Porterbrook awards Alstom £25m fleet upgrade contract

06 April 2021 | Porterbrook

Porterbrook, the rolling stock owner and asset manager, today announced that it had signed a £25m contract with Alstom to upgrade one of its most versatile electric train fleets.

The announcement follows the decision by South Western Railway (SWR) to extend the leases on Porterbrook’s award-winning Class 458 fleet until 2027.

Porterbrook’s contract with Alstom will see the trains uprated to a top speed of 100mph, a complete upgrade of the passenger saloon to meet the needs of long-distance customers, and reconfiguration of the trains to enable the faster acceleration required to meet established journey times on key routes.

Alstom will undertake this work at the company’s Widnes facility in Cheshire, securing jobs and protecting key skills. The enhanced Class 458 fleet will be based at SWR’s Bournemouth depot.

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook said: “I am delighted that our customer South Western Railway has decided to retain our Class 458 fleet. Partnership is at the heart of our business. To demonstrate this, we will be taking responsibility for the performance of these trains and supporting SWR as they transform South Coast and long-distance services.

“I am also pleased that our partner Alstom will continue to play an active role in their future. Not only is this good news for SWR passengers, it is also great news for Widnes and Bournemouth, where the railway family at both locations help keep Britain moving every day.”

Neil Drury, Engineering Director at SWR, said: “This fully refurbished fleet of 458s will provide an even better experience for our customers, while delivering efficient and flexible capacity on our medium range services.”

Peter Broadley MD Services, UK & Ireland, Alstom said: “We are very pleased to have been awarded this important contract, a reflection of our excellent relationships with Porterbrook and SWR, as well as the skills and professionalism of our team at Widnes. Passengers can now look forward to the upgrade of the very reliable Alstom-built Class 458.”

Porterbrook’s Class 458 fleet of electric trains achieved a record breaking run of Modern Railway’s ‘Golden Spanner awards’, based on independent industry performance data, in 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Notes to Editors
  • SWR’s existing fleet of Cl458 5-car units will be reconfigured into 4-car units and re-geared to increase their maximum speed from 75 to 100mph
  • The units will also receive scheduled heavy maintenance, an internal refurbishment and vehicle exteriors will be repainted in SWR’s livery
  • The internal refurbishment includes:
    At seat power – USB power sockets in standard class.  Combined 3-pin 230v mains AC / USB power sockets in first class, plus integrated tabletop wireless charging
    Seating – reconfiguration to a ‘2+2’ layout throughout first and standard class, to achieve the ambiance associated with mainline services, including new seat cushions and covers
    Lavatories will also receive an upgrade
    Fabrics and flooring will be replaced, with new tables and grab rails fitted

    Media Contacts
    Rupert Brennan Brown, Director of Stakeholder Engagement  
    Rupert@porterbrook.co.uk or +44 (0)7973 950 923

    PR enquiries can also be directed to:
    Portland Communications                 
    Simon Evans, Partner
    Richard Brooks, Consultant
    Richard.Brooks@Portland-Communications.com or +44 (0)7740 858477

    About Porterbrook
  • Porterbrook has been at the heart of the UK rail network for over 25 years and owns over a quarter of the national passenger rail fleet. We provide high-quality, digitally enabled rolling stock which helps deliver a safe, reliable and sustainable railway
  • We currently have around 4,000 vehicles on lease or on order. Since privatisation, we have invested £3bn in new passenger and freight vehicles, and we are looking to invest a further £1bn in Britain’s railway over the coming years
  • Our role as a leading asset owner and manager goes well beyond financing. Our rolling stock is designed to serve 30-35 years in front-line service. By ensuring that these vehicles live out their full asset life, with periodic upgrades and enhancements, we maximise value to passengers and taxpayers, whilst minimising carbon emissions and environmental impact
  • Innovation is at the heart of Porterbrook’s approach to whole life asset management. In collaboration with industry and academic partners, we are developing a portfolio of digitally enabled and re-tractioned rolling stock. Our business is at the forefront of developing of hydrogen, hybrid and battery powered trains. We are also working with SMEs and Innovate UK to significantly reduce emissions from our existing diesel fleets
  • We are committed to supporting and developing the UK rail supply chain. We trust 100+ UK-based companies to maintain and upgrade our assets, investing over £3m a week and supporting c.7,000 jobs
  • Porterbrook employs 160 people of which three quarters are engineers and project managers. In addition, over a third of Porterbrook’s workforce is female including a number of our executive team 

In October 2014, the Porterbrook Group of companies was acquired by a consortium of investors including Alberta Investment Management Corporation (“AIMCo”), Allianz Capital Partners (“ACP”) on behalf of certain insurance companies of the Allianz Group, EDF Invest and a consortium of Utilities Trust of Australia (“UTA”), The Infrastructure Fund (“TIF”) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Pension Fund (“RBS”)


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