Eversholt Rail, Southeastern, and Hitachi Rail have signed an agreement to upgrade the Class 395 Javelin trains.

The Javelins, operated by Southeastern, are used on high-speed services between London St Pancras and Kent using the HS1 line. The £27m upgrade programme will future-proof the UK’s only true high-speed passenger fleet.

The project’s initial phase will take seven months and include design, engineering, and procurement, with the upgrade to the first of the 29 trains commencing in March 2023 at Southeastern’s Ashford Depot in Kent.

The upgrades will include a full interior refresh, including new carpets and seats, with proposed new seating layouts to assist people with reduced mobility. The interior upgrades also include LED lighting and USB charging, as well as upgraded onboard live passenger information systems.

“We’re proud to run the UK’s fastest domestic passenger services which have been crucial to the continued regeneration and prosperity of many places on our network, and we’re looking forward to working with Eversholt Rail and Hitachi Rail to complete this upgrade across the entirety of the 140mph Javelin fleet, the fastest of their type in Britain,” said Southeastern engineering director Mark Johnson.

“When finished, it will bring the fleet up to the very latest standards and ensure that standards of comfort, accessibility and information provision are as high as possible for our customers, improving the on-board environment for our customers who like to work or use personal devices when travelling with us”.

The Javelin fleet will be one of the first in the UK to install Hitachi Rail’s digital infrastructure monitoring technology. Exterior roof-mounted high-definition cameras focused on the pantograph – the device that collects power from the overhead wires to power the train – will provide live monitoring of overhead lines and surrounding equipment.

The upgrade of the trains also provides an excellent opportunity to install some of the latest digital solutions to help with passenger management and infrastructure monitoring. Eversholt Rail will be installing new CCTV, which combined with Hitachi Rail’s digital solutions, provides live passenger data on numbers and load weighting.

Jim Brewin, head of Hitachi Rail UK & Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this contract, which is a just reward for the hard work of the local Hitachi Rail team at Ashford. We now look forward to delivering on our commitments over the coming months and thank Eversholt Rail and Southeastern for close to 12 years of continued teamwork and collaboration on the Javelin Class 395, our flagship UK fleet.”

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The Southeastern franchise was terminated in October 2021 and transferred to the Department for Transport-owned operator SE Trains, which is also trading as Southeastern, after an investigation into £25m of unaccounted-for taxpayer money.