Changing definitions of Intercity services

Grecian 1998

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I found this website - http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/britishrailbriti.html - recently full of railway maps including multiple Intercity maps from the 1980s and 1990s. It's intriguing seeing how the definition of Intercity kept changing in a short space of time.


1982: http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/Resources/Inter-City schematic map 1a.jpg

An entirely London-centric map - Bristol - Birmingham is omitted, along with Reading - Bournemouth and the whole of the NE XC axis. TBF I don't know if this was a specifically London-centric map rather than a more generic 'IC' map.

1985: http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/Resources/InterCity Routes 1985.jpg

The year before sectorisation. A more recognisably Intercity map, although still quite London-centric. The Liverpool - Leeds and Manchester - Sheffield routes are not considered intercity or principal services. In comparison, both London - Dover routes along with Waterloo - Exeter are labelled IC or principal services. Bournemouth - Weymouth is omitted altogether, whilst Cornwall disappears off the edge of the map. No mention of Brighton XC services although I'm not sure there's any room to draw them and there were only ever a handful.

1986: http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/Resources/InterCity map 1986.jpg

The year the IC was formed and the map reflects the sector, including those all important Brighton and Kent XC services, along with some XC services running via Bolton. 'The Intercity Story' written in 1994 indicates that the Gatwick Express and London - Norwich services were included to help the sector achieve profitability. Certainly it wouldn't have been remarkable if they had gone to NSE.

Waterloo-Bournemouth was apparently considered for IC status. I assume the Bournemouth-Weymouth section wasn't felt to be profitable enough. It would have been easier at the time than now to separate the express services from other services on the South-Western main line as prior to electrification these services could only be worked by 4REPs/4TCs/33s, whereas now the timetable is far more interlinked.

1989: http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/Resources/InterCity map 1989.jpg

A slightly different type of map, as this doesn't show any connecting services. Cornwall and West Wales are shown in detail, Poole has returned and the West Highland line is featured. I assume the latter is due to the sleeper service. It appears some IC services ran into Glasgow Queen Street.

1993: http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/Resources/BR InterCity 1993 map.jpg

What I consider to be the classic IC map showing all IC routes and just about any connecting lines of any significance.

In comparison this National Rail map from 2015 - https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/documents/content/OfficialNationalRailmaplarge.pdf - doesn't try to define any Intercity route - it just shows principal routes and 'other main routes' (which seems to be just about every route away from a major city.

Interesting to note how broadly IC was defined before 1986 when profitability became key. I assume XC services were included as it would have been awkward to put them anywhere else. Shame as Provincial liveried HSTs could have been interesting.
 
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nr758123

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The 1989 map is the one which was printed in diaries (remember them?) for many years. A map which showed that to travel from Manchester to Leeds, change at Tamworth.
 
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It appears some IC services ran into Glasgow Queen Street.
I presume this refers to the East Coast services to Glasgow, which I'm fairly sure used Queen Street until electrification (so would still have gone there in 1989). The Clansman went there at one stage too, but I think it had been diverted via Edinburgh by 1989.
 

delt1c

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I presume this refers to the East Coast services to Glasgow, which I'm fairly sure used Queen Street until electrification (so would still have gone there in 1989). The Clansman went there at one stage too, but I think it had been diverted via Edinburgh by 1989.
In the 1970’s with push pull 27’s , the Edinburgh Glasgow was designated InterCity
 

Merle Haggard

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The 1993 map was also displayed, with magenta lines on a white 'Formica' type board, in end vestibules and in my opinion was particularly attractive.
Obviously disappeared at privatisation, but GNER, I think, did something similar for their network.
 

pdeaves

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The 1986 diagram (not a map!) shows an interesting west coast main line to great eastern main line link.

Did 'swallow' branding really arrive this early?
 

Darandio

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The 1989 map is the one which was printed in diaries (remember them?) for many years. A map which showed that to travel from Manchester to Leeds, change at Tamworth.

