This Train Made Passengers Sick

This Train Made Passengers Sick:
The APT Tilting Train Story

This Train Made Passengers Sick: The APT Tilting Train Story

In the 1960’s, Britain’s railways were in decline. The country’s railways were slow and antiquated and facing fierce competition against growingautomobile ownership and booming air travel. But elsewhere in the world, railways were beginning to make a comeback, and the key seemed to be much higher speeds. Japan’s new high speed Shinkansen Bullet Trains proved enormously successful with passengers, carrying over 100 million passengers in just the first three years of service.

But elsewhere in the world high speed trains were developed along with new special dedicate high speed tracks. These new lines were constructed with long, straight sections of rail and gentle curves. For their Bullet Trains, the Japanese built an entirely new dedicated high-speed rail line (Tokaido Shinkansen). For their TGV, the French would need to build hundreds of kilometers of dedicated high speed track (LGV for Ligne à Grande Vitesse).

But the British would take a different approach. Instead of spending billions on new high-speed rail infrastructure, they would engineer a new kind of high speed train that could run on Britain’s existing rail network. The challenge was that many of Britain’s railways were built a hundred years earlier, and they were full of sharp twists and turns.

But the APT’s development was plagued by setbacks and delays. The train never lived up to its potential. From day one, the APT was plagued by technical problems; everything from frozen breaks to failed tilting mechanisms. Nearly a third of passengers to become motion sick from the tilting mechanism. After a disastrous debut, British Rail faced an uphill battle to overcome technical challenges and win back public confidence in their innovative train. It was a battle they would never win.