Advanced Passenger Train - Experimental

The line was surveyed prior to closure with a view to it being used as a test bed for the new Advanced Passenger Train (Experimental) or APT-E.

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


It was completed and handed over to the Research Division on 8th July 1970 but a number of improvements to the curves, especially at Upper Broughton and Folly Hall, were frequently carried out during the subsequent APT-E testing programme, in order to raise the speed limit.

A great deal of testing was carried out at Old Dalby 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. This commenced running at Old Dalby in the Autumn of 1971, although APT-E itself did not start running at the test track until September 1973 as it was 'blacked' by the driver's union ASLEF for 12 months after its first run on the main line to Duffield.

Look here for more pictures and information about POP train.

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.

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

In January 1976 it ran at 143.6 miles per hour 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 It was withdrawn after it had completed its test programmes and on 11th June 1976 made its final journey to the NRM York where it now resides.

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

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

The workshop in 1970

A general view of the Control Centre and workshop, nearing completion in March 1970. The site had yet to have its security fence erected. Note the MR goods shed in the right background.

Author's collection

The compound and workshop finished

A closer view of the Control Centre and the workshop 

Author's collection


Another view of the workshop showing the access pit. It was equipped with an overhead crane and a wheel drop facility too but was very short and could barely hold a coach without the doors being left open. The author well remembers the cold windy Winter's days spent working on rolling stock here.

Author's collection

Clayton & POP train at Edwalton end

The Research Division, Clayton Class 17 loco No: 8512 sets off for Asfordby from the north end of the test track on 14th October 1971. Just visible through the open frames of the POP train's skeletal wagons are the houses of Tollerton on the A606 Nottingham to Melton road.  Not long after this photo was taken the loco suffered a major failure and was replaced with 8598

Jack Hooke

POP train at Edwalton

This is another view of the POP train shown in the previous picture 

Jack Hooke

Clayton at Widmerpool

Clayton bo-bo locomotive No: 8512 pictured with the POP train standing in the former Down platform at Widmerpool Station, facing south in summer 1971. Perhaps the train crew had nipped in to the Schooner Inn, which occupied the former Up platform buildings at the time, for a cuppa.

Alan Rimmer

POP train passing the end of the track

POP train passes the end of the access line to the test track at Melton Jcn. having come from the RTC en route for Old Dalby in early 1973

Author's collection

Near A46 bridge POP train on the Widmerpool straight near the A46


E train in the test hall Meanwhile the APT-E was taking shape and is pictured here undergoing end-loading tests in the R&DD workshop

Colin Marsden

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

Colin Marsden

Trailer car on test One of the trailer car bodyshells pictured in the Vehicles Lab at the RTC on 16th March 1971 when undergoing structural - note the cables from the various strain-gauges attached to the bodyshell.

Author's collection

Vehicles Lab One of the driving car bodies pictured in the Vehicles Lab at the RTC on  8th July 1971 when undergoing structural testing This part of the RTC is now RVEL's maintenance workshop.

Author's collection

Structural testing Another view of the structural tests - note POP train on the next road

Author's collection


APT-E pictured in the Vehicles Lab workshop 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 the Mickleover test track in the early 1970s

Gerald Anthony

Heading north on the Midland main line near Loughborough

J A Lower

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.

Author's collection

At Old Dalby

By September 1973 APT-E paid its first visit to Old Dalby and is pictured here outside the Control Centre

Author's Collection

APT-E at Old Dalby

A head-on view 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

Driver's cab

The cab layout was designed around a central seating position.

Author's 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

Upper Broughton heading south

APT-E rounds the curve at Upper Broughton on a southbound run

A still from the BT Films 'E for Experimental'

Tilt failure tests APT-E running north into Upper Broughton curve at speed with TC2 in tilt failure mode in August 1974. This meant that the car was tilted 6 from the centre line in the opposite direction from the rest of the train.

 Author's Collection

Tilt failure tests Another shot from August 1974 shows the train running south at Upper Broughton.  During these tests speeds of up to 125 mile/h were attained with simulated tilt failure.

Author's Collection

Saxelby tunnel Here it is at the south end of Saxelby Tunnel where several experimental switches and crossings were installed.

Author's collection

APT-E at MP111 Another shot at the north end of Grimston Tunnel shows the immense overhang of the cab on APT-E

Author's collection

This is some elevation

In order to traverse the curve at Upper Broughton at high speed, the cant was raised to a value of 7 inches (178 mm) during the ATP-E test programme. The normal speed of the curve was then limited to around 75 mile/h.

Author's collection

Off to Dalby again

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

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 Ready to depart

The train crew are aboard and all ready for the off and a quick belt down the Midland back to Derby

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

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

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

Unimog and  APT in the yard Here is the Mercedes Benz 'Unimog' road/rail vehicle which was used at RTC and Old Dalby pictured in the sidings with E Train behind it

Colin Marsden

In the loop

APT-E pictured in the loop at the top of the RTC site

BR Official

In the yard

An unusual official picture of E-train in the RTC yard outside the EDU

BR Official

In the yard

Another similar shot with the Vehicles Lab in the background

BR Official

Driving car

And one of the power car - note the lamp bracket

BR Official

From Brunel House

In this first of two general views of 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, one of the prototype HST power cars, HSFV1, the Battery Railcar and the Elliott 4-wheel Track Recording Car - Lab 20.

Another view

In this second general view of the RTC yard in June 1974 the APT-E can be seen on the right next to the Research Division's 'Baby Deltic' loco. In the centre is the first of the recently re-furbished and re-liveried Class 101/2 DMU's for West Midlands PTE, a short-lived idea.

3-car version During its trials at Old Dalby 'E-Train' often ran as a three car set and here it is passing the EDU en route to the test track  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


APT-E passes Steventon on 27th July 1975 whilst on a test run

D E Canning


APT-E near Goring 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

HK brake mock-up

A cut-away model of the Hydrokinetic brake as fitted to APT-E in the Stores at the NRM York

Neglect and restoration

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

The APT-E had lain in the yard since its arrival in 1976

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 the APT-E Conservation & Support Group had put in to cosmetically restore the vehicles to something like new.

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

 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 Shildon on 24th May 2013


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


On 10th January 1973 a test train heading north 'ran out of road' whilst carrying out a high speed test with the 'POP' train and finished up 'on the floor'. Rumour had it that the brakes on the 'Peak' were incorrectly adjusted and the decision to apply the brakes was left until the last second.

Oh dear! BR Sulzer Type 4 No: 185 (later class 46) looks rather out of place as it stands on the formation at the north end of the test track. Fortunately there were no injuries, only dented pride and the loco and three vehicles were recovered over the next few days

Alan Rimmer

185 on the floor

The traction inspector surveys the scene.

BR official

For more information and pictures of the incident look here

If you have found this page related to the APT-E of interest, then perhaps you would like to look at another site devoted to APT-E and one devoted to the electric version called APT-P, which was not tested at Old Dalby.

Click on the pictures to get connected.

The APT-E site


The APT-P site


Or Try my P-Train page at

Back to Main Index