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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
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than doing something creative and sharing it with the world. If you’ve been thinking about starting your
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Did they improve the railways? I know that Britain is improving all their rail. Perhaps the quality of the network is nowadays more suitable for a tilting train?

It must be very good experience for engineers to think differently. Thats lack in Indian domestic engineers!

Isn't it ironic that the country in which rail was invented in the first place now has the worst trains in Western Europe?

The only passengers to actually get sick on this train were the journalists on the inaugural press run who (surprise surprise) had consumed a lot of free booze in the hotel bar the night before…🤔🤔🤔

What an irony, passengers prefer foreign trains than supporting local economy. As a British often says, "what a pity"


1976? They should have asked the Germans. Their tilt train Baureihe 403 (Better known as Lufthansa Express) had to disable tilting in 1973 because people got sick of it.

Those prepared to lead the way in technology often suffer setbacks. We are fortunate that we have these pioneers because the benefits down the road tend to make it worthwhile. On the other side of the world, in Queensland there is the very successful tilt train with every day speeds of 160km/hr and a record speed of 211km/hr. I have used the tilt train. It is smooth and enjoyable. Locally built, but with Japanese tilt mechanisms in the 1990’s, they ultimately owe their benefits to those pioneering British trains.

The tilting train concept was used in Canada, back in the 70's; they produced some LRC(Light, Rapid, Comfortable) trains. The major problem they had was freezing radiators. I saw them built in Montreal, by MLW, (Montreal Locomotive Works), a division of WORTHINGTON, a UK company.

In 2019
Other countries: have trains that go more than 300km/h
Vietnam: Still uses old train that could only go 90km/h

How the hell does he keep a straight face saying “smooth, quiet” while the plates are having seizures in front of him lol

I sat in the driver's cabin at the museum, at my home town where it is displayed. Parts of it was made out of balsa wood. It really is cheap and nasty compared to the french tgv and japanese bullet train. I think you can see it on google maps- The railway heritage centre, crewe cheshire, uk.

America's AMTRAK has the Acella high speed regional route from Boston to Washington. It is a Tilting train and doesn't make people sick..The lines are from colonial days and have many curves necessitating the tilt to maintain a higher speed through this heavy Megalopolis .In stretches it reaches 150 mph…Because the entire 425 mile route is through heavy population It is very difficult to usurp people's private property in US as property rites are highly honored.

In the end they needed the italians to make it work. HAHAHAHAHAHA
and with style 😛
P.S. well… "work"
the important thing is not the train itself, it's the rails and the whole control system. no matter how cool italian dancing trains you have, if the rails are crap the result is going to be crap

British Rail: Makes tilting high-speed train
tilting defects and other bullshit: I'm about to end this train's whole career

Politicians, councillors not knowing anything about rail, and business companies trying to cut costs should not be designing railway infrastructure.

In Australia, people laughed at Queensland's 3ft6in gauge, but now Queensland has Australia's fastest with its 'Tilt-train'. It must have been after seeing Britain's disaster. It's based on the rail lines being tilted or 'canted' with the outside rail higher.

It should be obvious that improvements must be made to the tracks. Very high speed, for now must be left to air for those business people who have to be somewhere in an hour or so, but generally, we can do so much onboard modern rail, the extra 2 hours or so should not worry people. Yes, 200km per hour or more for London to Glasgow. Britain is small, taking 6 hours just makes it feel larger!

I have fluid retention, so we should be offered more than 45 degree seat reclines for these journeys, or have sleepers on a Glasgow to Rome rail journey.

Why not just put the actual seating area on a gyroscope, then the cabin would stay level and as the train tilts the passengers wont feel a thing


he Swedish X2000 can run at high speed (up to 200 km / h) on old, curvy railways.

On September 4, 1990, X2 had a traffic premiere between Stockholm and Gothenburg.

Max speed 270 Km / h

A big and largely forgotten British success was the Vickers Viscount Airliner – with Rolls Royce Dart engines.
If was the world’s first turbo-prop airliner and sold nearly 800 across the world.
It had no direct competitor for many years until other manufacturers began to produce turbo-props.

