At full tilt: the train that leans into corners

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To tilt or not to tilt: that has been the question for the rail industry for a generation.

To tilt or not to tilt: that has been the question for the rail industry for a generation.

The first attempt in Britain to introduce a train that leaned into corners resulted in spilt coffee and bilious attacks among passengers. The technology - produced in Britain in the late 1970s and tested in the early 1980s - was abandoned. The Italians developed it and have been using their Pendolinos for years.

Yesterday a Pendolino in the livery of the Virgin group set off from London to Manchester. Sir Richard Branson's company claimed passengers would not notice the train leaning over when it took bends. Those on board begged to differ. One who had experienced a "tilt too far" on the inaugural APT said the new version, which leans eight degrees from the vertical, was considerably better.

But he pointed out that when the train entered an "S" bend, passengers experienced a swing from one side to the other of 16 degrees. "You certainly notice that," he said.

While the train passed the "coffee test" - not a drop was spilt - pens rolled off tables when the train was at "full tilt".

The "special" sent from Euston to Manchester yesterday achieved a record for the run of one hour, 53 minutes, 52 seconds. Inevitably there was a suggestion that a few other trains en route were delayed to give it a free run.

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