British Rail Class 390
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|British Rail Class 390 Pendolino|
Class 390 Pendolino at Beck Foot A southbound Pendolino speeds through the Eden Valley in the Lake District.
The interior of Standard Class aboard a Class 390
|In service||23 July 2002 – present|
(Fiat Ferroviaria tilting system)
|Built at||Washwood Heath, England
|Constructed||2001 – 2004
2009 – 2012
|Number built||57 trainsets|
|Number scrapped||1 trainset
(due to the Grayrigg derailment)
|Operator(s)||Virgin Trains West Coast|
|Depot(s)||Manchester Train Depot|
|Line(s) served||West Coast Main Line|
|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)|
|Doors||Hinged Plug, electrically driven|
|Weight||390/0: 466 tonnes (459 long tons; 514 short tons)
390/1: 567 tonnes (558 long tons; 625 short tons)
|Traction motors||2 × Alstom ONIX 800 (per motor car)|
|Electric system(s)||25 kV 50 Hz AC Overhead|
|Current collection method||Pantograph|
|Braking system(s)||Regenerative, Rheostatic, Disc|
|Multiple working||No multiple facility, within class only|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Class 390 Pendolino is a type of electric high-speed train operated by Virgin Trains 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 between 2001 and 2004 for operation on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), with an additional four trains and also a further 62 cars built between 2009 and 2012. The trains of the original batch were the last to be assembled at Alstom's Washwood Heath plant, 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 design speed of 140 mph (225 km/h); 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 Central to London Euston in 3 hours, 55 minutes, beating the 4-hour-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 Euston and Glasgow Central in 3 hours 52 minutes in 1984 which included a 5-minute delay due to a signal fault. The fleet is maintained at the Alstom Manchester Train Depot near Piccadilly station.
In 1997, Virgin Rail Group commenced operating the InterCity West Coast franchise with a commitment to replace the existing British Rail Class 86, 87 and 90 electric locomotives and Mark 2 and Mark 3 coaching stock with tilting trains. Virgin placed an order with Alstom/Fiat Ferroviaria. 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.
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, 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).
The original order was for 53 sets, 34 eight-carriage sets and 19 nine-carriage sets. The eight-carriage sets each had an additional carriage added in 2004. To increase capacity, 4 eleven-carriage sets and an additional 62 extra carriages were ordered to increase 31 sets to eleven carriages. These were delivered between 2009 and 2012. Each 11-car set is identified by having 100 added to its unit number (3901xx).
During use, the Dellner coupling of carriages A and K may be exposed during use. It is not uncommon for the front to be open like this as the main intention is emergencies. Joining a set of nine cars with another would create an 18-car set (the same for 11-car which would create a 22-car set), much too long for the majority of Britain's train stations. Therefore, they only travel as the original 9-car or 11-car set.
The unit formation as of January 2015 is described in the table below, with vehicles listed in the order they are formed in the unit:
|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||Intermediate trailer with pantograph: first class open||H||44||-||1|
|696xx||MF||Intermediate motor: first class open
11 car sets only. Last two digits (xx) = set number.
|696xx||MS||Intermediate motor: standard class open
9 car sets only. Last two digits (xx) = set number.
|653xx||TS||Intermediate trailer: standard class open
11 car sets only. Last two digits (xx) = set number.
|689xx||MS||Intermediate motor: standard class open
11 car sets only. Last two digits (xx) = set number.
|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 & train managers office||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. 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.
The fleet was introduced into passenger services from Birmingham International to Manchester Piccadilly on 23 July 2002 to coincide with the opening of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. During the Games they operated a daily return service between the two cities but it wasn't until 27 January 2003 that the first Pendolino carried passengers between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston when it worked the 6.58am from Manchester Piccadilly to the capital. For a while a return trip was worked by a Pendolino on Thursdays only but 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.
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 were used to haul the Pendolinos. 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.
