Better weekend services on Great Eastern Main Line continue in 2014
Passengers travelling on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML), between Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford and London, are set to benefit from better weekend rail services again in 2014. Abellio Greater Anglia and Network Rail have worked together to minimise the amount of planned disruptive weekend engineering work and need for bus replacement services over the next year. Under the improvement works schedule for 2014, there are only two Saturdays and six Sundays when travel on the Norwich to London main line is planned to be significantly affected by any replacement bus journeys. These weekends are all scheduled during February and March (between 15 February and 30 March), so there are no full days planned to involve bus replacement after the end of March for the rest of the year. The good news is the result of an alliance between Abellio Greater Anglia and Network Rail to provide an improved train service and achieve a better balance between delivering infrastructure improvements and minimising disruption to passengers.
Most weekends will involve a normal direct train service to London Liverpool Street, although there will be some Sundays (and couple of Saturdays) when either a slightly amended timetable will operate or passengers will need to change trains at Colchester, plus three Sundays when passengers will need to change onto the Central Line at Stratford.
Ruud Haket, Abellio Greater Anglia Managing Director, said:
“I am delighted that our positive partnership and alliance with Network Rail, which is a key element of the Abellio Greater Anglia franchise, will continue to deliver a better service for passengers in 2014. Our customers will be able to enjoy more seamless weekend services, thereby encouraging more people to take the train and boosting the region's economy. The partnership between us enabled a much better weekend train service in 2013, with many more people travelling on the Great Eastern Main Line on Saturdays and Sundays as a result. This real benefit for rail travellers followed a fresh look at the scheduling of infrastructure works, to put passenger needs first whilst also maintaining important improvements. The success of this joint approach will be maintained next year, so passengers from all along the GEML can take advantage of the convenience, comfort and speed of the train - for day trips, weekends away, shopping or visiting friends and relations."
Richard Schofield, Network Rail Route Managing Director for Anglia, said:
"Over the last year we have effectively changed the way we have undertaken our maintenance and upgrade programmes in partnership with Abellio Greater Anglia for the benefit of passengers.
“We recognise there is never a convenient time to close the railway and we’ve worked hard to honour the commitment we made to reduce the amount of disruptive engineering work carried out over weekends, a positive initiative we’re pleased to extend into 2014.
“There is still work to do to improve things further but we believe we’ve have found a much better balance, which I hope passengers will welcome."
In summary, during 2014, there will only be six weekends of planned disruptive engineering work involving all day alterations with bus services for part of the journey. Essential overnight work will still take place on other weekends, meaning that some very late night Saturday, early Sunday morning and very late Sunday journeys may involve buses, but any disruption to passengers will be limited. There will also be some late night alterations on Mondays to Wednesdays during the year. However, once again, the overall picture is much improved for passengers, with a normal service operating more of the time and, when engineering work is taking place, it is mostly far less disruptive.