Franchise heralds "new dawn" for rail in East Anglia

Published on: Monday, 17 October 2016
Last updated: Monday, 17 October 2016

  • New ‘Greater Anglia’ franchise to deliver £2 billion worth of transformative improvements for passengers including a full fleet of new trains
  • ‘Special Offer’ to attract more people to take the train

Today, Abellio commences a new nine year franchise to provide passenger rail services to and from London and across the five counties of East Anglia. Greater Anglia will oversee the delivery of a £2 billion package of improvements which will transform customers’ experience and support growth across the region.

This transformation includes:

  • Replacement of the entire fleet of trains with 1,043 brand new carriages by end-2020. Built by Bombardier in Derby (665 carriages) and Stadler in Switzerland (378 carriages) they will all have air conditioning, free high speed WiFi and power sockets.
  • Investment of £60 million in stations including the redevelopment of Broxbourne, Cambridge, Cheshunt, Harlow Town and Southend Victoria stations.
  • More services and faster journeys, with journey times falling on average 10%. Headline improvements include two ‘Norwich in 90’ trains each way to/from London every day. Faster services from Ipswich and Colchester to London and faster journey times from London to Southend - falling to 47 minutes - and to Cambridge in 61 minutes.
  • Better connectivity across the wider region with direct services from Lowestoft to London, Norwich to Cambridge services extended to Stansted Airport, and an hourly service from Ipswich to Peterborough.
  • 55% more seats into London in the morning peak period (an extra 32,000 seats), increased capacity on many regional services, and more than 1,000 extra services per week.
  • Better ticketing options including more journey opportunities on smartcards, a new flexible ‘carnet’ to give people who travel regularly but not every day a discount, and lower fares on Stansted Express.

Rail Minister, Paul Maynard, said: “Abellio’s exciting and ambitious plans will make a real difference to passengers in East Anglia, giving them faster and smoother journeys. It will also ensure the region has a rail network that supports its growing economy.

“With new trains being built by Bombardier in Derby, we are making sure that our train building industry remains strong, while delivering the biggest investment in the railways in decades.”

Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, said: “Abellio is delighted to have been entrusted to run the new franchise. We look forward to implementing our transformative package of improvements for rail services across the region, including the largest ever privately procured new trains order that will also secure more than 1,600 jobs in the UK, as well as improving the quality of life for people and businesses in East Anglia.”

Jamie Burles, Managing Director of Greater Anglia, said: “Today is a new dawn for rail services across East Anglia. We now begin the task of delivering on our promises and rolling out exciting improvements such as state of the art new trains, better stations and faster journeys. By 2020, the railways of East Anglia will look and feel very different to today.”

Greater Anglia will invest in additional marketing to attract more people to use rail services. To mark the start of the new franchise, Greater Anglia is running a “Wake up your Weekdays” offer with special adult return fares - £10, £15 or £20 for off-peak travel. Children can travel for just £2 return. Tickets are available to purchase until 30th October for travel up to 30th November, including the autumn half-term period.

To drive up performance and increase service reliability, Greater Anglia and Network Rail are developing a new accord to deliver punctuality of nearly 93% by the end of the franchise, up from around 89% today. This will involve delivery of the infrastructure required for the new trains - including new depots, stabling and longer platforms - as well as joint performance improvement initiatives.

Richard Schofield, Network Rail Route Managing Director, said: “The new franchise is great news for the people of East Anglia and will bring many significant improvements. We’re going to continue to work hard with Greater Anglia to give passengers the bigger, better and reliable railway they deserve.”

The new franchise will deliver strong value for money to the taxpayer with premium payments totalling £3.7 billion to be made to the Department for Transport over the course of the franchise.

Initial improvements over the first phase of the new franchise include:

  • From early 2017, 72 additional carriages will arrive on the network to enable more seats to be provided on the West Anglia and Great Eastern Main Line routes from next summer.
  • Investment by Greater Anglia of £23 million on modifications to the existing fleet to increase reliability, enhance the customer environment and reduce our environmental impact.
  • All stations will be refreshed or refurbished and receive a deep clean.
  • Ticket machines, as well as the latest digital customer information screens (combining passenger information, CCTV and help points) will be introduced at every station.
  • The introduction early next year of automatic ‘Delay-Repay’ compensation for holders of season and advance purchase tickets when train services are delayed.
  • At least 1,800 additional car parking spaces and 4,000 additional cycling spaces will be installed at stations around the network.
  • Multi-modal customer information screens at 30 ‘interchange’ stations.
  • By 2020 free, high speed WiFi will be available at every station and on every train with seamless connectivity throughout the journey. In the meantime wherever there is WiFi it will be offered free, and we will continue to upgrade our offering - all trains which operate out of London Liverpool Street will be fitted with WiFi, and those trains currently with WiFi will have their system upgraded.
  • Enhanced support for the region’s highly-successful Community Rail Partnerships.
  • £750k each year to spend on further schemes to enhance the customer experience, with an additional £2m a year from 2020 to fund improvements for customers and the communities we serve.
  • A focus on innovation with a dedicated innovation fund and the establishment of an Innovation Academy.

Mark Pendlington, Chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is a great day for East Anglia, a dynamic region with a £43 billion economy. The campaign of so many stakeholders in our region has helped to deliver the promise of the UK’s largest-ever private procurement investment in new trains. We look forward to working with Greater Anglia and Network Rail to see these plans brought to fruition. It’s also very encouraging that the Department for Transport recognises the vital importance of continued investment in our region – for passengers and for business - to enable its further growth and contribution to the wider economy.”

A short film about the transformation to rail services that Greater Anglia is bringing can be viewed here:

You can follow the launch of the new franchise on Twitter at #GreaterAngliaLaunch

Manningtree staff in new uniform

Manningtree staff in new uniform

New liveried train at Norwich

New liveried train at Norwich

Staff giving out cupcakes at Ipswich station

Staff giving out cupcakes at Ipswich station

Staff giving out cupcakes at Norwich station

Staff giving out cupcakes at Norwich station