The West Coast’s Fallen Stallion

Written by: TrainSim-James

Whilst discussing the history of the BR Class 221 a few weeks ago, on the run up to the launch of Train Simulator 2018 (see here), we briefly mentioned British Rail’s ‘Advanced Passenger Train’ project, but said the story was for another time.

Well, the time has come for us to talk about tilting some more, as the Advanced Passenger Train-Prototype is coming soon to Train Simulator!

APT-P 370003 seen at Carlisle station. Photograph copyright Phil Sangwell.

Built by BREL at Derby, for allocation at Glasgow and Crewe, the BR Class 370 ‘APT-P’ was an InterCity Development train, uniquely designed to provide faster journey times on the West Coast Main Line. The WCML, and other lines in Britain, were plagued with a multitude of twists and turns as railway companies of old attempted to navigate the hilly landscape; and while trains could probably take turns at higher speeds than they did, the passenger’s comfort would be jeopardised.

The initial APT project had already procured the APT-E (Experimental) which could tilt, but it ran off of diesel turbines and was, much like previous turbine-driven locomotives, inefficient at lower speeds. The next development if the project would be the prototypes, but continual stalls in progress eventually called for the (not so) stop-gap, the High Speed Train.

APT-P 370007 captured at Preston station, April 1984. Photograph copyright Ben Gamble.

Eventually, in 1979, the BR Class 370 ‘APT-P’ was completed. The APT-P consisted of six rakes and spare driving second & brake first vehicles, numbered 370001 – 370007. Each rake would contain up to six articulated trailer vehicles and one non-driving motor vehicle, so that each train set would comprise of two such rakes with the motor vehicles being situated in the centre of the formation. These formations resulted in three almost identical sets of 12 to 14 vehicles in length.

Each centrally-positioned power car consisted of four traction motors, delivering upwards of 4,000hp per power car. With around 8,000hp propelling the APT-P in total, it earned the accolade of the most powerful domestic passenger train in the UK, and would undoubtedly be able to reduce journey times, all it needed was a good tilting system.

Needless to say, it was good, it was very good, and in fact it was too good – as claimed by passengers and press. The active tilting system was so effective that you could not tell it was tilting, but when looking out the window, feeling level-headed and seeing the countryside bobbing up and down at the same time caused seasick-like discomfort. This issue would one day be rectified on the previously mentioned Pendolinos, but the ghost-tilt of the APT would be one of many issues to come to light.

Due to the shoestring budget during engineering, there were flaws in the manufacturing of the power car bogies which resulted in poorly fitting brake equipment. This caused brakes to stick to the wheel of the power cars causing them to overheat. There were also problems with various lubricants used throughout the power cars which caused oil filter blockages.

An unidentified APT-P seen departing Carlisle, April 1983. Photograph copyright Steven Duhig.

Despite the technical troubles, APT-P was credited with a number of firsts. It was the first passenger train to use self-contained septic tanks, and it housed a completely unique hydrokinetic braking system which was very successful and worked incredibly well. The APT-P was also the world’s first commercial passenger train to use tilting technology. The APT-P would offer a passenger relief service between London and Glasgow, three days a week, between 1983 and 1985. However, it was forced into service during December and failed on one of its first big outings, dealing more damage in the public eye.

Ultimately, after the technical problems, and a lack political will to take the project forward, the planned APT project would never be fully developed into the APT-S (Squadron) sets. The APT-P powercar would instead influence the BR Class 89, the prototype to the BR Class 91 InterCity 225 of the East Coast Main Line, and the tilting technology would be sold to Fiat, who refined their Pendolino family and would eventually sell their train sets back in the form of the BR Class 390, the tilting, spiritual successor to the APT-P.

370006’s DTS (Driving Trailer Second) forms part of the only APT-P that survived into preservation.

Today, only a single, almost complete, APT-P has survived into preservation and is housed at the Crewe Heritage Railway Centre next to its old stomping grounds, the West Coast Main Line. Despite drawing people from all over the world, APT-P has suffered and is all but a shadow of her former self.

