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LNER says farewell to HST sets as ‘Azumas’ sweep in

THE curtain came down for scheduled HST services on the East Coast Main Line  on December 15.

LNER is changing many services to become ‘Azuma’ operated, and the move brings to an end 41 years of sterling HST service on the ECML.

Since early November, the number of HST diagrams has been steadily cut as more Hitachi ‘Azumas’ have been introduced. 

As the final day of timetabled diagrams drew near, LNER published its HST diagrams so as to allow enthusiasts a chance to ride one of the last services. 

Two sets were diagrammed on the final day, one on the 09.40 Leeds-Doncaster, then the 10.25 to Edinburgh, 1400 to King’s Cross and 19.35 to Leeds. The other was the 09.47 Aberdeen-King’s Cross, before working the 18.03 to Harrogate.

The penultimate HST to depart from London King’s Cross on December 15 was formed of power car Nos. 43238 and 43316 with the 18.03 to Harrogate. Plenty of enthusiasts form a queue to visit the cab. CHRIS MILNER

At King’s Cross, LNER allowed cab access, and at stations along the route many turned out to see the final workings, large numbers also travelling.

However, for many, the final accolade was the four-day charity special railtour organised by LNER, for which a 2+7 HST set was repainted in British Rail blue and yellow livery by specialist rail vehicle painters Heritage Painting at Craigentinney depot. 

The two power cars were 43312 renumbered as E43112 and 43202 as W43006. On the front, the power cars also carried the set numbers of 253003 and 254029 as one was originally a BR(W) power car. 

Rather than a vinyl covering, this was a full repaint, the LNER red and white, staff sanding back to almost bare metal before applying the new colours by hand in what has been described as ‘a stunning finish’. 

The first leg of LNER’s HST farewell tour passes Burntisland on its way from Edinburgh to Inverness via Aberdeen on December 18 with power car E43112 (43312) leading and W43006 (43202) on the rear.  JAMIE SQUIBBS 

Inside the set, BR posters and maps from the introductory era of the HST were on display. 

On day one (December 18) the HST ran from Edinburgh Waverley to  Inverness via Aberdeen under the tagline of Lets Go Round Again.

After an overnight break, the HST special traced the route of the ‘Highland Chieftain’ as far as Edinburgh for a second overnight halt and refuelling. 

Day 3 of the tour took the HST from Edinburgh to Leeds via Doncaster, with the final day (December 21) taking the special from Leeds to King’s Cross for the final time. 

After the railtour, the HST set was due to be placed in store at Ely pending a decision on its future, while nine LNER HST sets will transfer to East Midlands Railway.

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