First all-electric train debuts on GWML

The Class 800 IEP worked between Reading and Didcot on July 16 and 17, 2016, under its own power for the first time.

A new electric train has been successfully tested on the Great Western Railway, in a major milestone for the electrification project.

A new Class 800 Intercity Express Train, built by Hitachi Rail, was driven from Reading to Didcot on Saturday and Sunday morning (July 16 and 17, 2016) in a series of exercises designed to test the overhead electric power system. The train, travelling at speeds of up to 125mph, made two test runs between the stations, having arrived from its London depot.

The test was managed by Network Rail, which is currently electrifying the entire line between London Paddington and Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford and Newbury, while the train was supplied by Agility Trains and Hitachi Rail Europe. The electrification between Reading and Didcot has been completed first to enable it to serve as a testing ground for the power systems and the trains themselves.

Mark Langman, Route Managing Director for Network Rail Western, said “This is a great step forward, and I’d like to pay tribute to the team who have worked very hard to make this happen. This is the future of rail being built before our eyes and it’s a very exciting time to be involved in this project. This weekend we’ve come a big step closer to providing faster, quieter, and more efficient services to the people of the region who depend on railways.”

Testing will now continue as construction proceeds on the Greater West programme, with public services scheduled to begin from summer 2017.

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