In Italy we made it working and redesigned more beautiful 💪 but nowdays we don't use it anymore, we builded high speed train tracks, and we have one of the most advanced high speed train, the Italo.

During the testing of the apt I worked near to the wcml watched it going north under it's own power and about an hour later it would be towed south behind a class 47

There are engineers today who can take pride in things like reusable rockets and machine-learning AI. Imagine being the engineers who wasted 15 years of their career building a wobbly train

Japan: Train runs at 210kmph
England: Train runs at 261kmph and tilts itself.
Vietnam: Train runs.
India: Train.

Please don't use auto-translated titles.. The German title says "This train makes the passengers diseased", since the German word "krank" that is used here only references being ill as in illness, not being sick as in vomiting. These auto-translated titles are a lot worse than just having the english title.

Next chapter: 2020 Building new, strong, independent UK outside the EU…

> Neb Htims

> 2 months ago
> British space program: Launched a rocket then got cancelled

> British high speed rail: built an almost working train, then got cancelled
> goddamnit guys

The APT was a remakable achievement when you consider it was built on a rediculously small budget and subject to political pressure which forced the promising but undeveloped train into the public eye and was ridiculed by the Press. The UK is an unbelievably negative country when it comes to innovation. What sealed its fate was the simpler High Speed Train (HST) which could only do 125mph but was cheaper and more-or less availbale at that time. The result? The government sold the technology to FIAT, who finished development and Virgin Trains bought its version of the Pendolino Train for use in the UK in 2001. However, their capacity for 140mph running is reduced to 125mph for track reasons. And the 40 year old HSTs? Still running, in shortened form and likely to for some years! Some power units locos have been re-engined twice!

Train collides with a freight train and details on to a freeway. Guy on the train: It's smooth, quiet and altogether a delightful experience.

It doesn't take a degree to figure that real-time adaption to critical disruptions in the terrain, with that kind of velocity and the slooow technology of that time was an AWFUL idea. In general, to rely on an external system to ensure the train can continue on a track it isn't build to be on, and not modify the environment to suit high speed trains instead is D U M B. Some issues are issues for a good reason, and sometimes the workaround is worse than the issue itself.

And here the Brits are in 2020 finally building that high speed rail everyone else did 50 years ago (HS2) at a cost of 100 billion pounds slow claps

The main problem was putting an electric APT on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), which is notoriously curving. If you go back to 1936, the London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) introduced their streamlined steam train, the Coronation Scot, on the WCML, and it too was an abject failure, as it couldn't handle the curves.

Meanwhile, their competitors, the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), had introduced their Class A4 steam locomotives on their much straighter East Coast Main Line, and one of these, "Mallard", set the speed record for a steam locomotive, 126mph, which has never been broken since. The LNER started their "Coronation" service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh, and that was vastly more successful than the LMS London Euston to Glasgow Central "Coronation Scot".

The ECML was not electrified all the way to Edinburgh in the 1970s-80s, hence the diesel High Speed Train (Inter City 125). However, the prototype APT-E was a gas turbine train, which performed extremely well. Therefore, it strikes me that had BR Engineering further developed the APT as a gas turbine train, with or without the tilting technology, and ran it on the ECML, they would have been onto a winner.

I still have a BR pocket timetable for the 1981 APT services.

I have a few questions:
What empirical evidence have you seen that states that 30% of APT became sick? (sources)
What percentage of passengers became sick on passive tilting trains?
What percentage of passengers become sick on a non-tilting high speed trains?
I look forward to reading your answers. Thank you.

* the train is vibrating like the strings of the string theory *
"It's smooth, quiet and all around a pleasant experience"


These trains were the talk of the time. How technology was boasted & pushed beyond heavens. All were damp squibs. LESSON: Don't rely too much on technology.

Please be kind to the british railways. The mca21 initiative by the govt. of india has been rigged to deny me both the receipt or else the promised refund . Worse there is no recourse to get the refund. I am a victim. Compared to this the apt project is pardonable.

Really what we want are trains to run on time, more carriages, toilets that work, reasonable prices and our services nationalised.
Train companies: faster more expensive trains. Derp.

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