Avanti West Coast’s first fully refurbished Pendolino has returned to service after a transformation that was part of the UK’s biggest train upgrade.

The tilting, electric-powered Pendolinos, or ‘Pendos’, are one of the most iconic train fleets in the country and have transformed train travel between some of Britain’s biggest cities when introduced nearly two decades ago in July 2002.

Chester and District Standard: (Avanti West Coast)(Avanti West Coast)

Customers who travelled on Monday’s (April 25) Manchester Piccadilly to London service were the first to travel on the new upgraded train.

They were just some of many who will experience the new more comfortable seats, a revamped shop and better onboard customer information.

Chester and District Standard: (Avanti West Coast)(Avanti West Coast)

After reaching London, the refurbished train was due to make a quick round trip to Liverpool before being welcomed into Euston by invited guests and Avanti West Coast colleagues. It will visit other destinations such as Birmingham, the Lakes, Glasgow and Edinburgh during its normal course of work.

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.”

Chester and District Standard: (Avanti West Coast)(Avanti West Coast)

The £117m upgrade programme was two years in the making and involved experts in technology, customer information and ergonomics. Customer improvements include:

  • 25,000 new, ergonomic 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 onboard shop;
  • Improved lighting and new interior carpets;
  • Greater use of technology with customer-friendly passenger information screens;
  • Additional luggage space in Standard Class;
  • Power points at every seat;
  • New carpets throughout using sustainable British wool;
  • Refurbished toilets and
  • New First and Standard Premium seats

Chester and District Standard: (Avanti West Coast)(Avanti West Coast)

Managing Director of Avanti West Coast, 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.”

The remaining 55 trains of the fleet are due to experience the same treatment. This is part of the £117m programme as the second set is due back in service early in May.

Rail manufacturer Alstom is undertaking the work at their new depot in Widnes in the North West, helping to secure 100 skilled jobs.

Chester and District Standard: (Avanti West Coast)(Avanti West Coast)

Peter Broadley, Managing Director Services, Alstom said: “We are delighted with the launch of the newly modernised Pendolino. Working closely with our partners at Avanti West Coast and Angel Trains, we have created something truly special for the customers travelling on the West Coast Mainline. 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”.

The upgrade programme will run until 2024 when the last of the 56 strong fleet is expected to leave Widnes.