Bombardier Voyager

The Voyager is a family of diesel-electric multiple units developed by Bombardier Transportation of Berlin, Germany.  It includes the British Rail Class 220 Voyager, Class 221 Super Voyager, and Class 222 Meridian. This blog entry concentrates on the cosmetically similar Class 220 and 221 trains. The Class 220 is exclusively operated by CrossCountry and the Class 221 is operated by both CrossCountry and Virgin Trains.

The Class 220 and 221 trains were introduced in 2001 for commercial service (Class 222 was the improved version of the Class 220 introduced in 2004). The main difference between the Class 220 and 221 is that Class 221 Super Voyagers are fitted with tilting bogies that enable them to tilt up to 6 degrees in curves. The non-tilting Class 220 and 222 feature a lightweight bogie design. Each carriage of these DEMUs carries a 560 kilowatt (750 horsepower) Cummins diesel engine connected to a generator powering an electric motor on an axle on each bogie (2 axles per bogie). Class 220 trainsets consist of 4 cars, the Class 221 trainsets consist of 4 or 5 cars, and they can be coupled together in operation. The top speed of the Voyager trains in service is 200 km/h (125 mph) and they have much higher acceleration than conventional locomotive-trailer or push-pull trains.

Class 221 Super Voyager at Bristol Temple Meads Station

Class 220 Voyager at Exeter St. Davis Station

Although the Voyager trains are constructed with steel, due to the nature of multiple units, they are very light and have even weight distribution on the rails (each carriage in a multiple unit weighs more or less the same). Each car of the Class 220 weighs 45 to 48 tonnes (50 to 53 short tons) and 55 to 57 tonnes (60 to 63 short tons) for Class 221. In the British Rail Route Availability rating system (scale 1 to 10, 1 being the lightest in axle load and affected the least by track conditions), the Class 220 achieved a rating of RA2 (RA3 up to 16.5 tonnes per axle) while Class 221 had a rating of RA4 (RA5 up to 19.0 tonnes per axle). The typical range per fuelling of the Class 220 and 222 is 2,170 km (1,350 miles) and 1,930 km (1,200 miles) for the Class 221.

In Canada, the permitted maximum speed of the LRC trainsets on the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor was reduced to 160 km/h (100 mph) because the locomotives were overweight. Although the aluminium LRC carriages only weighed 44 tonnes (48 short tons), the production LRC locomotives weighed 101 tonnes (111 short tons) instead of the desired 97 tonnes (107 short tons). With a maximum weight of 48 tonnes per car for the Class 220, in theory, it can operate at 200 km/h with existing infrastructure (keep in mind though there are different crashworthiness standards in North America and they are generally stricter than European and Asian standards and British high-speed passenger trains are generally equipped with the Automatic Train Protection system). Operationally, multiple units (and push-pull trainsets e.g. GO Trains) have much quicker turnaround times because they eliminate the need to go through wyes (to turn the trains around). However, multiple units are likely to have higher maintenance cost than conventional trains, since tractive equipment resides in each car of the train. Although there are currently no publicly known plans for Via Rail to introduce multiple units, it is still nice to imagine that one day we will be able to ride the rails on one of them at 125 mph or faster.

Please enjoy the little music video of the Virgin Class 221 Super Voyager below put together by a YouTube user.


Anonymous said…
Yes, another wonderful choice of train! I greatly enjoy reading your train of the week

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