What’s happening about Greater Anglia’s new trains during lockdown?
Greater Anglia is currently replacing every single old train with brand new state-of-the-art trains built especially for us. During the current lockdown, we are continuing with our new trains programme - with testing, platform building work and staff training all taking place, so that more new trains can go into passenger service. Of course, all this has to be carried out despite the various consequences of the coronavirus outbreak, such as staff absence, effects on the supply chain and Government guidelines on social distancing to keep our staff safe.
It is important that we continue with this work for many reasons.
Leasing contracts are due to expire during this year and next on some of our old trains, which we need to return to their owners who have promised them to other train companies. Some of our old trains also have deadlines for coming out of service because they no longer meet new accessibility requirements. We’re very keen to get our new trains in passenger service because they give our customers a much better travelling experience. They all have more seats, USB and plug points, improved passenger information screens, better accessibility features, free fast wifi and air conditioning. In addition, they have many green features which make them better for the environment than our old trains.
We’re getting 169 new trains in total – 38 Stadler bi-mode trains which have replaced our diesel trains, 20 Stadler electric trains – ten each for our intercity and Stansted Express services, and 111 electric trains from UK manufacturer Bombardier.
Already 45 out of the 58 trains made by Swiss manufacturer Stadler are in passenger service.
We now have new trains on all of our rural/regional routes and on our Norwich-London intercity service too. As they rack up more miles in service, we’re seeing reliability improve and gaining more and more valuable experience of running and maintaining them. We just have two more trains to be delivered – the last bi-mode regional train is expected imminently. We’re carrying out final performance tests on them to make sure that when they do enter passenger service, they’re as reliable as possible. The first new train to run on the Stansted Express route should enter passenger service in the summer.
We also have one of our new electric trains from Bombardier on our network.
This train is the first of our new fleet of Bombardier-built commuter trains, which will transport passengers into London Liverpool Street from Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. We started performance and safety tests on it in March, and it has now visited nearly every part of the network, including London Liverpool Street, Cambridge, Southend, Kings Lynn and Norwich. For a short while production at Bombardier’s factory in Derby was halted due to Coronarvius, but it has re-started with appropriate measures put in place to ensure that staff are able to maintain social distancing. The first new train is due in passenger service later this year.
Two simulators which replicate the cab of our new Bombardier trains have been installed at the Greater Anglia Stratford Academy.
We are preparing and planning for driver training. We will start the first part of driver training on the simulator and in the classroom– the second part is carried out on the trains themselves. The simulator replicates the experience of driving a real train with not just signalling, track, stations, crossings, bridges, tunnels and wider geographic features, but also other aspects such as gradients, unexpected obstacles one the line and extreme weather conditions.
We’re also making progress with some construction works associated with the new trains
We’re installing a new system for filling and emptying train toilets at our depot in Southend, as well as carrying out building works at Ilford depot. We’re also altering platforms at various stations including Liverpool Street and Hackney Downs in preparation for our new trains to go into service at these stations.
The new trains programme also includes some work on our old trains.
Our old trains have to be returned in the same state that they arrived with us. Our depot staff at Crown Point in Norwich have been working on our old intercity trains. They’ve had to remove all logos and branding from inside and out, take down all stickers and posters and make any necessary repairs. It’s similar to when a lease expires on a rented house and the landlord checks the inventory to make sure everything is intact.
Thank you to all of our colleagues who are working hard to keep the railway working.
We’re very grateful to all members of our new trains project team who are continuing to go to work in depots, on trains and at stations to make sure the largest wholescale new trains replacement programme can continue, despite the coronavirus outbreak.
We also extend our thanks to the rest of our staff who are making sure that we can run a safe and reliable service for the essential key workers who are relying on us to get to work and back every day, as well as those who are processing thousands of refunds from passengers who are no longer travelling due to the lockdown.
Our priority is to keep our staff and customers safe. We’re following all Government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene. We have boosted our cleaning teams, who have stepped up their cleaning, paying particular attention to high-touch areas such push buttons, door handles and grab rails. Soap and hand sanitizer supplies are being kept stocked up and we’ve installed extra wash stations at our depots for staff to be able to wash their hands more easily.