UK rail operator Avanti West Coast has celebrated the first test run to North Wales of its new bi-mode Hitachi trains with a journey from the West Midlands to Llandudno Junction.
The two Class 805 bi-mode trains travelled the route as part of the first stage of testing by Hitachi Rail before they are handed over to Avanti West Coast ready to enter service next year.
First Rail commercial projects director Phil Cameron said: “Yesterday marked a major milestone for the new fleet with its first test run to Llandudno Junction.
“This 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.”
The new trains are part of a £350m ($449m) project to bring ten seven-carriage electric trains and 13 five-carriage bi-mode trains, which can switch between electric and diesel power, into the operator’s fleet.
The bi-mode trains tested this week will be used on the London to North Wales route, while the electric trains will run between London, the West Midlands and Liverpool.
Further testing is expected on the Class 805 trains to check their compatibility with the route and its infrastructure, including the port terminus of Caergybi/Holyhead.
Cameron added: “Our investment in the new fleet will help raise the bar for rail travellers in North Wales and is part of our wider commitment to transform the customer experience and a more sustainable operation.”
The test run to North Wales follows the first test run of the trains earlier this year in February when the Class 805s completed a 560-mile round trip from Alstom’s Oxley depot in Wolverhampton to Glasgow Central station.
The new Hitachi trains will replace Avanti’s Voyager trains and provide a 61% reduction in carbon emissions as part of the operator’s ambitious goal to reach net zero by 2031.
Avanti celebrated success in the running of its routes this year when its contract was extended by six months in March after it was put on a short-term contract in October 2022 with warnings to urgently improve its service after severe criticism about its operations.