Avanti West Coast made an attempt on the record for the fastest passenger service between London and Glasgow on Thursday 17 June 2021 – and came up just short.
Alstom Pendolino 390044 ‘Royal Scot’, named after the historic train that provided the fastest passenger services from London to Glasgow for many years, made a non-stop run from London Euston to Glasgow Central that aimed to beat the record of 3 hours 52 minutes and 40 seconds set in 1984 by an Advanced Passenger Train (APT) – the tilting high-speed train developed by British Rail for the West Coast main line.
Although the overall time was the fastest ever by a Pendolino between London and Glasgow , breaking the previous record of 3 hours 55 minutes 27 seconds in 2006, the final time of 3 hours, 53 minutes and one second – an average speed of 103mph – was just 21 seconds outside the 1984 record.
While the record was missed by just 21 seconds the collaborative efforts of Avanti West Coast and Network Rail enabled the nine-carriage Pendolino to travel at an average speed of 103 mph during the journey. The final time was clocked at 3 hours, 53 minutes and one second.
Proceeds from ticket sales went to Avanti West Coast’s charity partner, Action for Children, and the Railway Benefit Fund.
As well as raising money for charity, the record attempt demonstrated the ease of travelling between the home nations by train and the potential to boost connectivity between them in the future.
It also highlighted the environmental benefits of rail travel – the ordinary journey time (4 hours 30 minutes) for the 401.25-mile journey by train emits 24kg of carbon dioxide per passenger km compared with a plane journey of the same distance that emits 158kg per passenger km – saving 134kg of CO₂ per passenger km.
Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, said: “Today marked a brilliant collaboration across the railway industry! This event shows how the clean, green railway of today can cement economic growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion through better connectivity across the United Kingdom.
“There will be more on better connectivity by rail and faster journey times between England and Scotland when I publish my final Union Connectivity Report for the Prime Minister in the summer.”
Steve Montgomery, First Rail managing director, said: “As we begin to build back better from the pandemic, the essential role of rail services in connecting our major cities and driving economic growth whilst combating climate change, has never been clearer.
“This record attempt shows how effectively rail can deliver cross-border connectivity.”