HomeRail NewsPendolino is first electric train through Bolton

Pendolino is first electric train through Bolton

One of Virgin’s Class 390 Pendolinos has become the first electric train to run between Manchester and Preston via Bolton.

On the night of 13 December 2018, the train was used to test the new infrastructure along the 25-mile route via Salford, Bolton and Chorley, closely monitored by Network Rail engineers checking the new overhead power lines.

Virgin Trains Pendolino running through Bolton station.

The test runs are taking place in two phases. These first runs will be used to check that the new electrical infrastructure works correctly, while a second set of tests in early January will check that the infrastructure can handle trains running at full linespeed.

As part of the Great North Rail Project, the rail industry’s joint programme to transform train travel for customers through track and train upgrades, the Manchester-Preston upgrade will give Northern and TransPennine Express customers faster and more comfortable journeys using a new fleet of electric trains which will replace the old diesel-powered Pacers.

Commenting on this latest development, Network Rail route managing director Martin Frobisher said: “This challenging upgrade has been really disruptive for passengers and our train operating partners who use this route. We’re sorry for this.

“I would like to thank local people for their patience, and I hope this milestone reassures them the end is in sight.”

Nigel Wordsworth BSc(Hons) MCIJhttp://therailengineer.com
SPECIALIST AREAS Rolling stock, mechanical equipment, project reports, executive interviews Nigel Wordsworth graduated with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham University, after which he joined the American aerospace and industrial fastener group SPS Technologies. After a short time at the research laboratories in Pennsylvania, USA, Nigel became responsible for applications engineering to industry in the UK and Western Europe. At this time he advised on various engineering projects, from Formula 1 to machine tools, including a particularly problematic area of bogie design for the HST. A move to the power generation and offshore oil supply sector followed as Nigel became director of Entwistle-Sandiacre, a subsidiary of the Australian-owned group Aurora plc. At the same time, Nigel spent ten years as a Technical Commissioner with the RAC Motor Sports Association, responsible for drafting and enforcing technical regulations for national and international motor racing series. Joining Rail Engineer in 2008, Nigel’s first assignment was a report on new three-dimensional mobile mapping and surveying equipment, swiftly followed by a look at vegetation control machinery. He continues to write on a variety of topics for most issues.


  1. You would think they would use something simple like an 87 or Class 86.Or was it something today with testing signalling equipment? Imagine shifting a whole Pendilno if something went wrong?

    • Maybe it’s because they don’t have a specialist train of their own to test overhead line equipment. Another thought that comes to mind is whether the Pendolino carried any test equipment or was it a case of engineers riding with the driver and merely listening for potential faults.

  2. is there any way to find out the dates and times these trains will be tested i live close to moses gate on the line and would like to go down to see one passing thanks

  3. As Network Rail does not have a specialist train for testing new overhead line equipment, I can understand the reason for hiring a Pendolino to do the job. In this regard, I would assume that the train carried appropriate electronic recording equipment and it was not just a case of engineers riding in the cab with driver listening out for any anomalies.

  4. It’s good that the Class 390 Pendolino was tested on the Manchester-Bolton line (Bolton Corridor Line). As the overhead wires which were installed and erected are now live and Northern to start using the Class 319 from possibly early next year before they can also start introducing the Class 331 on the Manchester-Preston line and on other lines including the Preston-Blackpool North Line.


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