GOVIA has signed a £20m contract with rolling stock leasing firm HSBC Rail for the refurbishment of 184 inner-suburban EMU vehicles operated on the South Central franchise. Work on the Class 455 four-car units will start this month, and will be completed within three years. Each train will be taken out of service for four weeks, and to minimise disruption a maximum of two of the units will be worked on at any time.

The interior layouts will be redesigned to create more space for standing passengers, and two areas of each train will be suitable for wheelchairs and bicycles. The existing seats will be replaced with ergonomic high backed models, with a high-capacity 2+3 seating arrangement retained. Additional grab handles will be fitted on seat backs, and new litter bins installed. Floor coverings will be replaced, and scratch-resistant surfaces installed. Each carriage will be fitted with both CCTV and LCD passenger information systems, and will be finished in the ’Southern’ livery being adopted by South Central.

Enhanced on-train monitoring will enable the trains to self-diagnose potential maintenance problems. Improvements to the door mechanisms will create higher levels of in service reliability.

Engineering Director David Sawyer said ’our passengers won’t recognise these trains by the time we have finished the work.’