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Avanti West Coast and Network Rail join forces for London to Glasgow record attempt

Avanti West Coast and Network Rail , in association with The Railway Magazine, are teaming up today (June 17) to attempt to break the record for the fastest journey from London to Glasgow.   

The intercity operator’s iconic Pendolino set No. 390044 will depart London Euston at 10.36 for a non-stop journey to Glasgow Central, aiming to beat the current record of 3 hours 52 minutes and 40 seconds.

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A collaborative industry effort led by Avanti West Coast and Network Rail has been made to give the train the best possible chance to surpass the record set 37 years ago by an Advanced Passenger Train (APT) – the tilting high speed train developed by British Rail for the West Coast Main Line.

The attempt celebrates the value of the UK’s railway industry, showcasing the ease of travelling between the home nations.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “After almost 40 years, it’s time for this record to be broken, and I wish everyone the best of luck as they attempt this impressive feat.

“Our rail network binds our Union together, and today’s attempt underlines why our clean, green railways is a great way to see the UK.”

Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, said: “Today marks a brilliant collaboration across the railway industry! I truly hope we are successful today in our record attempt. But, whether we are or not, it shows how the clean, green railway of today can cement economic growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion through better connectivity across the United Kingdom. There will be more on better connectivity by rail and faster journey times between England and Scotland when I publish my final Union Connectivity Report for the Prime Minister in the summer.”

Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director, said: “As we begin to build back better from the pandemic, the essential role of rail services in connecting our major cities and driving economic growth whilst combating climate change, has never been clearer. This record attempt shows how effectively rail can deliver cross-border connectivity.

Phil Whittingham, Managing Director at Avanti West Coast said: “The West Coast Main Line has a proud history of delivering industry firsts. At Avanti West Coast we’re continuing that tradition, which is why we’re excited to be teaming up with Network Rail to attempt to break this record which has stood for nearly four decades.

The challenge has been made possible because of joint efforts between Avanti West Coast and Network Rail’s operational planning team to accommodate the train’s path from London to Glasgow around passenger and freight trains.

Network Rail signallers and train running controllers will be in regular contact to ensure the nine-carriage Pendolino, which has been selected because of its fast acceleration, can travel at a speed of up to 125mph for as much of its 401.25-mile journey and have the best chance to secure a record-breaking time.

The Railway Performance Society (an organisation dedicated to recording and studying the performance of railways) will be the official timekeeper for the record attempt.

Before embarking on its challenge, the train will be officially named ‘Royal Scot’, in honour of the marquee train – a flagship named train in the West Coast Main Line timetable for many years that provided the fastest passenger services from London to Glasgow.

In a further nod to the railway’s heritage, signallers, as well as controllers at Avanti West Coast and Network Rail will keep track of the train’s progress using a similar headcode (a four character code used to identify a train service) of the Royal Scot – 1Z57. The Royal Scot was 1S57.

The record run is the latest example of collaborative working between the two organisations to improve the overall smooth running of the West Coast Main Line. It follows the delivery of additional upgrade works while the rail network was quieter with fewer trains. These upgrades aim to make journeys more reliable as the industry welcomes back passengers.

As part of the charity event, Britain’s biggest-selling rail title, The Railway Magazine, has offered a number of subscribers an exclusive seat onboard – with proceeds from ticket sales going to Avanti West Coast’s charity partner, Action for Children, and Railway Benefit Fund.

Locks Farmer, Director of Fundraising & Marketing, Action for Children, said: “We are proud to work in partnership with Avanti West Coast, and wish all those involved the very best of luck with this exciting record attempt. It’s been an incredibly challenging time for all the families we support, and the money raised will help us give more children in the UK a safe and happy childhood.”

Pete Waterman, President of the Railway Benefit Fund, said: “It’s a real privilege for the Railway Benefit Fund to be involved in this Record Run attempt. Time is of the essence for us all and every seven minutes somebody in our railway family reaches out to the RBF for help and advice. We are so thankful for the support of Avanti West Coast and Railway Magazine, which ensures we can continue to meet the increase in demand for our services and help the Railway family through tough times.”

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