A new Class 800 Intercity Express Train, built by Hitachi Rail, was driven from Reading to Didcot on the mornings of Saturday 16 July and Sunday 17 July in a series of exercises designed to test the overhead electric power system.
The train made two test runs between the stations, at speeds of up to 125mph, having arrived from its London depot.
The test was managed by Network Rail, which is currently electrifying the entire line between London Paddington and Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford and Newbury, while the train was supplied by Agility Trains and Hitachi Rail Europe. The electrification between Reading and Didcot has been completed first to enable it to serve as a testing ground for the power systems and the trains themselves.
"This is a great step forward, and I’d like to pay tribute to the team who have worked very hard to make this happen.
"This is the future of rail being built before our eyes and it’s a very exciting time to be involved in this project. This weekend we’ve come a big step closer to providing faster, quieter, and more efficient services to the people of the region who depend on railways." Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail Western
Testing will now continue as construction proceeds on the Greater West programme, with public services scheduled to begin from 2019.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing £38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.