The Fastest Historic and Current

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RBSN

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Hi there,


Just for general knowledge, would someone be able to list the fastest trains that were made? I'm interested in how steam trains were clocking up good speeds historically, and would like to understand where we are today.

I'm guessing speed restrictions are a lot different now than they were back then in the steam era.

I am also interested in US steam trains like Big Boy and such - how did/do they compared to British trains?
 
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jopsuk

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There's a good Wikipedia article with the history of record speeds. Which can lead you down a rabbit hole to this chap

The massive US locos though weren't built for high end speed- they were built to haul long heavy trains over the Rockies
 

RBSN

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There's a good Wikipedia article with the history of record speeds. Which can lead you down a rabbit hole to this chap

The massive US locos though weren't built for high end speed- they were built to haul long heavy trains over the Rockies


So when we think of the best in steam terms, the Mallard rained supreme. What a great engineering feat for the UK and a fantastically well designed train.

It's a great shame that it's now a static over in York. I'd love to see that in action! The same as I would like to see the Big Boy 4014, although I'd have to travel to the US for that :P
 
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exile

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So when we think of the best in steam terms, the Mallard rained supreme. What a great engineering feat for the UK and a fantastically well designed train.

It's a great shame that it's now a static over in York. I'd love to see that in action! The same as I would like to see the Big Boy 4014, although I'd have to travel to the US for that :P

I'm not really sure Mallard deserves the accolade given it was going downhill whilst the German record holder was on the level!
 

RBSN

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I'm not really sure Mallard deserves the accolade given it was going downhill whilst the German record holder was on the level!


I read that also. Although, I does state on Wiki that Stoke Bank is 'slightly downhill'. I guess it depends on how much of an advantage that gave on the day.
 

thenorthern

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Its important to note as well that although the Mallard did reach 126 MPH the in service speed for steam locomotives was always less than 100 MPH (I think).

The first passenger train in the United Kingdom and the first one outside of Japan to reach 125 MPH was the InterCity 125.

Its important to note as well that although the InterCity 125 was introduced in 1976 it was only allowed at these speeds on the East Coast Main Line, Great Western Main Line and Cross Country Main Line. The West Coast Main Line had a 110 MPH speed restriction until 2003.
 

cjmillsnun

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Its important to note as well that although the Mallard did reach 126 MPH the in service speed for steam locomotives was always less than 100 MPH (I think).

The first passenger train in the United Kingdom and the first one outside of Japan to reach 125 MPH was the InterCity 125.

Its important to note as well that although the InterCity 125 was introduced in 1976 it was only allowed at these speeds on the East Coast Main Line, Great Western Main Line and Cross Country Main Line. The West Coast Main Line had a 110 MPH speed restriction until 2003.

Cross Country main line? There is no such thing!

Cross Country runs on existing main lines (SWML, GWML, WCML, ECML and MML)

And yes we beat what the French achieved in the sixties by 1MPH in 1976 to make 125 in regular service (200 km/h is 124 MPH)
 
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Deepgreen

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I read that also. Although, I does state on Wiki that Stoke Bank is 'slightly downhill'. I guess it depends on how much of an advantage that gave on the day.

Stoke Bank is 1 in 200, so considerably more than 'slightly downhill' in railway terms.

Freight locos could achieve some suprising speeds - a 9F covered for a failed 'Pacific' on a BR Eastern region express passenger turn and was recorded at 90mph - a pretty amazing feat given the size of the driving wheels!

The Union Pacific 'Big Boys' quite often reached 80mph or so on their heavy freights on the flatter stretches of route.
 

thenorthern

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Its important to note as well that in the days of steam the journey time between destinations varied depending on which locomotive was used and there were big differences in times taken. This is why they had named trains.

For example The Coronation Scot with a streamlined LMS Coronation Class locomotive could get from London to Glasgow in 6:40 which was much quicker than anything else at the time.

Today however all trains between London and Glasgow are operated by either Class 390s or Class 221s which have similar top speeds and similar acceleration meaning that most end to end times are broadly similar.