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|390002||Stephen Sutton||Formerly Red Revolution, then renamed Virgin Angel|
|Virgin Hero||Carries Royal British Legion World War I commemorative branding|
|Alstom Pendolino||Formerly "Virgin Scot", Also carries a unique co-branded livery in partnership with Alstom and Virgin Trains. In September 2010, Virgin Trains and Alstom launched the co-branded Pendolino which carries a Virgin/Alstom livery on coaches A and K in recognition of the partnership between Alstom and Virgin Trains. Additional branding added on coach A, G and K marking the 175th anniversary of Longsight depot|
|390005||City of Wolverhampton|
|390006||Rethink Mental Illness||Formerly Virgin Sun, then Tate Liverpool. New name carried as a sticker.|
|Independence Day Resurgence||Named at Euston Station on 10 June 2016 to promote the film of the same name, it is also known as Virgin Independence.
Formerly Virgin Lady
|390009||Treaty of Union||Formerly Virgin Queen|
|390010||Cumbrian Spirit||Formerly Commonwealth Games 2002, then renamed Chris Green, then renamed A Decade of Progress, after a book written by John Balmforth at Wolverhampton railway station in May 2007.
First Pendolino to have the Virgin Trains new white 'Azuma' style livery. Cast The Cumbrian Spirit nameplates removed and name now carried by a sticker in the same style.
|390011||City of Lichfield|
|City of Manchester|
|Penny the Pendolino||Formerly Virgin Hope.|
|City of Preston|
|City of Stoke-on-Trent|
|City of Edinburgh|
|City of Liverpool||Carries "Business in the Community" planter on 691 & 692 vehicles|
|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 Centre|
|City of Carlisle|
|City of Lancaster|
|City of Coventry|
|City of London|
|390040||Virgin Radio Star||Formerly Virgin Pathfinder|
|City of Chester|
|390042||City of Bangor
|Has a different nameplate on each side, one in English and the other in Welsh|
|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.|
|Flying Scouseman||Formerly Virgin Harrier. Renamed as part of the Liverpool Echo newspapers Train naming competition in June 2017.|
|390050||Virgin Invader||The first nine-car set to have first class coach G converted into a new standard class coach F.|
|Virgin Ambassador||Also carries the livery 'Business is Great' with the Union flag on coaches A and K|
|Matthew Flinders||Named at Euston Station by HRH The Duke of Cambridge on 18 July 2014|
|X-Men: Days of Future Past||Named at Euston Station on 31 March 2014 to promote the upcoming movie|
|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.|
|Chad Varah||Carried the slogan '11 Car Pendolinos – Successful Project Completion' on the front of coaches A and K during Autumn 2012.|
Problems and incidents
In October 2004, a train overshot the platform at Liverpool Lime Street station and collided with the buffer stops, and a similar incident occurred a few weeks later at the same station. 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.
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 services, something that Virgin has somewhat 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.
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 Central. 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. Virgin trains then 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. The name made a resurgence in official communications when the "Pretendolino" was used instead of the usual Pendolino or Voyager stock, typically when there were stock displacement issues or the regular stock was unavailable. Subsequently, the set was handed back to the leasing company, and has since been transferred to Abellio Greater Anglia.
Following a very 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.
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.
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.
The first new sets were built with 11 cars and delivered via Dollands Moor to Edge Hill. 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 until 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.
As part of the subsequent extension of the franchise until April 2017, Virgin Trains made further enhancements to the Pendolinos. The 21 nine-carriage sets each had one first class carriage converted to standard class. This work was completed by September 2015.
|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, 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 lengthened to 11 cars in 2012.|
|4||2009–2012||390154-390157||New sets purchased as part of extra 106 vehicle order.|
Alliance Rail Holdings
In its successful submission to operate services from London Euston to Blackpool North, Alliance Rail Holdings proposed purchasing four Class 390s for entry into service in 2018. However, as the 390s no longer met crashworthiness standards for new trains, a derogation would have been required. With Alliance Rail not able to obtain this, in June 2017 it dropped its plans to purchase 390s.
