Liverpool passengers board first upgraded Pendolino train to London - take a look inside

The first upgraded train in service left Lime Street on Monday and is part of a £117 million revamp of the fleet.

Passengers boarded the first newly refurbished Pendolino train from Liverpool to London on Monday and experienced a number of upgrades to the service.

Avanti West Coast are transforming the iconic tilting trains as part of a £117 million programme.

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Customers who boarded the 10:47 from Lime Street to London Euston sampled new technology, an ‘at-seat ordering’ system for food and drink as well as power points in each of the ergonomically designed seats.

New seat occupancy information screens. Photo: Avanti West Coast

The West Coast mainline links London Euston with Liverpool and the North West, the West Midlands and Scotland.

In 2019 it was announced that Avanti West Coast would be taking over from Sir Richard Branson’s company Virgin Trains after 22 years.

The new operators said the electric powered trains have travelled more than 270 million miles since they were introduced, apparently clocking up enough mileage to go to the moon and back more than 500 times.

What are the Pendolinos?

Sir Richard Branson introduced the first tilting, Pendolino trains two decades ago offering passengers a faster way to travel between Britain’s biggest cities. They are capable of travelling at speeds up to 125mph.

British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson leans out of the window of the driver’s cab on board a Virgin Pendolino train at Lime Street Station in Liverpool in 2012. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images.

The Pendolinos are now part of Avanti West Coast’s £117 million upgrade programme.

Sir Richard was devastated in 2007 when a Virgin Pendolino train came off the rails and slid down the embankment near Grayrigg, Cumbria.

An 84-year-old woman died and 28 people were seriously injured.

Margaret Masson, 84, had been travelling from Southport where she had been staying with her daughter and son-in-law who were also on the train, to her home in Glasgow.

Network Rail was fined £4 million in 2012 for health and safety failings after a coroner’s inquest found that badly maintained points made the Pendolino train come off the tracks.

Where is the upgraded Pendolino travelling to?

Customers who boarded Monday’s 05:05 Manchester Piccadilly to London service were the first to travel on the revamped Pendolino.

Standard Premium seats on the refurbished Pendolino. Photo: 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 staff.

It will visit other destinations such as Birmingham, the Lakes, Glasgow and Edinburgh during its normal course of work.

Wheelchair area on the refurbished Pendolino. Photo: Avanti West Coast

How are the Pendolinos being improved?

Improvements include 25,000 new ergonomic Standard Class seats and new First and Standard Premium seating.

The train features a new onboard shop, greater use of technology with customer-friendly passenger information screens, power points at every seat and refurbished toilets.

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There will also be ‘at-seat ordering’ for customers in Standard or Standard Premium, as well as an upgraded menu and bespoke service for passengers in First Class.

The remaining 55 trains are also due to be upgraded as part of the £117 million programme with the second set due back in service in early May.

A water dispenser on the revamped Pendolino train. Photo: Avanti West Coast

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

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

Wireless charging points. Photo: Avanti West Coast

What’s been said?

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.”

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.”

UK suppliers are benefitting from 80% of the £117m investment, which is financed by asset management company, Angel Trains.