French engineering giant Alstom and Virgin Trains have unveiled a new name for one of the 52 high-speed, tilting Pendolino trains serving Great Britain’s West Coast Main Line.
The train, renamed ‘Alstom Pendolino’ by Virgin Trains CEO Tony Collins during a ceremony at Euston Station, London, now displays a specially designed Alstom branding alongside that of Virgin. The train’s new name recognizes the partnership between the two companies, established in 1999, which underpins the delivery of Virgin Trains’ intercity service in the UK.
Alstom says the Virgin trains Pendolino fleet, which Alstom built and maintains, is one of the most intensively used train fleets in the world. Virgin Trains has 47 trains in service every day, covering more than 16.5 million miles per year. As of September 16, 2010, Birgin trains’ 52-strong Pendolino fleet has covered almost 90 million miles in service, each train averaging 1,100 miles per day in service.
By generating electricity from friction when braking, the Virgin Trains Pendolino fleet returned 62.7GWh of electricity to the UK national grid in the 12 months to end August 2010. Alsom calaculates that this is equivalent to powering 15,600 homes for a year, based on there being a total of 24.7 million households in Great Britain in 2004 (according to www.statistics.gov.uk). Typical household annual electricity consumption values are estimated between 3,300 kWh and 4,600 kWh. Alstom’s calculation has taken 4,000 kWh as an average.
Alstom has chosen the newly branded train for a special mission in an across-the-industry partnership aimed at bringing benefits to passengers. ‘Alstom Pendolino’ will be used to improve system reliability in an initiative involving Alstom, Virgin Trains and Network Rail. The train is fitted with pantograph and track monitoring equipment which will provide data to support preventative maintenance of the track and overhead line. In addition the set will be used to trial potential train modifications that can be used to improve fleet reliability.
“Our customer service success at Virgin Trains is heavily dependent on the relationship with our key partners. Alstom has consistently gone beyond the call of duty to help us achieve the performance that has attracted record customer numbers and customer satisfaction scores. We are grateful for that support and partnership,” says Collins.
Paul Robinson, managing director of Alstom Transport UK & Ireland, adds: “It is an honor to place the Alstom brand alongside that of Virgin and so emphasize our daily contribution to the running of the flagship Pendolino fleet. Furthermore, ‘Alstom Pendolino’ will be instrumental in helping train maintainer, operator and infrastructure provider target further improvements on the West Coast Main Line.”
Jo Kaye, route director for Network Rail, notes: “This is just one demonstration of how we, as an industry, are developing new technologies to deliver an efficient and highly reliable railway. The track data this train will provide will prove invaluable in helping us to detect potential faults as they develop so that we can carry out preventative maintenance and push performance on the West Coast to ever higher levels.”
Alstom carries out a full-service regime on Virgin Trains’ Pendolino fleet from five Traincare Centres in London Wolverhampton, Liverpool , Manchester and Glasgow and a fleet control centre in Birmingham.