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Greater Anglia under fire for delays and cancellations despite new trains

PUBLISHED: 07:30 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:52 03 December 2019

Inside one of Greater Anglia's new bi-mode trains on the Norwich-Sheringham Bittern line. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Inside one of Greater Anglia's new bi-mode trains on the Norwich-Sheringham Bittern line. Picture: Stuart Anderson

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A rail operator has come under fire for delays and cancellations despite the recent launch of a £1.4bn new train fleet.

Trains between Norwich and Sheringham have been delayed after a problem at a level crossing. Picture: Stuart AndersonTrains between Norwich and Sheringham have been delayed after a problem at a level crossing. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Greater Anglia launched the new vehicles in September, raising hopes they would improve journeys for passengers.

With new trains introduced on all regional Norfolk routes, their goal is to replace all 169 in the fleet with the newer counterparts by the end of 2020. Many old trains remain on the network.

Frustrated rail users say they are still facing disruption on the new trains, and on Monday morning alone there were 10 cancellations between Norwich and Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and London due to train faults on two vehicles - one old, one new.

Dave Welsh, of the Nor4Nor rail nationalisation campaign group, said the situation was "scandalous".

Greater Anglia head of corporate affairs Jonathan Denby in the accessible section of one of the firm's new bi-mode trains, on the Norwich-Sheringham Bittern line. Picture: Stuart AndersonGreater Anglia head of corporate affairs Jonathan Denby in the accessible section of one of the firm's new bi-mode trains, on the Norwich-Sheringham Bittern line. Picture: Stuart Anderson

"The impression we got from people coming off the trains was lots of cancellations and problems," he said.

"There are problems with these new trains and there are misgivings."

Problems continued throughout Monday - a fault on one of the operator's new trains was discovered at Elmswell, on the Peterborough to Ipswich line.

On the Elmswell problem, a Greater Anglia spokeswoman said they expected their new trains' performance to better than their old ones.

The new Stadler trains have been billed as faster, more reliable and better equipped than their predecessors.

Speaking more widely about disruption on the new trains, they said: "We apologise to all customers who were affected by cancellations on Monday. Some of these cancellations were due to a train fault on one of the new trains, which we worked to resolve as quickly as possible."

They said the trains came with "cutting edge technology", and they were working with manufacturer Stadler to ensure the trains provide a reliable service for the region.

"Replacing all of our existing trains with brand new longer trains, with more seats and all mod cons, is a large and complex undertaking," they said. "We now have introduced new trains on all of our Norfolk regional routes, although there are also still some of our old trains on the network too."

In November, the train operator had to explain why many of its new Norwich in 90 services, created to reach the capital in an hour and a half, were late or cancelled.

What do passengers think?

We spoke to people coming out of the rail station in Norwich on Monday about their experiences.

Peter Rawlinson, of Union Road, Great Yarmouth, said his 2.36pm train had been cancelled, and that he had been taking his brother to a hospital appointment.

He said he had enquired as to whether a bus service could be put on, but that it was not possible, and he said he would have to take a taxi.

And Christine Boggis, 70, from Spa Common in North Walsham, said her 1.45pm train to Sheringham had been cancelled.

"There never used to be any problems," she said, "but every day I've gone there's been a cancellation.

"It's a bit of a nuisance really. We thought with the new trains things would have been a bit better."

She said her train had been on time when she arrived at the station, but changed to delayed "due to train faults".

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