Ipswich named “large station of the year” and Greater Anglia's diesel train upgrade commended at Rail Awards

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

There was success for Greater Anglia at the 2018 National Rail Awards recently, as Ipswich station won the ‘Large Station of the Year’ award.

The accolade reflects the recent transformation of the station, with redevelopment of the main customer facilities, provision of an upgraded forecourt and the role of the excellent station team who look after customers as they pass through the station.

Greater Anglia has spent £2 million redeveloping Ipswich station. Improvements, include a complete refurbishment of the existing foyer and ticket hall, to create more space during busy periods, refurbished waiting rooms, open plan counter service, , as well as more comfortable seats with plug points for charging phones, laptops and other electronic devices.

Additional ticket vending machines have also been installed and more shops and retail outlets opened at the station.

The company has also fitted a water fountain at the station, so customers can refill their plastic water bottles for free.

The station forecourt has also been revamped, in partnership with Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council with a much-improved layout, including better walking routes for pedestrians, improved bus interchange facilities and better segregation of access between taxis and drop off/meet and greet facilities.

The new layout creates a far more impressive gateway to the town, with positive comments from customers and visitors alike.

The role of the local station team is a further factor in the station’s success, with dedicated, customer-friendly employees in the ticket office and on the platforms, always looking to help and assist passengers and make their journeys as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

James Steward, Greater Anglia’s Area Customer Service Manager for Ipswich said, “After being shortlisted last year, we’re delighted that Ipswich has now been named “Large station of the Year”.

“The work that has been done here has transformed the station and its surroundings, making it easier for customers to use, providing better facilities for passengers and employees alike, easing congestion, improving interchange arrangements and making the station a better gateway to the town.”

ABS for trains project highly commended

Greater Anglia was also highly commended in the Train of the Year award, for its innovative wheel slide protection project for its Class 156 diesel trains, used on rural lines such as Marks Tey to Sudbury, Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Ipswich to Lowestoft.

The pioneering initiative delivered a 38% reduction in autumn cancellations on local lines and a 4.6% rise in punctuality in Autumn 2017.

It was the first time such a system – known in the industry as ‘Wheel Slide Protection’ (or WSP) – has been designed for and fitted to Class 156 trains.

WSP prevents wheel damage in slippery conditions, thereby improving service reliability, especially in the autumn, when tracks become slippery due to falling leaves and wet weather.

Like ABS on a car, the system uses technology installed on the train to judge whether its wheels are slowing evenly when the train brakes, preventing them from becoming damaged and needing repair.

The upgrade has made a positive difference to performance on the company’s rural train services in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and parts of Cambridgeshire.

As a result of the success of the new system, it is now being rolled out to Greater Anglia’s Class 153 diesel trains, which also operate on rural routes, so that Greater Anglia can provide an even more reliable service for passengers this autumn. Other train operators are now fitting the upgrade to their trains, too.

Greater Anglia worked with project partners, Porterbrook, SNC Lavalin, KBRS and Loram UK Ltd, to develop and deliver this “industry first”.

Greater Anglia’s Norwich Depot Technical Manager, Jason Mills, said, “We are absolutely delighted to receive further recognition for our innovative project, taking a class of train that some thought incompatible with WSP and creating a bespoke system that has surpassed everyone’s expectations.

“Now that it is being rolled out to the Class 153 fleet as well, our trains will be even more reliable, as they will not need to be taken out of service as often to visit the wheel lathe. It is a further investment in our current train fleet to improve our passengers’ experience, while we await the roll out of new trains from 2019.”