Latest News from Greater Anglia

First refurbished Greater Anglia Class 321 trains have entered service

We have rolled out of a major customer-focused refurbishment programme (including installation of wi-fi, plug points and air conditioning) for 30 trains used on services to Southend, Chelmsford, Witham, Braintree, Colchester, Clacton, Harwich and Ipswich.

The entry into service of the first of Greater Anglia’s refurbished Class 321 trains was marked with a special event at the end of last year. Stakeholders from across Essex and Suffolk, where the trains operate, were invited to see the one of the refurbished trains as part of a launch which begins in London and then takes in a special trip to Southend, Chelmsford, Witham, Colchester, Manningtree and Ipswich. The event was jointly organised by Greater Anglia and Eversholt (who own the trains and lease them to Greater Anglia) and was hosted by Greater Anglia’s Managing Director, Jamie Burles, with representatives from Eversholt and Wabtec (who are carrying out the refurbishment work).

The upgrade for the trains includes:

  • New, more comfortable seating throughout
  • Air-conditioning fitted throughout (which has not previously been available)
  • New heating systems
  • Larger vestibules for improved boarding and alighting
  • Wi-fi facilities enabled throughout
  • Power sockets installed throughout
  • New, energy efficient lighting
  • Improved space allocation for wheelchairs, buggies, bicycles and luggage
  • New flooring, ceiling panels and windows
  • Upgraded equipment monitoring systems to improve train reliability

The customer-focused upgrade is one of a series of improvements Greater Anglia is introducing over the next three years, including more trains to provide extra seats at peak times, more investment in train reliability initiatives, automatic delay repay compensation for season ticket holders and advance ticket holders, an interior refresh for all trains, the installation of ticket vending machines at all stations and the start of the wider roll out of wi-fi on to all trains. These enhancements will then be followed by the transformation programme to replace its entire train fleet with brand new, state of the art trains during 2019/20.

Greater Anglia’s Managing Director Jamie Burles said: "This major upgrade will transform the customer environment on these carriages which are used by many thousands of our passengers every day. With air conditioning, new seats, new lighting, new toilets, Wi-Fi and power sockets, customers will see a real step change in the quality of the on-train experience, to offer a better, more comfortable journey while we plan for the arrival of brand new trains across the network from 2019.

“We are also spending £5 million on improving the reliability of all our trains to improve performance while the new trains are being built.”

Greater Anglia is first rail operator to offer commuters a smarter way to buy season tickets

Rail passengers using Greater Anglia train services in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire have become the first in the country to use new Smart Cards and are being advised to upgrade their paper season tickets.

Using a Smart Card season ticket is much quicker than the traditional paper ticket as customers simply touch the smart card on the reader at ticket gates.

It also removes the need to queue at the ticket office to buy a season ticket as they can be purchased online here. Once the card arrives, the season ticket is loaded onto the Smart Card by presenting it at the ticket gate or a ticket machine and is ready for use.

Smart Cards are plastic and more durable and will open up greater opportunities in the future for developments such as flexible ticketing, tailored to the individual travellers’ needs.

Smart Cards are available for commuters using Greater Anglia services between Norwich, Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Manningtree, Colchester, Chelmsford, Shenfield, Stratford and London Liverpool Street and all intermediate journeys, and Cambridge and Southend Victoria lines to Liverpool Street and all intermediate journeys. Customers travelling from our branch lines including Southminster line, Braintree, Sudbury, Clacton, Walton and Harwich line can now also swap their season ticket for a Smart Card.

Upgrading to a Smart Card is free and can be done when the season ticket is renewed, or an existing paper ticket can be swapped for a Smartcard if the season ticket has at least 30 days left to run.

Greater Anglia was the first train operator in the UK to launch Smart season tickets as part of the SEFT (South East Flexible Ticketing) scheme early in 2016. The Department for Transport funded programme is aimed at accelerating the deployment of season tickets on smart cards across the south-east, the largest commuter market in the UK, to make journeys across the region more seamless and integrated. Greater Anglia, c2c, GTR, South West Trains and Southeastern will cover 73% of the annual season ticket market.

Transformed ticket office now open at Ipswich station

Passengers using one of Suffolk’s busiest rail stations are benefiting from improvements as work to modernise Ipswich station progresses.

Greater Anglia has now completed the second phase of the £2 million redevelopment, with the opening of the new ticket office.

The bright, modern and spacious ticket office features four accessible, open plan service windows. In addition, five new ticket machines are now in operation and smart new signage has been installed.

During the first phase of the works the old station buildings on platform 2 were opened up to create one large, open plan space which incorporates the new ticket office, as well as an integrated Customer Services Office, a Starbucks and WH Smith, new automatic ticket gates and a new coffee shop in the waiting room on platform 3. The project has now entered its third and final phase, which will see the station forecourt being rebuilt, scheduled for completion next year.

The work is being funded by the National Stations Improvement Programme and will significantly improve the facilities and waiting environment for passengers.

Greater Anglia’s Area Customer Service Manager, James Steward, commented: “The redevelopment has greatly improved the layout and created a more spacious, modern feel to bring the station into the 21st century and improve the station environment for our customers.

“We have already received a lot of positive feedback and we are very pleased with how the project is progressing so far.”

Project to install new passenger lifts at Manningtree completed

A project to improve access for customers at Manningtree station, with the installation of two new passenger lifts, has been completed and officially opened in October 2016.

The £3 million investment means that Manningtree station is now more accessible for rail passengers, with much easier access between platforms 1&2 and 3&4 at the station, creating better journeys for those with mobility problems, pushchairs and heavy luggage, as well as making connections much easier.

