Train operator Great Western Railway has operated the first electric-only train to and from South Wales.
The 12 carriage Class 387 train ran from Swindon to Cardiff on the test run, and is the first time an Electrostar has travelled to Wales after the Severn Tunnel was electrified last year.
With over 700 seats, the 12-car trains can be run in addition to the IET trains when demand is required for major events such as the Six Nations Rugby Championship.
IETs ran for the first time into Wales last year, with the fleet switching to diesel to pass through the Severn Tunnel.
Running electric only trains to events at the Principality Stadium will help the operator with its plans to reduce the carbon emissions from its fleet of trains.
Further class 387s are due to take place before introducing the trains into passenger service.
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “This is a long-term ambition, to help provide additional capacity when ‘big-ticket’ items in the city require it. The pandemic has obviously slowed the need for such services, but we have been working closely with our colleagues at Network Rail to be able to fulfil this ambition. Our IET fleet has always been capable of coping with the majority of demand on the Cardiff to London corridor for these events – the benefit of using 387s is that we can provide more seats without having to reduce IET services elsewhere to provide them.”
Interim Head of Western Alliance John Lanchester said: “This a real coup for Great Western Railway and Network Rail and it demonstrates how we’ve worked collaboratively to make sure we’re ready to operate electric-only trains into Wales.”
Network Rail’s Wales and Border route director Bill Kelly said: “Delivering electrification through the Severn Tunnel last year was a huge achievement for Network Rail and has resulted in thousands of extra seats, more frequent services and quicker and greener journeys for passengers as they travel to and from South Wales. It is great to see GWR has moved another step closer in providing an additional, all-electric passenger service for large-scale events in Cardiff off the back of our electrification work.”
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