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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 16:43 GMT
High-speed tilting train on track
Pendolino
Pendolinos will now travel up to 125 mph on the main line
Tilting trains have begun operating at 125 mph between Glasgow and London following a rail network upgrade.

The first of the 11m Pendolino trains to undertake the journey at 125 mph set off from Glasgow Central to London Euston at 0945 GMT on Monday.

The train did the journey in four hours and 40 minutes, slightly more than the planned four-and-a-half-hours.

Network Rail said the move, part of an 8bn upgrade of the West Coast Main Line, would improve rail travel.

Spokesman Hugh Wark said passengers would be able to enjoy faster and more reliable journeys.

The top speed of the Pendolino was 110mph until the West Coast Main Line upgrade was completed.

The upgrade involved re-laying about 1,000 miles of track along the route in the last three years.

TILTING TRAINS
British Rail tried and failed to launch tilting trains in the 1980s
The first Pendolino train was launched in July 2002
The trains were originally forced to run in non-tilt mode
Features on the trains include video and audio entertainment
Virgin Trains claim journey times are cut by 25%

Network Rail chief executive John Armitt said passengers would reap the rewards of engineers' hard work to ensure the upgrade was completed on time.

The first stage in the route improvement programme involved an upgrade of the section between London and Manchester, enabling trains to travel at up to 125mph.

In June this year the second upgrade between Crewe, Preston and Liverpool was completed. This week saw the final section completed in Scotland and north west England.

A new timetable will be introduced next week, Network Rail said.

It also plans a number of major projects along the route to further reduce journey times and increase line capacity by 2008.

Transport Minister Alistair Darling, who travelled on the first train to make the journey on Monday, promised further improvement in journey times.

You sent us your thoughts on the new service.


The following reflect the balance of opinion we received.

Considering Scotland's economic and financial powerhouse is Edinburgh, should the east coast main line be upgraded too? I would have thought the commuter traffic generated in Edinburgh would warrant such an upgrade at least as much as Glasgow. Either that, or pour money into the Edinburgh/Glasgow line to increase speed and services so that Edinburgh commuters can connect quickly to the west coast mainline. While we're at it, how's about improving the rail link to Oban - four hours Oban/ Edinburgh - come on, this is the 21st century!
David Baldwin, Oban

Is it just me or is there something ridiculous with spending 8bn to save 40 minutes on a Glasgow to London route yet it still takes three hours to go from Glasgow to Aberdeen? One in three trips I'll end up having to stand till after Stirling and I'll pay upwards of 30 for the pleasure. An extremely bad judgement of fund allocation in my opinion.
Thomas, Aberdeen

I travel to Preston, Liverpool and Manchester quite a bit, and I've noticed a significant improvement in the service. But I'm not a fan of these trains as I find it really difficult to move about while the train is tilting. The improved journey time is great, but I do agree with the comment about cost. I also wonder when or if the rest of the rail network is going to get the same upgrade.
Val, London

Good spin on something that we should have achieved decades ago. When one looks at a national picture this is a very small step in the right direction. Where is the investment in rail freight? How much would the economy save by getting a high percentage of heavy-weight goods onto rail, instead of rumbling slowly through our over-burdened road network? Even an accountant could figure out how much congestion costs in terms of fuel, time, infrastructure and environmental degradation and see that an advanced rail infrastructure network for goods (as well as passengers) would pay for itself in very short order. Here we see urban commuter spin on a national disgrace.
Gordon, Inverness

The 8bn spent on the WCML upgrade was not merely to fund an extra 40 mins. It was to upgrade a railway line that had suffered decades of under-investment and neglect. Now the UK public and rail companies can be proud that we finally have a rail line that is worthy of modern standards!
Stuart Kelly, Lanark

Virgin Trains have certainly made progress with their new trains and faster journeys. When it works, rail travel is brilliant, relaxing, fast and actually quite enjoyable. It's a shame Network Rail can't sort themselves out, every time I use the train there's some kind of "signalling problem" or "points failure". Thumbs up to Virgin for introducing a fast, comfortable and frequent service which in my view beats flying by a mile!
Gary, Glasgow

Given that this has been a long slog and a major investment I'm glad to see it finally completed. I often travel to London and Manchester and often fly or drive. Now I might actually be able to persuade my company that the train is the best option as traffic jams and fog regularly delay me on the other options. A further high speed investment to do Glasgow to London in a couple of hours would be a legacy for Blair that he could be proud of as it would be the fastest route between the two cities (as you have to be at the airport an hour in advance at either end). So come on Blair, no more wars, airports or roads, let's have more high speed rail links
Gordon Masterton, Glasgow

While it is interesting to see that tilting trains have finally been introduced on the route, the following historical facts are worthy of note. Over 25 years ago, British Rail introduced the Intercity 125 train (non-tilting), so-called because its capability was... 125 miles per hour. These trains remain in service, operated by a number of railway companies. At the same time, the APT (Advanced Passenger Train) was being developed, again by our very own railway organisation BR. This was a tilting train, which made it off the drawing board and into a physical existence, but was never fully or commercially developed. While the decreased journey times mentioned in this article are a step forward, it is nevertheless interesting to note that we have had capability in our rolling stock for a 125mph train for over 25 years (the 125), and had the Government of the 1980s put a bit more effort into research and development, we could have had British-made tilting trains somewhere in the region of 20 years ago.
Heather, Edinburgh

