This Train Made Passengers Sick: The APT Tilting Train Story
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This Train Made Passengers Sick: The APT Tilting Train Story

September 5, 2019


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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68 Comments

  • Reply Riyadh Firdauseh August 12, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    fken media and press ruining progress.

  • Reply Joshua Chen August 12, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    臺灣的普悠瑪QQ

  • Reply David Bowen August 12, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    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.

  • Reply Fernando Reis August 13, 2019 at 4:04 am

    Promising quality content channel with potential exists

    Skillshare: I wiLL HaVe yOUr EnTIRe StOcK

  • Reply Beryl August 13, 2019 at 8:57 am

    0:50 "it smooth, it's quiet" everyone is shaking even the camera as strong as 5 richter scale earthquake

  • Reply Jonotr0n August 13, 2019 at 9:18 am

    This was great, thanks for putting the video together.

  • Reply MEEEH ! August 13, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Germany currently also succesfully operates an active tilting train the ICE T

  • Reply Nicolas Bouliane August 13, 2019 at 10:43 am

    I'm astounded by the quality of your videos. Everything is so well-made. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Brian Lockwood August 13, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    your 3D graphics are amazing

  • Reply Joe Home August 13, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Journalism has been turned into a destructive medium for the legal system, progress, science etc all over the world instead of progating information. It just wants to destroy people, progress using gossip, allegations and hearsay.

  • Reply Alan Caldoza August 14, 2019 at 2:10 am

    As stated in some legit print media I notice that brits like its media, the grand daddy of the Princess Diana's killers, the Paparazi are stupid enough to criticized british innovations created by brilliant british minds. This is not the first time Great Britain has to give up their decades advance creations due to public pressures fueled by its own kamilazi style media practice. During the Battle of Britain, they repeatedly ask for America for help but to no avail. Then one english journalist started putting some pressures to the Parliament to give up or give some of its technology that only the British have created that habe to have up to the Americans…. the Early Warning Radars Technology that help save Britain with its new breed of Knights in Blazing Spitfires and Hurricanes, The Worlds only Best Pilots, The RAF. They also have to give up the technology to create Weapons of Mass Dedtructions, The Atom Bomb, Submarine Photographic Surveilance Systems, Sonars and lastly The Fastest Jet Fighter in the World…. The TSR-2 with speed faster than the SR-71 Blackbird. Even today their World Famous Off Roader Company The Land Rovers as they have to lost their lead against the Japanese car makers. How much more Great Britain has to give up, due to pressures from their own media

  • Reply Rick Jasper August 14, 2019 at 3:45 am

    I have a question. The tilt of the train balances the center of gravity for passengers, but on a flat track, wouldn’t the inertia just throw the train off the track on a curve?

  • Reply Haribo 73 August 14, 2019 at 6:09 am

    Stop with the Brit bashing will you FFS!! Don't forget we gave the World more inventions than any any other Nation in history….

  • Reply Haribo 73 August 14, 2019 at 6:19 am

    You cite the French TGV super train but France is a much bigger Country than Britain and the TGV is only available on main routes between large cities where they have the room to build an almost arrow straight rail network.
    I'm not making excuses for our rail network, even now it's not good enough, but there are other factors involved here.

  • Reply Ccleanerable August 14, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    The brits sold their patents for cheap to the italians who improved the concept and made it works, then the french bought the italian company and reaped all the profits.

  • Reply Aashk noor August 14, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    What software do you use to animate all this?

  • Reply Cyka Blyat August 14, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    At least you have it

  • Reply Clark Isaac Santos August 15, 2019 at 3:51 am

    Him: “Smooth and quiet”

    Everyone on the train: Yes but actually no

  • Reply letsseeif August 15, 2019 at 4:12 am

    We two Australians travelled on a high speed Tilt Train from Stockholm Sweden to Copenhagen Denmark about 2007. Didn't feel motion sickness, but it wasn't nearly as good or fast as the TGV like Under The English Channel Train from London to Paris.

  • Reply bananian August 15, 2019 at 7:25 am

    Britain, stop building things unlike any other!

  • Reply Jermaine Train Allen August 15, 2019 at 11:09 am

    The press ruins everything.

  • Reply Joaquin Andreu August 15, 2019 at 11:18 am

    TALGO pendular system solved the tilting issue earlier (in the 40's) and without producing motion sickness.

  • Reply Niseini August 15, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    baby boomers were so egoist and greedy, that now we must cut our expectations to save our species.. f terrible

  • Reply Wet Cheeseburger August 15, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    6:19 "Smooth, quiet, and all together a delightful experience."
    plate vibrates 8 inches over the length of the video

  • Reply ravinraven6913 August 15, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    The brits are usually behind the times, like when Electricity first came out they refused to switch city lighting as they JUST had paid to put in gas lights.

  • Reply Richard Hitsugaya August 16, 2019 at 1:10 am

    So what did the Italians do differently than the British? Why are their version of the tilting trains accepted but not the British version?

  • Reply country boy August 16, 2019 at 3:40 am

    the British can't build anything

  • Reply D Stuart August 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    I dislike the weird narration. The tilting trains are all over not just Britain.

  • Reply sem34090 August 16, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    I must say, compared with most American-produced videos on British railway subjects, this is fantastically well-researched and well-executed.

  • Reply Silent But Stealthy August 17, 2019 at 1:44 am

    If its british why does it have the german flag colors

  • Reply 420 69 August 17, 2019 at 4:49 am

    "We were the best now we were the worst"
    -Britain

  • Reply 错鞘 August 17, 2019 at 10:29 am

    The good videos will always be removed from youtube because of missing copy rights

  • Reply Daniel Schwenk August 17, 2019 at 10:31 am

    The subtitles are horrible…

  • Reply 6 Train Productions August 17, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    "20st" captions are wrong.

