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Bachmann 32-627: Class 221 5 Car DMU 221122 'Dr Who' Virgin Trains
In addition to the 34 Class 220 non-tilt 4-car Voyager multiple units Virgin Trains ordered a further 44 tilting units that at first glance give the impression of being identical to the earlier trains. These are designated Class 221. Forty of the 5-car consists and four 4-car Super Voyagers were constructed by Bombardier Transportation. Whilst they use the same body shells they have completely different outside-frame bogies to which the tilting control equipment is attached.
These bogies are heavier than those fitted to the Class 220, increasing each vehicle's weight by seven tons. The tilting feature provides an ideal solution to high-speed operation over the UK's curvaceous West Coast Main Line, allowing Virgin's Cross Country Trains to operate alongside their electric Pendelino fleet.
Extensive testing was carried out in Belgium and subsequently in France, initially on the high-speed TGV line to Le Mans followed by the SNCF route between Brive and Cahors. Class 221101 was named 'Louis Bleriot' on 2 February 2002 at Cahors. All bodyshell construction took place at Bombardier's works in Brugge, Belgium whilst Brugge and Wakefield, England shared joint responsibility for the completion of out-shopped trains.
The trains are able to tilt thanks to an interface between track bailses (sensors between the rails) and on-board computer equipment that electronically informs the train how much it can tilt on each section of track.
Virgin trains were the sole operator of all Class 221 Super Voyager trains when they were introduced in 2002. This changed when the new Cross Country rail franchise began on 11 November 2007. From this date new liveries were applied to the 221 fleet.