British Rail Class 390

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British Rail Class 390 Pendolino
Pendolino at Milton Keynes Central.JPG
A Class 390/0 EMU a service from Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston about to pass Milton Keynes Central
300px
Standard Class interior of a Virgin Trains Class 390
In service 23 July 2002 –
Manufacturer Alstom
(Fiat Ferroviaria tilting system)
Built at Washwood Heath, Birmingham, England
Savigliano, Italy
Family name Pendolino
Constructed 2001 – 2004
2009 – 20121
Entered service 2002
Number built 57 trainsets
Number scrapped 1 trainset
(due to the Grayrigg derailment)
Formation 390/0 (9 cars):
DMRF+MF+PTF+MF+TS
+MS+PTSRMB+MS+DMSO2
390/1 (11 cars):
DMRF+MF+PTF+MF+TS+MS
+TS+MS+PTSRMB+MS+DMSO
Capacity All sets: 145 first class seats
390/0: 294 standard class seats
390/1: 444 standard class seats
Operator Virgin Trains
Depot(s) Manchester Train Depot
Line(s) served West Coast Main Line
Specifications
Car body construction Aluminium
Car length 23.9 m (78 ft 5 in) intermediate cars, 25.1 m (82 ft 4 in) cab cars
Width 2.73 m (8 ft 11 in)
Height 3.56 m (11 ft 8 in)3
Doors Hinged Plug, electrically driven
Maximum speed Design: 140 mph (225 km/h)
Service: 125 mph (201 km/h)
Record: 145 mph (233 km/h)
Weight 390/0: 466 tonnes (459 long tons; 514 short tons)
390/1: 567 tonnes (558 long tons; 625 short tons)
Power output 390/0: 5.1 MW (6,840 hp)
390/1: 5.95 MW (7,980 hp)
Electric system(s) 25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead
Current collection method Pantograph
Braking system(s) Regenerative, Rheostatic, Disc
Coupling system Dellner
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) Standard Gauge

The Class 390 Pendolino is a type of electric high-speed train used in the United Kingdom. They are electric multiple units using Fiat Ferroviaria's tilting train Pendolino technology and built by Alstom. Fifty-three 9-car units were originally built for Virgin Trains from 2001 to 2004 for operation on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), with four trains and 62 cars built 2009–2012. The original batch of trains were the last to be assembled at Alstom's Washwood Heath plant, in Birmingham, before its closure in 2005. The remaining trains in the fleet were built in Italy.

The Class 390 is one of the fastest domestic electric multiple units operating in Britain, with a top speed of 140 mph; however, limitations to track signalling systems restrict the units to a maximum speed of 125 mph (200 km/h) in service. In September 2006, the Pendolino set a new speed record, completing the 401 miles (645 km) length of the West Coast Main Line from Glasgow to London in 3 hours, 55 minutes, beating the 4 hours 14 minute record for the southbound run previously set in 1981 by its ancestor, British Rail's Advanced Passenger Train. The APT retains the ultimate speed record for this route, having completed the northbound journey between London and Glasgow in 3 hours 52 minutes in 1984 which included a 5-minute delay due to a signal fault.4

In September 2010, Virgin Trains and Alstom launched a co-branded Pendolino (390004) which was renamed "Alstom Pendolino" and carries a Virgin/Alstom livery on coaches A and K in recognition of the partnership between Alstom and Virgin Trains.5 The fleet is maintained at the Alstom Manchester Train Depot near Piccadilly station.

Description

The electronic destination board on the door of a Class 390. Here the train is bound for London Euston and the next station is Birmingham International.

In 1997, when Virgin Trains won the InterCity West Coast franchise, it decided to replace the train fleet it inherited with new trains. The old fleet consisted of British Rail Class 86, 87 and 90 electric locomotives, operating in push-pull mode with Mk.2 and Mk.3 coaching stock. Virgin placed an order with Alstom/Fiat Ferroviaria for the construction of new tilting trains. British Rail had intended to replace the existing fleet of trains on the West Coast Main Line (in conjunction with a planned route modernisation) as part of the InterCity 250 project, but this was cancelled by the government shortly before privatisation.

Tilting trains were not new on the West Coast Main Line. Twenty years previously, British Rail had developed the revolutionary, but ultimately unsuccessful, Class 370 Advanced Passenger Train (APT).

