nice flat straight bit and in the distance my colleague and I could see quite a sharp curve, so we were waiting to see the cab signalling speed display change. It did- it went blank, followed by the remark "that's not supposed to happen".

Later on the journey we got a full English breakfast, but did feel the dreaded travel sickness which many experienced on APT. This was later improved/fixed by altering the amount of tilt and the method of sensing the curves by putting the sensor on the coach in front - clearly this couldn't apply to the leading coach!

To this day I know of people who avoid the leading coach on Pendalinos partly because of facing back to the direction of travel and partly because the leading vehicle can't sense the curve coming.
 

pdeaves

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To this day I know of people who avoid the leading coach on Pendalinos partly because of facing back to the direction of travel and partly because the leading vehicle can't sense the curve coming.
As far as I'm aware, Pendolinos get round that problem by using balises on the track to say 'curve coming up!'; they don't sense the curve like the APT did.
 

Bletchleyite

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As far as I'm aware, Pendolinos get round that problem by using balises on the track to say 'curve coming up!'; they don't sense the curve like the APT did.

No, Pendolinos do "sense" the curve using the same technology as the APT (basically), and Coach A northbound/K southbound is a bit rougher as a result (used to make me feel yuck, but I've got used to it). The balises just tell it it can tilt and the maximum extent (and their absence says it can't as it'd whack something).
 

Journeyman

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As far as I'm aware, Pendolinos get round that problem by using balises on the track to say 'curve coming up!'; they don't sense the curve like the APT did.

Yeah, that's the very significant difference between them. Optimum tilt is set for each location, and Pendolinos only tilt where a balise is detected. The APT relied entirely on detection of centrifugal force.
 

100andthirty

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As Bletchleyite said, the balises enable tilting and supervise the enhanced permissable speeds. The trains tilt when they detect a curve using centrifugal force. The clue is in the name of the balise system: TASS - Tilt Authorisation and Speed Supervision system. TASS does not tell the train when to tilt nor by how much; just that it may tilt.
 

andythebrave

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I recall travelling on it from Preston to Glasgow monthly, 4, perhaps 5 times in 1985. The schedule northbound was (Euston 1630 - 1845 Preston) 1900 - 20s56 Motherwell 2112 Central.
It was extremely comfortable and smooth running.
Apart from one slightly early arrival it was significantly delayed at various points north of Lancaster by the poor timekeeping of the 1545 Euston to Carlisle which was due there just a few minutes before the APT was to pass. Indeed the only punctual run was when that was looped at Grayrigg.
At the time it was pretty clear that this was a huge step forward. Just a great shame that it turned into a stumble and fall.
I'm pretty sure that I recorded speeds well north of 130 on more than one trip; the ride was so good that there was no way you could tell without a stopwatch.
 

Grumpy Git

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At the time it was pretty clear that this was a huge step forward. Just a great shame that it turned into a stumble and fall.


Sounds like the money men gave up before the engineers had chance to iron-out the main issues?

What a shame they got cold feet and sold the patents.
 

Journeyman

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Sounds like the money men gave up before the engineers had chance to iron-out the main issues?

What a shame they got cold feet and sold the patents.

I don't think that's very fair to BR. They had a lot of problems that needed fixing in the early 80s, and were being financially strangled by the government. A very complex train with many problems they were struggling to resolve just wasn't a priority in that environment, and I don't see what else they could have done.
 

Gloster

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I think it was a case of the government seeing BR as a dying industry on which it wasn’t worth investing in the future, particularly of long distance services. It was pressing BR to limit its expenditure in anyway it could due to the overall economic situation, which wasn’t anything like as bad as now.
 

Grumpy

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The APT project was scrapped in the mid 80's. At that time IC125 was generating huge traffic growth. The government at the time was authorizing lots of major electrification projects such as the ECML and the introduction of Sprinters.
Hardly the sign of a government seeing BR as a dying industry or strangling it. It might have been pressing the industry to get best value for money and cut out waste, but that's not a bad thing and would be a good model for the current government to adopt .
APT was a failure of BR project management, not party politics
 

WesternLancer

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The APT project was scrapped in the mid 80's. At that time IC125 was generating huge traffic growth. The government at the time was authorizing lots of major electrification projects such as the ECML and the introduction of Sprinters.
Hardly the sign of a government seeing BR as a dying industry or strangling it. It might have been pressing the industry to get best value for money and cut out waste, but that's not a bad thing and would be a good model for the current government to adopt .
APT was a failure of BR project management, not party politics
Presumably it was also genuinely ground breaking technology? - which is never going to be simple to implement. So not just a project management issue I'd have thought.
 

