Trains upgrade remains on track

REGIONAL rail operator One has reached the half-way stage in its £25million investment in reburbished Mark 3 carriages for the London to Norwich main line.

REGIONAL rail operator One has reached the half-way stage in its £25million investment in reburbished Mark 3 carriages for the London to Norwich main line.

The former West Coast Main Line stock, which is being leased by One from Porterbrook Leasing, is being reconditioned by Bombardier Transportation in Derby.

Besides being repainted externally in One's own livery, the work includes dedicated accommodation for customers with disabilities and upgraded restaurant vehicles, on which additional work is being carried out by Wabtec in Doncaster.

The new fleet consists of 14 sets of either nine or 10 coaches on which work is being carried out in turn, with the process on course for completion during the summer.

Although the Mark 3 carriages are nearly 30 years old, they are regarded as some of the best passenger stock ever to run in the UK and the refurbishment will bring them effectively into “as new” condition.

Besides the Mark 3 carriages, One's investment in the main line fleet includes 15 refurbished Class 90 electric locomotives which have replaced the ageing Class 87 units which – together with the Mark 2 coaching stock now being phased out – operated most London-Norwich services throughout the Anglia Railways era and the later British Rail years.

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There are also 15 driving cars, located at the opposite end of the train to the locomotive, so that the “push-pull” working first introduced with the Class 87s – which improved the turn-around time at termini – can continue.

The half-way stage in work was marked last week by a reception on board one of the newly-refurbished sets attended officials from One, Porterbrook and Bombardier together with guests from local authorities, passenger groups and the media.

Andrew Goodrum, One's business director for mainline services, said: “We are making excellent progress with the transformation of our fleet of mainline trains, improving reliability and the overall experience for passengers with much improved and more attractive trains.”