Angel Trains

Angel Trains is a British rolling stock company (ROSCO). Together with Eversholt Rail Group and Porterbrook, it is one of the three original ROSCOs.

Angel Trains
PredecessorBritish Rail
FoundedMarch 1994
Area served
United Kingdom
ProductsRolling stock leasing
ParentAMP Capital Investors (55%)
PSP Investments (30%)
International Public Partnerships (5%)

Angel Trains was established in March 1994 as part of the privatisation of British Rail. In November 1995, it was bought by Nomura Holdings Babcock & Brown and former InterCity manager John Prideaux. By September of the following year, Angel Trains had contracts with 19 of the 25 train operating companies (TOCs) in the UK, and owned approximately 3,755 vehicles. During December 1997, Angel Trains was sold on to the Royal Bank of Scotland, leading to criticism of the firm having been previously undervalued. The firm quickly expanded into the continental European rail leasing business; this international branch of the firm would be split off as Angel Trains International during 2008 and was subsequently rebranded as Alpha Trains.

In addition to its British Rail-era inventory, Angel Trains acquired new rolling stock, such as the Class 390 'Pendolino' electric multiple units (EMUs), which was introduced by Virgin West Coast during the early 2000s. Following another takeover of the business in 2008, at which point it reportedly held over 40 per cent of the railway rolling stock leasing market in Britain, a major restructuring was undertaken. Since the 2010s, Angel Trains has arranged deals involving Hitachi-built high speed bi-mode trains, such as a deal for 19 five-car Class 802 for train operator TransPennine Express (TPE). Angel Trains has also participated in numerous programs to boost its rolling stock's efficiency and environmental credentials, such as converting several vehicles into hybrid diesel and battery-powered trains, as well as hydrogen fuel cells, as well as other initiatives.


Angel Trains was established on 21 March 1994 as a subsidiary of British Rail; its creation was one of many preparatory steps involved in the privatisation of British Rail during the 1990s.[1][2] It was named Angel Trains after the London neighborhood in which British Rail's offices were located.[3] During November 1995, Angel Trains was sold to a consortium of the Japanese financial services company Nomura Holdings (85%), global investment specialist Babcock & Brown (10%) and former InterCity manager John Prideaux (5%); a private consultancy company owned by Prideaux, Prideaux & Associates, was utilised in this deal.[4][5][6]

By September 1996, Angel Trains had contracts in place with 19 of the 25 train operating companies in the UK, and owned approximately 3,755 vehicles, a third of which were less than eight years old at that time. Less than one year after the acquisition, Nomura was already examining options to merge or sell on Angel Trains, or form a joint venture with a train operating company (TOC); it had reportedly encouraged by the recent sale of other ROSCOs, such as Porterbrook to Stagecoach in addition to alleged approaches by unidentified third parties.[7]

During December 1997, Angel Trains was purchased by the financial services group Royal Bank of Scotland in exchange for £395 million.[8][9] The company had been sold at auction by its previous owners, according to the British newspaper The Independent, the bidding for Angel Trains had been quite vigorous.[6] Around this time, allegations arose that companies such as Angel Trains had been privatised for sums that were far too small by the British Government, which led to an in-depth investigation being conducted by the National Audit Office in addition to separate reviews by regulators.[6]

Throughout the late 1990s and into the 2000s, Angel Trains considerably expanded its leasing business, especially in the continental European market. It entered into a joint venture with the German locomotive manufacturer Vossloh, which led to the formation of another leasing company Locomotion Capital, during 2000. Additionally, through investment in its international branches Angel Trains Cargo (leasing freight rolling stock) and Angel Trains Europa (leasing passenger rolling stock), the company became one of the largest rolling stock leasing companies in Europe - specifically in terms of freight locomotives.[citation needed]

A Virgin Trains Pendolino tilting into one of the many curves on the northern part of the West Coast Main Line

Angel Trains also entered into new leasing arrangements for brand new rolling stock around this time. One high profile example was the Class 390 'Pendolino' electric multiple units (EMUs), the initial order for which comprised 54 nine-car units at a cost of £500 million on behalf of Virgin West Coast.[10] Unusually, these trains featured an active tilt system, designed to provide higher passenger comfort while travelling at speed around curves.[11] Due to a large increase in passenger numbers following the WCML modernisation, the Department for Transport announced the procurement of four additional Class 390s, each with 11 cars, while 31 of the existing trainsets were also lengthened to 11 cars to provide increased capacity.[12][13]

In June 2008, Angel Trains was acquired by a consortium of Babcock & Brown, AMP Capital, Arcus European Infrastructure Fund and Deutsche Bank at a reported cost of £3.6 billion.[14][15] Babcock & Brown's head of European infrastructure, Simon Gray, referred to the purchase as "one of the largest acquisitions in Europe in the last few months". At the time, Angel Trains held more than 40 per cent of the railway rolling stock leasing market in Britain.[16]

The 2008 takeover promptly led to a major restructuring of the business' activities; all of its international operations were split out into Angel Trains International, during January 2010, this division was rebranded as Alpha Trains.[17][18][19] During 2015, AMP Capital Investors and PSP Investments increased their shareholdings in Angel Trains to 55% and 30% respectively after purchasing the stock formerly owned by Arcus European Infrastructure Fund.[20][21]

