British rolling stock company Porterbrook has entered a £25m contract with Alstom to upgrade a fleet of Class 458 electric multiple units.
The move comes after South Western Railway (SWR), which operates these electric trains, agreed to extend the lease period until 2027.
The scope of upgrade works will include a complete revamp of the passenger saloon to meet the needs of long-distance passengers and a reconfiguration of the vehicles to enable faster acceleration.
It will also enable the Class 458 trains to operate at a top speed of 100mph.
Alstom UK & Ireland Services managing director Peter Broadley said: “We are very pleased to have been awarded this important contract, a reflection of our excellent relationships with Porterbrook and SWR, as well as the skills and professionalism of our team at Widnes.
“Passengers can now look forward to the upgrade of the very reliable Alstom-built Class 458.”
Alstom plans to carry out the upgrade work at its facility in Widnes, Cheshire. Once complete, the upgraded train fleet will be based at SWR’s Bournemouth depot.
Porterbrook CEO Mary Grant said: “I am delighted that our customer South Western Railway has decided to retain our Class 458 fleet. Partnership is at the heart of our business. To demonstrate this, we will be taking responsibility for the performance of these trains and supporting SWR as they transform South Coast and long-distance services.
“I am also pleased that our partner Alstom will continue to play an active role in their future. Not only is this good news for SWR passengers, but it is also great news for Widnes and Bournemouth, where the railway family at both locations help keep Britain moving every day.”
Headquartered in Derby, Porterbrook purchases trains and leases them to rail operating companies.
Last year, UK-based train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Porterbrook launched the Electrostar train fleet upgrade programme.