New trains now in passenger service on Southminster line

Published on: Thursday, 24 December 2020
Last updated: Thursday, 24 December 2020

Passengers on Greater Anglia’s Southminster branch line can now travel on brand new trains after the first of the company’s state-of-the-art electric commuter trains entered passenger service on the route.

The 18.02 service from London Liverpool Street to Southminster on Wednesday 23 December was operated by two brand new trains coupled together to form a ten-carriage train.

It then operated as the 19.19 Southminister to Shenfield service, calling at Burnham-on-Crouch, Althorne, North Fambridge, South Woodham Ferrers, Battlesbridge, Wickford and Shenfield.

In the last four weeks, Greater Anglia has brought new trains into passenger service on two other routes in Essex – between London Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria and Braintree – greatly enhancing rail passengers’ journeys.

The company is getting 133 five-carriage Bombardier commuter trains which will mostly run to London Liverpool Street from Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Ipswich.

The first two of these trains entered passenger service on the Southend Victoria line on Thursday 26 November, with another two entering passenger service on the Braintree line on Wednesday 16 December.

A total of eight of these new trains are now in service – as two provide back-up while maintenance and cleaning take place.

The roll-out of Greater Anglia’s new Bombardier trains will continue on Great Eastern routes in Essex and to Ipswich next year and is expected to begin on the West Anglia route between Liverpool Street and Cambridge in the second half of 2021.

The new five-carriage Class 720 AVENTRA Bombardier trains, which can be used as five carriage trains or coupled together to form ten-carriage trains, are longer with more seats.

They have USB and plug points, fast free wifi, air conditioning, improved accessibility features including a disabled toilet on every train, better passenger information screens and dedicated cycle spaces.

The trains are the first in the UK to have underfloor heating which works with an overhead heating and ventilation system to improve passenger comfort and increase foot room for passengers sitting in window seats.

They feature regenerative braking which delivers energy back into the electrical supply network, rather than wasting the energy, through heat, as is the case with conventional systems.

Ian McConnell, Greater Anglia franchise and programmes director said: "All through the pandemic, our teams have been working hard to carry out safety and performance tests on these trains, in partnership with Bombardier.

"Seeing them in passenger service and hearing customers’ positive reactions is brilliant. We’re delighted to be improving our customers’ journeys with us.

"We’re looking forward to more of the same in 2021 as more and more new trains come into passenger service across the whole of our network.

Matt Byrne, President UK & Ireland said: ‘It’s great news that Greater Anglia’s passengers on more routes can now travel on these cutting-edge, British-designed and -built AVENTRA trains.

"We are working really closely with Greater Anglia to ensure that the production, testing and delivery of the new trains is continuing despite the continuing impact of COVID-19.

"Higher capacity, more sustainable, and packed with features such as wifi, USB charging and underfloor heating, the new electric trains are playing an important part in helping transform journeys across the Greater Anglia network."

The trains have been procured and financed by Angel Trains. Angel Trains Chief Executive Officer, Malcolm Brown said: "The Class 720s entering service is a huge milestone and, as a leading investor in sustainable rolling stock, we’re proud to have supported Greater Anglia throughout this transformative project.

"Replacing the current suburban fleet, these state-of-the-art vehicles will go a long way towards enhancing the rail travel experience for passengers in Southminster and modernising UK rail."

Greater Anglia is replacing every single train on its network with brand new trains. The first new train – made by Swiss manufacturer Stadler – entered passenger service in July 2019 on the Norwich–Lowestoft route.

There are already new trains operating all services on the Norwich–London intercity route, Stansted Airport–London, Norwich–Cambridge/Stansted Airport, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Sheringham, Ipswich–Cambridge, Peterborough, Felixstowe and Lowestoft, and Marks Tey–Sudbury routes.