An attempt to break the 36-year-old record for the fastest train journey between London and Glasgow has failed.

Avanti West Coast’s Royal Scot train arrived at Glasgow Central 21 seconds behind the record of three hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds set by British Rail in December 1984, according to rail expert Mark Smith, who was onboard.

Mr Smith, founder of Seat61.com, wrote on Twitter that a temporary speed limit on the track in Carstairs, South Lanarkshire, “cost us 90 seconds”.

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He added: “It was a known risk but they thought we could still do it. But it’s still the fastest train I’ve ever taken from London to Scotland.”

Before the departure of the train from London Euston at 10.36am, Avanti West Coast said it was attempting to set a new record to highlight “the ease of travelling between the home nations”.

The firm collaborated with Government-owned Network Rail, which manages rail infrastructure, to plot the train’s path around passenger and freight services on the West Coast Main Line.

HeraldScotland: Avanti West Coast Class 390 EMU train before it departs from London Euston for Glasgow Central Station. Luciana Guerra (PA)Avanti West Coast Class 390 EMU train before it departs from London Euston for Glasgow Central Station. Luciana Guerra (PA)

The attempt to break the 36-year-old record for the fastest rail journey between London and Glasgow had been launched on Thursday morning.

Avanti West Coast said it was embarking on the record bid to highlight “the ease of travelling between the home nations”.

It collaborated with Government-owned Network Rail, which manages rail infrastructure, to plot the train’s path around passenger and freight services on the West Coast Main Line.

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The existing record for the quickest train journey between the two cities is still three hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds.

That was set by British Rail in December 1984 using a prototype Advanced Passenger Train.

The quickest modern regular services on the route take around four-and-a-half hours.

It was hoped that the Royal Scot could run at 125mph – the maximum permitted speed on Britain’s mainline railway – for as much of the 401-mile (645km) route as possible.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had wished everyone onboard good luck, saying it was time to break the 40-year-old record. 

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He added: “Our rail network binds our Union together, and today’s attempt underlines why our clean, green railways is a great way to see the UK.”

Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy said the event was a “brilliant collaboration across the railway industry”.

He added: “It shows how the clean, green railway of today can cement economic growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion through better connectivity across the United Kingdom.”

HeraldScotland: Driver Neil Barker looks at his watch on board the Avanti West Coast Class 390 EMU train which has arrived at Glasgow Central Station. Jane Barlow (PA)Driver Neil Barker looks at his watch on board the Avanti West Coast Class 390 EMU train which has arrived at Glasgow Central Station. Jane Barlow (PA)

Sir Peter has been asked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to examine how UK transport links can be improved, and will publish his final report this summer.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of Avanti West Coast’s parent company, First Rail, said the record attempt “shows how effectively rail can deliver cross-border connectivity”.

He added that trains have an “essential role” in connecting major cities, driving economic growth and combating climate change.

The Railway Performance Society was the official timekeeper for the record attempt.

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The train carried rail industry VIPs and subscribers to The Railway Magazine who made a charitable donation.

The money raised will go towards Avanti West Coast’s charity partner, Action for Children, and the Railway Benefit Fund, which supports people involved in the railway and their families.