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Suffolk: Rail travellers promised new seat covers and carpets, plus wi-fi and electricity plugs as Abellio Greater Anglia’s franchise is extended

14:50 16 April 2014

Greater Anglia train.

Greater Anglia train.

Archant

Major improvements are on the way for rail travellers on the main line to London with government confirmation that Abellio Greater Anglia will run trains for another two years.

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As part of their franchise extension, the Dutch-owned company will refurbish all the InterCity carriages used on the main line to London.

As well as being repainted, they will be completely refreshed internally.

New seat coverings and carpets will be fitted. New wi-fi will be installed, and electricity plugs to enable owners of mobile phones or computers to recharge their devices will be installed at all seats. New lighting will be installed.

Tanks to collect effluent will be installed below all the carriages – ending the practice of dumping waste on the track.

As well as the InterCity carriages, Greater Anglia will also oversee the updating of many of the electric units used on commuter services in Essex and up to Ipswich.

The Class 321 units will have accessible toilets and wheelchair spaces installed for the first time.

The improvements to the carriages will make journeys more comfortable, but Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said this would not be a long-term solution to the region’s rail needs – in the long term there would be a need for new trains.

Mr Gummer, a member of the task force looking at improving services on the Great Eastern Main Line, said:

“This is another important step along our journey to a better rail service.

“This will improve the travelling experience in the short term for commuters and travellers going between Ipswich and London until the new rolling stock – that my colleagues and I are working on procuring at the moment – is ready to go.

“It is understandable that people are frustrated with how long they have had to wait for these improvements but I want to re-iterate that we are reversing sixty years of under-investment.

Witham MP Priti Patel said: “Today’s announcement of the refresh of rolling stock will be welcomed by commuters in Essex.

“This investment will keep ensure that commuters can have access to modernised trains to travel in and state of the art facilities.

“By campaigning together with one voice across the East of England we’ve been able to secure these improvements.”

Chairman of New Anglia LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) Mark Pendlington said: “This is a turning point after years of under investment in rail in the East, and encourages us all in our campaign to achieve even greater improvements in the vital rail services that serve all parts of this area.”

The announcement about the new franchise extension for Abellio was made to the London Stock Exchange first thing this morning. The franchise extension runs from July this year until October 2016.

Meanwhile new figures from the Office for Rail Regulation show that rail users in East Anglia receive one of the lowest government subsidies in the country.

Abellio Greater Anglia had to pay the DTp 19% of its revenue – but 29% of the cost of running the infrastructure was met by the government, meaning that overall the taxpayer funded 10% of the region’s rail services.

East Anglia’s trains are some of the oldest on the network – the average age is 25.5 years and is getting older as no new vehicles will be coming in before 2016 at the earliest.

Another major finding from the survey is that 44% of Abellio Greater Anglia’s passengers travel on season tickets – that is a similar proportion to other suburban services around London.

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22 comments

  • This country is a 'joke' !, we cannot afford a decent railway system !, we cannot repair potholes and maintain our roads properly, we have no money for any infrastructure investment !, but we can pay £50 million pounds in to the EU EVERY DAY !

    Report this comment

    freedomf

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

  • Major improvements?? Where? Replacing seat covers? Utter sanitised spin, no wonder they're called Shambellio Greater Anguish! Recently voted worst Train Company, and we're saddled with them even longer. Think I'll retire or get a motor bike.

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    Disbeliever

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Considering the number of comments I imagine this is one of the more relevant problems we live with in East Anglia, i.e. our train service. Take notice our MPs you're not delivering.

    Report this comment

    trevorwoolnough

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Excellent. Repainted trains and carriages will make a huge difference to our experience. White trains are so much faster than blue ones. The real problem is the lack of seats and lack of timetabled trains. So, convert the AGA personnel carriages, sorry, 1st Class carriages, to standard class. Make wifi free (after all, it was paid for by a government agency, funded by the public). And make sure intercity trains stop at Stratford on the way back to East Anglia as well as on the way into London (how else do you expect those commuters who get off at Stratford in the morning to get back home each day?) Clean the carriages daily, so there is less filth smeared on the windows, chairs, tray tables, carpets, doors etc. The intercity carriages may be old, but they are far preferable to the cramped modern carriages which have rows of 3 seats which only fit 2 people and are so lightweight they jiggle and shudder uncomfortably. And as others have pointed out, can we have all the carriages back or have you mislaid them?

