First Pendolino returns to the rails in largest train fleet refurbishment

Avanti West Coast said the £117m scheme will make its 56 Pendolinos ‘look and feel like new trains’.

24 April 2022

Passengers will travel on the first train modernised in the biggest fleet refurbishment on Britain’s railways on Monday.

The Pendolino trains will return to service with the 5.05am departure from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston.

The operator said they will “look and feel like new trains”, with more comfortable seats, a redesigned shop and better on-board information.

A wheel chair space on a Pendolino train
New carpets have been fitted (Avanti West Coast/PA)

Avanti West Coast’s entire fleet of 56 Pendolinos will be refurbished as part of a £117 million programme.

Other changes include upgraded lighting, refurbished toilets and new carpets.

All 35 Pendolinos with 11 carriages will see one first class carriage converted to standard class.

Standard premium seats on a Pendolino train
New standard premium seats on the refurbished train (Avanti West Coast/PA)

Rail minister Wendy Morton said: “The iconic Pendolino is back and better than ever before.

“This refurbished version of the classic fleet is a fantastic example of our cutting-edge rail network and how our railways are leading the way in creating a cleaner, more environmentally friendly and modern transport system.”

Avanti West Coast managing director Phil Whittingham said: “This investment has been one of the key promises to our customers, and they will see a dramatic transformation of our well-loved fleet.

“The refurbished Pendolinos look and feel like new trains, with state-of-the-art technology as well as brand new seats that promise best-in-class comfort.”

A new bar area on a Pendolino train
A new bar area has been installed (Avanti West Coast/PA)

The refurbishment is being carried out by manufacturer Alstom at its new depot in Widnes, Cheshire.

The second train to be overhauled will return to service in early May.

Rolling stock asset manager Angel Trains has financed the programme, which is due to run until 2024.

Peter Broadley, managing director for services at Alstom, said: “Our team at Widnes have created something amazing and we are incredibly proud of the final product.

“We hope it secures the future of the Pendolinos on the West Coast for many years to come.”

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson stands next to Virgin Trains' new Pendolino train
Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson with a Pendolino before the trains entered service in July 2002 (Myung Jung Kim/PA)

The tilting, electric Pendolinos transformed long-distance rail travel when they were introduced on the West Coast Main Line by then-operator Virgin Trains in July 2002.

They have clocked up more than 272 million miles serving cities such as Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

Avanti West Coast’s other train fleet – diesel-powered Voyagers – is being replaced by new electric and hybrid trains built by Hitachi from 2023.

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