NORTHERN has unveiled the first of its fully refurbished trains to run on the Carlisle to Newcastle line.

The train – a Class 158 – was unveiled at a launch event and features USB sockets, free Wi-Fi, new seating and lighting.

The upgraded train aims to provide a brighter and more comfortable journey for passengers travelling between the two cities, and will soon also feature customer information screens and digital seat reservations.

Anna Weeks, regional director for Northern, said: "We have promised our customers in the North-East a step-change in the trains they will see and the launch of our first digital train in the region shows exactly what they can expect.

"The Class 158 will serve our customers on the Tyne Valley line initially, but as more are refurbished they will travel further afield.

"I’m proud to see this train out on our network, we already have a second refurbished train ready for use, and I look forward to introducing more in the near future."

The train was refurbished at Arriva Train Care in Crewe and involved hundreds of hours of work from specialists in rail, engineering, electrics, lighting and audio-visual.

The launch of the Class 158 has coincided with Northern completing cosmetic refurbishment of more than 50 per cent of its trains.

It joins the following refurbished trains which are already out and about on Northern’s network, they include 37 Class 150s, five Class 155s, 30 Class 156s, 10 Class 158s, eight Class 170s, 32 Class 319s and one Class 333.

Northern’s existing fleet of 243 trains is in the process of being fully upgraded to not only include the first phase of cosmetic refurbishment, but will also see the additional level of digital improvements already installed on the first fully refurbished train.

Ben Ackroyd, Northern’s engineering director, said: "The refurbishment of our existing trains is a massive programme of work and a huge investment for Northern - to reach a milestone of 50 per cent is great news.

"We are committed to improving our customers’ on-board experience and the refurbishment programme is really gathering pace.

"Future work on the refurbishment programme will see the introduction of free customer wifi, at seat power and customer information media screens on all our trains.”

The refurbished trains will be joined in service by the first of Northern’s new trains in spring.

Over the next year, the rail operator will retire its Pacer trains, improve some of its stations and the introduce more than 2,000 extra services a week.