The Flying Banana
As I was waiting for my train, an unusual yellow one passed through.
It looks like a High Speed Diesel Train, and it is actually a modified one called the New Measurement Train, which travels all over the network, checking track and electrification systems. Inspection is based on a thirteen week cycle. There is a detailed article on the train here in Construction News. And a video here.
You can see why it got its nickname.
In some ways it is a unique train, not only in the UK, but worldwide.
The Japanese and the French have similar trains for their high speed lines, but these are electrically powered, whereas the New Meaurement Train has two powerful diesel power cars. So as the British train is completely self contained, it can check any line in the UK, whether it is electrified or not. Where I saw it at Basingstoke, it was on a section of track, that uses third rail electrification.
As it is a High Speed Train, it can also be used at 200 kph on the East and West Coast Main Lines, thus testing them at their operational speeds.
Note that as the lines through the Channel Tunnel to London, are effectively built using French electrification standards, the French train is used to monitor those lines every two months. But it has to be diesel hauled through the tunnel.
It all goes to show that the High Speed Diesel Train will be laughing at us for a few decades yet.