'As new' £7.5m upgrade to Arriva Trains Wales fleet

A £7.5m upgrade of trains on mainline routes from Wales has been announced.

The investment to Arriva Trains Wales will take place over 18 months, with the latest stage of work on the trains due to start in December.

It includes new seating, luggage areas and toilets, aiming to bring "as new" interiors to old carriages.

"We hope these refurbishments will get more people out of their cars and on to our trains," said Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones.

"There is strong growth in the number of people travelling on train services in Wales and we are investing in these improvements to make people's journeys more comfortable and more enjoyable."

Mr Jones said the investment was building on improvements to stations.

Arriva Trains Wales commercial director Mike Bagshaw said it would help deliver "a step change in quality" and benefit millions of passengers travelling on main line routes.

The aim is to provide "as new" interiors on existing carriages.

He told BBC Wales the improvements would include power sockets at some seats on longer routes, enabling people to work on laptops during their journey, and extra luggage room.

The announcement will also help improve wheelchair access on services.

"We've been investing in the fleet in the Valley Lines trains. It's now time to turn the attention to the mainline fleet," Mr Bagshaw said.

"Two trains have already been refurbished. We are taking one train out [at a time and] there will be no disruption to passengers while it goes on."

Asked why the company was receiving funding from the assembly government for the work, he added: "We are a subsidised business, therefore we do require a subsidy from the Welsh Assembly Government."

The investment will involve the company's 24-strong class 158 Sprinter fleet of trains, including routes from south, mid and north Wales.

It will also go towards the class 153 Sprinter fleet, where work has already started at Arriva Trains Wales' depot in Canton, Cardiff.

There is also work underway refurbishing trains which run from north and south Wales to Manchester.

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