Passenger services at Penrith Station are to receive a boost thanks to a renovation of the booking hall being undertaken by Virgin Trains.

A new customer information desk will be installed as part of the first major refurbishment the historic building has seen in nearly 30 years.

The project will also involve improved heating and lighting, better access for disabled customers and staff more visible and better placed to help answer any questions and provide assistance.

It is hoped the work will be underway in February and completed by the end of March.

To facilitate the changes, the opening hours of the ticket office will be changed from 5am to 9pm on Monday to Saturday to 5am to 5pm. On Sundays, the office will close at 5pm rather than 9pm. Staffing levels at the station will not be affected.

Passengers travelling in the evening will still be able to purchase tickets by using the station’s fast ticket machine or onboard if paying by cash. Tickets for Advanced travel are currently only available until 5pm (or 4.30pm on Sunday) so this will not be affected.

In addition, more station staff are being trained to work the ticket office window in order avoid the need to close in the event of sickness or unexpected leave.

Paul Nairn, Virgin Trains’ station manager at Penrith, said: “This investment will lead to real improvements in the experience passengers have at Penrith. Staff will be more visible and better-placed to offer advice and help as people walk through the door.

“The station is already highly regarded by passengers, as shown in independent surveys by Passenger Focus, and these improvements will build on that success.”

The refurbishment will see the removal of a store room and two wooden doors onto the station front and Platform 1, which will be replaced by automatic sliding glass doors, improving access for wheelchair users. The doors are not part of the original features of the station but date from the last refurbishment which took place in 1985.

The project design has highlighted some natural features of the listed building such as the trussed roof and original fireplace which were previously obscured.

The existing industrial type lighting will be replaced with a modern, stylish, attractive and efficient alternative.

The existing heaters will similarly be replaced by a more modern, efficient system and the hall will be redecorated with a new floor surface, new seating and redecorated walls and ceiling.