It doesn't really though, does it because it's an Intercity map. Using the same logic it's asking you to change at Reading on a Brighton to Southampton service. Or Norwich to Peterborough via London only. Or even Leeds to Carlisle via Tamworth or York.
 

Bald Rick

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The 1986 diagram (not a map!) shows an interesting west coast main line to great eastern main line link.

Did 'swallow' branding really arrive this early?

That was the boat train to Harwich.

My recollection of the swallow was that it came with the 21st birthday of IC in 1987. My InterCity 21 mug from 1987 is very much ‘non swallow’ style (even though there is a drawing of a 91 on it).
 

Whistler40145

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I presume this refers to the East Coast services to Glasgow, which I'm fairly sure used Queen Street until electrification (so would still have gone there in 1989). The Clansman went there at one stage too, but I think it had been diverted via Edinburgh by 1989.
I have travelled on a HST into Glasgow Queen Street from Edinburgh, and I think it was a service from London King’s Cross
 

Helvellyn

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Longer distance commuting was still in its infancy in the early 1980s, so some routes that seem classically Network SouthEast, or just part of a LSE TOC, were probably considered longer distance. There is another thread about when Dover/Folkestone lost their services with catering cars and 1981/82 seems to be the time. The 4-BEPs before refurbishment had substantial buffet cars. Pretty much most of the routes on the 1982 map had catering provision, although I think the Waterloo-Exeter route had gone over to trolley service around 1980/81. Even Cambridge/King's Lynn services had Mark 1 catering cars.

I think the reason that Waterloo-Bournemouth was excluded from InterCity in the end was down to the 4-REPs/4-TCs not being considered suitable stock for what was being defined as InterCity at sectorisation. I'd read the same about London - Norwich and Gatwick Express being added to boost sector profitability. Certainly the electrification through to Norwich would help with the route whereas Cambridge/King's Lynn remained with what became NSE. The Glasgow-Edinburgh push-pull services were also considered for transfer to InterCity but ultimately stayed with Provincial, gaining the (InterCity) ScotRail livery.

I've occasionally wondered that if London-Norwich had ended up with NSE whether we'd have seen an AC version of the 442s acquired to displace the loco-hauled trains.
 

hexagon789

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I have travelled on a HST into Glasgow Queen Street from Edinburgh, and I think it was a service from London King’s Cross
These lasted until ECML electrification, at which point they ran into Glasgow Central instead.

In the 1970’s with push pull 27’s , the Edinburgh Glasgow was designated InterCity
Only internally by the ScR, they even branded the Mk2s externally despite being told not to from on high!


It appears some IC services ran into Glasgow Queen Street.
Started in much the same way as the Highland Chieftain, London-Edinburgh HSTs extended past Edinburgh in marginal time to "sweat the assets".

At one point Edinburgh-Aberdeen had 7 '125' services each way, 4-5 of which ran to/from London and one to/from Leeds the others ran to/from Edinburgh as ECS and then ran as an internal Edinburgh/Aberdeen service.
 

tbtc

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The year the IC was formed and the map reflects the sector, including those all important Brighton and Kent XC services, along with some XC services running via Bolton. 'The Intercity Story' written in 1994 indicates that the Gatwick Express and London - Norwich services were included to help the sector achieve profitability. Certainly it wouldn't have been remarkable if they had gone to NSE

My view of InterCity is that the definition was often reverse engineered - routes became InterCity because they were profitable, rather than because they actually linked major cities - so a Newcastle - York - Leeds - Manchester - Liverpool service wasn't "InterCity" whilst a London Victoria - Gatwick Airport service was "InterCity" - Brighton to Birmingham was InterCity but Brighton to London wasn't

It was a way of promoting the routes that brought in the most revenue (compared to operating costs) rather than being a coherent "network" of key services (hence the map seen in many a diary - discussed above - which gave a very skewed version of the railway to anyone casually looking at it) - it'd be a bit like giving an outsider a bus map of your city that only showed the services operated by double deckers!

