Class 156 refreshes ….

Posted on December 24th, 2012, by The Chairman

Sounds like an advert for a mint?

But, No!

Read on ….

Northern has 42 class 156 2-car Super Sprinter trains of which 28 are based at Allerton, the remainder being at Heaton, Newcastle. 18 of the 28 were inherited from First North Western (FNW), the others coming from Arriva Trains Northern. The FNW ones had previously been very nicely refurbished by Regional Railways, North West (British Rail) for their North West Express semi-fast services to Blackpool North, Barrow and Windermere. Years later, when these services became part of the TransPennine Express franchise, these units became part of the more general Sprinter pool. Their internal fittings have been looking very worn for some time.

In 2010, Northern started to refresh the internal fittings of these units – you’ll probably have seen them along the Mid Cheshire line.

Recently, Northern produced a press release about this work, as well as a YouTube clip. I’ve adapted it a little ….


Northern Rail passengers in the North West will have started to notice the revamp work being rolled out across the train operator’s fleet of Class 156 trains. Instantly recognisable by the vibrant purple and blue upholstery, the refreshed trains also feature pale purple wall panelling and improved lighting.

The work has been keeping the fleet teams at Northern’s Newton Heath depot busy since May 2010 with each refit of two carriages taking an average of three weeks. Passengers can see for themselves how the process unfolds by watching a stop motion clip on YouTube.

The refresh includes replaced carpets, repainted interiors and vestibule ends, seat repairs, installing priority seating and improving toilet facilities. These 18 train sets are part of Northern’s continued promise to its passengers to improve journeys throughout the network.

Passengers travelling on routes in the North West, particularly around Liverpool and Manchester, will be able to spot the improvements. Both disabled customers and cyclists will also benefit from improved accessibility features incorporated in the project.

Stuart Draper, Engineering Director for Northern Rail comments: “We are known to have some of the oldest trains on the rail network and this refresh project is testament to our passengers that we are committed to improving their journeys with us.

Customers have told us they’d like to see an improvement in the on-board environment and we’re passionate about acting on these requests. These refreshes to our fleet in the North West add to the carriages we have already improved and we hope passengers will notice the developments as we plan more for 2013.”


Thanks to David Miller who spotted this item in the depths of Northern’s website.

Please leave a comment

  1. Nodding Donkey Says:

    I am willing to finally retire from the Mid Cheshire Line and let the Class 156s fully take over the service.

    However I hear their are plans in the background to adapt me to become DDA compliant I can see my working life going on beyond 2019.

    I really do feel for you poor commuters who the other week shivered as my heating wasn’t working and the conductor was nowhere to be seen to tell you why.

    All the best riding the Class 142 Nodding Donkey Pacers on the Mid Cheshire Line in 2013.

  2. Morris Minor Says:

    Well said Mr Donkey.

    You try your best, on such a pleasant line.


  3. Conductor Says:

    Class 156 are horrible to work in winter. Especially when the temperature dips well below freezing. Since I can remember these units have always had these problems with non existent heating. There is nothing train crew can do as there is no magic thermostat to turn on. In summer we can trip the circuit out in the cabs to cool the carriages but it has the nasty effect of causing the engines to overheat. Such clever designs!

    The refreshed 156s are very suited for the Mid-Cheshire line. Large windows, tables, end carriage doors and plenty of luggage and cycle space. It’s a shame that there isn’t enough to go around.

  4. Jen Says:

    If anyone’s interested in the plans for 319 refurbishment Porterbrook have issued a brochure with prospective plans. They include options for new fronts to be fitted which will include corridor connections and making the trains 3 carriages long to be able to run doubled up in 6 carriage formation on local services ‘outside the South East.’

    Link to the pdf brochure:

  5. Mike Battman Says:

    So, if I understand this correctly, by the time they migrate up north these trains will be almost 30-years old!

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