Abellio announces major improvements as nine year East Anglia franchise begins
17 October 2016 • Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review
Abellio has marked the start of a new nine year East Anglia franchise which will deliver a £2 billion package of improvements for rail services to and from London, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.
The new ‘Greater Anglia’ franchise will deliver £2 billion worth of improvements including a brand new fleet of Bombardier Aventra EMUs (665 carriages) and Stadler Flirt multiple units (378 carriages). Delivery is expected in 2019/2020. All new trains will feature air conditioning and provide high speed WiFi and power sockets.
East Anglia franchise to deliver 1,043 new carriages by 2020
Furthermore, the investment will see more services, faster journey times – decreasing on average by 10 percent , and 55 percent more seats into London in the morning peak period. Greater Anglia will also introduce better ticketing options including more journey opportunities on smartcards, a new flexible ‘carnet’ to give people who travel regularly but not every day a discount, and lower fares on Stansted Express.
In addition, the East Anglia franchise will deliver improved connectivity across the wider region with direct services from Lowestoft to London, Norwich to Cambridge services extended to Stansted Airport, and an hourly service from Ipswich to Peterborough.
Commenting at the franchise launch, Rail Minister Paul Maynard, said: “Abellio’s exciting and ambitious plans will make a real difference to passengers in East Anglia, giving them faster and smoother journeys. It will also ensure the region has a rail network that supports its growing economy.
“With new trains being built by Bombardier in Derby, we are making sure that our train building industry remains strong, while delivering the biggest investment in the railways in decades.”
Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, added: “Abellio is delighted to have been entrusted to run the new franchise. We look forward to implementing our transformative package of improvements for rail services across the region, including the largest ever privately procured new trains order that will also secure more than 1,600 jobs in the UK, as well as improving the quality of life for people and businesses in East Anglia.”
£60 million station investment
Regional stations will also benefit from a £60 million investment including the redevelopment of Broxbourne, Cambridge, Cheshunt, Harlow Town and Southend Victoria stations.
Jamie Burles, Managing Director of Greater Anglia, commented: “Today is a new dawn for rail services across East Anglia. We now begin the task of delivering on our promises and rolling out exciting improvements such as state of the art new trains, better stations and faster journeys. By 2020, the railways of East Anglia will look and feel very different to today.”
Driving up performance and increasing service reliability
Greater Anglia also announced it would be working with Network Rail to drive up performance and increase service reliability. Both parties aim to deliver punctuality of nearly 93 percent by the end of the franchise, up from around 89 percent today. This will involve delivery of the infrastructure necessary for the new trains – including depots, stabling and longer platforms.
Richard Schofield, Network Rail Route Managing Director, said: “The new franchise is great news for the people of East Anglia and will bring many significant improvements. We’re going to continue to work hard with Greater Anglia to give passengers the bigger, better and reliable railway they deserve.”