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The Voyager Family (Hardback)

Transport Trains and Railways

By Fred Kerr
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 128
Illustrations: 214
ISBN: 9781526731449
Published: 6th June 2018



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When British Railways was privatised in 1994, much interest was generated by the franchise arrangements including the new operators and the specific requirements of the franchise agreements. The West Coast Main Line (WCML) was a major operation offered as two franchises covering Inter City and Cross-Country services, and both were initially won by Virgin Trains (albeit operated by separate companies within the Virgin group).

The Inter City franchise was awarded to Virgin Trains West Coast (VTWC) and the Cross-Country franchise was awarded to Virgin Trains Cross Country (VTCC), but both franchise agreements were awarded on condition that the existing rolling stock was replaced. In the case of VTCC this meant replacing the mix of ageing locomotive-hauled train sets by a new fleet of diesel multiple unit train sets, leading to two designs being ordered in 1998 with deliveries beginning in 2001. The Class 220 ‘Voyager’ was a 4-car train set specified for VTCC’s Inter City services, whilst the Class 221 ‘Super Voyager’ was a 5-car train set with tilting mechanism for Cross Country services; the ‘Super Voyager’ order also included four 4-car train sets for operation on Euston – Holyhead services.

The new fleets quickly provided a standard fleet, but the Virgin Trains’ franchises soon became involved in political issues that affected both the running of the companies and the operation of the train sets, leading to the Cross Country franchise changing operators in 2006. At the same time, political interference in franchise agreements led to other franchisees being forced to make decisions regarding fleet renewals and train operation that led to variations to the original ‘Voyager’ designs being introduced to service.

The Voyager Family covers the earliest days of operation whilst reflecting the many changes that have taken place, both in the franchisees who have operated them and in their spheres of operation. Despite the many criticisms, the train sets continue to provide an extensive range of services, all of which are celebrated in this book.

If your interest is in visual depictions of these units, backed up with basic technical and operational information, perhaps as a railway modeller of the contemporary scene, then this is the book for you. Colour reproduction is excellent, the images are sharp, and the range of franchise liveries covered is extensive.

This is a high quality book and highly recommended.

Stephenson Locomotive Society

The author has managed to convey a very astute view of the history of the Voyager train set family, and the environment in which they have been expected to function reliably, with crisp concise text. The full colour photographs provide an eloquent essay that shows not only the trains of the franchisees, but also the backgrounds against which the trains run.


About Fred Kerr

Fred Kerr is a life-long railway enthusiast who was born in Edinburgh in 1948 and moved to Corby in 1956, where he was introduced to industrial locomotives operating in the local steelworks. Whilst more familiar with main-line locomotives, his conversion to digital photography in 2001 saw him renew his interest in industrial locomotives, especially those still working at the many heritage sites throughout the UK which he visits as and when the opportunity arises. He is currently a life member of the A4 Preservation Society; The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and The Ribble Steam Railway.

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