Fleet update: Testing new Hitachis and Pendolino refurbishment nears halfway mark

We are making great progress in upgrading our trains, with work continuing on both the new Hitachis and the refurbishment of our Pendolinos. These projects will bring significant improvements to the service we can deliver for our passengers and the communities we serve.




Last month, the first two of our new fleet of Hitachi trains moved to Alstom’s Oxley depot following two months of dynamic testing at Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) at Melton Mowbray.


The two trains will now be put through their paces over the coming months, running up to their full speed of 125mph, with a view to clocking up thousands of miles of fault-free running before entering passenger service. Several new features for customers will be assessed including improved passenger information, seat reservation system, multiple running (two trains coupled together) and selective door opening, which allows the trains to call at stations with shorter platforms.


The new Hitachi trains are set to replace our diesel-only Voyager trains later this year on routes from London to the Midlands, Chester, North Wales and the North-West, leading to a 61% cut in carbon emissions. Quieter and roomier, with more reliable Wi-Fi, wireless charging for electric devices and a real-time customer information system, the new 23-strong fleet is the result of a £350m investment in sustainable travel.


You can find the full press release here.




Avanti’s fleet of 56 Pendolinos is being transformed as part of the UK’s biggest train upgrade. The £117m upgrade programme was two years in the making and involved experts in technology, customer information and ergonomics. One train is being refurbished every two weeks, with the last train set to be refurbished in 2024.


Last month, with our partners Alstom and Angel Trains, we hosted Members of Parliament, Councillors, and representatives from the Department for Transport at Alstom’s Widnes Technology Centre to see the refurbishment work. You can see a video of the visit here.


Iain Stewart MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee said: “It has been a fantastic visit to see the iconic Pendolino trains going through their refurbishments. I really approve of the new seat designs, very comfortable and it just has a very classy finish.”


David Linden MP, Member of Parliament for Glasgow East said: “One of the things that we’ve really seen today at Widnes is that attention to detail. That real focus on passenger comfort, making sure that there’s more luggage space, making sure there’s more plug points. It’s just been really good to see that investment on the rail network.”


As work approaches the halfway mark, we have also highlighted the importance of sustainability in the choice of the new Pendolino interior as part of its refurbishment.

World renowned manufacturer, Axminster Carpets, provide renewable and biodegradable woollen carpets which naturally absorb humidity and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to improve air quality. As an insulator, wool also absorbs sound, helping to reduce noise. It also retains heat and releases it slowly – helping to regulate onboard temperature and reduce heating costs.


The entire fleet of 56 trains require over 20,000 square metres of carpet – using the wool of more than 30,000 sheep. In addition, the carpets in three carriages of each train have a bespoke design to help better identify the designated areas for passengers with restricted mobility (PRM) and discourage passengers from placing luggage there.


You can find the full press release and a video here.