Best and worst refurbished train since privatisation

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Prestige15

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Top 3 I reckon was best would be GNER Mallard, Connex Class 319 (brighton express) and Stansted Epress class 317/7

For the worst I'm not sure, propably any train that gets fitted with ironing board seats
 
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61653 HTAFC

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Northern Spirit's TPE 158s seemed pretty nice at the time, and although the saying goes that you can't polish a Douglas Hurd, their 142 refurb made the best of a bad job.

The Wales&West 150s deserve a mention too.
 

yorksrob

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Best refurbishment - probably the original refurbishment of old Northern Rails 156's. Nice seats, good ambience, good train all around. A mention in dispatches as well for the 144's, turning a not particularly inspiring pacer into a decent commuter train.

Worst refurbishment - current 2 carriage 158's - for replacing the good parts like the seating and leaving the rubbish bits such as the hand driers.
 

_SHR_

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Having seen a refurbished TfW 150 for the first time the other night, I think they look quite smart. That being said, anything is better than the tired state the Arriva liveried ones are in.

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Energy

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Best - TPE 185s, Chiltern 168 (and mk3) Mainline,

Worst - Class 442 (nice interior but underneath not so good), Scotrail class 156 refurb, the class 350 refurb so far hasn't been the worst but has been far worse than the 185 refurb.
 

Mikey C

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The Coastway 313s to me are a massive improvement over the original 313 interiors

Both the SWT and Southern 455s are also a major step up on the original BR interior, ditto the GWR 150/2s
 

Non Multi

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SWT 455 (2003-ish?), a heavy rebuild of the interiors and other adjustments. Fooled many into thinking it was a new train.
 

fgwrich

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For the best :
FGW HST
ScotRail HST - The best, and smartest of the fleet, building on top of an already quality refurbishment (and the best FC).
ScotRail Inverness 158 - The benchmark for all 158 refurbishments.
ATW 158 - From a sows ear to silk, ATW had some of the worst 158s before, turning them into something excellent.
FGW 153 - The smartest of all the 153 fleets, and considering what was there before it wasn't easy!
GA Renatus 321 - Another rags to riches fleet turnaround.
Merseyrail 507/508 - They both don't give the impression of being a 40 year old EMU.

For the worst :
SWT 458 - Just awful.
Gat Ex 442 - They really did rip the heart out of those things.
GWR LA15 / LA16 - They've learnt their lessons after those two awful sets.
Secro Northern Rail's fleet - Pink, Lilac, Purple. A lesson in gaudy and cheapness.
 

hstmatt

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Best: Virgin West Coast MK3s (Especially in First Class), GNER Mallard, TPE Class 158s, TPE 185s, GWR MK3s (First Class GWR interior)
Worst: Most Arriva Northern refurbishments, seats looked awful after a few weeks.
 

Bletchleyite

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Best: between TPE 185 (classy if a bit Eastern European/Soviet-esque colour scheme) and the ScotRail Inverness 158 (Grammer's finest in a good layout with a nice, soft colour scheme).

Honourable mentions to:
- Merseyrail 507/508 and SWT PEP/455 refurbs, both made a quite old train look new - better on the PEPs because they're a timeless design whereas the 455 looks very dated to the 1980s due to the interior fittings like the luggage rack. GWR 150s similar.
- Brighton Express 319s - not fancy, but excellent legroom by not cramming in those pointless side-facing seats at the end of the section
- All First North Western era refurbs which got the decent Chapman seating and the large luggage and bike racks

Worst: anything with Richmond seating, it's awful, the bases collapse and tilt forwards giving no underthigh support after about a year.

Dishonourable mentions to:
- 153s with ex-158 seating installed so even the tallest people can't see out of the window (that was Wales and West, I think)
- GNER for using single-piece cushions on the Mallard refurb and thus creating the same problem as the Richmonds, though VTEC later fixed this by swapping the cushion to a softer, two-piece one, there was nothing wrong with the frames per-se
 
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Strathclyder

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Note: this list is only drawn from stock I've extensively travelled on.

Best
  • First ScotRail 318s (the 2013-17 refurb finished under Abellio) - basically the 2005-2007 refurb with a 'Saltire' theme. Basic/functional in many respects, but with decent legroom and frankly the most comfortable seats of any SR EMU (not to original Class 303 levels of comfortable, but the closest that exists), am always that little bit happier when a 318 turns up.
  • Abellio ScotRail 320/4s - comparing the 3 unrefurbished 320/4s that entered service in March '16 to the refurbished examples that followed is like comparing apples and oranges. They looked like brand new units when they emerged from Kilmarnock. Again, basic/functional when compared to others on this list, but more than adequate for the Glasgow suburban network and with surprisingly comfortable seats into the bargain.

Worst
  • First ScotRail Class 314 (2011-2013 refurb) - while it saw them through to the end in Dec. 2019, something akin to the Merseyrail 507/508 refurbishment is really what these units should've been treated to. That, or using the interior of the ex-507 driving trailer in 314203 (involved in the fatal 1991 Newton collision) as a template to build a more thorough interior redesign off of. Alas, it wasn't to be.
 
