Norwich rail improvements on the way as franchise extension confirmed

Library picture of a Greater Anglia train run by Abellio.  Photo: Bill Smith Library picture of a Greater Anglia train run by Abellio. Photo: Bill Smith

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
7:05 AM

Major improvements are on the way for rail travellers on the main line to London with government confirmation that Abellio Greater Anglia will run trains for another two years.

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As part of their franchise extension, the Dutch-owned company will refurbish all the InterCity carriages used on the main line to London.

As well as being repainted, they will be completely refreshed internally.

New seat coverings and carpets will be fitted. New wi-fi will be installed, and electricity plugs to enable owners of mobile phones or computers to recharge their devices will be installed at all seats. New lighting will be installed.

Tanks to collect effluent will be installed below all the carriages – ending the practice of dumping waste on the track.

As well as the InterCity carriages, Greater Anglia will also oversee the updating of many of the electric units used on commuter services in Essex and up to Ipswich.

The Class 321 units will have accessible toilets and wheelchair spaces installed for the first time.

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, part of the ‘Norwich in 90’ Taskforce campaigning for a quicker train service from London to Norwich, said: “This shows that we are delivering on a better rail service for our constituents. Alongside long-term improvements coming from the Norwich in Ninety taskforce, this announcement gives us some of the important things that passengers need, straight away. In the short-term and the long-term we are working hard for a better, faster and more reliable rail service for our constituents. Better infrastructure will bring more jobs to Norwich over time.”

The improvements to the carriages will make journeys more comfortable, but Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said this would not be a long-term solution to the region’s rail needs – in the long term there would be a need for new trains.

Mr Gummer, a member of the task force looking at improving services on the Great Eastern Main Line, said: “These improvements are very welcome and work has already started on updating the carriages.

“But the upgrade is only for six or seven years. After that new legislation will mean the carriages have to be taken out of service. The doors are not being rebuilt would be needed if they were to continue after then.”

The upgrade is a clear signal from the Department for Transport (DTp) that when the new long-term contract for the region starts in October 2016, the winning bidder will be expected to outline proposals to introduce new trains on the main line.

The announcement about the new franchise extension for Abellio was made to the London Stock Exchange first thing this morning. The franchise extension runs from July this year until October 2016.

Meanwhile new figures from the Office for Rail Regulation show that rail users in East Anglia receive one of the lowest government subsidies in the country.

Abellio Greater Anglia had to pay the DTp 19pc of its revenue – but 29pc of the cost of running the infrastructure was met by the government, meaning that overall the taxpayer funded 10pc of the region’s rail services.

East Anglia’s trains are some of the oldest on the network – the average age is 25.5 years and is getting older as no new vehicles will be coming in before 2016 at the earliest.

Another major finding from the survey is that 44pc of Abellio Greater Anglia’s passengers travel on season tickets – that is a similar proportion to other suburban services around London.

And the announcement of the improvements to services in East Anglia comes as Witham MP Priti Patel, another member of the task force, has written to new managing director of the rail company Jamie Burles to discuss concerns felt by Essex travellers.

She said she hoped to discuss the needs of Essex commuters as Abellio considers whether to bid for the long franchise which is due to start in two and a half years’ time.

27 comments

  • 'Bout time the fares were reformed. £56 for an all zones day return to the city is waaaay out of our reach. And don't mention the book six weeks in advance thing which is no good for casual or unplanned trips. Car wins again!

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    marty r

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

  • Moosey, I did reply to your Kent coast comment but it seems some posts do not make it.

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    John Bridge

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Moosey, VEP`s and particularly CEP`s were falling to bits and long overdue for the scrapheap so no disagreement there. My argument is that the present Norwich mainliners still have lots of life in them, I do not agree that new trains would be energy efficient. Modern train control systems and air conditioning are power hungry to say the least mind you I do agree that many train enthusiasts are stuck in a time warp.

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    John Bridge

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Mooosey, easy answer just keep two HS lines clear , with respect, the capacity issue is so easy to solve, you know that, realign the lines... PS 47s are the best we have,, the 153s are buses...we have the answers, just no funding for EA...I would love to do Norwich in 30, theoretically we can do, wait 10 years and maybe....

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    Dave01

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Richard Dawes, there were less trains on the track further down the line, so it was possible. More Trains are now in use closer to London, so 1h40 is no longer possible. That train also stopped only at Ipswich & Colchester, it now has to call at the usual stops too.

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    Mooseyt3

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • How come, when it used to be Anglia Railways, you could get to London in 1h 40?

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    Richard Dawes

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Dave01 you dream, there is no room for ancient 47's on our network. The problem isnt just the crossings but the line is at full capacity between Colchester and Liverpool st. You cant speed up the Norwich trains with so many other trains on the same track, it aint possible!

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    Mooseyt3

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Oh , I must say,our technology can do Norwich in 30. Forget 90. 30 minutes on New tech.. No money for that here in East Anglia..

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    Dave01

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • The seats may need to be re upholstered but please do not introduce the same seats as on Southern Trains to the south coast. If you haven't got a bad back at Victoria by the time you get to Three Bridges you have! As someone else said be careful what you which for. I also agree the footbridge at Wymondham needs improvement for all travellers.

