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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Tilting train on track for Games
Richard Branson and a Pendolino train
Sir Richard Branson said the trains will run at 125 mph
The high-speed "tilting" train, which will cut journey times on one of the country's busiest routes, has set off on its first trip.

The nine-coach Pendolino Britannico left Birmingham for Manchester on Tuesday morning.

The 1m trains will be in operation by the end of the week, as a shuttle service between the two cities for the Commonwealth Games.

But they will not be able to reach their top speeds of 140 mph because of delays on track and signal upgrades by Railtrack on the West Coast mainline.


It's a historic day

Sir Richard Branson

Virgin Trains has been awarded 100m extra subsidy by the Strategic Rail Authority because of the setback.

At the Pendolino unveiling, Sir Richard Branson said he was confident the trains would be running at 125 mph in their "tilt" mode, by spring next year.

He said: "The rail industry and passengers have been through a lot.

"It's a historic day in that the first rail passengers have travelled on one of the new trains."

Eight Pendolinos have been delivered from constructor Alstom in Washwood Heath, Birmingham. The remaining 45 will be brought into service next year.

Top speed

About 200 invited guests were on board for the first journey.

The Pendolino reached a speed of 110 mph on the stretch between Stafford and Crewe and arrived in Manchester at 1305 BST.

Business travel agent Martin Soar, 48, from Winsford in Cheshire, said: "I am sure it will make a difference. Anything new is going to be attractive.

"It just improves customer satisfaction."


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30 Apr 02 | England
03 Apr 02 | Business
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