This Train Made Passengers Sick: The APT Tilting Train Story

This Train Made Passengers Sick: The APT Tilting Train Story


This video was made possible by SkillShare,
home to over 28,000 classes that’ll teach you just about anything. In 1969, Britain set out to build a train
unlike any other. A high speed train that wouldn’t need to
run on a high speed railway. When everyone else was pouring billions into
constructing new smooth and straight high-speed rail lines, the British would instead design
a train that could reach incredible speeds on any kind of track. Even twisting and winding railways built a
hundred years earlier. Because this train would lean into corners,
like a motorcycle. And it promised to bring Britain’s antiquated
railways into the 20st century. It’s smooth, quiet, and an altogether delightful
experience. Everything that the developers and designers
told me that the train should do, it does appear to do, and does it exceptionally well. This was going to be the Advanced Passenger
Train, and in an era of automobiles and jet travel, it was going to save Britain’s railways. In the 1960’s, Britain’s railways were in
trouble. After declining for decades, there were fewer
people riding trains in 1965 than there were back in 1890. And rail lines around the country were shutting
down. The problem was, Britain’s railways were
slow and antiquated. Steam locomotives were still in use well into
the1960’s. And that stood in contrast against the exciting
freedom of automobiles and the speed and glamor of jet powered air travel. If British Rail was going to compete in this
new era, they’d need much faster trains. Because elsewhere in the world, high speed
rail was proving that it could win back passengers. Japan’s new Bullet Trains were an instant
success, carrying over 100 million passengers in just the first three years of service. But high speed trains need special tracks. Long, straight sections of rail and gentle
curves. And to get their bullet trains to work, the
Japanese built an entirely new high-speed rail line, constructing thousands of bridges
and tunneling right through mountains. For their TGV, the French would end up doing
much the same, building hundreds of kilometers of high speed track. But in Britain, there wasn’t going to be any
new railway. For one, the country already had a vast rail
network. And with ridership declining, much of it was
underutilized. So the British set out to engineer a new kind
of high speed train, one that would run on Britain’s existing railways. But it wasn’t going to be easy. Britain’s 100 year old rail network was full
of twists and turns, and a train can only round a bend so fast before the ride becomes
uncomfortable. Because lateral forces can send items flying
off tables, or even knock passengers off their feet. The Japanese and French built their new high
speed railways with gentle, banked curves to minimize these lateral forces. But the British, would come up with a brilliant
alternative. Instead of building tilted tracks, they’d
engineer a tilting train. By leaning the rail cars into curves, like
a motorcycle, lateral forces on passengers could be minimized, or even eliminated altogether. And British Rail would pioneer the world’s
first active tilting system. Unlike earlier tilting suspensions, it would
use computers and sensors to read forces, and hydraulic rams to actively tilt each rail
car. It took British Rail nearly two decades to
develop the technologies, but by 1979, they had built train unlike any in British history. It would be called the Advanced Passenger
Train. Driven by eight traction motors housed in
central power cars, the APT produced a total of 8000 horsepower, making it the most powerful
domestic train to ever operate in Britain. With its advanced braking system, the APT
could quickly decelerate from high speeds allowing it to work with Britain’s outdated
signaling system. And with active tilting, it could round a
bend nearly twice as fast as any British train. And during testing in 1979, the APT hit 261
km/h, setting a new British speed record. One that would hold for another 23 years. Britain’s new train, was going to revolutionize
its railways, and there were plans to build a fleet of over 50. But when the APT entered service as a prototype
on December 7th 1981, almost overnight it went from being heralded as the train of the
future, to the subject of intense media ridicule. The train was plagued by technical problems. Everything from frozen breaks to failed tilting
mechanisms. And on the third day of service, one even
broke down on the way from Glasgow to London. But most embarrassing, the tilt caused nearly
a third of passengers to become motion sick. So bad were the problems, that after just
a couple weeks, British Rail was forced to pull the APT from service. It would take another three years of development
and testing just sort out all of the issues. In the meantime, British Rail tried to fight
back against the negative press. Like in this promotional video featuring rattling
dishes and a cup of coffee on the verge spilling. The conventional service from Glasgow to Houston
is good. There’s not a patch on this. It’s smooth, quiet, and an altogether delightful
experience. Everything that the developers and designers
told me that the train should do, it does appear to do, and does it exceptionally well. But the press had already written the APT’s
obituary. The train had been put into service before
it was ready. Over 15 years and 50 million pounds had gone
into development. But designing a 250 km/h train to run on an
antiquated rail network proved too ambitious for British Rail. The APT was supposed to enter service as early
as 1976, but with so many novel features needing development all at once, the program was difficult
to manage. And it was plagued by technical hurdles, delays,
and in some cases, complete redesigns. And the APT wasn’t adequately tested, moving
from the experimental stage to a fully functional prototype after having run just 37 thousand
kilometers. Meanwhile, in testing their TGV, the French
racked up nearly a half a million kilometers. And even as the experimental APT was beginning
to prove itself, many within British Rail were hostile towards the program, preferring
conventional rail technologies over such a revolutionary leap. So British Rail split its resources and began
developing a more conventional, and not quite as fast diesel train without active tilting. Throw in labor disputes, quality control issues,
and wavering political support, and the entire program might’ve been doomed from the start. By 1980, Britain was in an economic recession. And with the APT program at risk of being
cancelled altogether, the prototype trains were rushed into service. When it was reintroduced again three years
later in 1984, the active tilt had been modified to reduce motion sickness and the trains proved
reliable in service. But none of that mattered. Because the APT could never operate to its
full potential, having to share tracks with slower trains and overhead electrical lines….that
weren’t designed for higher speeds. The APT was held back by the very same outdated
rail network that it was supposed to overcome. With little will to develop it any further,
the APT was quietly removed from service in 1986. But there’s a final twist of irony in the
APT’s story. Because in 1982, British Rail sold patents
for its tilting technology to Italy’s Fiat, who were developing an active tilting train
of their own. In 2002, Italian designed tilting trains were
reintroduced to Britain’s railways. Today, they operate along the London to Glasgow
route, which is the exact same route the APT was once supposed to serve. Starting this YouTube channel has been one
of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Not a day goes by where I don’t look forward
to working on the next mustard video. Because I can’t think of anything more rewarding
than doing something creative and sharing it with the world. If you’ve been thinking about starting your
own channel, do it. Because the demand for high quality YouTube
content is growing every day. But a lot goes into a making videos that people
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100 thoughts on “This Train Made Passengers Sick: The APT Tilting Train Story”

