Class 221 testing and operations
Between 2001 and 2004 the class 221 Super Voyagers underwent test and commissioning running on the Monk Bretton branch near Wakefield and on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).
The class 221 units were built by Bombardier at their Horbury (Wakefield) and Bruges (Belgium) plants and consisted of 5 cars each having an underslung 750HP QSK19 Cummins engine driving an alternator which fed two longitudinally-mounted traction motors each driving one axle per bogie via final drives and cardan shafts. The units also featured rheostatic and friction braking and were capable of tilting at up to six degrees.
The class 220 units are known as Voyagers and are non-tilting but the tilting class 221 Super Voyagers have the same tapered body profile.
Serco staff were involved with all the initial test running under a specially written Class 221 Railway Safety Case on the Monk Bretton branch and on the ECML, the WCML and on the GW between Oxford and Banbury. The units were delivered by rail from Horbury Works to Crofton Depot which used to be a track assembly depot - see class 220 page for details and pictures of Crofton.
The depot is still in use today servicing Class 170's and 222's as well as Voyagers and latterly the class 180's. Horbury Works has now closed.
Serco undertook all the formal Acceptance Testing and a multitude of train operations on the class 221 fleet including commissioning runs on every unit, TASS commissioning and tilt testing etc.
Prior to commencing running tests the units underwent static testing at the RTC, Derby.
Click on the picture for a bigger image - all photos are the authors unless otherwise credited
|An unidentified class 221 shown in the EDU
undergoing a sway test
|The unit shows off its tilting
ability in the safety of the workshop
Apart from the low speed running at Monk Bretton (see class 220 page) further commissioning runs took place on the ECML as far north as Edinburgh. In addition various round trips were undertaken from Crofton to York, then to Edinburgh, across to Carstairs, down to Carlisle and Carnforth and back via Bolton and Manchester Victoria to Crofton .
|A shot from the cab of a 221 unit as it negotiates the workshops at Horbury to gain access to the yard.||Unit 221106 is pictured at Calder Bridge Jcn. between Crofton and Wakefield Kirkgate en route to Edinburgh in the summer of 2002|
|221114 at Newcastle station after a run from Crofton sometime in March 2002||After a run from Crofton 221109 awaits departure from Berwick-on-Tweed on the return trip.|
|221109 pictured at Edinburgh after a test run from Crofton.|
Further test running
Testing also took place in Belgium and in France with 221101 fitted with a Load Measuring Wheelset in February 2002
Here are a few photos courtesy of Ben Jones
|221101 crossing the Viaduc de Lamothe near Souillac on the Paris-Toulouse main line in February 2002||221101 at Brive La Gaillade|
|221101 at Brive La Gaillade||221101 at Brive La Gaillade|
|Some reprobates from BR Testing Section during a sway test on 221101 in Bruges|
By August 2002 tilting trials were well underway with unit 221101 on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) between Carnforth and Carlisle.
This part of the WCML was fitted experimentally with Tilt And Speed Supervision (TASS) balises for test purposes. This allowed the Super Voyager test train to exceed the normal line speed (Enhanced Permitted Speed) at certain locations and EPS signs to this effect were erected along the route.
|At the end of July 2002 unit 221101 is pictured at Tebay in the company of a Pendolino set. Both trains were being prepared for separate overnight high speed tests between Tebay and Carlisle||221101 pictured in the disused platform 7 at Preston en route to Carlisle on 1st August 2002|
|On a misty August morning 221101 awaits in the headshunt outside Crofton depot ready for a trip to Carlisle||221101 stands in the Up & Down Goods Loop at Carnforth after a run from Carlisle on 3rd August 2002|
|Unit 221101 stands in platform 1 at Carlisle having just arrived from Carnforth on 3rd August 2002||The driver's desk of a class 221 showing the small instruments and the large gap left for ERTMS driver's display - one day!|
|221101 is pictured on the Goods Lines outside the former steam depot at Carlisle Upperby whilst adjustments are made in connection with the testing programme||The driver of 221101 changes ends at Courock Junction during a turning move at Carlisle on 3rd August 2002|
|221101 departs Carnforth for Carlisle on 3rd August 2002. It was during these trials that the train ran in tilting mode, the first time a tilting train had operated in normal traffic in the UK for almost 18 years.||Following overnight tests 221101 is pictured on the S & C at Lowhouses when returning to Crofton on 13th October 2002|
|221101 waits for the road at Hellifield on its way back to Crofton later that morning||It was still undergoing tests when pictured in the sidings at Tebay on 17th November 2002|
Other tests also took place on the ECML
Underbridge resonance is a phenomenon that occurs when the frequency of loading from rail vehicles matches the natural frequency of a structure or particular elements of a structure - namely a rail underbridge.
Incidents of ballast moving on underbridges when being traversed by TGVs on SNCF lead Railtrack to instigate a test series on several new built DMU's (including class 180 and class 221) although realistically the design of underbridges in UK was different from SNCF and the fact that TGV's were articulated seemed to have passed Railtrack by.
|The driver is seen unlocking the cab door after changing ends at Darlington with the pucker 5-car version of 221101 on 5th March 2003|
|221126 at Northallerton on 4th May 2003 whilst undertaking test work on ECML in connection with bridge resonance testing.|
|221126 is pictured on the Up Goods line at Ferryhill on 4th May 2003 awaiting a run back to Northallerton during bridge resonance testing|
The line between Banbury and Oxford was one of the first to be fitted with Tilt And Speed Supervision (TASS) balises for test purposes. This line was usually limited to 90 mile/h but the Super Voyagers could run at an EPS of 110 mile/h. However this was later reduced to line speed for passenger service and rumours have it that the tilt system is now isolated.
During the spring and summer of 2003 TASS commissioning took place on the route between Oxford and Banbury, unfortunately at night! The run down from Central Rivers depot in the early evening was usually straightforward but we often got stuck somewhere on the return journey which was invariably after midnight.
Ironically the beacons were re-programmed back to 90 mile/h and lately Voyagers have had their tilt systems isolated
|221109 stands in the yard at Hinksey just south of Oxford on 10th March 2003, as an HST passes.||On 11th March 2003 unit No: 221111 waits in the Goods Loop at Banbury for a test path south to Oxford|
|221111 in 4-car formation passing Heyford Station
heading for Oxford on 11th March 2003 at 11.04am
|30 minutes later it was heading
north back to Banbury
|221111 approaching Heyford
Station heading for Banbury later in the day
|On the ECML two unidentified class 221 sets pass Northallerton with an Up cross country service on 4th May 2003||An unidentified class 221 heading north from Milford Tunnel on the Midland line on 6th May 2004|
|An unidentified class 221 set heads south towards Toadmoor Tunnel on 7th June 2005||On 27th June 2005 a 221 set is pictured on a Down service at Broadholme, between Belper and Ambergate.|
|On 1st July 2005 an Up Cross Country service crosses the River Derwent and the A6 at Ambergate||An unidentified class 221 set heads south from Wingfield Tunnel on 11th May 2006|
|221124 at Sheffield with an Edinburgh service on 13th July 2006||221127 arrives at Warrington Bank Quay with an Up service on 11th September 2006|
|In July 2007
undertaken utilising a class 221 to assess new brake pad material for both
the 221's and 220's. The pads had already been
proven on the dynamometer rigs at the manufacturers and the on-track testing
was to validate their performance in traffic.
The trains were once again based at Crofton Depot, Wakefield which was very convenient for the ECML.
|Four car Super Voyager 221142 waits on platform 4 at Darlington for a return trip to York in connection with tests on new brake pads on 17th July 2007.|
Back to main index