Graphic of powercar 43025

43025’s pedigree is resolutely Western Region: it was ordered as part of lot 30876 on 22 January 1974, this being the first production HST order destined primarily for the Paddington to Bristol and South Wales routes. It was released from Crewe Works on 21 August 1976, being accepted into traffic in October the same year, allocated to Old Oak Common depot nominally as part of set 253012. It didn’t quite make it into passenger service on day one of the 125mph timetable (4 October 1976) but was engaged on crew training duties.

A reappraisal of Western Region allocations in May 1985 saw it reallocated to Laira and sectorisation in 1988 saw 43025 become part of the InterCity Great Western sub-sector, in pool IWRP. Privatisation saw it become part of the Angel Trains leasing company fleet, leased to the Great Western Trains franchise. A moment in the spotlight came with its naming on 25 April 1994 when it received “Exeter” plates, officially unveiled during the station stop of the 0935 Plymouth to Paddington (43027 had been named “Glorious Devon” before departure). Unusually for an HST, the plates were of the loco type with larger lettering, almost identical to the plates carried by 50044.

A further swap round of depot allocations in January 2003 saw Bristol St. Philip’s Marsh become home before the launch of the ‘Greater Western’ franchise saw an augmented HST operation, with all First Great Western power cars planned for re-engining. 43025 was sent to Brush, Loughborough on 26 September 2006 for its re-engineering and MTU conversion. It was released on 7 December and re-allocated to Landore (and a new EFPC pool for FGW power cars) four days later, before moving on again in February 2007, being reallocated to Laira once more. A spate of fires with the new engines as MTU got to grips with the demanding HST duty cycle claimed 43025 as a victim, with it returning to Brush on 23 October 2007 (until 15 May 2008) for remedial attention.

Having lost its “Exeter” nameplates on MTU conversion, 43025 received new plates celebrating “The Institution of Railway Operators” with the strap line “2000-2010 TEN YEARS PROMOTING OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE”. The large cast plates, which also included the IRO’s logo were unveiled in a ceremony at Swindon on 23 April 2010 by the Institution’s Chief Executive, Chris Daughton and FGW Managing Director Mark Hopwood.

Powercar 43025 at Ely in 2023

With the rundown of the fleet underway, 43025 was taken off lease on 7 April 2019, transferring to the SCEC pool (subsequently amended to SCEL) four days later. Its final working had been undertaken a few days earlier, on 22 March, when it worked 5L46 0935 from Laira to Ely. Fittingly this was with 43024, the power car it had been paired with from new in set 253012. 43025 remained stored at Ely until 1 May 2023, when it was acquired by 125 Group thanks to a generous donation from a member.