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New Pendolino on track for service this summer

06/14/2011 AT 06:57

Virgin Trains and the DfT have joined forces to introduce the tilting train as soon as it has completed safety testing, expected in July. 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 Pendolino will operate mainly on the 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.

The number of journeys on Virgin Trains has more than doubled in six years - from 14m in 2004 to over 28m in 2010 - making it the fastest-growing franchise over that time. The massive growth has led to very busy services at some times, and the additional train will help relieve crowding issues.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond 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 2,100 new carriages by 2019. These carriages are already beginning to arrive and, by the end of the month, 140 additional carriages are expected to be in service.”

Tony Collins, CEO of Virgin Rail Group, said: “This is exactly what our customers want - more seats and space for their journeys. As soon as the Department for Transport asked for operators to suggest uses for the new train, we didn't hesitate to put forward our proposals. It shows great partnership with DfT officials and the minister that we can bring this train into service as soon as it has finished its testing.”

The new nine-carriage train, which arrived in the UK in December, is part of an 11-carriage Pendolino recently manufactured by Alstom in Italy. Four 11-carriage Pendolino trains are being introduced over the next 18 months. An additional 62 new Standard carriages will also be added to 31 existing nine-carriage trains by the end of December 2012.

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