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You are in: Bristol > Features > TV archive > High Speed Train: 1976

Railway station clock

Time is of the essence...

High Speed Train: 1976

Points West can lay claim to many achievements, including having British Rail name one of their fleet of 125 High Speed locomotives after the programme. In 1976 they launched the new service and Points West was there to try it out.

On the 4th October 1976, with little ceremony or fuss, British Rail launched its high speed 125 Inter-City service on the line between London and Bristol.

Naturally, and despite the low profile inaugural run, the Points West cameras joined the first few passengers to gauge for themselves just what the new service was like.

What strikes you when watching the film is just how few passengers there are.

Poster displaying time of train

The 0805 to Bristol

Admittedly, it’s an 8am service leaving the capital for Bristol but even in 1976 there must have been reason to visit the West Country.

In the report we hear from the passengers, who, apart from one colonial cousin from the States hasn’t really got anything bad to say about day one of the new service. But give it time, and things would end up very different!

It is strange the things you forget – First Great Western’s fleet of carriages have obviously been much overhauled, but watching this film brings back the colour of the seats and that square knob on top of each aisle-side seat designed to help you steady yourself.

Of course, one of the criticisms levelled at the rail operator today is just how unsteady the ride is nowadays – years of poor investment is offered as a reason and it must be said that seeing the first 125 in action, the ride does appear to be a great deal smoother.

Serving breakfast on a train

Breakfast like it used to be...

Another revelation is the fabulous cooked breakfast being prepared by a full-blown chef – even if he is using a microwave oven to produce the goods.

Even greater things are to come – such as then witnessing the said breakfasts being served by a neatly turned out waitress – oh, as well as the train arriving three minutes head of schedule at Bristol Temple Meads.

Apparently the new service managed to shave of 15 minutes from the timetable, although, as the film tells us (as if it was some big secret), the record time was achieved by having three fewer stops.

Now those were the days, weren’t they?


  • Use the right hand links to other local Where I Live sites to see more archive film from Points West.

last updated: 18/09/07

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Morris Hutton
Beautiful BBC craftwork reporting on our British triumphs.

Mr S Travers
I remember seeing one for the first time as a child going through Yate on it's way to London. That same Christmas I received the Hornby High Speed Train Set, which I confess I still own. Now a regular commuter they are still more comfortable than most of the other trains on the track especially the new virgin trains, despite being 30 years old.

Mr N B Walker
Whats the point, in having trains that can do 125mph if they havn't got the track to keep up the speed and have to keep slowing down to 50 or 70mph

steven eastlake
I remeber the 125 going through clink junction just north of frome as we watched sail, shame times have changed and trains are all the same now, but great exitment then

Nathan Whitington
Makes a change from the usual BBC putting the rail industry down to sell a story. Well done Points West.

You are in: Bristol > Features > TV archive > High Speed Train: 1976

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