Virgin Trains' Pendolino tilting train fleet, designed, built and maintained by Alstom, recently clocked up 100 million miles since the first train entered service in June 2002.
The 52-strong fleet is now covering 16.8 million miles a year meaning that each train is covering a million miles in little more than three years. Top of the mileage table is Pendolino 390022, named Penny the Pendolino, which clocked up two million miles at the beginning of May 2011.
Over 28-and-a-half million passenger journeys are now made with Virgin Trains every year, up from 14 million a year just six years ago. Virgin Trains now carries more passengers a day (78,700) than the population of several key towns it serves - Runcorn (61,500); Carlisle (72,100); Crewe (68,400); Stafford (64,300); and Rugby (62,600). The half-a-million passengers carried a week is more than the population of Edinburgh (486,733) and more than twice the population of Stoke-on-Trent (242,257). In a year Virgin Trains carries the equivalent of over ten times the population of Greater Manchester (2.6 million).
The state-of-the-art 125mph Pendolino trains emit on average 76% less carbon dioxide per seat than domestic airlines and are also saving energy and reducing pollution as they return energy to the electrical feeder stations every time they brake. The 52 tilting trains, designed, built and maintained by Alstom, are fitted with electronic control systems that cause the traction motors to provide braking effort by generating electricity back into the supply system. The generated electricity which is put back into the supply system achieves an overall energy saving of around 15%.
Regenerative braking used on the Pendolino trains also reduces the use of the friction brakes, dramatically reducing brake-pad dust and pollution, to provide a double environmental benefit. In travelling two million miles in just over eight years, Penny the Pendolino has covered the equivalent of four return trips to the moon; over 80 trips round the Earth; or 2,487 return trips from Glasgow to London.
The Pendolino trains were designed with a life-expectancy of 30 years, by which time the fleet will have covered 500 million miles, equating to over nine-and-a-half million miles per train.
In providing a 24/7 maintenance regime for the Pendolino fleet, Alstom has taken best practice from operating Pendolino trains in the UK and incorporated it into its International fleets. To ensure that the trains can meet their demanding schedule every day Alstom has perfected a 'Pit Stop' approach to Pendolino servicing at its' maintenance depots, whereby all parts and staff are in the right place at the right time when the train arrives on the depot.
Virgin Trains Chief Operating Officer Chris Gibb said: "This is a landmark for our Pendolino fleet, which also provides valuable benefits to the environment. We know that our passengers care about the environment and they can travel in the knowledge that by choosing to travel by train, they are doing their bit to save the planet and reduce consumption of energy. The Pendolino trains are used on our services to Manchester, the West Midlands, Liverpool, Cumbria and Scotland."
The high frequency services operated by Virgin Trains have been described as "the most frequent long-distance inter-city service in Europe", by Brendan Fox, Editor of Thomas Cook's European Timetable.
Alstom Transport UK Managing Director Paul Robinson said: "This milestone again demonstrates Alstom and Virgin's round the clock teamwork in providing a safe, high-performance Pendolino fleet every day. We are fully committed to supporting Virgin in delivering a world-class intercity service."