Journeyman

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Presumably it was also genuinely ground breaking technology? - which is never going to be simple to implement. So not just a project management issue I'd have thought.

Yeah, that had a lot to do with it. A big problem was that, besides the propulsion system, a lot of things that worked on APT-E were changed significantly on APT-P, effectively returning research and testing to square one. It's a classic example of trying to introduce too many new features at once, which never goes well - Bulleid's Leader was another classic example. A few radical departures from established practice can work, but when you get up to dozens, the chances of success drop sharply.
 

Grumpy Git

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Yeah, that had a lot to do with it. A big problem was that, besides the propulsion system, a lot of things that worked on APT-E were changed significantly on APT-P, effectively returning research and testing to square one. It's a classic example of trying to introduce too many new features at once, which never goes well - Bulleid's Leader was another classic example. A few radical departures from established practice can work, but when you get up to dozens, the chances of success drop sharply.


I'd love to hear first hand knowledge from any engineers who worked on the APT.
 

randyrippley

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One of the engineers on the project posted in one of the mags years ago that he thought a lot of the problems with the APT-P were due to lack of a dedicated engineering support team
Apparently it was looked after by the same team as maintained the class 87 (and other AL locos) in Glasgow (presumably Shields) and as such went to the back of the queue when any work needed doing. It wasn't given any sense of priority, repair jobs were only done when there was spare time - and so could take days.
There was no priority given it by the management, so why should the workforce regard it any differently?
 

nlogax

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I'd love to hear first hand knowledge from any engineers who worked on the APT.

Kit Spackman has been pretty visible on certain forums and one of his lectures is available for download. It's from ten years ago but the file is still available. While not specifically about APT-P it's a fascinating watch.

http://www.apt-e.org/kit/kit.htm

New for April 2010.
On March 19th 2010, Kit presented his factual and hysterical lecture about his time working on the APT-E.
The lecture contains information from early APT tests, up to present day, working as part of the APT-E Support Group.
The lecture lasts for 2hrs and is well worth a watch and listen.

File size is 722mb is its pretty big.
 

Irascible

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I think some of it just has to be it being a little before it's time, as well as a little over complicated. Has anyone else tried hydrokinetic brakes? with distributed traction it's a bit pointless when you can use regenerative instead, but when all your power is in one place, not so great. Why did the power cars tilt? that made the pantograph arrangement fun. 8000bhp of ( reliable! ) distributed power might have been something of a stretch for us in the 70s...

To my great disappointment I never got to ride it - got excited every time I saw it on the TV because BRR at the time seemed cutting edge & made me want to be an engineer ( later realitiies sent me elsewhere after a year or two ) but I was a small lad & couldn't persuade anyone to take me anywhere near it. I had the Hornby set, which was about as far as my interest in models went, but that was a fun niche :)
 

Grumpy Git

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I saw it once in service at Crewe. Apologies if this following video has already been posted.
Thanks for posting that, a very enjoyable half-hour.

For me, the interview with David Rollin summed it up, in that the management of BR were not generally "on-board", manifested by fragmenting the project team. What a short-sighted decision that proved to be.
 

WesternLancer

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And here's a short BBC news item that asks the public for their thoughts on APT.
Thanks - I think the run I went on must have been one of the ones in that series of 'tests'. Maybe if Chris Green had been delivering the project at a more senior level than he must have been when featured in that, it would have got better outcome?
 

Grumpy Git

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The general public were not aware that these trains were prototypes either, (and maybe would have been none the wiser anyway)? I still think BR missed a trick and I think Fiat would agree?

I too have worked on (non-rail) projects where new technology has been a challenge with bosses "shouting" to get it working "quick", when they have not had the first inkling of any of the engineering challenges involved (and quite frankly, never had any desire to find out).

The saying "the man who never made any mistakes, never made anything" springs to mind.
 