Fiat Ferroviaria supplied much of the content of the Class 390 units, including the bodyshell and the bogies, while final assembly was carried out at Washwood Heath. The tilting technology was developed by SIG Switzerland (later FIAT-SIG, today Alstom). Two electromechanical actuators are used per car to achieve the desired tilting angle on curved stretches of track. The train can tilt to a maximum of eight degrees,6 at which point one side of the cabin train is 380 mm higher above the track than the other. In contrast to other Fiat Ferroviaria tilting trains which use hydraulic tilting actuators, the electromechanical systems offers lower maintenance cost and higher efficiency.

The new trains were intended to run at 140 mph (225 km/h), but the West Coast Main Line modernisation programme, which was an upgrade to the infrastructure to allow faster line speeds, ran over budget. Consequently plans were scaled back, and in a manner reminiscent of the introduction of the InterCity 225, the lack of signalling upgrades resulted in the maximum line speed being restricted to 125 mph (200 km/h). Although this (and 140 mph) are well below BR's hopes for APT of 155 mph (249 km/h), it does match the maximum speed of 125 mph (200 km/h) for the APT in passenger service (although one APT set reached 162 mph (261 km/h) in testing).

Fifty-three units were originally built, numbered 390001-390053. Each now has nine vehicles, although the first 34 sets were built as 8-car units, with the ninth vehicle built later and fitted into the unit during 2004. A further four 11-car sets were built 2009–2012 as well as 62 extra cars to enable 31 more trains to become 11-car sets.1 Each 11-car set is identified by having 100 added to its unit number (3901xx). The December 2012 unit formation is described in the table below, with vehicles listed in the order they are formed in the unit:

Vehicle numbers Type Description Seating
Letter 1ST STD Toilets
69101-69157 DMRF Driving motor: first class open with kitchen K 18 - -
69401-69457 MF Intermediate motor: first class open (with disabled seating) J 37 - 1(D)
69501-69557 PTF "Quiet Zone" Intermediate trailer with pantograph: first class open H 44 - 1
69601-69657 MF Intermediate motor: first class open G 46 - 1
653xx TS Intermediate trailer: standard class open
11 car sets only. Last two digits (xx) = set number.
U - 74 1
689xx MS Intermediate motor: standard class open
11 car sets only. Last two digits (xx) = set number.
F - 76 1
68801-68857 TS Intermediate trailer: standard class open E - 76 1
69701-69757 MS Intermediate motor: standard class open (with disabled seating) D - 62 1(D)
69801-69857 PTSRMB Intermediate trailer with pantograph: standard class with shop/buffet C - 48 -
69901-69957 MS Intermediate motor: standard class open (with disabled seating) B - 62 1(D)
69201-69257 DMSO Driving motor: "Quiet Zone" standard class open (with cycle storage) A - 46 1

The units incorporate a number of innovations, including a walk-in shop in place of the traditional buffet/restaurant car, and extensive passenger visual information systems on the inside of the car ends and on the outside of the doors. Following criticisms of the pressure- operated automatic gangway doors of the older Mark 3 and Mark 4 carriages (which could easily be held open by items of luggage resting on the floor sensor, allowing draughts into the passenger saloon), the gangway doors on the 390 sets are of the push-button "open on demand" type. All seats originally had an on-board entertainment system with a number of pre-recorded music channels. This feature was disabled in March 2010 to make way for new on-board WiFi provided by T-Mobile.78 Each seating row has a dot-matrix LCD display to indicate the reservation status of each seat, removing the need for conventional printed labels inserted manually by train crew.

The coaches also incorporate steps which automatically extend to platform level when the doors are opened. This feature was first seen on the APT-P, which as mentioned above is a distant ancestor of the Pendolino. The windows are fitted with roll-down blinds. If there are too many standard class standing passengers coach G (MFO) can be re-classified as a standard class coach to provide extra standard-class seating capacity.

Current operations

Class 390, no. 390045 "Virgin Valiant" at Carlisle on 27 August 2004, forming a Glasgow Central to London Euston express. In common with the rest of the fleet, this unit is painted in the latest Virgin Trains silver and red livery.
Class 390, no. 390012 cab interior at Glasgow Central station
Class 390, no. 390104 "Alstom Pendolino" departing from Stoke-on-Trent

The fleet was introduced into passenger services from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly on 23 July 2002 to coincide with the opening of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Over the next few months they took over the Manchester services, and were soon introduced on routes from London to Liverpool Lime Street, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton and Preston. By late 2003 the last of the elderly Class 86 locomotives had been withdrawn owing to the introduction of the Pendolinos.

