Dennis Lovett -
5th November 2002
Written by A.J. Spencer & B.J.F. Clark
Continuing with the "Red Revolution" theme, the November 2003 lecture to the Locomotive and Carriage Institute was entitled "From Dream to Reality" and was given by the well-
The following is an account of Denniss lecture:
Whatever the arguments for and against the selling off of British Rail, subsequent investment in the railways has been one of the tangible benefits of privatisation. The Euston-
Virgin successfully bid to operate both the WCML and the CrossCountry franchises on the basis of substantial investment in new trains and upgraded infrastructure:
Virgin CrossCountry (VXC) -
The pledge to purchase a new fleet of trains for VXC was duly met when, on the 4th December 1998, a 1.06 billion "build and maintain" order was placed with Bombardier Transportation for 78 new "Voyager" trains. 34 of these trains were to be 125-
Design and body shell construction was undertaken at Brugge in Belgium, whilst the bogies came from France and the final fitting out of the trains was conducted at both Brugge and the former Procor site at Horbury Junction Wakefield, Yorkshire.
As well as a design speed of 125, a sports-
The first complete Voyager train was finished in Belgium in autumn 2000, and the first operational Voyager arrived in the UK for testing in January 2001. A press run was staged in Belgium, between Brugge and Oostende also some testing and crew training took place. The first public run was an unadvertised relief' service from Birmingham to Reading on May 21st 2001 and the official service launch of the Voyagers was made by Sir Richard Branson on the 5th June 2001. Completed Voyager deliveries allowed VCX loco. hauled services to end on 19th of September 2002, with the major timetable change and re-
VXC is the only national Train Operating Company (TOC) and the planning behind Operation Princess took four years of negotiation; with 7 different Railtrack Zones, 18 other TOCs, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), and 150 councils in 235 MPs constituencies. Railtrack also spent 200 million on infrastructure upgrades in advance of the launch of the new CrossCountry timetable.
Dennis conceded that, such was the success of VXC in increasing passenger numbers by 40% since the launch of Operation Princess, overcrowding has become a serious problem on many services and in the long-
As is nowadays the norm in all modern traction and rolling-
West Coast Main Line (WCML) -
Virgin commenced running a fifteen-
Testing of the Pendolinos continues and, at the time of writing, is concentrated on Alstom's Midlands Test Centre at Ashfordby and on the so called "Test Site A" between Carnforth and Carlisle on the WCML.
Driver training began in July 2002, and on the 21st of that month the first 125mph run of a Pendolino on the WCML took place between Carlisle and Carnforth. On the 13'h October 2002 a 10% overspeed test saw 390002 reach 138mph between Carlisle and Tebay.
With the WCML upgrade project massively over budget and behind schedule, the original plan to run at 140mph by June 2005 with 11 paths an hour was delayed indefinitely after a review of the upgrade project by the SRA in 2002. Costs were reworked and fixed at 9.8 billion, but a lower running speed of 125mph was decided upon as part of a cost compromise. It remains to be seen if Pendolino's will ever see regular service at their design speed of 140mph.
A demonstration run of the Pendolino was made on 16th December 2002 when set number 390 014 ran from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly (departing at.10:05) carrying 230 special guests and VIPs. The train was named "Pendolino City of Manchester" by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Roy Walters, on arrival at Piccadilly station. What turned out to be a "minimal" service level introduction commenced on 27th January 2003 when Pendolino set 390 014 worked the 06:58 Manchester Piccadilly -
In the ever-