LAST MONTH outgoing InterCity East Coast franchisee GNER expected to return to service the fourth of its 13 diesel High Speed Train sets to be refurbished by Wabtec Rail in Doncaster.

The £45m modernisation of the Class 43 power cars and MkIII coaches is being funded by the train's owners Angel Trains (10 sets) and Porterbrook Leasing (three sets). National Express takes over the ICEC franchise on December 9, and the last of the modernised trains is expected to return to service in early 2009.

GNER said the interiors of the MkIII coaches were being redesigned with 'more comfortable and contemporary surroundings, including brighter and more spacious interiors.' Contoured seats from Chapman UK provide back support and fold-up arm-rests for easier access; and other changes included replacement luggage racks, tables, carpets and lighting, new toilets and vanity units, laminated glass windows and refurbished vestibules.

The work will bring the interiors to the same standard as the 30 electric trainsets leased from HSBC Rail which underwent a £30m two-year refurbishment completed in November 2005 (RG 11.03 p698).