The Class 390 Pendolinos trains have been solid workhorses of the West Coast Mainline, connecting London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, and points in between, from small towns to big cities.
Well, it seems the trains are getting a major upgrade.
The Pendolino trains were introduced into service between 2002 and 2003 with Virgin Train. After teething issues and the fleet settling in, they have gone on to provide a solid service pounding up and down the tracks
Avanti West Coast is spending £117 million on the upgrade, which will cover the fleet of 56 Pendolino Trains. The first one has been taken out of service for its overhaul.
According to Avanti, you should see various upgrades aboard:
- Replacing 25,000 Standard Class seats
- Conversion of one First Class carriage on each of the 35 eleven-carriage Pendolinos to provide more than 2,000 extra Standard class seats
- The introduction of a new Café Bar for customers to meet and enjoy refreshments
- Improved lighting and new interior carpets
- Greater use of technology with customer-friendly passenger information screens
- Additional luggage space
- Power points at every seat
- Refurbished toilets.
A refurbished 11 carriage Pendolino will have 607 seats. 508 will be in Standard Class, up from the current 444 (an increase of 9.6%). The remaining 99 will be split across First and Standard Premium.
Rail manufacturer Alstom will oversee the refurbishment at their new depot in Widnes in the North West of England, securing 100 skilled jobs.
The first train to have its makeover will be 390125, with others to follow and the first train being ready for service in Autumn.
The programme is planned to run until February 2024.
Phil Whittingham, Managing Director for Avanti West Coast said
“The Pendolino is a real workhorse which has helped to transform services on the West Coast Main Line,”
“This investment will take them to the next level and they’ll feel like new trains with state of the art technology and brand new seats. I can’t wait to see the reaction from our customers and people.”
Peter Broadley, Managing Director, Services, Alstom UK & Ireland added
“We were delighted when our friends at Avanti West Coast entrusted our team at Widnes with the upgrade of the Alstom-built Pendolino, one of Britain’s most reliable, popular and sustainable trains”
“Alstom is the nation’s leading train services provider and train refurbishment is a major part of our offering, so we can’t wait to get cracking on this landmark project.”’
David Jordan, Chief Operating Officer of Angel Trains (who Avanti lease the trains from) said
“Investing in the refurbishment of rolling stock is crucial for advancing the UK rail industry and supporting the wider supply chain,”
“This project is a huge milestone, and we are proud to work with our customers Avanti West Coast to upgrade the Pendolino fleet, to create modern train interiors that are fit for future passengers’ needs.”
The West Coast Main Line has always been in a state of change, with the Line Upgrade that overran and went way over budget, to new and faster trains being deployed (both the Alstom Class 390 Pendolino’s, the Siemens Class 350s which can travel at 110mph, the CAF Class 397 used by Transpennine Express and so on).
However, this refurbishment will be important for Avanti, as it gives it a chance to shake off its Virgin Trains past and forge its own look and feel – both inside and outside the train.
It is not the end of the changes- with the next trains to change being the Class 221 Super Voyager trains. These diesel trains will be replaced Hitachi AT300 trains (akin to the ones used by LNER, GWR and Hull Trains) with 13 five-car dual-powered trains (Electric/Diesel), with the Pendolino fleet augmented by 10 seven-car electric trains.
It is going to be a busy time for Avanti West Coast over the next few years.
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