Revitalising the Alstom Class 390 fleet to offer an enhanced rail service

Written by 

Rong Lin

Vice President MarCom Transportation


The Avanti West Coast trains operating in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh have currently clocked up over 270 million miles during their service. This is enough for 500 return trips to the moon, making a refurbishment of the Alstom Class 390 Pendolinos trains crucial if the operators are to continue offering a premier service to their customers.

As a result, the operator devised a project consisting of the largest UK train fleet upgrade ever undertaken, with the goal to return the trains to an ‘as new’ condition. Alstom were brought on to overhaul the existing trains and offer an enhanced customer experience. This included adhering to the latest Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) – Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) legislation and ensuring franchise commitments were carried out. With 25,000 standard class seats to be replaced, Alstom needed to convert one First-Class carriage on each of the 35 eleven-carriage Pendolinos trains. This would provide a further 2000+ Standard Class seats for commuters to use. Avanti West Coast also wanted to introduce a new look onboard shop on each train, to further expand their offerings to customers.


On top of the legislation and franchise commitments, solutions were required to carry out several in-carriage enhancements. Avanti West Coast requested improved Passenger Information Screens (PIS) to be implemented within each train, alongside enhanced lighting, at-seat USB charging points, and fitted tables with wireless charging points for commuters.
To improve security on the trains, enhanced saloon CCTV was requested, while the existing toilets required refurbishment and upgrades to support PRMs.
As anticipated, a project of this scale had many challenges including limited space for additional cabling resulting in space and weight restrictions whilst ensuring all products supplied were railway compliant.


As a long-standing Alstom supplier, HUBER+SUHNER were the clear choice to support the refurbishment project for the Avanti West Coast Class CL390 Pendolino fleet. First approached in 2020, a remit was given to provide upgraded rail technologies, and engineering support and design for on-train connectivity solutions.
Due to its extensive product and engineering support portfolio, HUBER+SUHNER were able to offer Alstom a full turnkey solution, alongside a dedicated engineering, sales, and support team to serve the manufacturer throughout the refurbishment process.
To overcome the demands of the project, HUBER+SUHNER supplied a number of electrical and communication assemblies and harnesses, including the RADOX® RAILCAT5e and RADOX® RAILCAT7 cables. The power, earth, data and ethernet solutions provided were all tested and certified and more than suitable for the project. Alstom also required SENCITY® Rail MIMO antennas that could best support third-party technology providers for on-train Wi-Fi connectivity. These would also underpin the new CCTV and PIS technology being implemented into each train. HUBER+SUHNER also supplied relevant third-party components necessary to the project, and managed lead-time expectations.


Thanks to the extensive product portfolio and engineering support provided by HUBER+SUHNER, the refurbishment project was able to begin at three sites across the UK: Widnes, Oxley and Longsight. The first upgraded train entered service in April 2022, with the full fleet set to be refurbished by mid-2024.

As a result of this project, customers onboard a Class 390 Pendolino benefit from an enhanced travelling experience, enabling them to charge their devices, grab a drink on the go and enjoy enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity throughout their journey.