The music group, Vieon recently released a single as an ode to the venerable Intercity 125 train with a ton of retro film footage set to rather soothing electronic music.

It reminds me of how Kraftwerk wrote a hymn to the Trans Europ Express service, which, for a while, ran trains across the mainland, linking far-flung cities in comfort and speed. In the UK of course, the Intercity 125 was the future once, and it still manages to evoke a certain sense that somehow rail travel had a golden age (it didn’t) and that rail travel was so much better in the past (it often wasn’t).

Still, this was one of the last gasps of the transition point from diesel-powered trains that still felt almost alive with their heavy mechanical engines to the electric trains of today that glide almost silently across the rails. Electric is better, but it can at times seem to lack a certain something, as if the character is missing.

The Intercity 125 oozed character, from the design of the locomotives’ fronts to the astonishing comfort and high-speed services that it offered at the time – for those who could afford to travel in first class of course.

In my youth, when allowed to travel to the Lake District, the Intercity 125 was the train to catch, second class of course. But it was still amazing compared to the slam-door trains I used everywhere else.

The annual journey to a holiday away from my parents, with the station departure boards clicking away and the tannoy messages announcing strange exotic sound names such as Crewe, Bedford, Preston, Rugby and Wolverhampton, they were the soundtrack of freedom.

Prepare to be a tiny bit nostalgic.

You can also buy the Vieon ‘Inter-City’ t-shirt from here and other goodies from here.

There’s an extended version of the tune minus the video from here.

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6 comments
  1. Chris Rogers says:

    “a golden age (it didn’t) and that rail travel was so much better in the past (it often wasn’t).” Controversial!! Fewer track miles and fewer stations post-Beeching, to pick the one obvious counter, don’t seem like a good thing. Others are available… Some of the HST passenger cars are still in service I think.

  2. Nick says:

    As a kid we took the shiny new 125?for an away day to York from Ealing Broadway! I remember thinking that it was going to come off the track when it tilted on the bends and an overpowering smell of burnt liver !!! I am thinking it was the brake linings breaking in ?

    • Tim says:

      The smell when braking was an issue in the early years. My understanding is that it was caused by the inlets for the aircon being placed too near to the brakes. It was largely solved by fitting the brake mechanism with a flap which closed the intake when the brakes were applied. Occasionally this flap did not (fully) close the inlet and the smell remained an issue

  3. drhhmb says:

    Did 125s go to the lake district?

    • Duncan Martin says:

      I don’t think so,although the same Mk3 coaches were used on that route. There were 3 fleets of IC125s – East Coast GWR and Cross Country.

  4. Sykobee says:

    I await the modern Banana Train [New Measurement Train] remix.

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