Start of main line testing marks further milestone for Avanti West Coast’s new fleet
The first of Avanti West Coast’s new fleet of Hitachi trains has made its first ever test run on the West Coast Main Line.
The class 805 bi-mode train, which can run under both electric and diesel power, undertook the 560-mile inaugural round trip from Alstom’s Oxley depot in Wolverhampton, from where the trains will be maintained after they enter service, to Glasgow Central.
This follows two months successful dynamic testing at Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) at Melton Mowbray. During their time in Leicestershire the train’s basic functionality was checked, including the pantograph (which provides the connection to the overhead electric wires), Wi-Fi, onboard CCTV, coupling capabilities when running as a pair and the emergency lighting. Additional noise testing was undertaken both on the train and at lineside.
The two trains will now be put through their paces over the coming months, running up to their full speed of 125mph, with a view to clocking up thousands of miles of fault-free running. In addition, several new features for customers will be assessed including improved passenger information, seat reservation system, multiple running (two trains coupled together) and selective door opening, which allows the trains to call at stations with shorter platforms.
Steve Whitewick, Head of Fleet Transition at Avanti West Coast, said: “The new trains have certainly turned heads and the anticipation is building.
“It’s great to have the first two sets on the West Coast Main Line and we look forward to working with our partners to deliver a new fleet that will help deliver a step change in the travelling experience of our customers and colleagues.”
The new Hitachi trains are set to replace our diesel-only Voyager trains later this year on routes from London to the Midlands, Chester, North Wales and the North-West, leading to a 61% cut in carbon emissions. Quieter and roomier, with more reliable Wi-Fi, wireless charging for electric devices and a real-time customer information system, the new 23-strong fleet is the result of a £350m investment in sustainable travel.
Jim Brewin, Chief Director of UK and Ireland for Hitachi Rail said: “Seeing British-built Avanti West Coast trains running on the West Coast Main Line is a massive step towards their entry into passenger service.
Everyone at Hitachi's North-East factory is proud to see the next generation intercity trains leave the production line. The 700 strong factory workforce are keen to keep the new trains coming so we can help improve connectivity between the North West, Midlands and North Wales.”