Written by: TrainSim-James
The Advanced Passenger Train-Prototype is coming soon to Train Simulator, so today we’re going to take a close up look at this icon of British Rail technology.
If you want to read about the history of APT, check out our previous article, “The West Coast’s Fallen Stallion”.
As we ‘walk’ alongside the BR Class 370, on approach to one of the Driving Trailer Second (DTS) rail vehicles, we get a glimpse at one of the two power cars that some APT consists had in the centre. She’s rather quiet now, but soon these 4000 horsepower sisters will be howling and hurtling us along the West Coast Main Line at breath-taking speeds.
The smooth shape of APT comes to a crescendo as we near the driver’s cab, as does the distinct InterCity Executive livery which the units adorned in classic British Rail style (above). Before we head in and set up the cab, a quick glance at the nose presents another InterCity APT logo, but enough dawdling, let’s open the cab door and step inside (below).
In the Cab
From a driver’s point of view, especially those which had grown up on the footplate, the cab of the APT was the definition of futuristic, and it was the best thing on the rails (above). To start up APT, first the batteries go on, and then it’s to the front desk where the master key goes in, the reverser goes into ‘Auxiliaries’, and both the AWS and C-APT systems perform a self-test sequence (below). The pantograph is also raised, and the motor alternator is started.
Before we start setting up the head and tail lights however (above), let’s have a quick read of the pamphlet which details how to open the nose for coupling to other locomotives (below).
Having the APT all set up is progress, and we can certainly get racing along with 8000 horses behind us, however without a system governing our speed limits, we’re going nowhere. Enter C-APT.
C-APT, or Control-Advanced Passenger Train, was the name chosen for the Driver Advisory System which was designed for APT in service. You see, speed limits are typically set in stone by speed boards, however APT was designed to go faster than the posted speeds, and so transponders were set up on the track which would display an enhanced speed limit in the cab. The speed board which APT is approaching (above), reads ‘110 mph’, however the transponder which is adjacent is going to tell the driver that he is cleared to 155 (below).
The APT at Speed
Before long, and the purpose of APT is put through its paces. The body tilts up to 9 degrees into the direction of the curves, eliminating the worry of passengers being thrown about all-while decreasing journey times (above). One problem which was presented with overhead power was the pantograph itself; if the body can tilt, how can contact be sustained? Well, the engineers got around this with a canterlever system built into the base of the pantograph, attached to the bogies, that kept it straight and level as APT graced each turn (below).
APT was not seen by many, thanks to such a short operational lifespan, but those that did get a chance to watch her fly about the West Coast have fond memories abounds (above). A view shared by even less was of the best seat in the house (below), watching the landscape cascade around you as you experience 155 mph exhilaration is definitely worth looking forward to in Train Simulator! (Note, the ‘J’ next to the C-APT speed limit warns the driver of an upcoming junction, but the speed limit hasn’t changed, so it can be ignored).
The tartan trimmings of the passenger cabin are most unique aboard APT, and it is from here that both APT thrived and faded. Negligible tilting lead to nausea, and so despite the smooth ride, the APT would not get the chance to fulfil its potential. However, the old relic of British Rail can still be sat in today at the Crewe Heritage Centre, where a short set lies as a museum to her colourful history.
Most notably one of the successes of APT was its incredible brakes. Increased speeds were fine, and more than achievable, but if APT was to be able to stop within the same signal blocks of conventional trains, it would need to lose a lot of speed, quickly. The solution was found in hydrokinetic braking, which used fluid to absorb the mechanical energy in the axles, thus rapidly slowing their spinning. From lower speeds, a typical friction brake system came into effect.
The journey aboard APT, on the extensive West Coast Main Line Over Shap route, will be yours to continue as it is coming soon to Train Simulator’s Pro Range! ■