Greater Anglia's Cambridge CyclePoint wins National Cycle-Rail award

Greater Anglia has won the Station of the Year award at the 2016 National Cycle-Rail awards for its new Cambridge CyclePoint facility, opened earlier this year.

The impressive, purpose-built complex offers 2850 safe and secure spaces undercover, in a dedicated facility, covered by CCTV, open 24 hours a day, free of charge, and is the biggest and best facility of its type at a UK rail station. It has more than tripled the cycle parking capacity at the station and is expected to encourage even greater cycle usage in a city with an established cycle culture. In fact, it is already proving popular, only a few months after its launch.

Spread over three floors, it also has a retail outlet operated by Rutland Cycling, providing maintenance, cycle hire, cycle accessories and cycle sales, making the Cycle Point a true cycle hub and strengthening further the sustainable transport options in a city where there is already a high propensity to cycle.

The judges for the awards praised the project saying that "It is the flagship station for UK cycle-rail and our first entry into the scale of facility seen in Northern Europe…It speaks for itself and Greater Anglia should be proud of what they have achieved".

The project involved a major programme of design, collaboration and construction by the key partners Greater Anglia, Network Rail and developers Brookgate, with their respective contractors. Funding support also came from the Department for Transport.

In developing the final specification, extensive local consultation was carried out with local stakeholders, including cycling groups, about the type of facilities to be provided, so there is a mix of parking options available with a mix of two-tier racks and Sheffield stands. There are also spaces for “cargo cycles” and specialist cycles used by those with disabilities, as well as areas of the ground floor reserved for ‘out of gauge’ cycles and for those who find use of the stairs difficult. Open seven-days-a-week, the CyclePoint is brightly-lit and, in another helpful touch, has parking areas identified with a different colour scheme on each floor and individually numbered stands to enable customers to easily identify cycles on their return.

The CyclePoint is part of a wider programme of cycle-rail improvements which has seen the company markedly increase cycle parking capacity at stations, complete a programme to ensure all of its stations offer some cycle parking, introduce the “Bike and Go” cycle hire scheme at a number of stations, open its first CyclePoint at Chelmsford and launch a cycle forum as part of its proactive cycle strategy.

Commenting on the award, Jamie Burles, Managing Director for Greater Anglia said: "We're delighted to have received this national award for Cambridge CyclePoint. It is a ground-breaking project that sets a new standard for cycle parking at rail stations in the UK. I would like to thank our main partners in the project, Network Rail and Brookgate; other key contributors and supporters (including the Department for Transport) and the members of the Greater Anglia team, who have all helped delivered a world-class facility - a fitting cycle complex for the UK's most cycle-friendly city. We shall continue to improve cycle-rail facilities across our network over the course of our new franchise."

Global award for Stansted Airport rail station’s Virtual Ticket Office innovation

Stansted Airport rail station’s Virtual Ticket Office has been named “Best Product/Innovation of the Year” at the Global AirRail Alliance Conference.

The ‘NextAgent’ Virtual Ticket Office, combines a virtual walk-up ticket office, a ticket vending machine and a video-linked call centre. NextAgent operators can remotely answer customer questions, provide advice about best fares and reassure passengers about their onward travel.

Customer reviews conducted by a third-party research firm are extremely positive and indicate:

  • A third of the respondents stated that NextAgent would increase the likelihood of them using trains as the ongoing mode of transport to their end destination – perfectly highlighting the link between air and rail travel.
  • 91 percent of users said they’re likely to use NextAgent again when flying to/from Stansted.
  • 93 percent of users said NextAgent was either better or the same as using a staffed ticket office window.
  • 97 percent of users reported a positive experience using a virtual ticketing office like NextAgent.

Restoration work transforms Bury St Edmunds rail station

Bury St Edmunds rail station has been transformed thanks to a £1 million restoration programme which has restored the heritage Victorian building to its former glory.

Train operator, Greater Anglia, has just completed the scheme to restore and repair brickwork across the entire station, fix decades of damage caused by leaks, restore 500 metres of canopy and replace 500m of platform protecting and improving the Grade II listed building for years to come and creating an attractive gateway to the town,

The work was carried out in consultation with the Victorian Society and St Edmundsbury Borough Council. The Council also provided and maintained stunning hanging baskets that have adorned the station entrance during the summer months.

Over seven months, from January to July, Greater Anglia completed the following work, with teams often working overnight to minimise disruption to passengers:

  • Cleaned, repaired and repainted 500 metres of canopies and roof glazing, cleaned lights and repainted columns;
  • Resurfaced 500 metres of platform, including replacement copers (slabs at the platform edge) and tactiles (the contoured slabs next to the copers which warn passengers both visually and by their texture of approach to the edge of the platform) and repainting of lines, as well as drainage improvements and levelling;
  • Cleaned, repointed and repaired all brickwork;
  • Corrected leaks in the stairwell by sandblasting the area, stripping out old, ineffective repair work, tanking to keep out the damp, re-rendering and re-decorating;
  • Replaced and repainted damaged pipework;
  • Installed a new roof access to allow a safe ‘working at height’ system for future roof and guttering maintenance;
  • Repaired and replaced deteriorated sandstone parapets using a specialist stonemason;
  • Cleaned and repainted all windows;
  • Installed new cycle storage, doubling capacity from 10 to 20;
  • Created extra car parking and two additional motorcycle spaces.

The work is in addition to the refurbishment of the toilet facilities and installation of a new waiting room which was completed earlier in the year.

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