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Logan Carroll

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First ScotRail 318s (the 2013-17 refurb finished under Abellio) - basically the 2005-2007 refurb with a 'Saltire' theme. Basic/functional in many respects, but with decent legroom and frankly the most comfortable seats of any SR EMU (not to original Class 303 levels of comfortable, but the closest that exists), am always that little bit happier when a 318 turns up.
Speaking of the 2005-2007 refurb i’ve seen pictures of units with the revised front end and revised c&c livery but still with analogue destination indicators, was their any reason for this?

It’s weird how the class 314s never got the same livery that was on the 318s since they were refurbished at the same time, also why did they not have the turquoise stripe? was this reserved for new trains?
 

Strathclyder

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Speaking of the 2005-2007 refurb i’ve seen pictures of units with the revised front end and revised c&c livery but still with analogue destination indicators, was their any reason for this?

It’s weird how the class 314s never got the same livery that was on the 318s since they were refurbished at the same time, also why did they not have the turquoise stripe? was this reserved for new trains?
The first two 318s to be refurbished in the 2005-07 programme (251 & 264) were the only ones that retained the original roller-blinds post-refurbishment. No doubt the reason (open for correction here) was that the design for how the new PIS unit slotted into the redesigned front end was still being finalized as the rest of the refurb was being done (both units were at Kilmarnock together for exactly a month, from 16th July to 16th August 2005, the latter date being when 251 departed after being in the works since 29th April 2005; 261 departed on 11th October). From the 3rd refurb (318257) onwards, the PIS system was fitted as standard.

Both units had the PIS systems as fitted to the rest of the fleet retrofitted in early 2007: 251 on a return visit to Kilmarnock from 28th February to 20th March and 264 at Shields Depot on 15th February. Info drawn from this link: http://www.scot-rail.co.uk/page/Class+318+Refurbishment

As for the Carmine/Cream livery on the 318s losing the Black/Gold lines during this refurb, I presume it was to give a livery which was, by 2005 between 8-9 years old, a small refresh. Precisely why the 314s never got this simplified version of Carmine/Cream I simply don't know (if I had to hazard a guess, the 318's '05-'07 refurb was rather comprehensive and a livery change, however small, was likely seen as rounding the refurb out). Not that it mattered for long at any rate, as SPT ceased their involvement with the running of the Strathclyde suburban heavy rail network by 2008.
 

317666

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EMT 158s. Comfortable seating for longer journeys, very good legroom, and although some lament the change to a predominantly airline layout, it did give the units a much-needed capacity boost. Even though the refurbishment is a good ten or so years old now, the units' interiors still look very presentable - especially compared to what a lot of them were like before! I'm glad they're staying on Norwich - Nottingham a little longer than was previously envisaged.
 

Strathclyder

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Wasn’t that in 2005 and the SPT brand was kept in name only?
Was using 2008 as the cutoff date as all of the ScotRail franchise (bar ofc the Caley Sleeper) was brought under the Saltire blue/white brand that year, but they could have very ceased their involvement eariler than that in all but name. But I digress, we're veering way off-topic here.
 

CBlue

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I always quite liked the refurb WAGN carried out on the Class 317/6 fleet. Seemed to be a good attempt to bring them up to the same interior standard as the 365's they ran alongside, with the new seats being a vast improvement over the knackered "dig springs in your back and arse" 3+2 layout they had before. Certainly put FCC's "refurbished" ones to shame in later years.

Perhaps not the worst refurb in the world but the way Great Northern stripped out the interiors of those same Class 365's, removing carpets and doing little to the tired seats apart from new moquette. Made them far noisier inside and they definitely weren't as pleasant to travel on even if the FCC era interior was getting worn out.
 

prod_pep

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The SWT 455 refurbishment was excellent and improved the interior ambience of those units hugely; they feel bright and spacious nowadays. They're a lot pleasanter internally than the rest of the Mark III-derived EMUs in my opinion, including the 442s after their utterly retrograde refurbishments.

As for the worst, I'm tempted to say the Gatwick Express 442 refurbishment as it spoilt them completely. More generally, any of the Serco-Abellio era Northern refurbishments due to the excessive use of depressing purple.

Although the Merseyrail 2002-05 refurbishment was radical and definitely much more modern, the colour palette let it down badly. The neutral lilac panels and dour moquette didn't age well. The Merseyrail 507/8s look much, much better now with the smart black moquette and more traditional (for Merseyside) yellow bulkheads. Southern's 313 refurbishment was perhaps less comprehensive but used better colours and both the carpet and armrests are nice additions.

As for the 314s, they weren't refurbished as such during 2004-06. They were overhauled, most were repainted and there were door modifications as part of this. Possibly the original rubber seals between the seats were replaced with metal ones during this programme. The only significant change to the 314 interiors prior to the 2011-13 refurbishment was the replacement of the original blue seat cloth with Strathclyde's version of the Reggie Rail 'spot' moquette in the early 1990s.
 

antharro

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Worst?
442s. The GatEx "refurbishment" downgraded them horribly and ruined what were once comfortable and pleasant trains.
HSTs - when GWR changed out the seating from the FGW cloth seats to the newer leather seats, they looked smarter but were SO much less comfortable.

