Alstom completes upgrade of 17 Arriva North trains in Manchester
Alstom has completed modernisation work on 17 Class 323 trains which are operated by Arriva North and run on Manchester’s electrified rail network, and is about to commence upgrading a further 26 Class 323 trains in operation for London Midland.

The work, part of a £11m contract with train leasing company Porterbrook, involves upgrading the trains’ power and control electronics to make them more environmentally efficient. The upgrades were completed at the specialist train care centre in Longsight, Manchester, and the materials and parts were assembled at Alstom’s Preston site.

Mike Hulme, managing director, trains and modernisation, for Alstom in the UK, said: “The upgraded Class 323s are a vast improvement on the original. They are now more reliable and environmentally more acceptable, making them fit for purpose for the foreseeable future.”

The 43-strong Class 323 fleet of electric multiple unit trains was built between 1993 and 1995, by Hunslet, in Leeds.

Alstom won the contract to upgrade the fleet’s power and control electronics in 2014. The entire contract is expected to be delivered by January 2017.

GWR is to increase its Hitachi Intercity fleet size with a new multi-million pound order
gwr-hitachiGreat Western Railway (GWR) has confirmed it will order an additional seven bi-mode Intercity Express Trains as part of a new multi-million pound deal with Hitachi Rail Europe and finance partner Eversholt Rail Group.

The trains are in addition to the 57 trains Hitachi Rail is delivering to GWR as part of the UK government’s Intercity Express Programme (IEP) from next year, and the separately financed 29 trains ordered last year that will come into passenger service in 2018.

The new trains will be built by Hitachi Rail Italy at its Pistoia manufacturing facility.

GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “This complements the 86 brand new trains due to start operating across the GWR network next year. They give us greater flexibility in our fleet to deliver faster more frequent services and additional seats for customers, particularly while Network Rail completes the modernisation of the Great Western Main Line.

Glasgow’s refurbished Class 320 train begins going into service
ScotRail has introduced the first two of seven additional refurbished Class 320 trains onto cross-Glasgow services running via Glasgow Central Low Level. The remaining revamped trains will be introduced at a rate of one every few weeks between now and October 2016.

The additional units – previously operated by London Midland – are leased from Eversholt Rail Group and are part of a £475m train improvement programme aimed at delivering better lighting, accessibility enhancements, extra cycle space and at-seat power sockets.

The refurbishment work is being carried out at Wabtec Rail’s Doncaster facility, and includes modern flooring, finishes and toilets as well as new CCTV and passenger information systems. Wi-Fi is due to be rolled out across the fleet from September this year.

Engineering apprentices from Virgin Trains help build Britain’s most powerful steam locomotive
Apprentices from Virgin Trains have been gaining firsthand experience of working on a steam engine by helping engineers at the Darlington Locomotive Works build the new £5m steam locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales.

Michael Olley and Simon Nadolny are usually stationed at Virgin’s Bounds Green Depot in London where they work on the maintenance and repair of Virgin Trains’ electric 225 fleet.

Simon said: “This week we’ve been getting down to basics, bending metal and hammering nuts and bolts into place, helping to install three large fabricated frame stays and assembling the smokebox lifting sheets. It’s been a real privilege.”

Michael said: “It’s been great to have the opportunity to work in a different type of environment. The Trust’s approach to solving problems has provided really good insights which we can take back to the day job.”

There had originally been six of these locomotives, designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built to haul up to 15 carriages on the arduous Edinburgh to Aberdeen route.

Mark Allat, Chairman of the Trust, said: “They were once the most powerful express passenger steam locomotives in the UK, and we’re using modern computer techniques to enable this new version to deliver its full potential to take passengers at high speed from 2021.”