Alstom has announced the first work to be carried out at its new Widnes facility will be a £24 million contract to repaint the Virgin Trains fleet of Pendolinos.
The new technology centre at Widnes received planning permission in May and is due to open in May 2017. At the time it was announced, no work was specified and there was speculation that the new facility could be used to assemble trains for the UK market.
The newly announced contract to repaint the 56 Class 390 trains used on the West Coast main line, owned by Angel Trains and operated by Virgin, gives focus to the whole Widnes project. “We are excited to be expanding our presence in the region through our site at Widnes, which we hope will become a modern, efficient rail hub for the whole of our UK operations,” said Rob Whyte, Alstom’s managing director – regional and intercity.
Over two years, every train in the fleet will be completely stripped of all exterior paint, repaired as necessary and then repainted. A team of 80 people will be employed on the project. All will be trained in-house at Widnes.
The repaint is due as the Pendolino trains, which were largely built at Alstom’s Washwood Heath factory in the West Midlands before that closed in 2004, now having reached the middle of their planned lifecycle. Routine maintenance is carried out by Alstom at its depots in Wembley, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.