TAKING shape at Bombardier Transportation's BN plant in Brugge are the first of 352 DEMU cars for Virgin Rail's Cross-Country franchise in Britain. The first unit is on course to roll out in June, just 18 months after the £1060m contract was placed (RG 4.99 p223). The 34 four-car non-tilting Voyager units of Class 220 are due to enter service in May 2001. Another 40 five-car and 4 four-car Class 221 Super Voyager tilting units will follow in May 2002.

Production is split between four plants. Crespin is building the bogies, underframes and roof modules, and the ends come from Manage. Brugge is fabricating the sides, assembling and painting the bodyshells, and completing the first stage fit-out. Final fitting-out will be split between Brugge and Wakefield.

Originally, 32 cars were to be finished at Brugge, but Project Director Eric Patterson says this will now be at least 56 to overcome delays in test-fitting the major sub-assemblies. With the assembly jig able to complete five shells a week, he is confident that any delays can be made up by running the two lines in parallel. By mid-March 26 shells had been completed, of which 14 had been painted.

Both classes are designed to operate at 200 km/h with passengers in the leading vehicles. The driving cars can absorb 2 MJ of collision energy ahead of the passenger area. A steel cage encloses the cab, finished with a streamlined GRP nose moulding. The 220s will be carried on lightweight inside-framed B5005 bogies, but the tilting 221s will have outside-framed bogies with a longer wheelbase. Each car is powered by a Cummins QSK19 diesel engine, mounted with its cooling group and alternator in an underfloor module developed by Transys Projects Ltd. Transmission is through an Alstom ONIX three-phase drive.

The first unit is expected to start test running on SNCB tracks in August, including 200 km/h trials on the Brugge - Gent - Brussels main line. The Voyagers will not start running in Britain until November, giving as long a window as possible for getting the design through the Railtrack vehicle acceptance process.

Train 13 will be a pre-production tilt unit, which will probably go to southern France for trials on the route being used to test tilting DMUs for Norwegian State Railways. Patterson says Bombardier has bought in fast-acting tilt actuation software derived from a German missile guidance system, following trials with the Axis test train in France. Next step will be simulator tests at Crespin, using a full set of cables and actuators, followed by further trials with Axis.

Under the contract, Bombardier will maintain the Voyager fleet at a purpose-built depot at Barton under Needwood, between Burton and Tamworth. Construction of the buildings starts this month, and the depot is expected to be ready by November.

Principal Voyager suppliers

Main contractor Bombardier

Diesel engine Cummins

Electric transmission Alstom

Exhaust piping Eminox

Brakes Westinghouse Brakes

Air-conditioning Hagenuk-Faiveley

External doors Faiveley

GRP nose mouldings EMC

Toilets Temoinsa