Greater Anglia’s first brand new train has entered passenger service. The four-car bi-mode unit departed Lowestoft for Norwich Monday morning at 7.47 carrying passengers for the first time. The event marked the beginning of an ambitious schedule that will see every train across the network replaced with a brand new one by the end of 2020.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “This is an important and significant day for us – and one we have all been looking forward to. Our first new train has now entered passenger service and it’s the start of a new era. We were committed to beginning our transformation in Summer 2019 and we’ve done just that. This is an incredibly exciting time for everyone involved with East Anglia’s railways – customers, communities and all the team here at Greater Anglia.”
The train is the first of 38 new bi-mode units (24 four-carriage and 14 three-carriage) that will enter service over on Greater Anglia’s regional routes over the next few months. The new trains run on diesel across the regional routes and switch to overhead electrics wherever it’s available.
The trains are made by Stadler in Switzerland and are transported through the Channel Tunnel.
Thomas Ahlburg, group chief executive of Stadler, said: “The roll-out of the new trains into passenger service is a momentous occasion not just for our business, but for passengers and local communities alike. The contract, signed less than three years ago, was our first for mainline rolling stock in the UK. It signified our entry into this this important market and blazed a trail for orders secured subsequently for the Liverpool City Region and Wales & Borders.”
The new trains, known as FLIRTs (Fast Light Innovative Regional Trains) have a long track record in Europe; Stadler has sold more than 1,700 to 17 different countries.
For Greater Anglia the new bi-mode trains are replacing an ageing one, two and three-car fleet which is between 20 and 33 years old. They are longer with more seats, large windows, air conditioning, plug sockets, USB ports, WiFi, 6 cycle spaces and improved accessibility. The new trains also lower than the current fleet which makes boarding easier as they align more closely with platform heights.
The first new train will run a small number of services from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft to be followed by some services between Norwich and Cambridge. The programme is then expected to gather pace with most of the regional bi-mode trains in service by the end of the year.
The new trains will be maintained at Norwich Crown Point; Greater Anglia has invested more than £40 million to upgrade the facility as it will serve as a base not only for the bi-mode trains but also the new 12-car Intercity and Stansted Express trains, both made by Stadler.
During the Autumn the first new Intercity train is expected to enter service; the first of the new electric commuter trains being built by Bombardier is due to enter service later in the year.
The bi-mode trains are part of a £600m investment in new Stadler trains for the region which have been financed by Rock Rail East Anglia and will be leased to Greater Anglia for the life of the franchise. The entire investment in the Stadler units and Bombardier trains is £1.4 billion.