Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Going at Full Tilt; 125mph Train Is Finally Launched after a Delay of More Than Two Years

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Going at Full Tilt; 125mph Train Is Finally Launched after a Delay of More Than Two Years

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

TONY BLAIR today launched the UK's first 125mph tilting train service - two years and four months late.

The Prime Minister was at Euston Station amid huge security to herald the high-speed service between London and Glasgow. Mr Blair said: "This is a great day for railways in Britain.

Passengers on the West Coast route will now benefit from the first phase of the investment."

But while Virgin Trains' Pendolinos - which run from next Monday - are good news for long-distance passengers, commuters on Silverlink services from Euston face huge disruption. A section of the line to Watford will close for a week next month with passengers forced onto replacement buses.

Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Trains chief who wore a jumper and trainers to today's event, said: "I have waited five years to see Pendolinos tilting at 125mph and today is very emotional for myself and the rail industry which has finally made it happen."

From next week, the tilting service will run between London and Manchester, cutting 35 minutes off the journey time which is now scheduled to last two hours and six minutes. The first high-speed section should have opened in May 2002, and the line will not be fully operational until 2008.

From next June the 53-strong fleet of nine-coach Pendolinos, which cost [pounds sterling]11 million each, will also serve Preston and Liverpool and from December 2005 the service will reach Glasgow.

The trains were intended to travel at 140mph, but this will never happen as the signalling system would have to be replaced again and rail chiefs say it is not worth the extra cost.

Virgin Trains chief executive, Chris Green, said: "Our new timetables and faster journey times will bring the regions closer to London and support regional regeneration. …

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