The prototype high-speed diesel train, which became the InterCity 125, was formed of a rake of passenger coaches between two power cars, one at each end. The decision to use two power cars was taken early in the project as design engineers calculated that the train would need 4,500 horsepower to sustain 125 miles per hour on the routes for which it was designed (the Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line, and the Cross Country Route), and it was established that no “off-the-shelf” diesel engine was capable of producing such power. Another factor was that two locomotives operating in push–pull formation, would cause less wear on the rails than a single locomotive. The framework of the new locomotive, classified British Rail Class 41, was built at Crewe Works and transferred to Derby Litchurch Lane Works for completion. The design incorporated a driving desk around the driver, a sound-proofed door between the cab and the engine room, and, unusually, no side windows. The prototype was the first diesel locomotive in British railway history to use AC alternators in place of a DC generator, with the output converted to DC when used for traction.

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