British Rail Class 220

British Rail Class 220
British Rail Class 220 Voyager

CrossCountry 220011 at Newton Abbot

The interior of a CrossCountry class 220
In service 2001 —
Manufacturer Bombardier Transportation
Family name Voyager
Constructed 2000–2001
Number built 34 trainsets
Number in service 34 trainsets
Formation 4 cars per trainset
Capacity 174 standard class, 26 first class
Operator CrossCountry
Car body construction Steel
Width 2.73 m (8 ft 11 in)
Articulated sections Flexible diaphragm (within unit only)
Maximum speed 125 mph (200 km/h)
Weight 185.6 t (182.7 long tons; 204.6 short tons) per trainset
Traction system DEMU
Engine(s) Cummins QSK19 of 560 kW (750 hp) at 1800rpm[1]
Power output 3,000 hp (2,200 kW)
Transmission Voith SK-450 electric-mechanical[2]
UIC classification 1A'A1'+1A'A1'+1A'A1'+1A'A1'[2][3]
Braking system(s) Rheostatic
Safety system(s) AWS, TPWS
Coupling system Dellner[4]
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) Standard gauge

The Class 220 Voyager are a class of diesel-electric high-speed multiple-unit trains built by Bombardier Transportation in 2000 and 2001.

They were introduced in 2001 to replace the 30-year-old InterCity 125 and Class 47 fleets operating on the Cross Country Route for train operating company Virgin Trains.[5]


Technical details

All coaches are equipped with a Cummins QSK19 diesel engine of 750 hp (560 kW) at 1800rpm. These power a generator which supplies current to motors driving two axles per coach,[6] with one axle per bogie powered.[7][8]

Voyagers have both air and rheostatic brakes. They are fitted with Dellner couplers, like the Class 390 Pendolino electric trains used by Virgin West Coast meaning they can be coupled in the event of a failure. As the computer hardware, software and electrical systems are not fully compatible they are not coupled in normal service.[citation needed] 220s and 221s can also be easily assisted by Dellner fitted Class 57s (Thunderbirds) in the event of a failure. By use of adaptive couplings a failed 220 or 221 can also be assisted by any air braked locomotive such as a Class 37, 47 or 66 or even an HST.

Classes 220 (left) and 221 (right) showing the differing bogie designs

The Class 220s and closely related Class 222s have B5005 bogies[2][7] which are distinctive as they are of inside frame design and hence the axles are supported by bearings behind the wheels, meaning the outside face of the wheel is visible. The related Class 221 Super Voyager has outside frame bogies and hence have a more conventional appearance.

The Class 220s operate in four coach sets with a carriage mass of between 45 and 48 tonnes and a total train weight of 185.6 tonnes, a top speed of 125 mph (200 km/h) and a maximum range of approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km) between each refuelling. Their route availability is very good being RA 2[6] - in part due to the lightweight bogie design.

All Voyagers are maintained at the dedicated Central Rivers TMD near Burton-on-Trent.

Technical problems and incidents

The roof mounted resistors for the rheostatic (dynamic) brakes have caused a number of incidents: In one incident, a small piece of wood from a tree had become lodged in these grids, which started a fire on the roof of the train as it stopped in Banbury railway station.[citation needed]

Units have also been stopped by salt water, when storm-driven waves broke over the train at Dawlish in south Devon and inundated the resistor banks, causing the control software to shut down.[9] This problem was fixed by an upgrade to the control software.[10]

There were a number of exhaust fires on the Voyager class during 2005–2006 due to incorrect fitting of equipment during overhauls. Fires occurred at Starcross (Class 221), Newcastle and on 19 January 2006 at Congleton.[11]

On 14 March 2008, 220 012, forming a service to Derby, caught fire at Banbury.[12][13] This fire was caused by a bird getting caught under one of the hot brake resistors on the roof of the train. Although damage was superficial to the train, once the fire brigade had been called, procedures called for the train to be taken out of service for inspection.

Formation and passenger facilities

Class 220s operate in four carriage sets. They are air-conditioned throughout, with powered doors. The coaches are fitted with power sockets for laptop computers and mobile phone charging, toilet facilities for disabled people and storage facilities for bicycles are provided.

They provide 26 seats in 2+1 formation in first class and 174 seats in 2+2 formation in standard class.

The formation of a four-car Class 220 is as follows:[1]

  • Coach A - 26 seats - First Class with disabled area and driving cab
  • Coach C - 66 seats - Standard Class
  • Coach D - 66 seats - Standard Class with large luggage area and reservable space for three bikes
  • Coach F - 42 seats - Standard Class (Quiet Zone) with disabled area, catering base and driving cab.

CrossCountry Trains have finished updating the interior layout of all its 220 and 221 sets; their aim is to increase seating capacity, in line with their commitments to the franchise agreements, as well as provide an at-seat trolley service for refreshments instead of a shop. Their research had shown that the shop was not making as good a turnover as hoped due to the fact a lot of people prefer not to leave their seats to get refreshments; they feared either losing their seat or having their belongings stolen when away. It is worth pointing out that in Virgin Trains unsuccessful franchise bid they also cited removal of the shop from 220s and 221s as a way of trying to improve seating capacity.[citation needed]

The interior renovation involved the removal of the shop from coach D and the conversion of the stowage area in coach F to a catering storage area where there is now a fridge, food storage and a space for an on-board trolley to be stored. Bicycle storage has been moved to coach D where the shop was. It can now store three bicycles instead of four.