In 2004 their sphere of operation expanded further. The units started to operate services to Glasgow Central, and by the end of summer, in theory all services north of Preston were worked by Class 390 units. This allowed the final Class 90 locomotives to be withdrawn, and inroads were made into the main Class 87 fleet. It was expected that all locomotive-hauled trains would have been replaced by the end of 2004, but the Pendolinos suffered from several technical problems, which granted the Class 87s a reprieve. By January 2005, only eight locomotives remained, for use on peak London Euston-Birmingham New Street services.

Another development in 2004 was the clearing of the units for the North Wales Coast Line from Crewe to Holyhead. This line is not electrified, so Virgin's Class 57/3 "Thunderbird" diesel locomotives are used to haul the Pendonlinos. After Virgin's loss of the CrossCountry franchise, it introduced its remaining Class 221 "Super Voyagers" on to the coastal line, ending the practice of hauling the units from Crewe and thus making several Class 57 locomotives redundant. These locomotives have special Dellner coupling adaptors and electrical systems to make them compatible with Pendolino trains, allowing failed units to be rescued. The Class 57s are also used when engineering works force Pendolino services to run over non-electrified diversionary routes.

Virgin Trains has named its entire fleet. Most carry promotional names such as "Virgin Valiant", "Virgin Crusader" and "Virgin King", but some have received traditional names such as "City of London" and "City of Liverpool". The names are carried on the MFO (696xx) vehicle.

The entire Pendolino fleet is allocated to the (ALSTOM) Manchester Traincare Centre at Longsight, where heavy maintenance is carried out. Longsight has a hoist on which an entire Pendolino set can be lifted. Lighter maintenance, cleaning and overnight stabling is carried out at ALSTOM's other centres: Wembley (London), Oxley (Wolverhampton), Edge Hill (Liverpool) and Polmadie (Glasgow).

On 5 April 2012, the first 11-car Pendolino entered service on the London-Birmingham-Wolverhampton and London-Manchester routes.

Pendolino names

Number Name Notes
390001 Virgin Pioneer
390002 Virgin Angel Formerly "Red Revolution"
390003
(390103)
Virgin Hero Carries Royal British Legion WWI commemorative branding (throughout late 2013 until end of 2014)
390004
(390104)
Alstom Pendolino Formerly "Virgin Scot" Also carries a unique co-branded livery in partnership with Alstom and Virgin Trains.
390005 City of Wolverhampton
390006 Tate Liverpool Formerly Virgin Sun
390007
(390107)
Virgin Lady
390008 Virgin King
390009 Treaty of Union Formerly Virgin Queen
390010 A Decade of Progress Formerly Commonwealth Games 2002, then renamed Chris Green, then A Decade of Progress, after a book written by John Balmforth at Wolverhampton railway station on 8 May 2007.
390011 City of Lichfield
390012
(390112)
Virgin Star Both versions of the Hornby Virgin Pendolino driving car model (R2467 & R2467X) carry the number 390012
390013 Virgin Spirit
390014
(390114)
City of Manchester
390015
(390115)
Virgin Crusader
390016 Virgin Champion
390017
(390117)
Virgin Prince
390018
(390118)
Virgin Princess
390019
(390119)
Virgin Warrior
390020 Virgin Cavalier
390021
(390121)
Virgin Dream
390022
(390122)
Penny the Pendolino Formerly Virgin Hope.
390023
(390123)
Virgin Glory
390024
(390124)
Virgin Venturer
390025
(390125)
Virgin Stagecoach
390026
(390126)
Virgin Enterprise
390027
(390127)
Virgin Buccaneer
390028
(390128)
City of Preston
390029
(390129)
City of Stoke-on-Trent
390030
(390130)
City of Edinburgh
390031
(390131)
City of Liverpool
390032
(390132)
City of Birmingham
390033 City of Glasgow Crashed at Grayrigg on 23 February 2007. Formally written off on 30 November 2007 with the undamaged cars sent to Crewe Training Centre91011
390034
(390134)
City of Carlisle
390035
(390135)
City of Lancaster
390036
(390136)
City of Coventry
390037
(390137)
Virgin Difference
390038
(390138)
City of London
390039 Virgin Quest
390040 Virgin Pathfinder
390041
(390141)
City of Chester
390042 City of Bangor
Dinas Bangor
Has a different nameplate on each side, one in English and the other in Welsh
390043 Virgin Explorer
390044 Virgin Lionheart
390045 101 Squadron Formerly Virgin Valiant
390046 Virgin Soldiers After the novel The Virgin Soldiers by Leslie Thomas
390047 CLIC Sargent Formerly Virgin Atlantic, and then Heaven's Angels after Virgin's record attempt to cover Glasgow–Euston in the shortest time recorded. It occurred on 22 September 2006.
390048
(390148)
Virgin Harrier
390049 Virgin Express
390050 Virgin Invader
390051
(390151)
Virgin Ambassador
390052
(390152)
Virgin Knight
390053
(390153)
Mission Accomplished
390054
(390154)
390055
(390155)
X-Men: Days of Future Past Named at Euston Station on 31 March 2014 to promote the upcoming movie
390056
(390156)
Stockport 170 Delivered to Manchester Longsight on 13 February 2012. First 11-car into service on 5 April 2012. Named to celebrate Stockport Station's 170th Anniversary.
390057
(390157)
Chad Varah Carries the '11 Car Pendolinos – Successful Project Completion' on the front of coaches A and K.

