UK: Rail Business UK takes a ride in the cab of one of the Class 805 electro-diesel trainsets now entering traffic with Avanti West Coast.

Avanti Evero 805011 at Crewe on driver training run TM19

Photos: Tony Miles

A Class 805 trainset calls at Crewe on a driver training run. 

UK: Work is under way to exploit the full performance of the non-tilting Hitachi Evero trainsets now being introduced by Avanti West Coast on routes out of London Euston. The first electro-diesel Class 805 Evero unit ran in revenue service on June 2, marking the start of a transition where Class 80x trainsets will replace diesel-only Class 221 Voyager fleet. AWC is taking delivery of 13 five-car bi-mode Class 805s, to be followed by 10 seven-car electric Class 807s later in the year.

Avanti Evero First Class with FISA seats & warmer colour temperature TM15

First Class on an Evero trainset, fitted with Fisa seats.

The trains were ordered under the terms of the franchise that saw AWC succeed Virgin Trains as Inter-City West Coast operator in 2019. However, over the intervening period and AWC’s transition to a National Rail Contract, the operator has had the chance to revise the specification of the Evero trains. This has seen minor modifications to seats, tables and the design of the café-bar area, while the lighting within vehicles is now a warmer colour than that used in comparable Class 80x trainsets for other operators.

Avanti Evero Standard Class Transcal seats & warmer light colour temperature TM10

Standard class seats.

The Class 805 has very similar technical specifications to Hitachi’s other bi-mode fleets, but an updated diesel powerpack has been fitted. Known as Generator Units by the manufacturer, these feature newer Euro Stage V-compliant engines which offer the same power output but include an improved exhaust aftertreatment system.

Comfort and kitchens

The five-car Class 805 provides 299 seats (25 in First Class and 274 Standard), while a Class 807 has 451 (49 First and 402 Standard). The seats in Standard are Transcal Aerolites, the same as those fitted during AWC’s Pendolino refurbishment programme, albeit augmented by seatback lights as used in the interiors of Lumo’s Class 803 trainsets. The reclining seats in First Class come from Italian supplier Fisa; this is their first use in a Class 80x and Avanti notes that they meet RSSB comfort standards. All seats have power sockets, with those in Standard being fitted to the tables.

Without the tapered bodyshell of the tilting Class 221, the Evero has bigger luggage racks as well as more space for bags between seats. A ‘traffic light’ indicator shows seat reservation status, and real-time passenger information displays are fitted throughout.

AWC has retained an onboard shop, and this is larger than the one provided on the Voyagers. Class 805 sets have five toilets and the 807s six, with baby-changing facilities in each. Four reservable cycle spaces are included, as are two wheelchair spaces in each train with an accessible toilet next to each one. The seat numbers are also provided in Braille.

According to AWC, the First Class catering offer will be supported by a galley-kitchen with more functionality than those on the Voyagers, but less than the facilities on its Pendolino fleet.

The Evero fleet is to be maintained by Alstom at Oxley depot in Wolverhampton, although support from Hitachi Rail will be available, notably through a series of software upgrades due over the next few months. The trains will need to pass through the bodyshell modification programme to mitigate against the cracking problems that have affected other Class 80x designs, and this is planned to happen at the end of the rectification programme in 2027-28.

Inside cab of 805011 on driver training run - 1205 Euston to Crewe 070624 TM6

Driver feedback has been positive.

The Evero sets have already received the modifications to the secondary retention of the jacking pads that were carried out on older variants of the Class 80x, but they will still be subject to the monitoring regime that is in place for all the other fleets.

Better performance

The entry to traffic of the new trains is releasing Class 221 Voyagers for use by other operators; ex-Avanti units 221114 and 221116 entered service with CrossCountry on June 5, and a third set followed a few days later. AWC is currently expecting to retain eight Voyagers until this year’s December timetable change, but good progress with the Evero roll-out may see their release brought forward.

AWC’s drivers have given the Class 805s very favourable reviews, with particular praise for their ride quality, which is said to be smoother than a Pendolino or Voyager. They also report improved acceleration, particularly in electric mode where several crews have reported reaching 80 km/h in the same distance they expect a Voyager DEMU to reach 40 km/h.

805002 Nuneaton driver training & differential speed board 070624 TM1

A Class 805 on a driver training run on June 7 passing a future differential speed board.

Currently, the Evero trains are limited to a maximum speed of 175 km/h on the West Coast Main Line because they lack active body tilt. However, Network Rail is finalising the introduction of a series of permissive ‘MU’ speed boards along sections of the route where 200 km/h will be allowed for non-tilting trains. These speed boards have been erected ready for the change, but they remain covered pending completion of the project.