Was the Pendolino worth it?

stj

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Has the extra 15mph and Tilt been worth it? Would a new build of 91s and Mk4s done the job?
 
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LOL The Irony

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Has the extra 15mph and Tilt been worth it? Would a new build of 91s and Mk4s done the job?
Would've been double that had railtrack not screwed up. Also the 390 is a successor to the IC225 (being built by Alstom, GEC & Metro Cammell's successor), and they were intended to tilt.
 

43 302

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This of course would almost certainly not have been on the table in the time frame in which the Pendolinos were ordered...
There was an option for some 225s sets for the WCML a good few years before this of course, but I believe NSE was prioritised iirc. But yes, obviously would not have happened at the time of Pendolinos.
 

Crossover

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Has the extra 15mph and Tilt been worth it? Would a new build of 91s and Mk4s done the job?
This of course would almost certainly not have been on the table in the time frame in which the Pendolinos were ordered...
Not least that at the time of the Pendolino build starting, the 91's were some 10 years out of build. I would imagine that crashworthiness standards had changed in that time as well
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The Pendolino has probably not been "worth it" for Fiat and then Alstom.
Production over a couple of decades has not really taken off in the same way as TGV and the non-tilt ICE.
Although it has gone to quite a number of countries, most orders were for penny numbers as flagships on limited infrastructure (eg PL, CZ, PT, FI).
I think Virgin's 58x390s was the largest and most intensively-used fleet of the lot.
Italy probably has more tilting ETR units but they are spread across several Pendolino design generations.
The same technology is in DB's ICE-T, though they don't call them Pendolinos (class 411/415).
In fact the design variations mean that there is no real standard Pendolino - there are also non-tilt versions, to confuse things.
Alstom was prepared to sell off Pendolino IPR and production in its merger plans with Siemens.

But it has been iconic for Virgin and the WCML in the UK, and is set for another decade with Avanti until HS2 turns up.
It's just a pity the tilt design did not find favour with any other UK TOC, despite several other routes being tilt-beneficial.
In UK terms, the tilting Bombardier 221s could also have exploited tilt on diesel routes, but Arriva though so little of it they disabled the capability when they took over XC routes from Virgin.
So today we have non-tilt TPE trains on the tilt-equipped WCML, and tilt-capable XC 221s running around without it over the twisting Devon banks.

Infrastructure-wise, I think the WCML implementation (with EPS and TASS) has been very successful.
How much of the WCML can be configured for non-tilt 125mph for 80x and HS2 stock remains to be seen.
 

squizzler

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If “worth it” is taken to mean massive passenger uplift in the route over which deployed, smashing the airline competition to Manchester, and making British rail travel “sexy” once more, then the answer is yes.
 

swt_passenger

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How much of the WCML could have been signalled to allow 125 mph running without tilt, like on the other main lines?

Once 140 mph was off the agenda, haven’t Virgin done a bit of a con job by implying tilt was the only game in town?
 

nlogax

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Has the extra 15mph and Tilt been worth it? Would a new build of 91s and Mk4s done the job?
Virgin seemed to think so, and I'm sure those whose lives and careers depend on speedy connections up and down the WCML would agree. In spite of various viewpoints about window size and bog smells in the vestibules I'm sure there aren't many who think they were a bad move.

I'm curious. Do you believe 91-style new builds and Mk4(a's?) would have done the job better?
 

Non Multi

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IIRC it was either the proposed class 93 + rake of coaches for the WCML or NSE Networkers and the Networker project won.
 

Fuzzytop

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I consider the 390s emblematic of today's railway. Their many positives (and negatives) aside, since their introduction it seems they have become the benchmark for newer rolling stock across the industry.
 

Non Multi

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Surely, just as the Pendolinos never got to run at 140mph, the proposed 155mph of the IC250 project (cl93) was just pie in the sky stuff too. BR would have had it built to a really tight budget like everything else in that era.
 

43 302

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IIRC it was either the proposed class 93 + rake of coaches for the WCML or NSE Networkers and the Networker project won.
Yes that rings a bell, after that fell through I'm sure there was an option for some 225s for the WCML. Can't remember anymore sadly.
 

CW2

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How much of the WCML could have been signalled to allow 125 mph running without tilt, like on the other main lines?