  1. The only reason it was so shaky was the track, they were still bolted instead of welded, bolted track that are joined together leave a small gap that causes a bump, hence why it looked like an earthquake

  2. 8:00 – No fair, don't make the HST sound like a failure of some sort, it was as successful and progressive as the APT was ambitious but problematic!

  3. 0:39 the DB (Deutsche Bahn [German railway]) had this idea since 1996 with the introduction of the ICE T
    A ICE is a high speed train.
    here are some infos about the ICE T
    Length over buffers:
    (model series 411:) 184.4m
    (model series 415:) 132.6m
    height: 3910m
    width: 2850m
    Top speed: 230 km/h

  4. Yeah that commercial – the poor guy. When he says how "smooth" it is, I lost it.
    I have so much respect for British people, they aren't afraid of anything.

  5. I can't believe they didn't have him re-do his lines and overdub the sound to edit out the clanking and chaos all around.

  6. The only industrial success of England is JCB and Rolls-Royce. British railways and train designs is a complete failure!!

  7. A very accurate and balanced explanation, thank you. At least the livery ended up being a success on our Inter City trains.

  8. It's worth noting that several of the non-Shinkansen high-speed trains in Japan also lean on curves (or at least used to – I only rode on local trains on my last visit) and are/were great fun to ride on. When they leaned, centrifugal force meant that you never felt as if the train was at an angle, which meant that if you looked out of the window as they leaned, tall buildings felt like they were toppling over and you'd be convinced that the water on lakes was higher on the far shore than the near (or vice versa).

  9. So the British (who invented the train and who are arguably among the best in designing trains) had to take an Italian design? How far they fell.

