'An important and significant day' - first new trains from Greater Anglia enter service
PUBLISHED: 11:29 29 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:51 29 July 2019
The first of Greater Anglia's long-awaited new trains have gone into service in Norfolk today.
Passengers on the 7.47am Lowestoft to Norwich service were the first to experience the company's new "bi-mode" trains, which switch between diesel and electric power.
Greater Anglia has invested £1.4bn in replacing its existing diesel fleet, which currently operates on regional routes, with 169 new trains.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia's managing director, said: "This is an important and significant day for us today - and one we have all been looking forward to. Our first new train has now entered passenger service and it's the start of a new era.
"We were committed to beginning our transformation in Summer 2019 and we've done just that."
A formal launch for the introduction of the new trains is due to take place later in the summer, as the phased entry into service for the new trains starts to pick up speed.
Greater Anglia is getting 38 regional bi-mode trains from international rail vehicle construction company Stadler, headquartered in Switzerland.
They will be made up of 24 four-carriage trains and 14 three-carriage trains, and operate on routes across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and parts of Essex.
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Greater Anglia said the trains are longer with more seats, include air conditioning, plug and USB points and improved accessibility.
In the early stages of the rollout a small number of services between Norwich and Great Yarmouth, and Norwich and Lowestoft will be operated by new trains, followed by some services between Norwich and Cambridge.
The majority of the regional bi-mode trains should be in service by the end of this year.
Greater Anglia said the new trains will improve reliability, with three and four carriage trains replacing a fleet of one, two and three carriage trains, many of which are nearly 40 years old.
They will be maintained at Norwich Crown Point depot, which is benefitting from a £40m upgrade to prepare it as the base for the new regional, intercity and Stansted Express trains.
Autumn 2019 will see the first new intercity train enter service and the first suburban train, built by Bombardier, is also due to enter service later this year.
The bi-mode trains are part of a £600m investment in new Stadler trains for the region which have been financed by Rock Rail East Anglia and will be leased to Greater Anglia for the life of the franchise.
Thomas Ahlburg, group chief executive of Stadler, said: "The roll-out of the new trains into passenger service is a momentous occasion not just for our business, but for passengers and local communities alike.
"The contract, signed less than three years ago, was our first for mainline rolling stock in the UK."