Problems and incidents

The Pendolino stock has not been without its problems. In October 2004, a train overshot the platform at Liverpool Lime Street station and collided with the buffer stops, and a similar incident occurred only a few weeks later at the same station.12 The Rail Safety and Standards Board's inquiry into the incident identified a software glitch in the wheel-slip protection (WSP) system whereby the train's friction brakes were inhibited at low speeds after prolonged coasting (such as that occurring on approach to a station). The units were once again limited to 110 mph (180 km/h) for a short period until modifications to the software were made.13

As a result of the smaller cabin dimensions necessitated by the tilting geometry, the higher floor needed to package the tilting mechanisms themselves, and the need to provide disabled toilets, the units have a lower seating capacity than the nine-car Mark 2 and Mark 3 rakes that they replaced. The result has been severe overcrowding on some peak time services, something that Virgin has mitigated through the increased frequency of service.

The smaller size of the Pendolino windows has attracted comment and, in fact, the window size is unprecedented for British railway rolling stock. The wider window pillars mean that in some standard class carriages, 22.5% of the seats are parallel with either no window or only a limited portion of one, however the roll-over strength of the bodyshell was commented on regarding the crashworthiness performance of the train in the RAIB Accident Report into the derailment at Grayrigg.14

Grayrigg derailment

The scene at the Grayrigg derailment

On 23 February 2007, a faulty set of points caused a Virgin Trains Pendolino to derail near Grayrigg in Cumbria. The train, unit 390 033, named "City of Glasgow", formed the 17:15 departure from London Euston bound for Glasgow's Central station. 115 people were on board, one of whom died from trauma suffered in the crash. The train's excellent crashworthiness was credited with preventing more fatalities.

The train was formally written off on 30 November 2007, owing to the prohibitive cost of repair against the price of a new set; a driving car and carriage from the train have subsequently been put into use for training purposes at the Virgin Trains Talent Academy in Crewe.15 Virgin trains has since leased a Class 90, Mk3 coaches and a DVT (Driving Van Trailer), all painted in Virgin's new livery, and affectionately nicknamed the "Pretendolino" by Alstom maintenance staff, as a replacement for the train written off.16 The name has recently made a resurgence in official communications17 when the "Pretendolino" is used instead of the usual Pendolino or Voyager stock, typically when there are stock displacement issues or the regular stock is otherwise unavailable.

Fleet developments

Virgin West Coast Class 390/1 11-car Pendolino EMU 390107 at London Euston on 19 April 2012, on its first day of working as an 11-car unit

Following a sharp increase in passenger numbers following the WCML modernisation, the Department for Transport announced a capacity increase by procuring additional sets (with one intended to replace the unit damaged at Grayrigg). Four new sets have been built with 11 cars, and 31 existing sets lengthened to 11 cars.18

This required major infrastructure changes to allow stations and depots to accommodate the 11-car units. Virgin Rail Projects was set up to introduce these new trains with the new franchise winner as well as Alstom, Network Rail and the current franchise holder, Virgin Trains West Coast, to ensure the new sets were able to run from 1 April 2012.

With the closure of the Washwood Heath works, the additional vehicles were manufactured in Alstom's Savigliano factory in Italy.19

In June 2010, it was announced that the new units would be placed in store until the planned start of the new West Coast franchise in 2012. This provoked some criticism given the overcrowding in place on the WCML, which the new trains were intended to alleviate. However, in August 2010, it was announced that East Coast had been asked by the DfT to bring into service at least one of the new 11-car units on the East Coast Main Line for a period of nine months from July 2011, after which it would be returned to the West Coast franchise.20 East Coast never used the unit but instead leased an extra InterCity 125 set from East Midlands Trains.21

The first new sets were built with 11 cars and delivered via Dollands Moor to Edge Hill.2223 On 14 July 2011, Virgin Trains announced that chief operating officer, Chris Gibb, had accepted the train (as a 9-coach set) from Alstom Transport UK managing director Paul Robinson and Malcolm Brown, Angel Trains' chief executive, at Alstom's Edge Hill Traincare Centre in Liverpool on 12 July.

