Avanti West Coast

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Avanti West Coast
Avanti West Coast Logo.svg
Avanti West Coast Pendolino 7.20.jpg
Franchise(s)West Coast Partnership
8 Dec 2019 – 31 March 2026
Main region(s)
Fleet size
Stations called at46
Stations operated16
Parent companyFirstGroup (70%)
Trenitalia (30%)
Reporting markVT
PredecessorVirgin Trains
Websitewww.avantiwestcoast.co.uk Edit this at Wikidata
Route map
West Coast Partnership service pattern (2019).svg

Avanti West Coast is a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by FirstGroup (70%) and Trenitalia (30%) that began operating the West Coast Partnership franchise on 8 December 2019. It replaced Virgin Trains, which had operated the InterCity West Coast franchise between 1997 and 2019. The franchise was initially scheduled to run until March 2030, operating High Speed 2 services from 2026.[1] However, in December 2020, it was announced that it will be terminated on 31 March 2026 as part of the abolition of the franchise system.[2]

The franchise covers long-distance passenger services on the West Coast Main Line between London, the West Midlands, North West England, North Wales and Scotland, connecting six of the UK's largest cities: London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh, which have a combined metropolitan population of over 18 million.


In November 2016, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that the InterCity West Coast franchise would be superseded by the West Coast Partnership (WCP), which would include operating High Speed 2 (HS2) services from 2026.[3]

The DfT required that bidders have experience in high-speed trains and infrastructure, hence all partnered with an existing high-speed operator.[4][5] In June 2017, the DfT announced that three consortia had been shortlisted to bid for the franchise:[6][7]

In December 2018 Renfe Operadora joined the MTR-led bid.[8] In April 2019, the Stagecoach-led bid was disqualified after it proposed significant changes to the commercial terms.[9]

In August 2019 the DfT awarded the franchise to the First Trenitalia consortium with Avanti West Coast to commence operations on 8 December 2019.[10][11] The Competition and Markets Authority launched a merger inquiry into the award of the franchise following a referral from the European Commission.[12][13]


Avanti West Coast currently operates the same services as Virgin Trains did on the West Coast Main Line.

Over the course of the franchise several timetable changes are expected to be made.[14]

Unlike London North Western Railway and London Overground, Oyster or Contactless payment card are not valid on Avanti West Coast services between London Euston and Watford Junction, as Avanti services are pick-up only northbound and set-down only southbound at Watford Junction.

As of September 2021, the intercity routes are shown below:

London - West Midlands
Route tph Calling at Stock
London Euston to Birmingham New Street[a] 1
Birmingham - North West and Scotland
Route tpd Calling at Stock
Birmingham New Street to Blackpool North 1/2
  • Trains will additionally either call at Sandwell and Dudley or Stafford alongside the stops listed above, however not both. This route does not run on Sundays.
Birmingham New Street to Edinburgh 1/2
London Euston to Shrewsbury 1
  • Watford Junction, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Telford Central, Wellington


London - Manchester
Route tph Calling at Stock
London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly via Stoke-on-Trent 1 390
London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe 1
  • Peak time trains additionally call at one or more of:
    • Watford Junction, Milton Keynes Central, Rugby, Nuneaton, Tamworth and Lichfield Trent Valley
London - Chester and North Wales
Route tph Calling at Stock
Crewe to Holyhead - 221
London - Liverpool
Route tph Calling at Stock
London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street 1 390
London - North West and Scotland
Route tph Calling at Stock
London Euston to Glasgow Central 1 390
London Euston to Lancaster 1
London Euston to Blackpool North /Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central via Birmingham New Street 1
London - Crewe
Route tpd Calling at Stock
London Euston to Crewe via Trent Valley Line 1 390
London Euston to Crewe via Birmingham New Street 2

Future services[edit]

Future services include:

Named trains[edit]

Avanti West Coast operates a named passenger train:

Name Origin Destination Other details
Royal Scot Glasgow Central London Euston

Classes of service[edit]

Uniquely among domestic train companies within the UK, Avanti West Coast operates three classes of service.

  • Standard class occupies 6 coaches of 9-coach Pendolinos, 7 coaches of 11-coach Pendolinos, and 4 coaches of 5-coach Super Voyager trains. It consists of 2x2 seating, predominantly airline-style with fold-down tray tables; there is a limited number of bays of 4 seats around tables. Food and drink are available for purchase from the shop in coach C, with at-seat delivery sometimes available.
  • Standard Premium class occupies 1-2 coaches of 9-coach Pendolinos and 2-3 coaches of 11-coach Pendolinos (variable depending on demand). It consists of wider 2x1 seating, with all seats having a table. There is no standard premium service on Super Voyager trains. Food and drink are available for purchase from the shop in coach C, with at-seat delivery sometimes available. Passengers can purchase Standard Premium tickets in advance or upgrade on-board for a variable fee depending on distance travelled.
  • First Class occupies 1-2 coaches of Pendolinos and 1 coach of each 5-coach Super Voyager, usually at the London end. It has the same 2x1 all-table seating as Standard Premium. Other than on very short journeys, passengers are served a hot meal included in the fare, with complimentary alcoholic, hot, and soft drinks available from about midday until end of service.

Rolling stock[edit]

Avanti West Coast commenced operations having inherited the existing Super Voyager and Pendolino fleets from Virgin Trains.

