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British Rail Class 220

The Class 220 Voyager is a class of diesel-electric high-speed multiple-unit trains built in Belgium by Bombardier Transportation in 2000 and 2001.

British Rail Class 220 Voyager
Hugh llewelyn 220 002 (6701873995).jpg
220 002 of Arriva Cross Country on a Birmingham New St - Plymouth service passing Charfield, September 2010.
220001 Standard Class Interior.jpg
The interior of Standard Class aboard a CrossCountry Class 220
In service2001–present
ManufacturerBombardier Transportation
Built atBruges, Belgium
Family nameVoyager
Number built34 trainsets
Number in service34 trainsets
Formation4 cars per trainset
Capacity174 standard class, 26 first class
Car body constructionSteel
Car length23.85 m (driving cars) or 22.82 m (intermediate cars)
Width2.73 m (8 ft 11 in)
Articulated sectionsFlexible diaphragm (within unit only)
Maximum speed125 mph (200 km/h)
Weight185.6 t (182.7 long tons; 204.6 short tons) per trainset
Traction systemDEMU
Prime mover(s)Cummins QSK19[1]
Power outputEach engine: 560 kW (750 hp) at 1800 rpm
Total: 3,000 hp (2,240 kW)
UIC classification1A'A1'+1A'A1'+1A'A1'+1A'A1'[2][3]
Braking system(s)Rheostatic
Safety system(s)AWS, TPWS
Coupling systemDellner[4]
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

They were introduced in 2001 to replace the 20-year-old InterCity 125 and 30-year-old Class 47-hauled Mark 2 fleets operating on the Cross Country Route, initially for Virgin CrossCountry and since 2007 by CrossCountry.[5]

Technical detailsEdit

All coaches are equipped with a Cummins QSK19 diesel engine of 750 hp (560 kW) at 1800rpm. These power a generator which supplies current to motors driving two axles per coach,[6] with one axle per bogie powered.[7][8]

Voyagers have both air and rheostatic brakes. They are fitted with Dellner couplers, like the Class 222, operated by East Midlands Railway and the Class 390 Pendolino electric trains used by Virgin West Coast meaning they can be coupled in rescue/recovery mode (air brake only) in the event of a failure. 220s and 221s can also be easily assisted by Dellner fitted Class 57s (Thunderbirds) in the event of a failure. By use of adaptor couplings a failed 220 or 221 can also be assisted by any air braked locomotive such as a Class 37, 47 or 66 or even an HST. The units can work in multiple with Class 221 units but not Class 222 units as the electrical connections of the Class 222 units are incompatible with the Class 220.[citation needed]

Classes 220 (left) and 221 (right) at Durham, showing the differing bogie designs

The Class 220s and closely related Class 222s have B5005 bogies,[2][7] which are distinctive as they are of inside-frame design and so the axles are supported by bearings behind the wheels, meaning the outside face of the wheel is visible. The related Class 221 Super Voyager has outside-frame bogies and hence a more conventional appearance.

The Class 220s operate in four-coach sets with a carriage mass of between 45 and 48 tonnes and a total train weight of 185.6 tonnes, a top speed of 125 mph (200 km/h) and a maximum range of approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km) between each refuelling. Their route availability is very good being RA 2[6] - in part due to the lightweight bogie design.

Class 220 units are fitted with an AB Hoses variable rate sanding system.

All Voyagers are maintained at the dedicated Central Rivers TMD near Burton-on-Trent.

The interior of First Class aboard a Class 220

Accidents and incidentsEdit

Units have sometimes been stopped by salt water, when storm-driven waves broke over the train at Dawlish in south Devon and inundated the resistor banks, causing the control software to shut down.[9] This problem was fixed by an upgrade to the control software.[10]

There were a number of exhaust fires on the Voyager class during 2005–2006 due to incorrect fitting of equipment during overhauls. Fires occurred at Starcross (Class 221), Newcastle and on 19 January 2006 at Congleton.[11]

On 14 March 2008, 220 012, forming a service to Derby, had a roof fire at Banbury.[12][13] This fire was caused by a bird getting caught under one of the hot brake resistors on the roof of the train. Damage to the train was not serious and it was repaired and returned to service.

Formation and passenger facilitiesEdit

Class 220s operate in four-coach sets. These trains, unlike the older trains they replaced, feature electronic information displays on the exterior walls showing the train number, the departure time, the coach, the train's destination, and the next station. This is also a feature of the Class 221 and Class 222 trains (The Class 390 trains also have such electronic information displays, but in the doors). They are air-conditioned throughout, with powered doors. The coaches are fitted with power sockets for laptop computers and mobile phone charging. Toilet facilities for disabled people and storage facilities for bicycles are provided.

They provide 26 seats in 2+1 formation in first class and 174 seats in 2+2 formation in standard class.

The formation of a four-car Class 220 is as follows:[1]

  • 604## - Coach A - 26 seats - First Class with disabled area, train manager office, first class catering area and driving cab, toilet.
  • 602## - Coach C - 66 seats - Standard Class. Toilet.
  • 607## - Coach D - 66 seats - Standard Class with large luggage area and reservable space for three bikes. No toilet.
  • 603## - Coach F - 42 seats - Standard Class with disabled area, catering base and driving cab. Toilet.

