REFURBISHMENT of the first of 56 Avanti West Coast class 390 Pendolino EMUs has begun at Alstom’s Widnes facility in northwest England in what is claimed to be Britain’s biggest ever train fleet upgrade.  

The £117mproject involves all 56 class 390s (574 cars), which were built between 2000 and 2012.  

Alstom, which also built the trains, will replace 25,000 standard class seats, convert one first class coach on each of the 35 11-car Pendolino to standard class, install a café bar, fit improved lighting and new interior carpets, install more passenger-friendly passenger information screens, add extra luggage space, fit power sockets to every seat and refurbish the toilets.  

 “This investment will take them to the next level and they’ll feel like new trains with state-of-the-art technology and new seats,” says Avanti West Coast managing director Mr Phil Whittingham. “I can’t wait to see the reaction from our customers and staff. 

The first 11-car train will re-enter traffic at the end of 2021, with the final train due to be complete by February 2024.  

The project will secure 100 jobs at the Widnes site. Some 80% of the £117m investment, financed by rolling stock leasing company Angel Trains, will be spent within the British supply chain.  

“Investing in the refurbishment of rolling stock is crucial for advancing the UK rail industry and supporting the wider supply chain,” says David Jordan, Angel Trains COO.  

Avanti West Coast (a joint venture between FirstGroup and Italian state operator Trenitalia) will run trains on the West Coast Main Line for the next decade, as well as the initial HS2 services. There remain no plans to replace the class 390s.