Current fleet[edit]

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Carriages   Number   Built   Notes 
 mph   km/h 
221 Super Voyager Avanti Voyager departing Rugby 11.21.jpg DEMU 125 200 5 20 2001–2002 Set numbers 221101-118 & 221142-143
Refurbished and overhauled. Scheduled to be replaced from 2023 by Class 805 and 807s.[18]
390/0 & 390/1 Pendolino Avanti liveried 390155 Euston.jpg
Avanti 390148 Euston.jpg
EMU 140 225 9 21 2001–2004 Pendolino (from the Italian word Pendolo) refers to tilting trains.
To be retained long-term and refurbished throughout.[19]
Avanti Class 390 0.png
140 225 11 31 2001–2004
  • Pendolino (from the Italian word Pendolo) refers to tilting trains.
  • To be retained long-term and refurbished throughout.[19]
4 2010–2012
Avanti Class 390 1.png

Future fleet[edit]

All 20 of the Class 221 Super Voyager units will be replaced by 23 new trains from the Hitachi A-train family with maintenance taking place at Alstom's Oxley TRSMD depot in Wolverhampton.[20][21] These trains are to be divided into thirteen Class 805 bi-mode multiple units and ten Class 807 electric multiple units.[22] Although the units will have the same top speed, they will not tilt like the Class 390 Pendolinos nor the Class 221 "Super Voyager" units they will replace. The Class 805 units are to be used for services to Shrewsbury, Chester, Gobowen and North Wales and the Class 807 units are to be used for services to Birmingham New Street, Blackpool North and Liverpool Lime Street (alongside the Pendolinos).[19][23]

Avanti West Coast plans to operate at least 54 new trains for High Speed 2 services, these trains will be built by Hitachi Rail and Alstom in the UK and are expected to enter service between 2029-2033.[24]

Family Class Image Type Top speed Number Carriages Routes operated Entering service
mph km/h
Hitachi AT300 805 AWC-AT300.jpg Bi-mode multiple unit 125 200 13 5 2023[25]
Avanti Class 805 w-pantograph.png
807 Electric multiple unit 125 200 10 7
Avanti Class 807 w-pantograph.png
Alstom/Hitachi TBA Electric multiple unit 225 360 54[26] 8 2029-2033


  1. ^ The London-Scotland via Birmingham service means a total of 2tph between London Euston and Birmingham New Street


  1. ^ "Avanti West Coast prepares for launch on December 8". International Railway Journal. 28 November 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Two franchises abolished for good, as First and DfT agree terms | Railnews | Today's news for Tomorrow's railway". www.railnews.co.uk. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  3. ^ "New West Coast rail franchise to run HS2 services". BBC News. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  4. ^ Lea, Robert. "Wanted: Superfast mover to partner Virgin and Stagecoach for HS2". The Times. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  5. ^ "RENFE poised to join Virgin's HS2 franchise bid". Railway Gazette International. DVV Media Group. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  6. ^ West Coast Partnership and South Eastern rail franchise bidders Department for Transport 22 June 2017
  7. ^ "Three shortlisted for West Coast Partnership franchise". Railway Gazette International. DVV Media Group. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  8. ^ "RENFE joins MTR's West Coast Partnership bid team". Railway Gazette International 20 December 2018
  9. ^ Stagecoach disqualified from three franchises in pension dispute Railway Gazette 10 April 2019
  10. ^ FirstGroup and Trenitalia welcome West Coast Partnership Award FirstGroup 14 August 2019
  11. ^ "West Coast marks new partnership model for rail" (Press release). Department for Transport. 14 August 2019.
  12. ^ "First Rail Holdings & Trenitalia UK / West Coast Partnership Rail Franchise". GOV.UK. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  13. ^ Topham, Gwyn (27 November 2019). "West coast train services to be rebranded with Avanti logo". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  14. ^ West Coast Partnership franchise improvements map Department for Transport 14 August 2019
  15. ^ "Avanti West Coast 12 September - 11 December 2021 Timetable" (PDF). Avanti West Coast. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 November 2021.
  16. ^ "Avanti West Coast 15 May - 11 September 2022 Timetable" (PDF). Avanti West Coast.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "Avanti West Coast Sunday 12 September to Saturday 11 December 2021 Timetable" (PDF). Avanti West Coast. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 November 2021.
  18. ^ Operators face ongoing new trains woes Modern Railways 27 January 2022
  19. ^ a b c First Trenitalia awarded West Coast Partnership Railway Gazette International 14 August 2019
  20. ^ "Hitachi Rail chosen to build new InterCity trains for Avanti West Coast". Global Railway Review. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  21. ^ Nowell, David (6 December 2019). "Inter-city rail operator's £350m new trains fleet to be built in UK". Lancashire Post. Preston. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  22. ^ Clinnick, Richard (9 June 2020). "Avanti confirms class numbers for Hitachi train order". Rail. Peterborough. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Avanti West Coast launched", Railways Illustrated, February 2020, page 6
  24. ^ "HS2: New £2bn 225mph trains to be designed and built in the UK by Hitachi and Alstom". RailAdvent. 9 December 2021. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  25. ^ "Rolling Stock Special: New Trains on order". Today's Railways UK. No. 241. March 2022. p. 30.
  26. ^ "Alstom-Hitachi joint venture wins £2bn HS2 fleet contract". International Railway Journal. 9 December 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Operator of West Coast Partnership franchise
Succeeded by