A £117 MILLION refurbishment of the 56-strong Class 390 Pendolino fleet will include the debut of a new standard class seat designed outside the railway industry. The work is expected to be carried out by Alstom at its Widnes modernisation centre, which has just completed a repaint of the Pendolinos. The first refurbished train is expected to be released towards the end of 2020, with the programme complete by April 2023.

Across the fleet 25,000 new standard class seats will be installed to a new design developed by ForPeople. The company has worked with both the aviation industry and on supply of office furniture and also developed the Avanti West Coast brand identity. ‘We have developed an innovative standard class seat that will set a new benchmark for rail comfort’ explained Richard Lawson, the firm’s Director of Innovation & Ventures. ‘Moving away from today’s “bolt upright” backrest and flat seat pans to use space more efficiently. Delivering a more comfortable, reclined cradle geometry. No more slouching to make more legroom in front of you and no more nodding forward as you nod off. The seat geometry is designed to ensure standard class passengers travel well, enabling their core muscles to relax, taking pressure off the underside of their legs and maximising blood flow. The same new seat design is also planned to be used on the new Hitachi trains Avanti is ordering.

First class accommodation will receive a refresh, while a redesign of the on-board shop is planned to create a café-bar area with a more casual atmosphere, along with the addition of an at-seat service in standard class. Power sockets will be provided at every seat with wireless charging at tables. Other improvements will include more luggage space and improved Wi-Fi.

Another innovation from Avanti West Coast is the development of a third travel class, likely to be a premium economy offering through which standard class passengers could pay a supplement to sit in first class carriages. An Avanti West Coast spokesperson cautioned that the idea is at an early stage with detailed work yet to be carried out but told Modern Railways: ‘The introduction of new customer choices on Avanti West Coast could involve a new range of price points at certain times of the day, such as an offering positioned between standard and first class.

Although they are to be replaced by 2022, a light touch refresh of the Voyagers is planned during 2020.