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The Voyager Family (ePub)

Transport Trains and Railways

By Fred Kerr
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
File Size: 42.5 MB (.epub)
Pages: 128
Illustrations: 214
ISBN: 9781526731454
eBook Released: 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 photographer whose lifelong interest in railways began in Edinburgh during the early 1950s and continued when his parents moved to Corby in 1956. His interest in railways included the ‘new’ diesel locomotives that first appeared at nearby Kettering as steam traction gave way to diesel traction. When he began work in the 1960s his income allowed an introduction to photography, which enabled him to begin recording the rail scene as an adjunct to his diaries of locomotive sightings recorded from 1963. These diaries record the ever-changing railway scene and, since privatisation of the railways in 1994, have noted the changes incurred by both new operators and operations. Now retired, Fred continues to take photographs and has begun sorting his extensive photography collection to create a series of ‘potted’ histories with this, Diesel Hydraulic Main Line locomotives in Preservation, being the latest. The diesel hydraulic designs had offered a solution to BR’s modernisation needs but its reluctance to modernise other parts of its operation led not only to the early withdrawal of the diesel hydraulic fleet but also the opportunity for examples to be preserved and enjoyed on heritage lines within the UK – as recorded within this album.

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