Virgin Trains’ Chief Operating Officer Chris Gibb accepted the train from Alstom Transport UK Managing Director, Paul Robinson and Malcolm Brown, Angel Trains’ Chief Executive, at Alstom’s Edge Hill Traincare Centre in Liverpool on 12 July. The new train has undergone extensive testing over the last few months and will now be used to boost capacity of the busy West Coast Main Line, where passenger numbers have doubled to over 28 million in the past six years alone - making it the fastest growing franchise.
Its use on the West Coast Main Line is a result of close co-operation between Virgin Trains and the Department for Transport. The agreement means that the 439-seat train will run on Virgin Trains’ busiest routes, and enable more capacity to be provided on other routes.
The new train will allow additional seats to be provided on the busy Birmingham-Scotland and London-Glasgow routes, which have seen growth of more than 30% in the last two years. It will provide 183 more seats than are currently available on the Super Voyagers that serve the Birmingham-Scotland route.
A five-carriage Super Voyager will then be transferred to services between London and North Wales, meaning that some of the busiest trains on the route will now have ten carriages.
Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said: “Tackling crowding and reducing the cost of our railways are two of the biggest challenges facing the rail industry at the moment. I am delighted that we have reached agreement to bring these carriages into service ahead of schedule.
“But this is just part of the Government’s plans to increase capacity for the West Coast main line - when all the new Pendolino vehicles and trains are in service in December 2012, there will be 106 new carriages in operation on the line.
“Across the rail network we plan to deliver more than around 2,700 new carriages by 2019. These carriages are already beginning to arrive.”
Chris Gibb, Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Trains, said: “This is exactly what our customers want - more seats and space for their journeys. We are delighted to accept this train into our fleet and from next week our passengers will be able benefit from more seats each day on some of our busiest trains.”
Paul Robinson, Managing Director of Alstom Transport UK added: ” Thanks to our teams in the UK and Italy and close cooperation with our customers, we are able to deliver this train for passenger service ahead of the original schedule; a great achievement.”
Malcolm Brown Chief Executive at Angel Trains adds : “We are delighted to have been able to work with Alstom and Virgin to enable the introduction of this new train which will significantly improve the travel experience for passengers on the West Coast Main Line. Angel Trains has always been supportive of extending the Pendolino fleet and we are delighted that this deal has come to fruition. We hope to play an active role in providing further investment to expand the number of fleets in operation on our railway lines.”
This train is part of the Pendolino extension programme to deliver four new 11-car Pendolino trains to the current fleet operating on the West Coast Main Line, in order to increase capacity. It will enter service initially as a nine-carriage set. As well as supplying these new trains, Alstom will lengthen 31 of the 52 existing trains operating on the West Coast Main Line from nine to eleven cars by the end of 2012, providing over 7,000 extra seats in all.
The trains were manufactured at Alstom’s site in Savigliano Italy, its UK Preston site specialised in traction engineering, parts and modernisation, supplying the power modules.
The DfT has ordered four 11-carriage Pendolino trains from Alstom along with an additional 62 new Standard carriages, which will be added to 31 existing nine-carriage trains.
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