The first Class 805 bi-mode set for Avanti West Coast has arrived from Hitachi, initially for static tests.
There will be thirteen 805s for the London–Holyhead route, and they will be able to use the overhead power south of Crewe.
They will replace Class 221 diesel sets, which the former operator Virgin Trains dubbed ‘Super Voyagers’ when they were built by Bombardier in Belgium just over two decades ago. Unlike the 221s the 805s do not have a tilting mechanism, because advances in train and track design over the past 20 years have meant that new non-tilting trains on the curving WCML will still be able to run at up to 125mph/200km/h.
The trains are leased from Rock Rail West Coast, a joint venture between Rock Rail and Standard Life Aberdeen, and will be maintained by Alstom and Hitachi staff at Oxley depot near Wolverhampton.
The first example to arrive lacks interior fittings, but dynamic testing is expected in September, followed by main line tests by the end of the year. The first of the 805s are expected to start replacing Avanti’s Class 221s in the spring.
Meanwhile, 10 seven-car electric Class 807 units are also on order, which will complete the replacement of the 20 Class 221s on Avanti West Coast.