Once 140 mph was off the agenda, haven’t Virgin done a bit of a con job by implying tilt was the only game in town?
Signalling isn't the issue, unless you want to go faster than 125 mph. It's down to track geometry, politics, and money.
 

gsnedders

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How much of the WCML could have been signalled to allow 125 mph running without tilt, like on the other main lines?

Once 140 mph was off the agenda, haven’t Virgin done a bit of a con job by implying tilt was the only game in town?
This is my view, on the whole; prior to the start of the Modernization the options considered were 125mph conventional, 140mph tilt, and 155mph tilt, with 125mph tilt having been discarded early on in the process.

Ultimately with the speed being cut back the Pendolinos were overly long geared for the speeds they run at in service and heavier than needed (and hence slower accelerating than they otherwise would've been, which with an increasingly congested WCML is significant).
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Erm. It has. Britain isn't the sole country in the world, you know? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pendolino
I have read all that (I listed most of them!).
The numbers are in some cases tiny- eg 21 in Finland (4 of which work over RZD to St Petersburg), 7 in CZ (which also work into SK), 10 for Portugal, 3x3-car sets for Slovenia.
Many of the numbers built are for the non-tilt version (eg Poland and China, which is a locally-derived version), which is hardly an endorsement of the tilting design.
My point really is that I suspect the manufacturer has never recovered its design and production costs, which is a measure of "worth".
Although you could say that of Concorde and the A380 I suppose...
 

Hadders

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Like then or loathe them the Pendolinos have revolutionised the WCML.

3 trains an hour London to Birmingham and London to Manchester. I doubt very much if this would have happened with non tilt rolling stock.
 
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an endorsement of the tilting design
Nevertheless, according to Alstom, over 300 trains have their tilting technology in use. That seems like a substantial number that likely has resulted in profit overall. On top of this, according to Alstom, once again, it is the most successful high-speed train in the world, with over 500 trainsets having been sold; good to note that this press release is prior to the Amtrak Avelia Liberty contract being signed/announced. It definitely seems like it has likely been a worthy investment by Alstom.
 

Bald Rick

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Has the extra 15mph and Tilt been worth it? Would a new build of 91s and Mk4s done the job?
Absolutely worth it, and no, 91s and MkIVs would not have ‘done the job’

This of course would almost certainly not have been on the table in the time frame in which the Pendolinos were ordered...
They weren’t.


How much of the WCML could have been signalled to allow 125 mph running without tilt, like on the other main lines?
As others have said, it wasn’t the signalling that was the issue. The WCML has, unfortunately, short stretches of relatively straight track interspersed with relatively tight curves every so often. Not having tilt would make a notable difference to journey times.


IIRC it was either the proposed class 93 + rake of coaches for the WCML or NSE Networkers and the Networker project won.
Nope it was the 365s or 11 x Class 91 + Mark IVs for the first ever rolling stock leasing deal in 1992/3. The latter would have been used mostly on the Manchester route. The former were to be built at York works. Coincidentally York was a very marginal Conservative seat in the 1992 election, and the future of York Works was an issue. The leasing deal was, IIRC announced in the run up to the election, but then InterCity put in the alternative proposal ...
 

LAX54

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Never realised until recently, that Fiat bought the patent and plans for the APT, and then developed it onwards
 

tbtc

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We'll never know, of course.

I don't know what the time penalties would have been for 110mph stock versus what we ended up with - but I'm sure that Virgin's "brand" would have made anything look pretty flashy when it was replacing Class 86/87s (on a railway that struggled to run five days a week) - passenger numbers have certainly rocketed (given that we used to only have one train per hour from London to Manchester, two fast trains per hour from London to Birmingham and Glasgow was a much more irregular/"tidal" market than it is today) - but how much of the increase in passenger numbers would we have had for a flashy Virgin-branded reliable seven-days-a-week railway with improved frequencies and longer trains without those additional fifteen miles per hour of top speed?
 

alangla

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Signalling isn't the issue, unless you want to go faster than 125 mph. It's down to track geometry, politics, and money.
Having had a trip from Glasgow to London on a Pendolino with failed tilt a few years ago, it makes a massive difference to passenger comfort vs non-tilting stock running at 110. They appear to be extremely reliable, even in the worst weather, quick and ride well. The Docker crash proved they’re safe as well. Hard to see how they could have been any better really, other than maybe all of them being 12 cars. Hard to believe they were only 8 cars at first!
 

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