Worth remembering that, towards the end of BR, even stuff like 37s were being painted in a version of what was to all intents and purposes InterCity livery - the boundaries kept on blurring - which makes it so strange that so many today have such binary views over what is/isn't an "InterCity" service, as if it were ever some kind of coherent network fixed in stone, or there were some operational benchmark for how many cities a line had to serve to qualify (rather than just a means of promoting a handful of routes over others)

I have travelled on a HST into Glasgow Queen Street from Edinburgh, and I think it was a service from London King’s Cross
That would have been the case until the 91s came onto the scene and the line via Carstairs (to Central) was electrified
 

Bletchleyite

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It was a way of promoting the routes that brought in the most revenue (compared to operating costs) rather than being a coherent "network" of key services (hence the map seen in many a diary - discussed above - which gave a very skewed version of the railway to anyone casually looking at it) - it'd be a bit like giving an outsider a bus map of your city that only showed the services operated by double deckers!

Bus maps showing only major/frequent services or services of one operator are, of course, not unusual! :)
 

Cheshire Scot

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In the 1970’s with push pull 27’s , the Edinburgh Glasgow was designated InterCity
The push pull 27s replaced the Swindon InterCity DMUs on a service which, at least in Scotland, was already referred to as Inter City - and quite rightly as it was linking Scotland's two largest cities, and long before BR launched the Inter City brand. The then annual rugby match between the Glasgow and Edinburgh 'district' teams (drawn from clubs in the respective Cities) was known as the 'Inter City' match.

The Great Western/Western Region operated a service titled 'Inter City', I think between Paddington and Wolverhampton (Low Level).

And of course in the current era Scotrail operate their HST routes under the Inter7Cities banner.

In Scotland, like the Great Western/Western Region identity was and still is a bit different from the rest of the Network.
 

tbtc

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Bus maps showing only major/frequent services or services of one operator are, of course, not unusual! :)

Yes, but all of the trains were operated by British Rail at the time, so that argument doesn't work.

I can buy the idea that some maps only show major/frequent services, sure, I might not expect a bus map to show me every workers/school service or irregular diversion (and I wouldn't expect a stylised national rail map to show me every infrequent branch line).

But... if you take this as the kind of map that we are talking about - http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Reviews/Resources/InterCity map 1989.jpg - then you have something that many people would carry around with them or have access to at home (in the days before today's online world, this would have been the first resource that a lot of people would have had access to) - that suggested that there was no way of getting from Manchester to Leeds - the only way of getting from Southampton to London was via Reading - the only London station with a Brighton service was Kensington Olympia - tiny places like Fishguard were important enough to be on the map but not the likes of Sunderland/ Portsmouth - how do you explain that to a member of the public? This was one of the most mass produced rail maps (after the London Underground maps).

Well, I guess that you say that "this only shows InterCity trains" but what was the criteria for that? You'd have to explain to them that Newcastle to Liverpool wasn't "InterCity" (despite also serving York/ Leeds/ Manchester, and being the main way of getting over the Pennines) but Gatwick Airport to London was InterCity.

The idea of InterCity was fine - you want a flagship brand for your flagship services - you want to focus your investment on the more lucrative routes - fine. But the idea of putting a map together based on only those services was a nonsense - and a map that suggests any trans-pennine travellers would have to go south to Tamworth was the kind of thing that BR's swanky design consultants probably thought looked really neat and minimal (but was of sod all use to common or garden members of the public). Still, it looked nice though - like a lot of what BR did - they were brilliant at setting design standards and having pretty typefaces and pretty literature (but were sometimes a bit rubbish at running trains)... priorities!
 