  10. it's smooth (rattling cups)
    it's quiet (deafening roar)
    and altogether delightful experience (passengers getting sick, breakdowns, malfunctions)

  11. You know you screwed up when the Italians make a more reliable and user friendly version of your product.

  12. I’m new to the channel and was just wondering if the upload schedule is usually one video a month or is there no upload schedule? This is pretty good content and I appreciate the creators taking time with their videos either way

  13. And now we're actually trying to build high speed lines and we've got protesters and nimbys trying to stop it, it's like they want a victorian rail system forever. High speed 2 is scheduled to start services in 2026, it was announced in 2009, ridiculous.

  14. I was born a principal component analyst. I dont speak pc, but I dont need to, because a lot of people are better at that than I am. but I am bored of trying to lift stonehenge by hand, stone by stone. Finding solutions, lean manufacturing and PCA is exactly the same as having an idea. Hence my admiration to mrMusk for putting the pìeces together, that doesnt make me less bored or that wont me stop pushing all the fronts at the same time

  15. The APT was true innovation but Thatcher's government didn't believe in rail (preferring to invest in roads) and eventually her successors oversaw the privatisation of british rail.
    Since then rail travel has become very popular in Britain and no wonder. The pendolino service is very good. We'll be at full capacity by 2024 and will have to build more (HS2) which will be a conventional high speed line.

  16. I have invented a new theorem that can correlate between British train delays and British MP,s shirking their responsibilities. The equation can handle very high numbers.

  17. I’ve noticed a trend of this channel.
    Every single video are about things that are defunct or that failed.

  18. I got motion sickness for 3 days when I road Amtrak from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles
    Not to mention it would have been faster to drive…

  19. You paid £30 for a song to use in your video.. my god the devotion is unmatched by any other channel!

  20. hey man i lov eyour job and really want to know something about hidroplanes, which is the faster propeler hidroplane?(turboprop or piston whatever)

  21. Dude it literally sounds like a small earthquake lol 0:54

    Dude just imagine him sipping tea and getting it all over himself I would die of laughter. 6:33

  22. Didn't Italy have a pendolino much earlier? One that had single axles between the stubby carriages instead of bogies?

  23. Anyone else want to see Mustard do something for Steam locomotives the animation technique used is absolutely grand

  24. I actually took part in testings on the APT in the early '80s, it wasn't as bad as people make out, it suffered from the usual problem of British Rail, under investment and little Napoleons empire building.

  25. Tilting trains way way before the APT.In fact,the company Fiat Ferrovaria made Pendolino (in italian it means pendulum) in the 60 's.The first one was ordered in the 70's.

  26. Well at least the interior beats the Jinnah Express. I am never going by train to Lahore ever again.

  27. Why don't British just build a kind of new high speed railway which is elevated or runs under ground ?? In Taiwan,our HSR is just like that.

  28. What made the journalists on board feel ill ,is that the night before they had been out drinking till midnight & turned up Glasgow Central for 6am hungover. Rest of the passengers on board the trip where perfectly fine.

  29. Hey Mustard,
    Can you do a video on the very ambitious ACE3000 project also know as the "modern steam locomotive"
    Hopefully the full history
    Thanks

  30. I'm British and when I was 5 or so I used to dread getting on a tilting train because I distinctly remembered vomitting on one because of the tilting

  31. The pendalino also went the same way as the APT they had to lock out the tilt mechanism. Making into exactly the train before. Bring back APT or Just have new electric HST's mmmmm

  32. Queensland Australia also has tilting trains that have been operating since 1997 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilt_Train

  33. APTってのは、新幹線が起こした高速鉄道ブームに乗っかる形でイギリスが開発した高性能振り子式鉄道車両。
    だがそれが仇となり不具合が多発(故障せずに動いたのはわずか一回)
    計画は大失敗に終わった。

  34. A totally British tradition! Squander good ideas for short term again and long term loss with no foresight for the future. Pretty pathetic really considering the potential and influence gained just to essentially give it away for somebody else to gain all the benefits and reap the rewards.

  35. Fun-fact: Those spin-off HSTs (aka Intercity 125) are still in service; with electric versions added shortly after the diesels. They are really good, they have kitchen and dining cars, cloak rooms for first class, air conditioning and despite that clip, the suspension is very smooth compared to other stock on the lines. The British Government is currently phasing them out, replacing them with BR Class 800s or Hitachi 'Azuma'; that I find lack the charm of the HST.

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