UK: Leasing company Porterbrook has awarded Alstom a contract to upgrade the Class 458 electric multiple-units operated by South Western Railway ahead of their redeployment on medium and long distance services from the south coast.
The £25m contract announced on April 6 covers an initial 28 of the 36 Class 458 units, with the work to be undertaken at Alstom’s Widnes site between June 2022 and early autumn 2023.
There is also an option to refurbish the remaining eight units, which will be stored at the Long Marston facility which Porterbrook is to take over later this year.
The award of the contract follows SWR’s decision to abandon an ongoing £45m project to refurbish its Class 442 EMUs, and instead extend its lease on the Class 458s until 2027.
The Alstom-built Class 458 Juniper EMUs entered service from 2000 as four-car sets, but were reformed as five-car units from 2014. They are due to be displaced from the London Waterloo – Reading route by the entry into service of new Class 701 Arterio suburban EMUs ordered from Bombardier Transportation (now part of Alstom).
The latest refurbishment will see the Class 458s reconfigured back into four-car units. They will also be regeared, to increase their maximum speed from 120 to 160 km/h and ensure better acceleration.
The trains will receive scheduled heavy maintenance and be repainted in SWR livery. A ‘complete upgrade’ of the interiors will include reconfiguring the seating to a 2+2 layout throughout, with new cushions and covers ‘to achieve the ambiance associated with mainline services’. Flooring will be replaced, new tables and grab rails fitted and the toilets will be upgraded. USB power sockets will be provided in standard class and combined 230 V 50 Hz and USB power sockets in first class, as well as integrated tabletop wireless charging.
‘This fully refurbished fleet of 458s will provide an even better experience for our customers, while delivering efficient and flexible capacity on our medium range services’, said Neil Drury, Engineering Director at SWR.
Porterbrook CEO Mary Grant said the leasing company ‘will be taking responsibility for the performance of these trains and supporting SWR as they transform south coast and long-distance services.’