Master Cutler (train)

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This article is about the train service. For the title of the same name, see Master Cutler.

The Master Cutler is a British named express passenger train that operates on the National Rail network from Sheffield to London and return. It has a somewhat complicated history, with the route and composition changing several times.


The Master Cutler was introduced by the London and North Eastern Railway in the winter timetable of 1947, running on the Great Central Main Line route from Sheffield Victoria to London Marylebone, calling at Nottingham Victoria and Leicester Central.[1] Upon nationalisation the following year, the service became the responsibility of the Eastern Region of British Railways.

Known to staff simply as "The Cutler", the train initially left Sheffield at 07:40, the return journey departing London at 18:15. It carried a restaurant car and was generally hauled by a Gresley A3 Pacific.[1]

In 1958, passenger services on the former Great Central route were beginning to be run down, and in September of that year the title of the train switched to a new all-Pullman service from Sheffield Victoria to London King's Cross, using the East Coast Main Line.

It called only at Retford in both directions, and was diesel-hauled from the outset. A Pullman supplement was required for all passengers. However, in early 1966 British Railways decided to concentrate Sheffield traffic on the Midland Main Line route to London St Pancras (and Leeds traffic on King's Cross). So the Pullman coaches were withdrawn on 15 April 1966, and the train reverted to normal carriages.

From 7 October 1968 the Master Cutler title was moved over to a fast train running to London St Pancras via the Midland line. It was later de-named, but the name was revived by InterCity in May 1987, for a daily train operated by InterCity 125 high-speed trains.

When Midland Mainline took over from InterCity after privatisation, it decided to run the Master Cutler from Leeds to London St Pancras, via Doncaster and Sheffield, using a Pullman (with an additional first-class coach replacing a Standard Class coach) InterCity 125 train. The Master Cutler operated like this until December 2008 (under East Midlands Trains (EMT) from 12 November 2007), when EMT launched its new timetable.

As part of the timetable changes on 14 December 2008, EMT reverted the service to its post-1968 historic route, and it now operates from Sheffield to London St Pancras, via Chesterfield, Derby and Leicester, not starting from Leeds.[2] Another change came with the use of a 7-car Class 222 Meridian train to run the service instead of an InterCity 125 train that had operated it for the previous 21 years. The substantial reduction in the number of first-class seats caused by this change of train has led to noticeable overcrowding, and in response East Midlands Trains has actively sought to persuade business travellers to consider the other two named trains between Sheffield and London.[3]

Stations served[edit]

From 15 December 2008[edit]

The train operates between Sheffield and London St Pancras, calling at Chesterfield, Leicester and Derby.[2] Leaving Sheffield at 0727, arriving London at 0937 and returning at 1655 arriving back at 1904, it remains one of the fastest scheduled services to operate along the Midland Main Line. The service is run by 7-car Class 222 Meridian trains in both directions.

Until 12 December 2008[edit]

In the 'up' (southbound) direction, after leaving Leeds the Master Cutler called at Wakefield Westgate, Doncaster, Sheffield and Chesterfield, and then ran non-stop to London St Pancras.

This was unusual in that it was the only regular passenger train booked to run non-stop through Leicester, as well as avoiding both Nottingham and Derby, running the full length of the Erewash Valley Line.

In the 'down' (northbound) direction, after leaving St Pancras it called at Leicester, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, and Wakefield Westgate, terminating at Leeds.

In preservation[edit]

The preserved Great Central Railway also runs re-enactments of the train on certain days using a rake of "Blood and Custard" Mark 1s. One of their locomotives used to work on the original trains during the 1950s, jointly-owned BR standard class 5 73156; as of 2009 it is being restored to working order.


Palitoy produced under the Mainline Railways brand a train set called the Master Cutler containing a model of BR blue Class 45 number 45039 The Manchester Regiment, two BR blue/grey MK1 SKs and a BSK.

Hornby have produced a set consisting of A3 locomotive Prince Palatine in early British railways express passenger blue livery. The set also consists of 3 blood and custard Gresley coaches. A coach pack is also present for the set.

Graham Farish/Bachmann also introduced a Master Cutler train set, in N gauge consisting of an ex-LNER V2 and 3 blood and custard coaches, it is now discontinued.

Other named trains[edit]

East Midlands operates three other named trains called:


  1. ^ a b Mac Hawkins (1991). The Great Central then and now. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 10. ISBN 0-7153-9326-X. 
  2. ^ a b "Route1TableDec08". East Midlands Trains. 14 December 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ "East Midlands Trains recommend other trains". East Midlands Trains. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2009. 

External links[edit]