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Monday, 8 October, 2001, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Trial run for tilting train
The tilting train
The trains may be running at 140mph by 2005
Trails began today of one of the high-speed tilting trains that Sir Richard Branson will be introducing to the passenger network next year.

The Italian-built Pendolino train, capable of travelling at 140mph, ran on a stretch of West Coast Main Line between Carlisle in Cumbria and Carnforth in Lancashire.

The trains are due to enter service next summer on Virgin West Coast's London to Manchester route.

Services from London to Liverpool, Scotland and the West Midlands will follow.

Carlisle - carnforth map
British Rail flirted with tilting trains in the early 1980s, but the expense and a series of mechanical problems led to the scheme being abandoned.

"This is a day that many of us thought we would not see - a tilting train back in Carlisle," said the constituency's Labour MP, Eric Martlew.

The arrival of the Pendolinos depends on the completion of the first phase of the 6.3 billion upgrade of the West Coast line.

The demise of Railtrack is not expected to affect the ability of the Pendolinos to run at 125 mph when they come into service next year.

But the new rail regime means there is some doubt on whether phase two of the upgrade, which will enable the tilting trains to run at 140mph by 2005, can be completed in time.

The Pendolino has successfully completed initial trials on a purpose-built Old Dalby test track in Leicestershire.

The arrival of the tilting trains will drastically cut journey times on the West Coast route.

The many curves on this route slow down conventionally-built rolling stock.

See also:

12 Jul 01 | UK
Tilting trains hit trouble
06 Mar 00 | Business
Virgin's 200mph East Coast vision
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