Best?
SWT 455, hands down
I also recall waaaay back, the 317/6s? getting a pretty decent refurb. They were a pleasure to travel in.
 

fgwrich

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The SWT 455 refurbishment was excellent and improved the interior ambience of those units hugely; they feel bright and spacious nowadays. They're a lot pleasanter internally than the rest of the Mark III-derived EMUs in my opinion, including the 442s after their utterly retrograde refurbishments.

As for the worst, I'm tempted to say the Gatwick Express 442 refurbishment as it spoilt them completely. More generally, any of the Serco-Abellio era Northern refurbishments due to the excessive use of depressing purple.

Although the Merseyrail 2002-05 refurbishment was radical and definitely much more modern, the colour palette let it down badly. The neutral lilac panels and dour moquette didn't age well. The Merseyrail 507/8s look much, much better now with the smart black moquette and more traditional (for Merseyside) yellow bulkheads. Southern's 313 refurbishment was perhaps less comprehensive but used better colours and both the carpet and armrests are nice additions.

As for the 314s, they weren't refurbished as such during 2004-06. They were overhauled, most were repainted and there were door modifications as part of this. Possibly the original rubber seals between the seats were replaced with metal ones during this programme. The only significant change to the 314 interiors prior to the 2011-13 refurbishment was the replacement of the original blue seat cloth with Strathclyde's version of the Reggie Rail 'spot' moquette in the early 1990s.

I think, the only minor feature that let the SWT 455 refurb down was the rather retina burning exposed fluorescent lighting tubes. While I prefer the SWT 455 refurb to Southerns, at least Southern tidied up the ceilings in those.
 

47271

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The best and worst was to be found on the same train at the same time, the GWR HST.

First Class was, and still is on the Scotrail sets, probably the best to be found anywhere.

Standard was dystopian and completely disrespectful to the long distance passenger: terrible ambience with rows and rows of airline seats crammed in, terrible legroom, terrible lighting, terrible colour scheme. The transformation brought by the Scotrail refurb on the same coaches and the same seats in a different layout, and that shows some regard to the user, is a fantastic turnaround.
 

antharro

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I think, the only minor feature that let the SWT 455 refurb down was the rather retina burning exposed fluorescent lighting tubes. While I prefer the SWT 455 refurb to Southerns, at least Southern tidied up the ceilings in those.

Agree on the lighting. I was travelling back from a station on the Reading line to London. Would usually have been in the first class compartment of a 458, but a refurb 455 showed up. No chance of a nap with that lighting! But that was more an unsuitable train being used on a particular route. For regular metro commuting the lighting is fine... I think...!
 

Killingworth

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EMT 158s. Comfortable seating for longer journeys, very good legroom, and although some lament the change to a predominantly airline layout, it did give the units a much-needed capacity boost. Even though the refurbishment is a good ten or so years old now, the units' interiors still look very presentable - especially compared to what a lot of them were like before! I'm glad they're staying on Norwich - Nottingham a little longer than was previously envisaged.
Agreed, but the last time I went to Liverpool it was aboard a 153 and that was at the opposite end of the scale.
 

Strathclyder

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As for the 314s, they weren't refurbished as such during 2004-06. They were overhauled, most were repainted and there were door modifications as part of this. Possibly the original rubber seals between the seats were replaced with metal ones during this programme. The only significant change to the 314 interiors prior to the 2011-13 refurbishment was the replacement of the original blue seat cloth with Strathclyde's version of the Reggie Rail 'spot' moquette in the early 1990s.
That period (early/mid-2000s) is a huge blank spot in my memory banks, so thanks for the additional info. :) Ofc, the last 314s still in Orange/Black were repainted in 2004-06 as part of that programme. Mind the very last ones (201-202) getting real tatty by late 2005/early 2006. To this day, I find it remarkable that 314202 lasted as long as it did in that livery (Nov. 2006 was when it was finally sent away for overhaul/repaint). But I'm getting off-topic again lol
 
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topydre

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Worst refurbishment - current 2 carriage 158's - for replacing the good parts like the seating and leaving the rubbish bits such as the hand driers.

The Wales Arriva-refurbished 158s are an example of a really good refurbishment I'd argue. Good comfortable seats, many aligned with windows (after a lot of lobbying by passengers), and a lot smarter than their dismal appearance (inside and out) in Central Trains livery.
 

Journeyman

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The Wales Arriva-refurbished 158s are an example of a really good refurbishment I'd argue. Good comfortable seats, many aligned with windows (after a lot of lobbying by passengers), and a lot smarter than their dismal appearance (inside and out) in Central Trains livery.
I've not ridden on any, but I've seen photos and they look nice. I'd say the 158 is a decent train, and the biggest problem with most of them in recent years is that they've been worked hard and ended up looking pretty tired. It's actually quite easy to spruce them up again, with the right sort of attention.
 
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