There is no coach B on the four car class 220, it exists on the 5-car class 221 and is usually a coach which holds no reservations. This aids short-term fleet changes, for example if a class 220 is running in a diagram that usually has a class 221, then the loss of a coach will not affect the reservation system, as they will all still be allocated. CrossCountry has finished updating the interior layout of all its 220 and 221 sets; the aim is to increase seating capacity, in line with its commitments to the franchise agreements, as well as provide an at-seat trolley service for refreshments instead of a shop. Research had shown that the shop was not making as good a turnover as hoped because people prefer not to leave their seats to get refreshments; they feared either losing their seat or having their belongings stolen when away. In Virgin Trains' unsuccessful franchise bid it also cited removal of the shop from 220s and 221s as a way of trying to improve seating capacity.[citation needed]

The interior renovation involved the removal of the shop from coach D and the conversion of the stowage area in coach F to a catering storage area where there is now a fridge, food storage and a space for an on-board trolley to be stored. Bicycle storage has been moved to coach D where the shop was. It can now store three bicycles instead of four.


220004 New Dawn at Elford in June 2001.
CrossCountry unit 220014 departs Weston-super-Mare with a northbound service from Paignton to Manchester Piccadilly.
Two British Rail Class 220 units operated by CrossCountry coupling to form a longer train
CrossCountry Class 220 unit 220032 on a curve at Langstone Rock near Dawlish.

All units are owned by Beacon Rail, after they were purchased from Voyager Rail Leasing,[14] a consortium of Lloyds Banking Group and Angel Trains.[15] They are leased to the train operating companies; as of 2013, CrossCountry is the only operator of Class 220 units.

Virgin CrossCountry was the sole operator of Class 220 Voyager trains when they were introduced in 2001. When the Cross Country Route franchise was transferred to Arriva CrossCountry in November 2007, most of the Voyager fleet was transferred with it, and by the end of 2007 CrossCountry was the sole operator of Class 220 units.

The 220s often operate in multiple with Class 221 units, which are mechanically similar except for their bogies and have the same coupler type.

Fleet detailsEdit

There are 34 Class 220 Voyager trains, numbered 220 001–220 034.

Class Operator Number Year Built Cars per Set Unit Numbers.
Class 220 CrossCountry 34 2000–2001 4 220 001–220 034

Virgin Trains named all the Class 220 Voyagers after places that they serve or companies that have relations with Virgin Trains.

220 001 Somerset Voyager (previously Maiden Voyager) 220 018 Dorset Voyager (previously Central News)
220 002 Forth Voyager 220 019 Mersey Voyager
220 003 Solent Voyager 220 020 Wessex Voyager
220 004 Cumbrian Voyager (previously New Dawn) 220 021 Staffordshire Voyager (previously Blackpool Voyager)
220 005 Guildford Voyager 220 022 Brighton Voyager
220 006 Clyde Voyager 220 023 Mancunian Voyager
220 007 Thames Voyager 220 024 Sheffield Voyager
220 008 Welsh Dragon 220 025 Severn Voyager (previously Virgin Voyager)
220 009 Gatwick Voyager 220 026 Stagecoach Voyager
220 010 Ribble Voyager 220 027 Avon Voyager
220 011 Tyne Voyager 220 028 Black Country Voyager
220 012 Lanarkshire Voyager 220 029 Cornish Voyager
220 013 South Wales Voyager 220 030 Devon Voyager
220 014 South Yorkshire Voyager 220 031 Tay Voyager
220 015 Solway Voyager 220 032 Grampian Voyager
220 016 Midland Voyager 220 033 Fife Voyager
220 017 Bombardier Voyager 220 034 Yorkshire Voyager

When the Class 220s were transferred to the new operator CrossCountry, all the names were removed. All Class 220 Voyagers are now in CrossCountry livery.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Diesel Multiple Units 2010. Sheffield: Platform 5. 2010. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-902336-75-6.
  2. ^ a b "High-speed multiple units Virgin Voyager and Super Voyager with SK-450 final drives and cardan shafts" (PDF). Voith. May 2008. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 13 March 2008. Drive configuration [diagram][permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Cutting noise and smoothing the ride". Railway Gazette. London. 1 August 2000. Archived from the original on 4 June 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2010. In the Voyager application, every car has a Cummins underfloor engine and alternator supplying power to a pair of body-mounted traction motors. Each drives one inner axle through a cardan shaft and axle-mounted final drive gearbox. Thus all 272 bogies are identical
  4. ^ "Mechanical And Electrical Coupling Index". Rail Safety and Standards Board. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  5. ^ "New Dawn for Virgin Trains" (Press release). Virgin Trains. 5 June 2001. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Class 220 data". The Railway Centre. 2 June 2008.
  7. ^ a b M-Size Bogies B5000 For Coach and EMU Applications[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ B5000 bogies bombardier Archived 17 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Virgin Trains chaos 'over by Christmas'". BBC News. 20 November 2002.
  10. ^ "Voyager Train fleet "think smart" to operate past Devon sea storms" (Press release). Virgin Trains. 2 December 2002. Archived from the original on 16 October 2006.
  11. ^ Virgin Trains Cross Country news April 2006. Page 4 section 14 Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Train fire at Banbury". Banbury Guardian. 14 March 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  13. ^ "Train Fire is out". Oxford Mail. 14 March 2008.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Pritchard, Robert; Hall, Peter (2013). British Railways Locomotives & Coaching Stock 2013. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing. pp. 245–6, 373. ISBN 978-1-909431-02-7.
  16. ^ Class 220 Fleet Details

External linksEdit