Greater Anglia test drivers learn to drive new trains on hi-tech simulators

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Train drivers who will be test driving Greater Anglia’s brand-new electric commuter trains have just started their initial training, using hi-tech simulators.

Twelve experienced train drivers are being trained to drive Greater Anglia’s new electric commuter trains which are being built by UK manufacturer, Bombardier.

Two simulators – full-size replicas of the train cabs – have been installed at the company’s training academy in Stratford.

interior of 720 simulator

The simulators enable drivers to learn how to use the new trains’ hi-tech functions, including an improved Train Control Management System – the "brain" of the train which allows the driver to interact with the train’s systems for the most efficient performance and the Train Protection and Warning System safety feature.

Three routes have been programmed into the simulator – London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport, Colchester and Southend Victoria – appearing on high-res screens in front of the driver, as if he or she was looking out of the windscreen.

All weather conditions and potential situations from snow and high winds to cows on the line can be thrown at the driver at the press of a button.

Drivers must complete a three-day course – a mixture of classroom learning and practical experience on the simulator, before they are able to complete their training on the real thing, still under the supervision of a driver instructor for a further two days.

Training started last week – with social distancing observed by using two classrooms and allowing only person in the simulator at a time.

Clive Bastin, senior driver training and simulator manager for Greater Anglia, said: "The new trains are much more hi-tech than our existing fleet.

"During the simulator training we make sure that drivers are able to use all the train’s different functions and features, so that they will be confident in any situation they might face when driving a real train.

"These new trains are great improvement for customers – but they’re also better for drivers, with superior acceleration and braking."

another interior photo of the 720 simulator

Will Tanner, Communications Director for Bombardier said; "Starting driver training on these hi-tech simulators is another great step forward as we move closer to passenger service. Training Greater Anglia’s drivers on our new British-built trains in this way is of course even more useful with social distancing measures in place."

The new commuter trains will provide services into Liverpool Street from Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Ipswich.

About 600 experienced drivers will be trained to drive the new trains, which will replace all of Greater Anglia’s old electric trains on these routes.

Greater Anglia is getting 111 new five and ten carriage trains from Bombardier. All are longer, with more seats, plug and USB points, air conditioning combined with underfloor heating, improved passenger information screens and better accessibility features.

New bi-mode trains, which run on diesel and electricity, have replaced the company’s old diesel trains and are now in passenger service on all of Greater Anglia’s rural/regional services.

The company’s old intercity trains have also been replaced with new electric trains, made by Swiss manufacturer, Stadler - which has also made ten new electric trains for the Stansted Express route, which are due to start going into passenger service in the summer.

The new electric commuter trains from Bombardier are due to start to go into passenger service later this year. Production at the Bombardier’s Derby factory was halted for a few weeks due to coronavirus but has now re-started. Just under 50 of the five-carriage trains have already been built.