Simon E

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As O.P I'll update you all, as you are aware I started this thread for an article. The memories I'm including are from the following members
@Gloster @john prytherch @32475 - complete the photo of his ticket, @WesternLancer - complete with the photo of the second class interior @MadMac and a shout out to @SargeNpton for the scan of a promotional leaflet which provided some great information. hopefully those 2 photos will be used along with some I took at Crewe myself.

Some have been shortened for word count reasons and edited (carefully) for clarity.

It has been accepted by a major glossy nostalgia magazine (Which I'd refer to name when published) They have in the past ran stories on both the InterCity125 and Motorail (neither of these article were mine) It will probably be published in the spring/early summer 2021 as they seem to have a 6 months lead time, and have a Routemaster article of mine to run first I believe. I've included a thanks to this forum and credited everyone who I included. Sorry I haven't used all the great stories but I was limited to 1800 words unfortunately.

But please keep adding stories they are all great reading!
 

MotCO

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and have a Routemaster article of mine to run first I believe.

Although this is mostly a train forum, there is an active buses section too. Would you like to elaborate on your Routemaster article?
 

WesternLancer

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As O.P I'll update you all, as you are aware I started this thread for an article. The memories I'm including are from the following members
@Gloster @john prytherch @32475 - complete the photo of his ticket, @WesternLancer - complete with the photo of the second class interior @MadMac and a shout out to @SargeNpton for the scan of a promotional leaflet which provided some great information. hopefully those 2 photos will be used along with some I took at Crewe myself.

Some have been shortened for word count reasons and edited (carefully) for clarity.

It has been accepted by a major glossy nostalgia magazine (Which I'd refer to name when published) They have in the past ran stories on both the InterCity125 and Motorail (neither of these article were mine) It will probably be published in the spring/early summer 2021 as they seem to have a 6 months lead time, and have a Routemaster article of mine to run first I believe. I've included a thanks to this forum and credited everyone who I included. Sorry I haven't used all the great stories but I was limited to 1800 words unfortunately.

But please keep adding stories they are all great reading!
Thanks for update! Always nice to hear when rail related articles from well informed writers - who take the trouble to get good background - make it into the non rail specialist media - good luck with it!
 

Simon E

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Although this is mostly a train forum, there is an active buses section too. Would you like to elaborate on your Routemaster article?
I'll have a look in that section and tell you all about it! thanks for letting me know

Thankyou for kind words (and input to the article of course) @WesternLancer I sent the second class interior instead of the first so I could send a comparable photo of the 390 interior.

@MotCO I've popped a bit about my Routemaster article and a couple of photos in the bus section
 
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32475

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As O.P I'll update you all, as you are aware I started this thread for an article. The memories I'm including are from the following members
@Gloster @john prytherch @32475 - complete the photo of his ticket, @WesternLancer - complete with the photo of the second class interior @MadMac and a shout out to @SargeNpton for the scan of a promotional leaflet which provided some great information. hopefully those 2 photos will be used along with some I took at Crewe myself.

Some have been shortened for word count reasons and edited (carefully) for clarity.

It has been accepted by a major glossy nostalgia magazine (Which I'd refer to name when published) They have in the past ran stories on both the InterCity125 and Motorail (neither of these article were mine) It will probably be published in the spring/early summer 2021 as they seem to have a 6 months lead time, and have a Routemaster article of mine to run first I believe. I've included a thanks to this forum and credited everyone who I included. Sorry I haven't used all the great stories but I was limited to 1800 words unfortunately.

But please keep adding stories they are all great reading!
Sounds good Simon - keep us posted about the publication next year
 

Flying Phil

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I have been interested in the APT for a long time and remembered that, in 1967, I was on an Easter residential course for school sixth formers, with BR based at Crewe. We went to the "New" Derby research centre and were shown a test rig investigating bogie "Hunting" (Pictured). Later, I think, this led to the High speed bogie design and its use on the APT-E and APT-P. I wonder how many of those on the course became BR engineers...I failed the medical with slight colour blindness!
 

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Ash Bridge

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Excellent stuff, many thanks for posting this Phil and what a different world to now!

btw, is that a young Rowan Atkinson (2nd right) on the course?;)
 

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