Class 805 at the Oxley Depot, via Avanti West Coast

Advanced testing to be undertaken on Avanti’s new bi-modal fleet

Avanti West Coast’s new fleet of Hitachi trains has made its inaugural test run across the West Coast Main Line this month, seeing the Class 805 bi-mode train undertake a 560-mile round trip from Alstom’s Oxley depot in Wolverhampton.

This new 23-strong, bi-modal fleet is the result of a £350m investment in sustainable travel, helping to decarbonise rail travel in the region in the bid to achieve carbon net zero.

This comes just two months after a successful two-month period of dynamic testing at Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) at Melton Mowbray, during which time the trains basic functionality was checked, including the pantograph, Wi-Fi, onboard CCTV, coupling capabilities when running as a pair and the emergency lighting. An additional package of noise testing was also undertaken, both on the train and at lineside.

Now the real fun begins, where the two trains will be subjected to further rigorous testing, running up to their full speed of 125mph, with aims to rack up thousands of miles of fault-free travel. In addition to the speed capabilities, passenger features will also be tested, including new and improved customer information, seat reservation system, multiple running 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.”

These new Hitachi models are going to be replacing the current diesel-only Voyager trains later this year across the routes from London to the Midlands, Chester, North Wales and the North-West. This will majorly reduce the carbon footprint across the region, with estimations of a 61% cut, whilst also providing quieter and quicker travel.

The passenger experience will also be improved via more spacious carriages, enhanced reliability for WI-FI, wireless charging for electric devices and a real-time customer information system.

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.”

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