18 Nov BR APT-E


The APT-E. Image courtesy National Railway Museum, York

The APT-E. Image courtesy National Railway Museum, York

In 2014 and in proud association with Locomotionmodels.com and The National Railway MuseumRapido Trains Inc. launched its first British outline model train, the famous gas turbine-powered Advanced Passenger Train-Experimental (APT-E) in the exclusive OO “National Collection in Miniature” series. This model was delivered to eager customers in spring 2016.

The APT-E. Image courtesy National Railway Museum, York

The APT-E. Image courtesy National Railway Museum, York

The APT-E is an iconic four-car train set which achieved the British railway speed record in 1975 and was the beginning of British Rail’s quest for faster trains. In May 2013, the APT-E won the prestigious Engineering Heritage Award. The prototype train has been preserved by volunteers at NRM Shildon. Now the APT-E is being immortalized in miniature through the use of techniques every bit as revolutionary as those utilized in its original construction!

The model was designed with input from members of the original APT-E development and conservation teams, as well as state-of-the-art laser 3D scanning techniques and CAD work.

Featuring a working tilt system and full interior instrumentation, the OO gauge APT-E model has been lauded by customers and in magazine reviews as every bit as revolutionary as the real thing.


Production model of the APT-E.

The OO gauge APT-E model features a working tilt system integrated with a close coupling system that allows operation on as tight as a #2 radius curve. It includes full detailing both inside and out including a complete cab interior and fully detailed trailing car interiors with interior lighting. TC-1 also includes full passenger seating, while TC-2 has the full instrumentation package that was used during the test runs, along with working console lights. Rapido also manufactured additional passenger-equipped trailing cars for those wishing to operate a longer train as it may have appeared in service. Headlights and tail lights are fully operational and directional.

The APT-E was produced in two versions, with factory-fitted with DCC and a custom ESU LokSound sound decoder, or as a DC model which will be fully DCC-ready. Both models included a lavishly-illustrated commemorative book.


The OO Gauge Model features:

  • Two Power Cars each with a 5-pole, skew-wound motor
  • Two Trailer Cars with articulated Swinging Arm Trailer Bogies
  • 3D scanned exterior for accurate body contours
  • Operating tilt mechanism and close coupling system
  • Will operate smoothly down to #2 radius
  • Full interior detail including illuminated test instrumentation
  • Working headlamps, tail lamps and interior lighting
  • Conventional DC or factory fitted with ESU DCC sound decoder
  • Accurate sounds recorded from archival footage
  • Smooth-running mechanism with dual motors and flywheels
  • Designed for drop-in conversion to P4 and EM wheelsets
  • Lavishly-illustrated commemorative book
  • Limited Edition produced strictly to order

The APT-E at speed on the Great Western Main Line in 1975. British Transport Films

APT-E Motion Blur

Production model of the APT-E at speed.

BR’s APT-E: A brief history

The Advanced Passenger Train – Experimental saw British Rail break definitively with its steam era past and strike out into a brave new future of faster, tilting, trains. Adopting cutting edge aircraft-style aluminium-stressed alloy construction and a radical aerodynamically efficient body it looked like nothing else on Britain’s railways and captured the imagination of a generation or more of railway enthusiasts.

The APT-E. Image courtesy National Railway Museum, York

The APT-E. Image courtesy National Railway Museum, York


In the late 1960s, British Rail found itself with two groups of very successful 100 mph high speed trains pulled by both the Class 55 ‘Deltic’ locomotives on the East Coast Main line and the Class 86 25kV electric locos on the southern part of the West Coast Main Line. These services proved to be very successful. However, on inland routes and on the northern end pf the WCML above Crewe and into Scotland BR was faced with the difficulty of increasing speed on existing lines which were often tightly curved and steeply graded. A solution was needed which would allow high speed operation on these existing tracks. The search for this solution lead to the development of the Advanced Passenger Train – Experimental, or APT-E.

The APT-E. Image courtesy National Railway Museum, York

The APT-E was designed to be a test bed for new ideas. It incorporated lightweight construction, high power/weight ratio, good aerodynamics, improved brake systems and an innovative tilt system that would allow high speed operation on existing curves while maintaining both safety and customer comfort. The train consisted of four units – two power cars and two intermediate cars. The power cars each contained five British Leyland turbines originally developed for use in long distance trucks. These turbines were originally rated at 300 bhp each, later increased to 350 bhp each. The turbines drove an alternator which provided power for two traction motors. One of the intermediate cars was fitted with a passenger compartment, the other was stuffed full of instrumentation and electrical gear to allow the travelling engineers to monitor the various systems on the train. A diesel generator fitted in both of the power cars provided accessory power to provide all of the electrical power needed for these instruments.

The APT-E was tested extensively between June 1972 and April 1976 logging nearly 23,600 miles. On 10 August 1975, the APT-E achieved the British railway speed record of 152.3 MPH during trials on the Great Western Main Line. This record still stands for non-electrified rail travel in the UK. Following its test period the APT-E test train was donated to the National Railway Museum in York. Thanks to the efforts of the APT-E Conservation and Support Group it has been restored visually to the appearance that it had during its testing period. The train can be seen today at the NRM’s Locomotion Museum at Shildon.


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