I regularly travel from London to Scotland but don't think I'll be using this service. The cheapest rail tickets I've found cost over 60 when I can easily get a plain ticket for about 40, it's just too much for too little. The only advantage of the train is its greener status.
Doug, High Wycombe

It would cost 30bn to build a maglev network with trains travelling at 500 k/h (311mph). This would dramatically reduce travel times. Glasgow to Edinburgh would be 15 minutes - a reduction of 30-40 minutes. The network then continues down towards London with a travel time of under two hours. This is the kind of network that Britain needs, not a high speed rail link that is already dated.
Ryan Galbraith, Glasgow

Once again we are being fooled. The trains don't actually reach maximum speed in Scotland because the tracks aren't sufficient. They can't be bothered spending the money to cut down the time by another 30 minutes. Why, I hear you ask. Well because it's Scottish public transport and infrastructure and the government cant be seen to be promoting that can they?
Stephen Farrell, Glasgow

Yes, I definitely will try it, but though I travel to Glasgow regularly once a fortnight the prices and booking ability will have to be much better to use it regularly. Many will know it is almost impossible to book cheap tickets ahead. Passengers - not "customers" - should recall that in the "Railway Races to the North" in 1895 steam-hauled trains incapable of over 95mph took just 8hr 32mins from Euston to Aberdeen (20:00 departure). Today I checked the equivalent 21:15 service hauled by supposedly superior electric and diesel-hauled services would arrive at Aberdeen after 10hr 22mins and cost you 73 single or 150 first-class. Merry Christmas.
Chris Northedge, Stanford-le-Hope

Funny how, 20 years after British Rail wanted this technology it has finally been installed. And guess what, it's already out of date! There are already plans for a maglev (trains that 'float' on the rails using magnets) link between Glasgow and Edinburgh which would halve journey time. Time to get those shovels out again Network Rail!
David Russell, Glasgow

Where are the UK's bullet trains? Where is our revolutionary mode of transport to make the rest of the world marvel at? 125mph is nowt in terms of modern travel; planes do 550mph and you can fly with most budget airlines in a quarter of the time from Glasgow to London for around the same for a return train ticket to Edinburgh! The UK train industry needs to take a long hard look at itself in order to compete in the modern marketplace.
Gareth Chambers, Ayr

I travel often by rail from Liverpool to various destinations around the country. I've yet to be on a Pendolino train that is fully operational. If it's not the fridges that are broken, then there's no hot water, or some of the toilets are out of order. In summer, the air conditioning breaks, and in winter, the heating breaks. The overhead luggage racks are too small as well. The passenger alarm button in the toilets is obviously in the wrong place - people constantly set it off by accident. And they've the nerve to charge a fortune for the journey - I'm pretty sure these "cheap single tickets" are a figment of their imagination. There never seem to be any for my journey regardless of how far in advance I book it. Oh, and as for the four-and-a-half hour travel time Glasgow-London, I'm sure there used to be a service years ago that only took that length of time.
Joseph, Liverpool

I'm usually one of the first to criticise Virgin Trains but recent journeys I've taken between Glasgow and London suggest they have finally got their act together. Not only is the train super fast (too fast to read the station names in some places) but the onboard service is excellent and good value (assuming you can get one of the cheaper tickets). Once the new service is introduced, there really can't be much of a timing difference between train and plane on the Scotland to London route, when you take into account travel time to the airports, checking in etc.
Gary, Glasgow

This is a welcome development. However, Britain needs to have its major cities connected by high-speed rail if it is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. The target should be a three-hour journey time from Edinburgh and Glasgow to London - then people will choose the environmentally better option and we won't have to see environmentally damaging expansion at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.
Gavin Smith, Glasgow

I was planning a weekend in London in February and I checked out transport prices. This was difficult because the website is badly designed. The cheapest rail fare was 125 and the return journey took ages and involved two changes. I booked with Ryanair - easy, good website, and even including airport tax and the journeys to and from the airports it was 65 cheaper. I'd quite like to travel by train but I can't afford to.
Drummond McNair, Clydebank

8bn spent to save 40minutes?! That is a bad, bad deal for tax-payers and travellers alike. 8bn could have been used to massively subsidise rail freight, or to re-open closed lines and stations to extend the passenger network, or to make existing stations warmer and safer. 8bn - for 40mins... you gotta be kidding?!
Gavin, Perth, Scotland



BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the high-speed tilting train in action



SEE ALSO:
Tilting train problems addressed
07 Feb 05 |  England
Tilting train takes city's name
21 May 04 |  Scotland
First tilting train arrives early
05 Jan 04 |  Scotland
More problems for Pendolino
02 May 03 |  England


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