Avanti West Coast has started the test running of the new Class 805 bi-mode trains on the route to Chester and North Wales. The trains, capable of running on both electric and diesel power travelled from the West Midlands to Llandudno Junction, with stops at Chester and Rhyl, before heading back to its depot.
This first stage of testing is being undertaken by Hitachi Rail to ensure the sets work to the best of their ability before being handed over to Avanti West Coast to operate them.
Further trips to Chester and North Wales are planned as the engineers check the fleet’s compatibility with the route and its whole infrastructure, including to the port terminus of Caergybi / Holyhead.
Part of the trial started on July 27, 2023, was to ensure the bilingual Passenger Information Systems are displaying the correct information. Avanti West Coast provides on-board passenger information in Welsh and English throughout the journey to and from London.
The new trains are expected to enter service across Avanti West Coast network from 2023. These trainsets will eventually replace the Voyager trains, lowering the amount of diesel used by only utilising the fuel when there are no overhead wires to supply electricity.
In December 2019 First Trenitalia, whose new Avanti West Coast rail service started in December 2019 has selected Hitachi Rail to manufacture 23 new intercity trains totalling 135 carriages to be built at its County Durham factory. Under the GBP 350 million (EUR 408.5 million) contract the manufacturer will deliver a fleet of 10 seven-carriage electric trains and 13 five-carriage bi-mode trains, with the ability to switch seamlessly between electric and diesel power. The electric trains (Class 807) will operate between London, the West Midlands and Liverpool while the Class 805 bi-mode trains will be focused on the London to North Wales route.
The first test run to Llandudno Junction “will help provide vital information on the route, and the fleet’s performance, to ensure the new trains are fully prepared for when they enter into service next year,” Phil Cameron, Commercial Projects Director at First Rail said.