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Virgin’s Pendolino trains are lighting up Christmas across Britain…….

Press Release   •   Nov 23, 2006 23:00 GMT

Virgin’s state-of-the art Pendolino trains are generating enough electricity each year to power a set of domestic Christmas tree lights throughout December in every household across Britain.

During December alone, the trains will generate enough power to light over two million sets of Christmas tree lights for the entire month.

The 125mph Pendolino trains are saving energy and reducing pollution as they return energy to the electrical feeder stations every time they brake. The 53 tilting trains, built and maintained by ALSTOM, are fitted with electronic control systems that cause the traction motors to provide braking effort by generating electricity back into the supply system. The generated electricity which is put back into the supply system achieves an overall energy saving of 17 percent.

The Pendolino trains are now used over all of the West Coast routes from London Euston to the West Midlands, Liverpool, Manchester, Cumbria and Scotland.

Research by Virgin Trains and ALSTOM shows that, based on data from Pendolino trains operating over the Manchester to London route, the Pendolino fleet, which covers around 13 million miles a year, is generating around 55 million kWh of power a year, which is returned to the National Grid. This is enough to provide the electricity to power 13,750 homes for a year.

On a typical London to Manchester journey, a Pendolino will return around 750kWh of electricity to the power supply system for re-use, and Virgin’s drivers are trained in economic and energy saving driving techniques.

Regenerative braking used on the Pendolino trains also reduces the use of the friction brakes, dramatically reducing brake-pad dust and pollution, to provide a double environmental benefit.

Virgin West Coast Managing Director Charles Belcher said: “Our Pendolino trains are providing valuable benefits to the environment. We know that our passengers care about the environment and they can travel in the knowledge that by choosing to travel by train, they are doing their bit to save the planet and reduce consumption of energy.”


For further information contact the Virgin Trains Press Desk or ALSTOM Transport press office: contact Helen Connolly on 01788 545602.

Notes to Editors

Total households in Great Britain 24.7 million in 2004. (Source:

The power use is based on a set of 50 lights using 0.15W per light which equates to 7.5W per string, being illuminated for around eight hours a day.

Typical household annual electricity consumption values are estimated between 3300 kWh and 4600 kWh. The calculation has taken 4000 kWh as an average.

Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group and operates two rail franchises - West Coast Trains and CrossCountry Trains. Both franchises commenced in 1997. Virgin Rail Group is bidding to win the New CrossCountry franchise which is due to start in November 2007.

Virgin Rail Group is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Stagecoach.

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