InterCity (or, in the earliest days, the hyphenated Inter-City) was introduced by British Rail in 1966 as a brand-name for its long-haul express passenger services (see British Rail brand names for a full history).
In 1986 the British Railways Board divided its operations into a number of sectors ("sectorisation"). The sector responsible for long-distance express trains assumed the brand-name InterCity, although many services that were designated as such were assigned to other sectors (eg, London to King's Lynn services were transferred to the commuter sector Network SouthEast).
The InterCity sector was also responsible for Motorail services to and from London.
It operated High Speed Trains under the brand-name "Inter-City 125", as well as InterCity 225s and various other locomotive-hauled trains. The "125" referred to the trains' top speed in miles per hour (mph), equivalent to 201 km/h, whereas "225" referred to the intended top speed in km/h (equivalent to 140 mph) and for signalling reasons their actual speed limit was the same 125 mph. InterCity 250 was the name given by InterCity to the proposed upgrade of the West Coast Main Line in the early 1990s.
All InterCity day services ran with a buffet car and the majority ran at speeds of 100 mph or above. If expresses on other sectors are included, there was a period in the early 1990s when British Rail operated more 100 mph services per day than any other country. Special discounted fares, including the Super Advance and the APEX, were available on InterCity if booked ahead. Great Western: Services on the Great Western Main Line from London Paddington to the West Country and South Wales, including overnight sleeper services to the West Country. Great Eastern: Services on the Great Eastern Main Line from London Liverpool Street to East Anglia and Essex. Cross-Country: Services between city pairs that use a combination of the various main lines, but in general do not call at any London terminus; many of these served the Cross-Country Route. Gatwick Express: Shuttle service between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport.
East Coast Mainline: London Kings Cross, Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, Hull, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Glasgow Central, Dundee, Perth, Aberdeen, Inverness.
West Coast Mainline: London Euston, Watford Junction, Milton Keynes Central, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Runcorn, Liverpool Lime Street, Llandudno Junction, Holyhead, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme: The Lake District, Carlisle, Motherwell, Glasgow Central.
Great Western Mainline: London Paddington, Reading, Didcot Parkway, Swindon, Bath Spa, Bristol Parkway, Bristol Temple Meads, Newport, Cardiff Central, Port Talbot Parkway, Swansea, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St. David's, Newton Abbot, Paignton, Totnes, Plymouth, Bodmin Parkway, St. Austell, Truro, Penzance.
Midland Mainline: London St. Pancras, Luton, Bedford, Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield.
Cross Country Route: Penzance, St. Austell, Plymouth, Exeter St. David's, Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cardiff Central, London Paddington, Poole, Bournemouth, Southampton, Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Reading, Oxford, Cheltenham Spa, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Runcorn, Liverpool Lime Street, Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow Central, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, Dundee, Arbroath, Aberdeen.
Great Eastern Mainline: London Liverpool Street, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Stowmarket, Diss, Norwich. Some trains did terminate at Harwich international for the ferries at Harwich docks.
The success of the HST trains and the investment in electrification schemes, resulting in shorter and more reliable journey times, coupled to innovative marketing led to InterCity becoming one of the great successes for British Rail in the 1980s. Patronage increased markedly, and it soon became the most profitable part of the state-owned rail operator, and cross-subsidisation from InterCity's profits was used to safeguard the future of unprofitable (but necessary) rural routes which had been under threat from closure since the Beeching Axe of the 1960s.
|East Coast||GNER||Then passed to National Express East Coast|
|West Coast||Virgin Trains||Remained unchanged|
|Midland||Midland Mainline||Then passed to East Midlands Trains|
|Great Western||Great Western Trains||Renamed First Great Western. Also operates Night Riviera from London to Penzance|
|Gatwick Express||Gatwick Express||Merged into Southern and now a sub-brand|
|CrossCountry||Virgin Trains||Then passed to CrossCountry|
|Great Eastern||Anglia Railways||Then merged into National Express East Anglia|