The train manufacturer has finished its first piece of work at the £40m facility opened in June, a repainted Virgin Trains Pendolino sporting new livery with a ‘flowing silk’ design.
Alstom, who originally built the Pendolinos for Virgin Trains, recruited 80 staff and five apprentices from the nearby Riverside College for its 140,000 sq ft works in Halton. A training academy is due to open alongside the factory in the autumn.
The first train came off the depot last week, and following testing, re-entered service with a run down from Liverpool Lime Street. The design is similar to that on new Azuma trains which will be introduced on Virgin Trains’ East Coast services from 2018.
Alstom has a £26m contract to repaint the entire 56-strong fleet for Virgin Trains by the end of 2019. Each train takes two weeks to repaint. Meanwhile, Alstom is bidding for the Tube train stock upgrade and will build them at Widnes if successful.
Virgin Trains said the flowing silk design “builds on the iconic Virgin brand, adding curves, shapes and dynamism, with the flow across the train taking its main inspiration from the natural world… the wind.”
Peter Broadley, executive director for customer, operations and safety on the west coast, said: “The Pendolino is widely regarded as the UK’s hardest working train, and has clocked up over 300million miles in the last 15 years. They have been given a fresh lick of paint and will continue to speed customers along the west coast mainline in record time.”
Nick Crossfield, managing director, Alstom UK and Ireland, said: “It is a proud day for us, seeing the first of the iconic Pendolino fleet successfully repainted and out on the network again. This is the first work we have completed at our important new Widnes modernisation facility. Not only is it on time and on budget, I am equally proud of the fact we employed 80 people locally, including five new apprentices, to deliver this beautiful new paint job. We look forward to working with Virgin Trains to complete the painting of the rest of their hard-working fleet.”