Greater Anglia and Network Rail report an improved Autumn period

Friday, 22 December 2017

A video is available here:

A new ABS-style braking system fitted to some Greater Anglia trains has resulted in an average improvement in performance of 4.5% across rural branch lines in East Anglia this A.

The train operator has revealed punctuality figures for all lines where modified trains ran, with each one showing an improvement compared to last Autumn.

  • The Norwich – Lowestoft line and Norwich – Cromer / Sheringham line reported the highest punctuality improvements at 6.1% and 5.7% respectively.
  • The Ipswich – Lowestoft line reported a 5% improvement in punctuality.
  • The Marks Tey – Sudbury line reported a 4% improvement in punctuality.
  • The Norwich – Great Yarmouth line reported a 3% improvement in punctuality.

Services affected by cancellation or significant lateness were also down from 339 in 2016 to 210 services this year.

The operator says that a number of measures put in place with Network Rail to keep the rails clear of leaves - which make rails as slippery as black ice - have resulted in fewer delays with the new £500K braking system fitted on Class 156 branch line trains having the biggest impact.

Like ABS on cars, the new system stops train wheels locking when braking so that they do not become damaged in slippery conditions. This is fitted to most of Greater Anglia’s fleet, and for the first time this year, was fitted to nine Class 156 trains which operate on the branch lines including Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, Ipswich to Lowestoft and Felixstowe and Marks Tey to Sudbury.

This system will be fitted to all of the brand new trains currently on order to replace all of Greater Anglia’s existing trains from 2019

The Autumn period was more challenging this year, with 32 days of slippery rails, the highest for three years, with several days where there were more leaves lying on the ground than at any point in the previous five years. More than 30% of the leaves fell in East Anglia over a fortnight between 8th and 22nd November.

Greater Anglia’s Head of Performance and Planning, Keith Palmer, commented: “As we focus our efforts on winter performance, we’re pleased to report that the work to fit new brakes to our branch line trains resulted in better performance across the rural branch lines during the Autumn, meaning fewer delays for passengers.”

Other measures to tackle leaves on the line included clearing trees and bushes away from the lineside; using a Railhead Treatment Train to jet leaf mulch off the rails using a high pressure spray; and using automatic sanders fitted to trains which deposit sand onto the rail, cleaning the rail and helping the train to grip.

Network Rail’s Railhead Treatment Trains treated about 90,000 miles of track in East Anglia this year – the same as going between London and Norwich 750 times or going round the earth three and a half times!

Real time data was sent from trains’ on board computers to the Greater Anglia control room to target slippery areas of track; and an additional wheel lathe was installed at Norwich Crown Point depot to quickly repair any wheels damaged by slippery rails.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “It’s encouraging to see the work we have carried out with Greater Anglia has resulted in fewer delays for passengers on rural lines this autumn and winter. We understand the inconvenience caused when problems occur and our team of specialists have focussed their work to tackle problem areas, in order to keep passengers on the move.”