With the dust settling over the Class 442 being shunted off into history and the Class 458 taking their place in the future, there’s a lot to be done.
Thankfully, Porterbrook – the owner of the Class 458 trains, has signed a contract for the refurbishment of the units, extending their use to 2027.
The announcement follows the decision by South Western Railway (SWR) to extend the leases on Porterbrook’s Class 458 fleet until 2027.
Porterbrook’s contract with Alstom will see the trains uprated to a top speed of 100mph, a complete upgrade of the passenger saloon to meet the needs of long-distance customers, and reconfiguration of the trains to enable the faster acceleration required to meet established journey times on key routes.
This will involve the reduction of the trains by one car (reducing them from five-car trains to four-car trains, so that 12 car trains can be operated), the regearing of the train and seating upgrades.
Alstom will undertake this work at the company’s Widnes facility in Cheshire.
When they are deployed, the enhanced Class 458 fleet will be based at SWR’s Bournemouth depot. Once refurbished, they will be deployed on routes from London to the South Coast
Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook said:
“I am delighted that our customer South Western Railway has decided to retain our Class 458 fleet. Partnership is at the heart of our business. To demonstrate this, we will be taking responsibility for the performance of these trains and supporting SWR as they transform South Coast and long-distance services.
“I am also pleased that our partner Alstom will continue to play an active role in their future. Not only is this good news for SWR passengers, it is also great news for Widnes and Bournemouth, where the railway family at both locations help keep Britain moving every day.”
Neil Drury, Engineering Director at SWR, said:
“This fully refurbished fleet of 458s will provide an even better experience for our customers, while delivering efficient and flexible capacity on our medium range services.”
Peter Broadley MD Services, UK & Ireland, Alstom said:
“We are very pleased to have been awarded this important contract, a reflection of our excellent relationships with Porterbrook and SWR, as well as the skills and professionalism of our team at Widnes. Passengers can now look forward to the upgrade of the very reliable Alstom-built Class 458.”
Wait. They’re making them shorter?
There’s a little logic to this perceived madness. Whilst the current trains are five carriages long, this means that they can only be used in pairs – or 10 carriages in total due to the length of the platforms (which at maximum, can accommodate 12 carriages). This gives a train that is 200 metres long at 20 metres a carriage.
By switching to four carriage sets, three trains can make up 12 cars – or 240-metre long train.
And about the inside…
No details of the interior refurbishment have been given yet (in terms of seating layouts or what seating manufacturers have been contracted to supply equipment for these units.
Hopefully, the train will see upgrades to the passenger experience which customers will demand – such as USB outlets, Power outlets, reasonable speed Wi-fi and seats that don’t resemble ironing boards – which of course will affect the number of seated passengers this train will carry.
Considering the mainline routes this train will probably travel along (eg, Portsmouth or Bournemouth routes), this will be rather important
I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough how these trains will turn out.
Welcome to Economy Class and Beyond – Your no-nonsense guide to network news, honest reviews, with in-depth coverage, unique research, as well as the humour and madness as I only know how to deliver.
Also remember that we are part of the BoardingArea community, bringing you the latest frequent flyer news from around the world.