Behind the scenes of £117m train refurbishment

Work is gathering pace on the £117 million refurbishment programme of express trains serving the West Midlands.

A Pendonlino stripped bare of its seats
A Pendonlino stripped bare of its seats

Avanti West Coast's entire fleet of Pendolino trains is being stripped bare as part of a scheme to improve inter-city services in the region.

And these pictures show how the refit, which is being carried at Alstom's depot in Widnes, Cheshire, is progressing since work started two months ago.

The company says the refurbishment, which will create an additional 2,000 standard-class seats to its 56-strong Pendolino fleet, represents the biggest-ever upgrade of the UK's trains.

The first train to be refurbished, No. 390125, is expected to re-enter service towards the end of this year. The upgrade programme will run until February 2024 when the last of the fleet is expected to leave Widnes.

The Pendolino fleet was launched in 2002 and has clocked up more than 272 million miles in service along the West Coast route. Over that time, No. 390125 alone has travelled more than 5.1 million miles.

The electric trains, famous for tilting on bends to improve speed, serve Wolverhampton, Sandwell & Dudley, Birmingham New Street, Stafford, Lichfield Trent Valley and Birmingham International stations.

Avanti West Coast managing director Phil Whittingham said: “These images really reveal the full extent of the amount of work being undertaken to transform our Pendolino trains.

“Our customers can look forward to a real step-change in their travelling experience and seeing these developments in progress, we can’t wait for the first train to enter service.”

The refurbishment will see all 25,000 standard-class seats replaced, and the conversion of one first-class carriage on each of the 35 eleven-carriage Pendolinos to provide more than 2,000 extra Standard class seats.

New cafe bars will also be added, lighting will be improved and carpets replaced.

There will also be additional luggage space and new passenger information screens.

Toilets will be refurbished, and every seat will be equipped with a power point.

Avanti said the work, being carried out at Alstom's new depot in Widnes, will secure 100 skilled jobs, and 80 per of the investment will be spent with UK suppliers.

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