Trial Refurbished Train Launched on Abellio Greater Anglia's Great Eastern Routes

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Abellio Greater Anglia, in partnership with Eversholt Rail and Wabtec, launched a trial refurbished train at London Liverpool Street station today Wednesday 18 December, as part of a major project to seek customer feedback which will shape future train upgrade programmes. The Class 321 unit is one of the trains used on the company's lines to Southend, Chelmsford, Braintree, Colchester, Clacton, Harwich and Ipswich. It has undergone a high-specification refurbishment and technology upgrades and will be running in normal service on the Abellio Greater Anglia network for a year. During this period, Abellio Greater Anglia and Eversholt Rail will be seeking passenger views on the many new features showcased.

The four-carriage train, modified by Wabtec in Doncaster, will operate on the usual routes served by Class 321s between London and Southend, Chelmsford, Braintree, Colchester, Clacton, Harwich and Ipswich. To fully understand passengers’ preferences and test out different options, the unit features two suburban style and two metro style carriages. Seats in the suburban carriage are configured 3+2, with existing seats refurbished and raised. The metro style, used on commuter lines, has a 2+2 seat configuration, with all new seating. Seats have high backs and are of slimline construction, being formed of pressed aluminium and utilising silicone cushioning to improve comfort. The metro carriages also feature an extended entrance area to allow easier access and egress to and from the carriage.

In addition to new and refurbished seating, the entire unit has new air conditioning and heating systems; energy efficient LED lighting; modern double glazed fixed windows; better wheelchair areas; and a wheelchair accessible toilet. The First Class area has new power operated doors, power sockets and leather seats. Most of the products and systems being demonstrated are from UK based suppliers.

Eversholt Rail is also developing a new system to replace the Class 321 traction equipment to improve energy efficiency and increase reliability. This builds upon Eversholt Rail’s earlier success in replacing the traction system on the Classes 465/0 and 465/1 electric multiple units in operation with Southeastern on Integrated Kent Franchise.

The Class 321s operate over 400 Abellio Greater Anglia services every weekday, so this exciting initiative to look at how the trains could be upgraded and confirm passengers priorities for improvements will be a valuable step in developing plans for future rolling stock enhancements for thousands of rail customers in Essex and Suffolk.

Ruud Haket, Managing Director, Abellio Greater Anglia, said:
“We are delighted to be trialling a fully refurbished Class 321 train on Abellio Greater Anglia and especially keen to gain customers’ feedback on the upgraded on-board environment. With better seats, air conditioning, enhanced lighting and improved access, the train offers a step change in comfort for passengers, as well as a valuable pilot project which can provide excellent input into potential future train upgrade programmes on the Abellio Greater Anglia network. The Class 321 Demonstrator also benefits from technical modifications which should improve its performance and reliability. We’re pleased to be working in partnership with Eversholt Rail and Wabtec on this positive initiative and we look forward to receiving passengers’ comments on the train after it enters service.”

Mary Kenny, Chief Executive of Eversholt Rail, said:
“We are delighted that the Demonstrator unit is being launched into service on the Abellio Greater Anglia network. It is a fantastic demonstration of the possibilities offered by quality refurbishment at an attractive cost. We hope as many people as possible travel on the Demonstrator and give us feedback on the new features and the overall experience, to help us to improve the trains for passengers in the future.”

Chris Weatherall, Group Managing Director, Wabtec Rail Limited said:
“We are delighted to have been given the opportunity by Eversholt Rail and Abellio Greater Anglia to show what can be achieved in the high specification refurbishment of an existing train. Using our engineering expertise in passenger train refurbishment, Wabtec Rail has been able to demonstrate how a train interior can be transformed through fitting new seating, upgraded modern lighting, the installation of air conditioning and the creation of an improved First Class area. We are fully confident that our efforts will be appreciated by Abellio Greater Anglia customers who will experience a more pleasant, comfortable and quieter train journey.”