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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Delay fears to tilting trains
Richard Branson unveils the Italian-designed Pendolinos
Virgin has spent about 1bn on the 53 new trains
Virgin's new tilting trains have gone on display at Euston station amid fears delays to the 7bn upgrade of the West Coast main line could prevent them reaching their top speed.

The Italian-designed Pendolinos can travel round bends much faster than conventional rolling stock.

By the summer, the trains will be operating at 110mph but the company wants to get the full 125mph tilting service operational on all lines from May 2003.

But Virgin Trains is worried that delays to the line upgrade could mean the May deadline will be missed.

Sir Richard Branson
"Pendolino is the transport of the future"

Sir Richard Branson is also concerned that, with Railtrack in administration, permission will not be granted in time to run the Pendolinos during this summer's Commonwealth Games.

In an order worth about 1bn, Virgin has ordered 53 of the trains which are being built at Washwood Heath in Birmingham.

Sir Richard said: "The waiting is nearly over. The Pendolino is the transport of the future and we are only weeks away from putting it into passenger service."

The new trains feature state-of-the-art passenger facilities, including multi-channel audio at all seats, charging points for laptop computers and mobile phones, and a self-service shop selling food and books.

Once the 125mph speeds can be reached on all sections, London-Manchester journey times will be cut from two hours 25 minutes to two hours and five minutes.

London-Glasgow times will be reduced by more than an hour to four hours 15 minutes.

See also:

03 Apr 02 | Business
Railtrack drops court threat
26 Nov 01 | Business
Virgin's high speed trains delayed
08 Oct 01 | England
Trial run for tilting train
12 Jul 01 | UK
Tilting trains hit trouble
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