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£23m overhaul for Class 455s

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Stagecoach South West’s (SSW) fleet of 91 four-car Class 455 EMUs are to undergo a £23 million refurbishment.

Porterbrook Leasing Company Ltd, which will begin work on the project in November, will carry out an exterior repaint in two-pack paint, a major overhaul of the passenger and crew door systems, and a heavy clean of the interior.

The South West Trains Class 455 EMUs went through a major refurbishment between 2004 and 2007 at Bombardier’s site in Chart Leacon.

The interior layout was redesigned by Atlantic Design in conjunction with SSW and passenger focus groups.

As well as a redesigned interior the bodywork was sand blasted back to bare metal and any corrosion found was replaced with new metal.

The vehicles were then finally finished in the iconic red two-pack paint livery they have today.

Any outstanding work needed to make the Class 455 units PRM TSI compliant, ahead of the 2020 deadline, will also be carried out.

Ian Walmsley, engineering development manager at Porterbrook, said: “The work being done on the Class 455 units this time around is really just keeping them in good condition, the previous refurbishing was when the decision was made to significantly upgrade them.”

When asked if the £23 million could be better invested in replacing a proportion of the 30-year-old fleet with new trains, he added: “I think most people would agree that there are many more deserving cases for replacement with new trains than the 455s as they now are and the PRM TSI work on them is nowhere near as extensive as on some vehicles.

“I would be first to agree that new trains offer many advantages but these come at a very high price, and with a fleet the size of this a very large investment is needed. While that time must come I think a look at the 455s says it has not come yet.

“As for energy efficiency we have done a great deal of work on the possibility of fitting a more energy efficient drive package to the 455s, but the savings this would produce offer only a very marginal case for the investment.  The energy saving from new trains would be less than this as they are heavier and have faster acceleration so with the higher price there is certainly no business case for replacement based on energy efficiency.

“If there is a major change in the service pattern, such as the proposed Crossrail 2, the Class 455 units would have to be replaced, but for the moment the interior improvements and body shell protection work we have carried out make them a sensible choice for further investment.”

The first unit is due on works in November 2012 and the last unit is expected to be completed in November 2016.

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