Since the 2010s, Angel Trains has been involved in the supply of Hitachi-built high speed bi-mode trains, such as a deal for 19 five-car Class 802 for train operator TransPennine Express (TPE).[22] Referred to as the Nova 1 by TPE, it was procured under plans to bolster its route capacity by roughly 80%.[23] According to Robin Davis, TPE's Head of New Trains, a major rationale behind the Nova 1 was its bi-mode capability, noting that electrification ambitions often had much uncertainty, while a bi-mode fleet eliminated the operational risk to such uncertainty.[23]

Angel Trains has participated in numerous initiatives to improve the efficiency and environmental credentials of the railways. In September 2018, plans were announced by Angel Trains to convert Class 165 diesel multiple units into hybrid diesel and battery-powered trains.[24] For this scheme, the original diesel-hydraulic drives were replaced by electric drives, the engines charge the batteries, making the drive effectively a hybridized diesel-electric drive; in February 2022, the first trainset was entered service with Chiltern Railways.[25] In February 2020, ScotRail and Angel Trains announced plans to convert a Class 314 EMU, equipping it with hydrogen fuel cells, as a technical demonstration of the feasibility of using hydrogen to fuel trains.[26][27] In July 2020, Riding Sunbeams formed a consortium that included Angel Trains to power electrified railway lines using 100 percent renewable energy.[28][29][30] During November 2021, it was announced that Hitachi Rail and Angel Trains would trial the use of battery power on hybrid high speed trains in order to reduce fuel consumption.[31]

By June 2019, Angel Trains' inventory of rolling stock reportedly totalled 4,421 vehicles.[32]

Initial fleetEdit

The fleet Angel Trains inherited from British Rail in 1994 comprised:[2]

Class Number
of carriages
First generation 137
43 115
142 190
150 146
153 30
156 124
165 180
166 63
303 144
305 75
308 63
312 180
314 48
317 288
421 332
423 264
442 120
465 200
507 96
508 93
Mark 3 coaches 416


  1. ^ a b "Angel Trains Limited, Company number: 02912655". Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b "25 Years of ROSCOs" (281). Rail Express. October 2019: 18–21. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "Why Angel Trains?" (113). Today's Railways UK. May 2005: 25. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "ROSCOs sold for £1,699.5m" (18). Rail Privatisation News. 16 November 1995: 16. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "BR's passenger trains fleet sold-off for £1.8 billion" (266). Rail. 22 November 1995: 6. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ a b c Godsmark, Chris (18 December 1997). "Ex-InterCity chief makes pounds 15m from Angel Trains sale". The Independent. Archived from the original on 11 December 2015.
  7. ^ Harrison, Michael (14 September 1996). "Nomura's Angel looks for train merger". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020.
  8. ^ "RBS buys Angel Trains for £395m" (69). Rail Privatisation News. 8 January 1998: 1. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "Royal Bank Buys Angel Train Contracts" (26). Today's Railways UK. February 1998: 8. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Knight, Stephen (2 December 1998). "Virgin's first West Coast tilt train 'on test by July 2000'" (PDF). Rail. No. 345. EMAP Apex Publications. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 May 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Class 390 - Virgin Trains West Coast". Angel Trains. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Pendolino lengthening and fleet expansion project". Department for Transport. 28 March 2008. Archived from the original on 8 April 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2019 – via The National Archives.
  13. ^ "Angel Trains and Alstom sign order for new Pendolino high speed tilting train sets and extra carriages to lengthen existing trains" (Press release). Angel Trains. 19 September 2009. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011..
  14. ^ "Angel Trains sold to Australian-led consortium for £3.6 billion". International Railway Journal. July 2008: 4. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ "Babcock & Brown buys Angel Trains for £3.6bn" (595). Rail. 2 July 2008: 20. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ "Angel Trains to be sold for $3.6 billion". Times of Malta. 16 June 2008.
  17. ^ "New names". Railway Gazette International. February 2010: 20. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ "2010 brings company rebranding" (171). Today's Railways Europe. March 2010: 7. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ "Name changes for rolling stock leasing companies" (1307). The Railway Magazine. March 2010: 8. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ "AMP Capital takes majority stake in Angel Trains". Railway Gazette International. 19 August 2015. Archived from the original on 17 February 2020.
  21. ^ "Arcus sells Angel Trains stake". International Railway Journal. October 2015: 17. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ "Our Fleet - Class 802". Angel Trains. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  23. ^ a b Clinnick, Richard (26 August 2019). "TPE's new trains".
  24. ^ "Hybrid battery trains set to shorten commuter journey times". Financial Times. London. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  25. ^ "'Cleaner, quieter and quicker' diesel-battery hybrid train enters passenger service". Railway Gazette International. 14 February 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  26. ^ "Scotland Plans to Build and Test a Hydrogen-Powered Train". Gizmodo UK. Archived from the original on 29 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  27. ^ "Scotland's Hydrogen Train". 15 February 2021. Archived from the original on 20 February 2021. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  28. ^ "Green tech start-up wins funding for solar rail demonstrator". Smart Cities World. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  29. ^ "Solar trains: Government confirms funding for low carbon rail projects, but does it go far enough". 31 January 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  30. ^ Sharpe, Lorna (13 July 2020). "Rail solar projects pave the way for renewables". Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  31. ^ "Hitachi Rail and Angel Trains to trial intercity battery hybrid trains". 10 November 2021.
  32. ^ "Investor report for year ended 30 June 2019" (PDF). Angel Trains. 30 June 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 April 2020.

External linksEdit