CrossCountry marked the withdrawal of its High Speed Trains with a farewell tour on 26 September from Leeds to Swanage, organised in partnership with Modern Railways and supported by the Swanage Railway. Proceeds from the one-off tour will be donated to the Brain Tumour Charity.
The final run for an HST in regular service had taken place just over a week earlier on 18 September. Both that run and the farewell trip were powered by Nos 43007/008, which had been re-liveried into British Rail blue and yellow and InterCity 'Swallow' liveries respectively ahead of their withdrawal. Due to popular demand the usual 2+7 HST formation on CrossCountry was extended to 2+8 for the farewell tour. The Branch Line Society provided valuable support in co-ordinating ticket sales, on-board stewarding and other logistics. Rolling stock companies Angel Trains and Porterbrook also supported the trip, while 125 Group had an on-board shop on the train.
Named the ‘Pines Express’, the tour ran from Leeds via Sheffield, Derby, Leamington Spa, Reading and Bournemouth to Swanage, using the connection near Wareham from the main line to the heritage Swanage Railway. Ahead of the return trip, a separate short trip ran from Swanage to Bournemouth, named the ‘Bournemouth Belle’, for which tickets were sold separately.
Many thousands of pounds have been raised from the tour, with a total to be announced in due course. Proceeds will be donated to the Brain Tumour Charity in memory of former CrossCountry colleague Jo Taylor, who sadly passed away in 2021.
Tom Joyner, CrossCountry’s managing director, said: ‘Our much-loved HST fleet has served us well for over 40 years and it’s important to take time to commemorate their contribution to the CrossCountry network, as well as the generations of colleagues who have worked tirelessly to maintain them.
‘We’re also pleased to be able to support The Brain Tumour Charity in this collaborative fundraising event, in memory of our colleague Jo Taylor who was a well-loved member of the CrossCountry family.’
Modern Railways Editor Philip Sherratt added: ‘It is a pleasure and privilege for Modern Railways to be able to support this very special trip following our successful partnership last year with CrossCountry on a railtour to the Severn Valley Railway.
‘Over the years in Modern Railways we have chronicled the story of the HST’s development and introduction and the transformative impact it has had on inter-city travel, and it is fitting that we mark this with a celebration as we bring to an end a chapter of that story. The trip also enables us to recognise the people who made it all happen and raise funds for a great cause.
‘Our thanks goes to everyone who has supported this event and worked so hard to make it possible.’