Grecian 1998

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My view of InterCity is that the definition was often reverse engineered - routes became InterCity because they were profitable, rather than because they actually linked major cities - so a Newcastle - York - Leeds - Manchester - Liverpool service wasn't "InterCity" whilst a London Victoria - Gatwick Airport service was "InterCity" - Brighton to Birmingham was InterCity but Brighton to London wasn't

For routes up to about 200 miles that does appear to be the case - several routes out of Waterloo and Victoria had previously been considered InterCity but weren't included. As @Helvellyn said, the quality of rolling stock then in use might also have been a factor. Slam door EMUs wouldn't have fitted the image InterCity tried to project. Similar to how Virgin tried not to use any branding on the services they inherited which used 158s.

It does seem though as if anything longer than that (except Liverpool - Norwich) was automatically added to IC as a best fit. I can't imagine XC was any more profitable as a collection of once or twice a day services which was capacious but hopelessly unreliable than it currently is as a reliable frequent interval service over its core that suffers massively from overcrowding (or did before March). I believe that XC had some early Mk II stock without air conditioning into the late 1980s, long after every other InterCity route had stopped using it.

There were also the sleeper services. There was an attempt to bin the West Highland sleeper around privatisation and the XC sleeper linking Scotland with the SW / south coast was indeed binned before privatisation. Clearly not very profitable but where else would you put those services?

Similarly I suspect NSE would have been happy not to run Ashford - Hastings or Oxted - Uckfield services (which only ran north of East Croydon in the peaks at that time), but it wouldn't have made logistical sense to have Provincial service islands in a sea of NSE.
 

30907

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It does seem though as if anything longer than that (except Liverpool - Norwich) was automatically added to IC as a best fit. I can't imagine XC was any more profitable as a collection of once or twice a day services which was capacious but hopelessly unreliable than it currently is as a reliable frequent interval service over its core that suffers massively from overcrowding (or did before March).
The core Cross-Country routes were hourly (Sheffield-Bristol and Stafford-Reading) or two-hourly, though, and had been since the early 70s, not once or twice a day. And Liverpool-Norwich simply didn't exist as a through route.
 
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There were also the sleeper services. There was an attempt to bin the West Highland sleeper around privatisation and the XC sleeper linking Scotland with the SW / south coast was indeed binned before privatisation. Clearly not very profitable but where else would you put those services?
At least post-sectorisation, weren't the internal Scottish sleeper services considered part of ScotRail (and therefore Provincial - they were withdrawn before that sector became Regional Railways), rather than IC? (I believe at least one of the Mk3 sleepers used on these services carried the branding "ScotRail Sleeper," rather than the standard "Inter-City Sleeper.") I imagine some of the operational functions relating to the sleeper services must have been carried out by IC on behalf of ScotRail.
 

Dr Hoo

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At least post-sectorisation, weren't the internal Scottish sleeper services considered part of ScotRail (and therefore Provincial - they were withdrawn before that sector became Regional Railways), rather than IC? (I believe at least one of the Mk3 sleepers used on these services carried the branding "ScotRail Sleeper," rather than the standard "Inter-City Sleeper.") I imagine some of the operational functions relating to the sleeper services must have been carried out by IC on behalf of ScotRail.
I think that the ScotRail internal sleepers finished in May 1990 (so definitely pre-Regional Railways). 'Replacement' overnight Class 158 services were provided for a short while but weren't very popular given the extremely unsociable arrival times during the middle of the night. Sleeper servicing was indeed carried out by IC.
 

Taunton

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At least post-sectorisation, weren't the internal Scottish sleeper services considered part of ScotRail (and therefore Provincial - they were withdrawn before that sector became Regional Railways), rather than IC? (I believe at least one of the Mk3 sleepers used on these services carried the branding "ScotRail Sleeper," rather than the standard "Inter-City Sleeper.") I imagine some of the operational functions relating to the sleeper services must have been carried out by IC on behalf of ScotRail.
I've described here before that, even back in the 1970s, the Scottish Region tried at every stage to run the sleepers independently of the East Coast operation which they touched at Edinburgh. They only had five Mk 1 cars, one each night from both Glasgow and Edinburgh to Inverness and vice-versa, plus one spare. If any problem manifested itself during the daytime servicing they would do anything before asking ECML control (at York?) if they could borrow one of their spare cars at Craigentinny, even to the extent of sending the spare car in Inverness down to Edinburgh in the afternoon. These were the last sleepers I understand still with steam heat and vacuum brakes, long after most others were changed to electric and air (I believe the Motorail cars were also late conversions for this, because the car flats were vacuum).
 

