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In the early 1970s, British Rail faced a crisis on its long-haul InterCity services. The car and the airliner were leeching passengers from the main lines and, without radical treatment, it is unlikely that these long-distance services would have survived. Constrained by an unwillingness to invest in major new high-speed routes, such as those constructed in Japan and France, BR engineers were presented with a challenge. They had to build a train capable of competing with the car and the airliner but utilising the existing track. The solution that the engineers came up with was masterful: the High Speed Train (or InterCity 125). Capable of travelling at 125mph on existing track, the HST was successfully brought into service in early 1976 on the Western Region. Subsequently introduced to the East Coast Main Line, the Midland Main Line and also used on InterCity cross-country services, the HST undoubtedly restored InterCity's competitive position. Today, some 30 years after the type was first introduced, the HST continues fulfil its original task of operating long-distance services for a number of the contemporary Train Operating Companies. When the units were first introduced in the mid-1970s, there was one livery - the blue and grey that dominated British Rail - but from the early 1980s onwards, with Sectorisation and the Privatisation, the HSTs have carried many liveries - from the colour scheme introduced when the InterCity sector was established through to the all-yellow finish of those units now used by Network Rail livery for track monitoring purposes. Indeed, with no fewer than four of the TOCs using HSTS for scheduled passenger services, there has been no shortage of revised livery schemes over the past decade. As the HST enters its fourth decade in service, new livery variations continue to appear, most recently the new livery adopted for the expanded First Great Western franchise. In his latest book for Ian Allan Publishing, noted railway photographer Gavin Morrison records, in some 85 colour photographs, many aspects of the varied career of the HST and the liveries the units have carried from the mid-1970s through to the first decade of the 21st century. As the HST enters the twilight of its career, interest in these units is already increasing dramatically, making this all-colour tribute to the type all the more likely to appeal to a wide cross section of the railway book-buying public. It will be of interest to all enthusiasts of the contemporary railway scene as well as any railway modellers who have selected the period since the mid-1970s as their prototype.
- Colour Plates