Entirely unique in every right, and with a service speed of 125mph, a design speed of 155 and a record speed of 162.2, the APT-P, while flawed, has its own place in railway history; and soon, its tale will be yours to continue, as we bring the much-loved BR Class 370 ‘APT-P’ to Train Simulator!
 
 

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TrainSim-James

26 Comments

  • great to see the APT making its way into TS been looking it to come for years, any chance its going to be a TS Pro or just standard and how much is it going to be?

    • I don’t have any details for you just yet Anthony 🙂

  • Can’t wait for this to be released. The video in the article is well worth a watch – fascinating.

  • In addition to the APT-P, will more “static” locomotives and cars from existing routes be made to full detail as drivable locomotives and towable rolling stock?

    The Oregon Washington Railroad & Navigation heavyweight observation car #184 on the Peninsula Corridor hasn’t been made as a fully-detailed, towable passenger car yet, but I think it would be a nice marketplace item in which Dovetail Games can make some easy cash.

    The Great Northern EMD NW3 #181 on Marias Pass still hasn’t been made as a fully-detailed drivable locomotive, but I think that would be a good locomotive to have in a Clinchfield route in the Clinchfield paint scheme or as the black and weathered NW3 #179 that runs in Morrisville, PA and have that included as a trainset DLC for the New York to Philadelphia Northeast Corridor. The Great Northern version wouldn’t be a good idea at this time due to the BNSF licensing restriction, but it would be nice to see once the restriction has been lifted.

    Did I miss any other “static” locomotives and cars on Dovetail Games’ routes that haven’t been made as fully-detailed drivable or towable versions?

    • Always a possibility Tom, interesting suggestion though, will certainly look into that 🙂

  • Very nice – does this have any link to the APT-E being developed by Oovee years ago?

    • No link Feliks though as I recall, it was the APT-P, not the APT-E.

      • Ah thanks for your reply, I meant APT-P anyway! 🤦

  • This is brilliant news. A superb train that was better than its reputation would have us believe.

    I’m rather hoping this new tie-in with Virgin will see the remaining gaps in the WCML filled-in. Would love to drive an APT or Pendo from Euston to Glasgow.

  • It’s great to see the APT getting reconized lately, with radio and tv slots in the last year or so. This will be another fantastic boost !

  • Its good to see a iconic train is comming to ts2016 cant wait for it to be released.

    • you mean T.S 18????

  • oh yes when i suggested a route out of Crew Last year i hoped that you would be able to see this train at the Crewe Heritage Railway Centre (to Wich i’ve been too) but never did i think that you would make the train for train sim thank you and can’t wait for this to come out 😀 😀

  • This is the most excited I have been about an add-on for TS1 for many a year, I saw the fateful (Penrith?) livestream during development and it made me a kid again – such a shame a rampantly anti-rail anti-investment Tory party killed it off through their selfish short sightedness.

  • I take it this is the culmination of your original APT project Steve. If so congratulations on your hard work. I’m looking forward to trying it out

    Regards

    Andy (Gougaaa)

    • Actually Andy, this is not my work though I’m certainly ecstatic to see APT find its way into operational duty on the WCML. The entirety of APT was developed by the exceptionally talented Partners we work with, such as Skyhook, Mesh Tools and Waggonz.

  • Love the fact you’re doing this, but I wonder if you are going to support the preservation of the APT with donations from the sale of the add-on?

    • I’m not sure Dan but I’ll certainly mention it 🙂

  • I remember this one being hinted at anges ago, and I wondered what would happen with the idea. Its awesome to see such a unique train finally coming to Train Sim!

  • Yes, Cannot wait for release, one of a amazing designs in BR History. sad that it is left exposed outside in Crewe

  • It sounds awesome and can’t wait to run in on WCML North but would be great to fill the gap between Euston and Preston route 😊

  • Looking GREAT !

    Rob
    http://www.APT-P.com

  • Wow!!! Really looking forward to seeing this in Train Sim!! 🙂

  • Jolly good news! Can’t wait to see a picture of it in-game (apart from that sneaky-snap from the back)!
    Will you include the APT-E, maybe as a twin-package (APT-P and APT-E)? And if not, will you ever make it for TS?
    Thanks a lot!

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