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NR carries out Class 800 test runs on Great Western

Network Rail carried out two test runs of a new Class 800 Intercity Express train over the weekend on the recently energised section of the route from Reading to Didcot.

During a series of exercises, designed to test the overhead electric power system, the Class 800 was driven from Reading to Didcot on Saturday and Sunday morning.

Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail Western, said: “This is a great step forward, and I’d like to pay tribute to the team who have worked very hard to make this happen.”

He added that over the weekend the team have “come a big step closer to providing faster, quieter, and more efficient services” to the people of the region who depend on railways.

Testing will now continue as construction proceeds on the Greater West programme, with public services scheduled to begin from 2019.

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In the latest edition of RTM, we talked to Andy Haynes, project director, West of England, the Greater West Programme, who discussed the complexity of getting the Reading to Didcot section ready for electrification. He also talked about how piling rates have increased using HOPS and installing Furrer+Frey’s new Series 1 OLE system.

During our interview with Haynes, he suggested that the delayed programme, which has also seen its costs balloon, is getting back on track.

However, the ORR recently warned that delivery of Network Rail’s obligations as set out in the new Enhancement Deliver Plan (EDP) are not without risk, particularly in relation to GWML electrification.

The regulator said the key measure will be whether Network Rail is able to test and commission the ‘Series 1’ overhead line system between Tilehurst and Didcot by 20 September. This will provide evidence as to whether Network Rail will be able to successfully complete electrification to Wootton Bassett by December 2017.

Earlier this month, one of Great Wester Railway’s Class 800 trains, one of a fleet of 57 designed and built by Hitachi, made its maiden voyage in a special trip from London to Paddington to mark 175 years since the opening of the GWML.

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Andrew Gwilt   18/07/2016 at 19:56

What about testing the Class 800 and the Class 801 Bi-mode trains on the East Coast Main Line powered by 25kv Overhead with the pantograph up and to be tested between London King's Cross and York and maybe even tested as far as Newcastle and Edinburgh Waverley running on 25kv power only.

Ian C   19/07/2016 at 17:21

It is a bit naive if you think that there is not a comprehensive test programme in place for the Hitachi units and that the East Coast Main Line is not a significant part of it.

Yoda-E   19/07/2016 at 18:11

The test is to check the compatibility running of, the train under the new design OLE so it couldn't be done on the ECML even if it's 25 kV (electrically the same but mechanically different).

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