One of the most well-known train types in Britain, Pendolino trains have been whisking passengers up and down the west of the UK since 2001.

In our guide to all things Pendolino, we explain their history, which trains companies use them, what to expect on board and tips for booking Pendolino train tickets. So, what are you waiting for, get reading!

Pendolino fast facts

Pendolino meaning 

Italian for ‘small pendulum’   

Maximum speed 

140 mph (125 mph in the UK) 

In the UK since


Operated by

Avanti West Coast 

What are Pendolino trains?

Originating from Italy in the 1960s, Pendolino trains get their name from the Italian word pendolo which means small pendulum, because of the way they tilt when travelling around curves in the track.

This tilting mechanism means that Pendolino trains can run at higher speeds along older tracks originally designed for slower trains, without causing discomfort for passengers. This made them an extremely popular choice for several countries across Europe, as they wouldn’t need to update their existing railways to operate them.

Pendolino trains have operated in the UK since 2001 (more on that below). The maximum speed of a Pendolino train is 140 mph, they can only run at 125 mph in the UK due to limitations of track signalling systems. But it’s not just the UK these trains are popular choices in. Currently, different variations of the Pendolino train are in use in Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Russia, and China to name a few.

Who uses Pendolino trains in the UK?

2001 - 2019: Virgin Trains

Pendolino trains first came to the UK in 2001, when Virgin Trains bought 53 Class 390 Pendolinos to operate on the West Coast mainline, connecting cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool. Over the years, 3 more Pendolino trains were added to their rolling stock.

2019 - present: Avanti West Coast

In December 2019, Avanti West Coast took over the West Coast mainline franchise from Virgin Trains, and with that the ownership of their fleet of 56 Pendolinos, promising a complete refurbishment on them all over the next few years.

Pendolino Class 390 classes

There are two main classes you can travel on board a Class 390 Pendolino train, Standard or First Class. Both come with plenty of amenities, which we’ve highlighted below. In addition to the different classes, you’ll find an onboard café, toilets, quiet carriage and spaces for bikes on every train – visit our bikes on trains guide to find out more.  

Pendolino Standard Class  

Most of the seats on a Pendolino will be Standard Class, where you’ll find the following:

  • Luggage racks and overhead storage 
  • A table or fold-down table 
  • Arms rests 
  • Power sockets 
  • Free WiFi 
  • Onboard entertainment via the Avanti Media app 

Pendolino Standard Premium Class  

Standard Premium is the new class introduced by Avanti West Coast on Pendolino trains. When travelling in Standard Premium, you'll find the following amenities on board:

  • Free WiFi
  • Access to Avanti’s onboard entertainment system
  • At Seat Order
  • Wider more comfortable seating
  • Extra legroom
  • Plug sockets and phone charging
  • Guaranteed at-seat table

Find out more in our guide to Avanti West Coast Standard Premium.

Pendolino First Class 

In addition to the amenities included in Standard Class, First Class on a Pendolino train also comes with the following travel perks:

  • Reclining seats 
  • Extra leg and elbow room compared to Standard seats 
  • Free onboard entertainment 
  • Free WiFi 
  • Complimentary food and drink 
  • Access to power sockets at every seat 

Find out more in our guide to travelling from London to Edinburgh in First Class.

Tips for booking Pendolino train tickets

Travel Off-Peak  

Travel during Off-Peak train times (anytime outside of Monday – Friday rush hours) if you can. The tickets are normally cheaper, plus the trains are usually quieter too. 

Split your tickets with SplitSave 

‘Splitting’ your journey into several sections and buying tickets for each part can sometimes be cheaper than buying a single ticket on longer journeys. Our ticket-splitting app feature, SplitSave, does the hard part for you. 

Book in advance

Avanti West Coast usually release Advance train tickets up to 12 weeks before the departure date, usually at a cheaper price than booking on the day.  

Get 1/3 off with a Railcard 

There are several Railcards in UK you can use to save up to 1/3 on First Class train tickets. Check out which one you might be eligible for and buy online on our Railcards page. 

Pendolino routes and train times in the UK

So, what are you waiting for? Start a search for Avanti West Coast Pendolino train tickets in our Journey Planner at the top of the page – you won’t regret it!

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