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    jennifer jane

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • No it won't speed them up. The track can take 125mph, road crossings limit to 50mph. I design very fast HSTs as a living, working on new things for 10 years time ...if you Want quicker times then move closer to London! Best things on the inter city line at the moment are the DRS 47s...IMO

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    Dave01

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • This may satisfy our current group of Norfolk MPs because they seem easily pleased BUT this is a poor decision for Norfolk people. Another short-term franchise will not lead to serious investment by Abellio - they would need 10 years or even 25 years in order to justify that serious investment. This is just a short-term fix to tide them over to the 2015 General Election, Chloe Smith can still stick to sound-bite Norwich in 90. For Yarmouth as usual it means same old rolling stock, no service improvement, Yarmouth in 1890!

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    Mick Castle

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Re-conditioned carriages then - but will that speed them up?

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    biglingers

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Well thats great new upholstered seats but not a word about improving the services from Norwich to Sheringham,Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.GA blame Network rail for not being able to provide a later last train.Give us a 21st century timetable that allows people to enjoy Norwich without having to rush out of shows before the end.Lets be having you Norman Lamb.Of I forgot you dont need to catch a train home!

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    wezza

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • J0hn, I was a regular user on the Kent coastal lines - the 375's were the BEST thing to ever happen there. The VEP's, CEP's,CIG's et al were life expired, like the Mk3's. They had had their day. They were horrible to travel on, I was initially shocked those heaps of scrap were still even in existence! They should have been scrapped in the 80's, they looked like they rolled out of the 60's. Train enthusiasts HATE progress but voyagers, pendos, electrostars, desiros etc are a big win for commuters and even casual rail users. much of Western Europe is ahead of us in terms of nice new stock as they never suffered years of neglect, and it shows. Most franchises have had to invest in new trains, we only really took on the 360's and 170's over 10 years ago now. Its time for serious investment and to quit living in the past and patching up to make do with silly refurbishments. I look forward to the mk3's being my next razor blades.

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    MooseyT4

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Moosey, with respect you could not be more wrong. I was a train driver when the `networkers` and `electrostars` were introduced on the southeastern and the problems were many and still create headaches years later. Basic design faults do not go away and when you chuck in software and shoddy build quality rail travel can be a nightmare and an expensive one at that. I have been retired several years now but often speak to present day railwaymen who still whinge about the replacements for slam door and with good reason. Speaking of slam doors, outside `plug` type sliding doors have been fitted to stock much older than the Norwich main liners so this should not be a problem, sorry to repeat myself but refurbishment of a proven design is in my opinion a much better option than renewing. I can see why passengers would want nice shiney new trains but the sheer cost would give the train company a financial stick to beat you with. I often use the Norwich main liners and yes they could do with a bit of tarting up but replacing them would be an expensive mistake, be careful what you wish for.

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    John Bridge

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • John, there is loads of gain. No DVT or Loco wasting space. Modern lightweight design. increased energy efficiency. Disabled access without silly expensive Chiltern style conversions. The rail spotters love to cry and wail when their beloved ancient heaps of junk are taken away, but modernisation is continuous and necessary across the world

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    Mooseyt3

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Moosey, what do you mean by knackered exactly? If you get a new train you will get a strong metal tube with windows, a seating arrangement much the same as now along with similar antitwist failsafe couplings.Motors and running gear can be rebuilt to as new standard, speed is not really an issue here because of infrastructure congestion. To refurbish these trains is both cost effective and realistic, new trains will cost an absolute fortune with no gain.

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    John Bridge

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • A number of the stations on the Norwich - Cambridge line are in a very sorry state. Access for the elderly, infirm, disabled and those with children, prams or luggage to or from one of the platforms is not possible at a number of stations. At Thetford the ancient wooden staircase over the track is so rotten the treads go up and down when you step on them.

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    JCW

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • stop deleting my comments! this is poor journalism with poor research and incorrect facts.

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    Mooseyt3

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Second day in a row, Chloe bloomin Smith mentioned. What is Archants obsession with this Woman? Maybe her Campaign Norwich in 90 means, in 90 years improvements will be finally completed !

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    che bramley

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • we DO need new stock, the trains are kanckered and old and outdated. They are not fit for purpose, even with a refurbishment. Abellio cant be blamed for everything, with a one year franchise why should they spend millions when they see no return?

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    Mooseyt3

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • The rolling stock on the Norwich main line does not need to be replaced, refurbished maybe but trains are built to last for many many years with rebuilds and safety updates as required.

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    John Bridge

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • dumping waste on the track, just goes to show how old our east coast rolling stock is

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    Dave

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Credit where it is due. Had first ever Abismallio journey on train with round wheels yesterday. It is actually a heritage railway they are running. More class 47s please.

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    Dave01

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Lol this article is actually nonsense.... Chloe Smith in the news again????? *Facepalms Look Abellio haven't done that much, all the stations are in need of a deep clean, full repaint and new toliets and refurbished ticket offices. What a waste of money.

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    norwichlad23

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Its not refurbishment what needed, its new stock, we were getting hand me downs in 1960's time for a change.

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    Derek McDonald

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • whoah there Paul schmuck, the contracts to refurbish all the intercity carriages and the multiple units were signed LONG ago and progress is ongoing. This has NOTHING to do with the franchise extension! It also makes NO difference to achieving Norwich in 90.

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    Mooseyt3

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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