Poddy McPodface and a giant catapult – the stars of a new NRM exhibition

The UK’s most advanced high-speed train, the Hitachi Rail Class 800. Photograph: NRM

The UK’s first hyperloop pod, a 170mph train catapult and a test station from the London Underground are highlights of a new exhibition.

Testing opens at the National Railway Museum on Friday (October 12).

The exhibition explores innovation and engineering in the rail industry, bringing people face to face with technology from major projects such as Crossrail and HS2.

Testing at the NRM
  • Oct 12 2018-April 28 2019
  • National Railway Museum, York
  • Free
  • More details

Charlotte, Kingston, head of interpretation and design at the NRM, said: “Testing is our first exhibition in almost a year and it has been created in partnership with the rail industry to give visitors a unique snapshot into the rigorous and intensive research and development that goes on behind the scenes.”

Britain’s most advanced train

There are five themed areas to explore, each featuring a different story and narrated by a real test engineer who works on the project.

Area 1 features the world’s fastest train testing rigs based at the University of Birmingham. It uses a large rubber catapult to propel scale models at speeds of up to 170 mph and features 30 fans which can create gusts of up to 25 mph.

Area 2 introduces research which enables engineers from HS2 – the UK’s newest high-speed railway – to know where to lay track, dig tunnels and build bridges.

Area 3 houses the UK’s first Hyperloop prototype developed at the University of Edinburgh. Nicknamed Poddy McPodface, this smooth, scaled-down blue vessel previews what high-speed transport could look like in the future.


Area 4 transports visitors down into the London tube network to see how stations on the new Elizabeth Line are rigorously tested.

Area 5 brings visitors face to face with an external replica cab from the Hitachi Rail Class 800 – the UK’s most advanced high-speed train. The trains are capable of both diesel and electric power and run on the Great Western lines and are due to enter service on the East Coast Main Line, running through York, in 2019.