Helvellyn

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My view of InterCity is that the definition was often reverse engineered - routes became InterCity because they were profitable, rather than because they actually linked major cities - so a Newcastle - York - Leeds - Manchester - Liverpool service wasn't "InterCity" whilst a London Victoria - Gatwick Airport service was "InterCity" - Brighton to Birmingham was InterCity but Brighton to London wasn't

It was a way of promoting the routes that brought in the most revenue (compared to operating costs) rather than being a coherent "network" of key services (hence the map seen in many a diary - discussed above - which gave a very skewed version of the railway to anyone casually looking at it) - it'd be a bit like giving an outsider a bus map of your city that only showed the services operated by double deckers!

Worth remembering that, towards the end of BR, even stuff like 37s were being painted in a version of what was to all intents and purposes InterCity livery - the boundaries kept on blurring - which makes it so strange that so many today have such binary views over what is/isn't an "InterCity" service, as if it were ever some kind of coherent network fixed in stone, or there were some operational benchmark for how many cities a line had to serve to qualify (rather than just a means of promoting a handful of routes over others)
The 37s that gained InterCity 'Swallow' livery were those used on the Sleeper services between Edinburgh and Aberdeen/Inverness in pairs. They were non-ETH fitted so operated with a generator van converted from a Mark 1 BG. They replaced a small pool of Class 47s that had been dedicated to these services but which I gather weren't doing too well reliability wise. So I'm not sure what you're getting at by boundaries being blurred because the sector was just painting its own locomotives in its own colours to operate its own services.

The idea of InterCity was fine - you want a flagship brand for your flagship services - you want to focus your investment on the more lucrative routes - fine. But the idea of putting a map together based on only those services was a nonsense - and a map that suggests any trans-pennine travellers would have to go south to Tamworth was the kind of thing that BR's swanky design consultants probably thought looked really neat and minimal (but was of sod all use to common or garden members of the public). Still, it looked nice though - like a lot of what BR did - they were brilliant at setting design standards and having pretty typefaces and pretty literature (but were sometimes a bit rubbish at running trains)... priorities!
Sorry, but that map existed to promote the services of the InterCity sector. It was what appeared in their marketing and on board their trains. Just like Network SouthEast had its own map that showed only its network that appeared on its trains and at stations. You can equally argue that someone who used NSE wouldn't know that there was a railway north of Peterborough/Luton/Birmingham.

The BR network map existed as well and was widely displayed at stations as well as being available for customers. If anything that was a much better map than what project mapping produce for National Rail today.
 

Cheshire Scot

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I think that the ScotRail internal sleepers finished in May 1990 (so definitely pre-Regional Railways). 'Replacement' overnight Class 158 services were provided for a short while but weren't very popular given the extremely unsociable arrival times during the middle of the night. Sleeper servicing was indeed carried out by IC.
Entirely logical that IC would service the Scotrail Mk3 sleepers at Craigentinny, Inverness and Clayhills (remember the one way Glasgow to Aberdeen sleeper that came back south daytime marshalled inside a push pull set), but the car arriving Queen St from Inverness would logically have been serviced (along with the seated vehicles) at Cowlairs. Difficult to imagine tripping a single vehicle across to (and back from) Polmadie (or Craigentinny) for serving each day. Maybe that car only got CET every second day (in Inverness), but beds would still need to be made up etc.

I do remember once travelling from Stirling to Inverness on the overnight class 158, not an experience I would care to repeat - I think it arrived Inverness around 03.30.
 

