IN May 1974 a new chapter was opened in transport links between Glasgow and London when the Electric Scots trains made their debut, stepping up the competition with airlines.

Eighty years earlier, this paper said, it would have taken 10 hours to travel by rail between the two cities. Today, it was less than five hours. The inaugural Euston service was seen off at Central Station by the City of Glasgow Police Pipe Band and by Lord Provost William Gray, the latter “waving a green flag,” said our writer, James Fyfe, “as if he was fulfilling a childhood ambition.”

The new train had certain novelties - “we sheltered from the spring sunshine behind tinted windows which made even looking at Motherwell an exotic experience”. The seats in the air-conditioned coaches were designed to lean back, Fyfe added, “and the more technically incompetent among us spent the first quarter of an hour trying to discover how they worked.”

But the electric locomotive was already working up to its maximum speed of 100mph, and the journey itself was very smooth. Even the on-board food, including salmon mayonnaise, was splendid. Here and there, there were drawbacks - the buffet-car served half-pint cans of beer “with appalling plastic cups”, while the seat ashtrays “had a disconcerting habit of suddenly emptying themselves on to the carpet.”

Overall, however, the trip was a civilised way of travelling to London and “showed how well British Rail can do things if they really try.”