With the franchise process in place, and Virgin Trains franchise extended to December 2012, the first 11-car set (390 156) entered service on 5 April 2012. The remaining new sets were brought into service, and 31 sets increased to 11 carriages, over the next eight months.24

With the subsequent extension of the franchise to April 2017,25 Virgin Trains is looking at further enhancements to the Pendolinos.26

Fleet details

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos. Notes
Class 390/0 Virgin Trains 22 2001–2004 9 390001, 390002, 390005, 390006, 390008-390011, 390013, 390016, 390020, 390033, 390039-390040, 390042-390047, 390049-390050 390033 written off in the Grayrigg derailment
Class 390/1 31 11 390103, 390104, 390107, 390112, 390114, 390115, 390117-390119, 390121-390132, 390134-390138, 390141, 390148, 390151-390153 All units to lengthened to 11 cars 2012.
4 2009–2012 390154-390157 New sets purchased as part of extra 106 vehicle order.23

Models

Hornby Model Railways manufactured a model of the Class 390 in '00' Gauge.27 The "train pack" consists of a four-carriage train; extra carriages are available separately.28

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Angel Trains and Alstom sign order for new Pendolino high speed tilting train sets and extra carriages to lengthen existing trains – Angel Trains. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  2. ^ Traction Recognition, Colin J. Marsden, Page 216, ISBN 978-0-7110-3277-4, Published 2007 (First edition) / 2009 (Referenced edition), Ian Allan, Hersham, Surrey
  3. ^ CLASS 390 'Pendolino' www.therailwaycentre.com
  4. ^ "Virgin train breaks speed record". BBC News. 22 September 2006. Retrieved 29 August. 
  5. ^ New look for Virgin Pendolino | Rail-News.com
  6. ^ "Full tilt: Virgin's 140mph Pendolino trains". Mathieson, SA. March 2002. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Please note: Virgin Trains onboard entertainment system no longer functions." [1]
  8. ^ Northern Railways • View topic – Changes to Virgin Trains onboard entertainment
  9. ^ LocoScene
  10. ^ "DfT rejects Virgin bid for longer Pendolinos". The Railway Magazine (London): 9. March 2008. ISSN 0033-8923. 
  11. ^ Coward, Andy. "Virgin Trains writes off its Lambrigg crash Pendolino". Rail (Peterborough) (585): 66. 
  12. ^ "The Pendolino: The 125mph train". BBC News. 24 February 2007. Retrieved 20 September 2010. "Until the Cumbria crash there had been only minor incidents involving the Pendolino train. These included two incidents at Liverpool Lime Street Station where the train hit buffers at the platform." 
  13. ^ "Virgin cuts speed on Pendolinos". BBC News. 11 November 2004. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  14. ^ RAIB Report into Grayrigg Derailment. RAIB. pp. Page 151. 
  15. ^ "The News in Pictures". Railway Herald (244) (Scunthorpe). 1 November 2010. p. 8. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  16. ^ Coxon, Dave "The Class 390 Pendolinos", Testing Times, accessed 13 March 2010.
  17. ^ Virgin Trains "Twitter", accessed 31 March 2014.
  18. ^ The DfT accreditation process document specifies 31 lengthened sets, with options for lengthening a further 21 sets and procuring a further 23 full sets. Four lengthened sets were to be achieved within by 31 March 2012 (within the then franchise period) but not to see public use until the following franchise had been re-let from 1 April 2012.Department of Transport Pendolino lengthening and fleet expansion project
  19. ^ "More West Coast Pendolinos". Railway Gazette.
  20. ^ "East Coast asked to commission new 11-car Pendolino train" (Press release). East Coast. 2010. 
  21. ^ "East Coast leases 14th HST from May". Rail (Peterborough) (669). 4 May 2011. 
  22. ^ "News Journal". Railway Herald (250) (Scunthorpe). 13 December 2010. p. 3. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  23. ^ a b "West Coast Main Line increases its Pendolino fleet". Alstom Transport. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  24. ^ "Longer Pendolino trains mean more seats for West Coast passengers" (Press release). Virgin Trains. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  25. ^ "Railway plan puts new focus on passengers" "Secretary of State for Transport statement 3 April 2013". 26 March 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  26. ^ "We're looking to build on the retention of train franchise" (Press release). Virgin Trains. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  27. ^ "Virgin Trains Pendolino Train Pack". Hornby Trains. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  28. ^ See [2] [3] [4] [5] for examples

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