  • Reply ian gregory August 17, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    The “passengers who were sick “ were the so-called journalists who had done themselves proud in the pub the night before in true Old School Journo fashion. They would have thrown up standing still. To get on ANY train in that condition and imagine they would remain immaculate was hopeful at best but really just plain stupid. Of course it was the trains fault they were,ahem,tired and emotional. Early example of the famous” Fake News ‘“.

  • Reply Sam Foster August 17, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    Lol there was an advertisement for gravel before the video

  • Reply BNSF7508 August 18, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    You should make a video on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (Bart) in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was supposed to be the transit system of the future in the 1960s, engineered from the ground up, yet no other city bought on to the concepts. Automation, wider track gauge, rail cars built with unique technology, flat rail heads, ect…..it would be the perfect fit for your channel!

  • Reply Aleksander Hoffmann August 19, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Do You realise that back in the years of the "Iron Courtain" in Poland steam locomotives where still in general use in late 80s and on some of the lines even to early 2000s?

  • Reply kevin poulton August 19, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    The high speed train was build in 1976 and came before the APT PP and was a stop gap till the APT was ready . ALso the pressed that reported of feeling sick on the APT had been to the free bar the night before lay on by British rail and this may have help with feel bit sick at the time . Also not in video . Maybe good to look at both side of story and get the timeline right before posting

  • Reply Landen Stupca August 20, 2019 at 3:19 am

    Why couldn’t the wheels just tilt with the tracks and the rest of the train tilt the opposite way

  • Reply Goodman 4525 August 20, 2019 at 5:01 am

    "Another typically British, badly executed, good idea."

  • Reply Alain Térieur August 21, 2019 at 12:53 am

    We have similar trains in Switzerland!
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RABDe_500

  • Reply Punnyabrata Chakraborty August 21, 2019 at 1:00 am

    This is what happens when multitude of unambitious paper pushers are responsible for taking decisions as these. They just cannot see beyond the confines of their narrow imaginations. Should have given them the money and left them alone.

  • Reply Blaze57530 August 21, 2019 at 11:36 am

    TGV had also a tilting prototype called TGV P01.

  • Reply Owly123 August 21, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    BritishRail: Advanced Passenger Train
    Me: Advanced Passenger Death

  • Reply charlie Bee August 21, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    thnx

  • Reply Chris Balanda August 21, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Look at it now

  • Reply Chris Balanda August 21, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Should took the tilting mechanism out
    Still been here

  • Reply Atomicskull August 22, 2019 at 4:01 am

    At least the technology was fully developed and not just tossed into the dumpster.

  • Reply misigun August 22, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    3:16 hungarian rails

  • Reply Connolly 500 The Fox August 23, 2019 at 3:21 am

    This was great!

  • Reply Simon Parsons August 23, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Great video! Have you thought about doing a documentary about the Finnjet? A very interesting and revolutionary jet turbine ferry from the 70s.

  • Reply alek August 24, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    so its pretty much he Acela Express?

  • Reply Francesco Ceresani August 24, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    As always, the Italians did it better

  • Reply John Hill August 24, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Yes, Britain's railways were antiquated even in the 1960's, but what you fail to include is that Britain was still repaying the loans the USA had made to Britain to help them fight WWII, which when over, Britain was the only country the USA loaned money to that the USA demanded immediate repayment from even though Britain was nearly bankrupted by WWII. Also, Britain was left to itself to rebuild a country that had been devastated by war, so where were the Brits to get the cash to spend on infrastructure.

    Nice way to feed your ego Mustard.

  • Reply Billy McKeown August 24, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    If you want to criticise half reasonable rolling stock running on outdated and poorly maintained track then look no further than Amtrack.

  • Reply Jesper Fuglsang Nielsen August 25, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    Soo much service… Or rather LUXURY in any other country's railways than the DSB in Denmark, where the word "on board Service " is non-extant in their vocabulary… So sad…

  • Reply DigitalVideoTools.org August 27, 2019 at 12:58 am

    You must spend so much time on the animations. They are beautiful! Keep up the great work!

  • Reply HappyBeezerStudios - by Lord_Mogul August 27, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Wait, we did that here in German later on as well.

  • Reply Boris Lu August 28, 2019 at 4:05 am

    Super video!

  • Reply hmmer August 28, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Why didn't rebuild the tracks?

  • Reply Neophlegm August 29, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    A wonderful microcosm of Britain!
    -Come up with a great design
    -Be under pressure to deliver before it's ready
    -Make stupid mistakes
    -Go over budget
    -Make more mistakes and all blame each other
    -Give up and burn rest of money
    -Another country does it better
    -Buy off them

    Yaaaay….

  • Reply Albert Mitchell August 30, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    The Apt: The 737 Max of Railroads

  • Reply I Am A Duck August 31, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    The British rail system is a joke.

  • Reply Spaceballboy September 1, 2019 at 2:07 am

    5:46, "APT fault 'a minor defect': By David Tennant

  • Reply Hollow Knight September 2, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Kinda ironic that the Italians were able to make it work. I've ridden the pendolino a couple of times and it pretty comfortable

  • Reply Foxyisinhell September 2, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    The train could of succeeded if they spent a couple more years designing a system that when the train tilted the inside floor with the passengers would tilt on a normal levels using gyros

  • Reply BrakeTheGame September 2, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Italian Pendolino >>>>>

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