The Class 220s have been criticised for a number of shortcomings:

  • Increased noise and vibration when compared to the non-powered Mark 2 and Mark 3 coaching stock they replaced due to the underfloor diesel engines.
  • As the profile of the bodyshells is designed to allow clearance for tilting (although the Class 220s do not tilt, they use the same shell as the Class 221), the interior space is reduced when compared with conventional carriages.
  • The four car sets are typically shorter than the trains they replaced ( usually a locomotive with 7 coaches or a 7 car HST )- despite more frequent running overcrowding is still a problem epecially with the increase in pasenger numbers. A feasibility study into adding an additional coach to each Voyager is being looked at by the Department For Transport jointly with Crosscountry and Bombardier (September 2011). This coach would have a pantograph and convertion equipment instead of a diesel engine, providing the Voyager units (class 220 and 221) with dual traction capability. (diesel/electric and electric 25Kv).
  • There is little to no space to store large luggage items or bikes. More luggage space has been provided in the converted CrossCountry units with the removal of the shop. The conversion has however resulted in only 3 bicycle spaces instead of the original 4.
  • Most seating is in 'airline' configuration, with pull-down trays which are too small to use a large laptop on, but are fine for smaller laptops and netbooks.


Class 220 in Virgin Trains livery in 2006
CrossCountry unit 220014 departs Weston-super-Mare with a northbound service.
Two British Rail Class 220 units operated by CrossCountry coupling to form a longer train

Virgin Trains was the sole operator of Class 220 Voyager trains when they were introduced in 2001, via their Virgin West Coast and Virgin CrossCountry franchises. When the Cross Country Route franchise was transferred to Arriva CrossCountry in November 2007, most of the Voyager fleet was transferred with it, and by the end of 2007 CrossCountry was the sole operator of class 220 units.

The 220s often operate in multiple with Class 221 units.

Fleet details

There are 34 Class 220 Voyager trains, numbered 220 001–220 034.

Class Operator Number Year Built Cars per Set Unit Numbers.
Class 220 CrossCountry 34 2000–2001 4 220 001–220 034

Virgin Trains named all the Class 220 Voyagers after places that they serve or companies that have relations with Virgin Trains.

220 001 Somerset Voyager (previously Maiden Voyager) 220 018 Dorset Voyager (previously Central News)
220 002 Forth Voyager 220 019 Mersey Voyager
220 003 Solent Voyager 220 020 Wessex Voyager
220 004 Cumbrian Voyager (previously New Dawn) 220 021 Staffordshire Voyager (previously Blackpool Voyager)
220 005 Guildford Voyager 220 022 Brighton Voyager
220 006 Clyde Voyager 220 023 Mancunian Voyager
220 007 Thames Voyager 220 024 Sheffield Voyager
220 008 Welsh Dragon 220 025 Severn Voyager (previously Virgin Voyager)
220 009 Gatwick Voyager 220 026 Stagecoach Voyager
220 010 Ribble Voyager 220 027 Avon Voyager[14]
220 011 Tyne Voyager 220 028 Black Country Voyager
220 012 Lanarkshire Voyager 220 029 Cornish Voyager
220 013 South Wales Voyager 220 030 Devon Voyager
220 014 South Yorkshire Voyager 220 031 Tay Voyager
220 015 Solway Voyager 220 032 Grampian Voyager
220 016 Midland Voyager 220 033 Fife Voyager
220 017 Bombardier Voyager 220 034 Yorkshire Voyager

When the Class 220s were transferred to the new operator CrossCountry, all the names were removed. All Class 220 Voyagers are now in CrossCountry livery.[15]


  1. ^ a b Diesel Multiple Units 2010. Platform 5. 2010. p. 66. ISBN 978 1902 336 75 6. 
  2. ^ a b c "High-speed multiple units Virgin Voyager and Super Voyager with SK-450 final drives and cardan shafts" (PDF). Voith. 2008-05. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 2008-03-13. "Drive configuration [diagram]" 
  3. ^ "Cutting noise and smoothing the ride". Railway Gazette. 2000-08-01. Retrieved 2010-12-20. "Bogies for the Voyager fleet are ... designated B5005. ... In the Voyager application, every car has a Cummins underfloor engine and alternator supplying power to a pair of body-mounted traction motors. Each drives one inner axle through a cardan shaft and axle-mounted final drive gearbox. Thus all 272 bogies are identical" 
  4. ^ "Mechanical And Electrical Coupling Index". Rail Safety and Standards Board. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  5. ^ "New Dawn for Virgin Trains". 5 June 2001. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Class 220 data". The Railway Centre. 2008-06-02. 
  7. ^ a b M-Size Bogies B5000 For Coach and EMU Applications
  8. ^ B5000 bogies bombardier
  9. ^ Virgin Trains chaos 'over by Christmas'
  10. ^ 2/12/2002 Voyager Train fleet "think smart" to operate past Devon sea storms
  11. ^ Virgin Trains Cross Country news April 2006. Page 4 section 14
  12. ^ "Train fire at Banbury". Banbury Guardian. 14 March 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  13. ^ Train Fire is out Oxford Mail 14th March 2008
  14. ^ Encyclopaedia Of Modern Traction Names
  15. ^ Class 220 Fleet Details

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