UK: New Avanti West Coast Fleet Begins Main Line Testing

Avanti West Coast has started testing its new Hitachi fleet on the West Coast Main Line.

The fleet consists of ten seven-carriage electric trains and 13 five-carriage class 805 bi-mode trains, which can run under both electric and diesel power.

These were purchased as part of a 350 million GBP (394.54m EUR | 421.38m USD) investment in sustainable travel and are set to replace Avanti’s diesel-only Voyager trains later this year. This change will provide an expected 61% cut in carbon emissions.

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 first of Avanti West Coast’s new fleet of Hitachi trains has made its first ever test run on the West Coast Main Line

Two of the new trains have entered main line testing following two months of dynamic testing at Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) at Melton Mowbray.

Here, basic functionality was checked, including the pantograph, Wi-Fi, onboard CCTV, coupling capabilities and emergency lighting.

Additional noise testing was undertaken both on the train and lineside.

Prior to this, static testing took place at Hitachi Rail’s Newton Aycliffe factory, where final assembly was also undertaken.

Over the next few months, these trains will undergo main line testing, running up to their top speeds of 125 miles per hour, to ensure the vehicles can operate fault free for an extended period of time.

The 560-mile-long inaugural test run went from Alstom’s Oxley depot in Wolverhampton – where the fleet will be maintained once it enters service – to Glasgow Central.

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.”

During the test period, new customer-orientated features will also be evaluated.

This includes improved passenger information, a new seat reservation system, multiple running and selective door opening, which allows the trains to call at stations with shorter platforms.

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