Rapido Trains has announced that it will be producing the Class 390 in 'N' Gauge. Various "train packs" are to be produced consisting of five, nine and eleven-carriage train; extra carriages will be available separately.
- 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.
- Traction Recognition, Colin J. Marsden, Page 216, ISBN 978-0-7110-3277-4, Published 2007 (First edition) / 2009 (Referenced edition), Ian Allan, Hersham, Surrey
- "Class 390 'Pendolino'". The Railway Centre. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- "Class 390 - Virgin Trains". Angel Trains. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- "Tilting trains hold the key to Virgin's ambitious franchise". Railway Gazette. 1 October 1998. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Marsden 2011, p. 237
- David Bickell (10 September 2013). "Train protection and driver aids". Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- "Virgin train breaks speed record". BBC News. 22 September 2006. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
- "Full tilt: Virgin's 140mph Pendolino trains". Mathieson, SA. March 2002. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- "Seating Plan" (PDF). www.virgintrains.co.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 March 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
- "Please note: Virgin Trains onboard entertainment system no longer functions." 
- "Fundraising sensation Stephen Sutton has Virgin train named after him". BBC Online. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- New look for Virgin Pendolino | Rail-News.com
- "DfT rejects Virgin bid for longer Pendolinos". The Railway Magazine. London. March 2008. p. 9. ISSN 0033-8923.
- Coward, Andy. "Virgin Trains writes off its Lambrigg crash Pendolino". Rail. No. 585. Peterborough. p. 66.
- "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.
- "Virgin cuts speed on Pendolinos". BBC News. 11 November 2004. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- "RAIB Report into Grayrigg Derailment" (PDF). RAIB: Page 151.
- "The News in Pictures" (PDF). Railway Herald (244). Scunthorpe. 1 November 2010. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
- Coxon, Dave "The Class 390 Pendolinos" Archived 11 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Testing Times, accessed 13 March 2010.
- Virgin Trains "Twitter", accessed 31 March 2014.
- 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 Archived 24 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- "More West Coast Pendolinos". Railway Gazette.
- "News Journal" (PDF). Railway Herald (250). Scunthorpe. 13 December 2010. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
- "West Coast Main Line increases its Pendolino fleet". Alstom Transport. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
- Pendolino makes historic East Coast run Archived 28 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine. The Railway Magazine 13 March 2012
- "Longer Pendolino trains mean more seats for West Coast passengers" (Press release). Virgin Trains. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Secretary of State for Transport statement 3 April 2013". 26 March 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "We're looking to build on the retention of train franchise" (Press release). Virgin Trains. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Better journeys for passengers on the West Coast Main Line" (Press release). Department for Transport. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
- "Virgin trains adds 2,100 seats to its West Coast Mainline Pendolino fleet". Railway Strategies. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
- "HSTs for Alliance Rail as Pendolino plans face difficulties" Today's Railways issue 182 February 2017 page 14
- Alliance drops Pendolino plan as Southampton paths identified Railway Gazette International 19 July 2017
- "Virgin Trains Pendolino Train Pack". Hornby Trains. Archived from the original on 24 November 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
- "Pendolino 1st Class Open Coach (Non-Working pantograph) R4271". Hornby. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008.
- "Pendolino Trailer Standard Open Coach (TSO)". Hornby. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008.
- "Pendolino 1st Class Open Coach". Hornby. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008.
- "Pendolino Standard Open coach". Hornby. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008.
- "Pendolino in N". Rapido Trains. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- "Dapol Limited Edition Virgin Pendolinos". Dapol. 25 September 2003. Archived from the original on 6 February 2005. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- Knight, Steven (2–15 December 1998). "Virgin's first West Coast tilt train 'on test by July 2000'". RAIL. No. 345. EMAP Apex Publications. p. 6–7. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.
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