WesternLancer

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The BR network map existed as well and was widely displayed at stations as well as being available for customers. If anything that was a much better map than what project mapping produce for National Rail today.
Yes, important to note that the BR system map was quite easy to get freely from station ticket offices, even in public racks - maybe less commonly - to help yourself I think sometimes, and certainly very common to see it on poster boards. It was nice that East Midlands Trains reproduced it in paper poster fashion at their stations in recent years.

I suspect that the BR IC marketing team marketed their maps to diary printers, and no doubt diary printers wanted a simple ish map to fill the space they would have had available, and by the 1980s that would include the then wildly popular Filofax (an item no 80s yuppie, or indeed many others, would be without!). So the firms that produced diaries would no doubt have had a strong bearing on what maps were available.
 

AY1975

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The standards of on-board service required for a train to be designated InterCity also changed over the years. In the 1970s and for most of the '80s there were some IC trains with no on-board catering, but I think by the late '80s or early '90s all IC trains were supposed to have at least a buffet service (or a trolley in the case of Gatwick Express).

Also, I think by that time all IC trains were supposed to be formed of air conditioned stock, whereas previously many non-aircon Mark 2s had carried IC branding (and been used on Provincial as well as IC trains).
 

hexagon789

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The standards of on-board service required for a train to be designated InterCity also changed over the years. In the 1970s and for most of the '80s there were some IC trains with no on-board catering, but I think by the late '80s or early '90s all IC trains were supposed to have at least a buffet service (or a trolley in the case of Gatwick Express).

Also, I think by that time all IC trains were supposed to be formed of air conditioned stock, whereas previously many non-aircon Mark 2s had carried IC branding (and been used on Provincial as well as IC trains).
According to the Harris Mk2 book, all IC services were air-conditioned by 1988.
 

AY1975

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According to the Harris Mk2 book, all IC services were air-conditioned by 1988.
Or at least they were supposed to be. I can remember travelling in a Mark 2C from Euston to Manchester in about 1991, though, and I'm fairly sure that there were some Euston-Aberystwyths formed of IC liveried Mark 1s at least until about 1989/90. I think there were also daytime Motorails where the passenger accommodation was Mark 1 Corridor Firsts until around that time.
 

hexagon789

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Or at least they were supposed to be. I can remember travelling in a Mark 2C from Euston to Manchester in about 1991, though, and I'm fairly sure that there were some Euston-Aberystwyths formed of IC liveried Mark 1s at least until about 1989/90. I think there were also daytime Motorails where the passenger accommodation was Mark 1 Corridor Firsts until around that time.
That's a good point actually because thinking about it I know The Clansman when it still ran from Euston and the Euston-Stranraer day train went to mixed and even predominantly Mk2C rakes toward the end of their lives in the early 1990s so that's already two exceptions to the intentions of BR IC
 

ge-gn

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And of course the non air kitchen buffet mk1s held on in East Anglia Intercity services until the mid/late 90s. (Not sure exact date).

And of course the non air kitchen buffet mk1s held on in East Anglia Intercity services until the mid/late 90s. (Not sure exact date).

Slightly off topic, but were meals served in the mk1, or was it in the adjoining first class vehicle?

Remember being on a 47 hauled cross country service to Newcastle from York (from Poole or Penzance maybe? A/C mk2 ble/grey stock) after a round robin trip to Crewe open day, and my mates dad timing us at well over 100 on the racetrack between York and Darlington. I remember me and my mate greeting the driver as a returning hero on arrival at Newcastle, much to his bemusement! Must’ve been around 1986?
 
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hexagon789

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And of course the non air kitchen buffet mk1s held on in East Anglia Intercity services until the mid/late 90s. (Not sure exact date).



Slightly off topic, but were meals served in the mk1, or was it in the adjoining first class vehicle?
Not sure what Anglia's policy was but I'd expect at-seat in First with the seats in the RBR being for anyone else, BR generally served at-seat on first after the Mk2D stock was introduced (indeed carriage working books often note "service of meals at all seats if required" against the first open stock in many ECML formations) though not on all services.
 

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