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    h

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • conclusive proof that you can indeed polish a turd

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    dale craven

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • I have just one word to say ! COSMETIC ! Re Nationalise the Railways NOW !! How much have the shareholders DIVIDENDS gone up over the last 4 years ??

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    freedomf

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Incredibly bad news:-( Rewarding appalling service ( delays, safety and cleanliness) with an extension. I'm still not going to use them.

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    Jan

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Why improve the service? It increases cost. (Read: less profits) The rail system is a natural disgrace. No provider will ever do well. As they are NOT responsible for the track both parties love to blame each other. British public have just put up with it over the years - what can you do? Other countries with better services (usually at less cost to the consumer) clearly prove time after time that if we ever got a good service that it would be financially viable to bring in such changes. ***** Off Peak trains are tricky, the right for a ticket holder to travel on ANY train makes it difficult to determine how many seats are required. Peak trains... most people have booked in advance, you know how many paying passengers you have. You know how many seats the train has... not rocket science! If the train is full you don't sell someone a ticket on-the-day. Simple. *****Forget wifi and electricity plugs... only first class should have tables. The layout of the trains waste so many seats by having tables.

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Actually Mr Meanders the previous electric trains were Class 86 - one of which caught fire in spectacular fashion during the darkest days of Anglia Railways - pulling antique Mark 2 carriages from the early 1970s. At least the current rolling stock is from the late 70s early 80s :-)

    Report this comment

    tgtround

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • For those of us with long memories, when the mainline was electrified, British Rail put together a temporary solution of using Class 87 loc's, MarkIII carriages, and a driving van trailer based on MarkII. This configuration was until 'new trains were ordered'. These of course never materialised. Nothing changes with the government view of the importance of the peasants living in the outback!

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    Oft Meanders

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • The carriage refurbishment is very welcome given the state of the toilets. I'm hoping that they also opt for power doors which will improve punctuality as the Chiltern Railways trains have demonstrated. Realistically the carriages are no more than half-way through their life. It would be nice though if they offered to lease more carriages to make the trains longer - the platforms can take it - but the track cannot take more trains now.

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    tgtround

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Seat covers? Last time I took a trip to London it cost me over £40 and I had to lean on a toilet door the whole way!

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    Sentinel Red

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • No, Mr Gummer, this is not an important step, you are just prolonging the agony that we have to suffer. The facts are that we are travelling in 1970's rolling stock. Fine if you are running a heritage railway but not as a business thousands of us rely on.

    Report this comment

    trevorwoolnough

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • How about a few more carriages so we don't have to stand for an hour and a half for the pleasure of spending £80?

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    Tedbundy

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Surely the priority is for the trains to actually run with no cancellations,coaches missing or delayed and running late?Ironically story above trains cancelled or delayed AGAIN due to signalling problems!

    Report this comment

    Mary Mary

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • How much of our rail fares and taxes are spent administering these short term franchise tenders and taken in profits by shareholders of the Dutch private company?

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    IpswichMan

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Good news, but in the meantime when are we going to return to running 10 coach trains Abellio? It would be nice if they came out and made a proper statemnet as to why trains have been missing coaches since about October last year.

    Report this comment

    Angry Commuter

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Who cares about the Felixstowe service? There's much more important and expensive lines that need to be dragged into what is normal for the rest of the country.

    Report this comment

    redhotitfc

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • And will the Felixstowe service be improved to actually having trains available to run? Maybe this wasn't part of the deal as Therese hasn't spun get way into the Star discussion

    Report this comment

    Seasidemac

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • What about persuading the Government to regard London Ipswich as a MAIN line instead of their perception that it is a branch line. Why should our commuters and tourists travel in sub standard carriages on a line that is busier than other well funded and modernised routes. A longer franchise seems appropiate, how can a company plan for new rolling stock on a 2 year tenure.

    Report this comment

    Countrylad

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • What about improving Felixstowe to Ipswich Service ????? That's well over due

    Report this comment

    Nitefog33

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • What about

    Report this comment

    Nitefog33

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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