Derby-Birmingham-Bristol was the Midland Main Line. The line to London was a branch!

I think London to Sheffield has always been the Midland Main Line.

What is now the Cross Country main line services though run from Plymouth to Edinburgh across 3 big four rail companies and started as a regular service in about the 1970s.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I think London to Sheffield has always been the Midland Main Line.

Only in modern parlance.
Bristol-Birmingham-Derby-Leeds dates from the 1840s and was definitely the original Midland (Railway) Main Line.
Rugby-Leicester-Derby opened at much the same time (London trains used Euston), but Hitchin-Bedford-Leicester only dates from 1857 (trains used King's Cross).
Bedford-St Pancras dates from 1868, and of course then became the principal route from the east midlands to London.

The Midland was essentially a 3-legged beast, radiating from Derby to Bristol, Leeds/Carlisle/Manchester and St Pancras.
"Cross Country" was a BR way of down-grading the Bristol-Derby route to regional status, as also happened to lines like Liverpool-Leeds and Crewe-Hereford-Bristol.
Bristol-Leeds was also split between 3/4 BR Regions and was an orphan in each of them.
XC still suffers from the legacy issues, playing second fiddle to the London-oriented TOCs.
 
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61653 HTAFC

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Flying Scotsman is of course the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100mph, but the GWR's City of Truro is widely thought to have achieved this milestone unofficially on Whiteball Bank just South of Wellington, Somerset.
 

keith1879

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Its important to note as well that although the Mallard did reach 126 MPH the in service speed for steam locomotives was always less than 100 MPH (I think).

It may be the case that no steam service was ever scheduled for 100mph in this country - but that figure was reached quite routinely pre-war by the LNER streamliners in normal serviice. And it's also worth noting that Mallard's sisters were recorded at various times performing fairly prodigious feats of haulage - especially in wartime. In UK terms a 25 coach train is almost unthinkable but a single A4 pulled one from Kings Cross to Newcastle.

Mallard herself was recorded as pulling 11 coaches UP Stoke bank at a steady 80 mph which was calculated to be a very high power exerted through the drawbar.
 

6Gman

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It may be the case that no steam service was ever scheduled for 100mph in this country - but that figure was reached quite routinely pre-war by the LNER streamliners in normal serviice. And it's also worth noting that Mallard's sisters were recorded at various times performing fairly prodigious feats of haulage - especially in wartime. In UK terms a 25 coach train is almost unthinkable but a single A4 pulled one from Kings Cross to Newcastle.

Mallard herself was recorded as pulling 11 coaches UP Stoke bank at a steady 80 mph which was calculated to be a very high power exerted through the drawbar.

The Bulleid Pacifics often reached 100mph, even in the mid-60s by which time they were pretty rundown.

With a fit fireman and a crazy driver all sorts of locos could hit very high speeds e.g. Black 5s up to the mid-90s in North Wales!
 

Deepgreen

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Flying Scotsman is of course the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100mph, but the GWR's City of Truro is widely thought to have achieved this milestone unofficially on Whiteball Bank just South of Wellington, Somerset.

3440's 'ton' is subject to increasing doubt these days, given detailed examinations of timing/loading, acceleration profiles, braking capabilities, projected power outputs, etc. Something nearer 95 is considered pretty much the highest that could have been achieved.
 
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coppercapped

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3440's 'ton' is subject to increasing doubt these days, given detailed examinations of timing/loading, acceleration profiles, braking capabilities, projected power outputs, etc. Something nearer 95 is considered pretty much the highest that could have been achieved.

Nevertheless an outstanding achievement for a small 4-4-0 with a Swindon Number 4 boiler!

(But put somewhat in the shade in the same year by 3-phase test vehicles running on the 23km long section of the military test railway between Berlin-Marienfelde and Zossen. A Siemens railcar reached 206kph and an AEG one reached 210.3kph. These were then the fastest land vehicles in the world).
 
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