Four years ago Greater Anglia started introducing their new high-tech Stadler trains on rural lines in the region - and the result was weeks of winter chaos.

But now the same trains have been crowned the most reliable in Britain for three years in a row.

The trains had serious software problems that meant they would not start. There were problems with linking computer systems to signals.

And one train was involved in an incident on a Norfolk level crossing when the barriers lifted before it passed.

In December 2019 and January 2020 rural services were thrown into chaos - but slowly engineers started to address the technical issues.

From March 2020 and the first Covid lockdown the number of passengers using the trains fell off a cliff as only essential journeys were permitted - but the near-empty trains kept running giving engineers more experience of them.

By the time the passengers returned later that year the reliability had improved immeasurably and by the end of 2021 they were awarded the first place in the class at the independent "Golden Spanner" awards for rail engineering.

They retained that accolade last year, and have just held on to it again for a third year at the awards early this month.

A spokesperson for Greater Anglia said: “Although we experienced some very brief, temporary issues in late 2019, shortly after the fleet was introduced, the bi-modes have performed consistently well ever since, and have now won awards for being the most reliable train of their type for three years running.”

Official figures show that nearly 95% of rural trains on the Greater Anglia network ran on time in 2022/3. Figures were also good for its Intercity and commuter routes.

Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles said: “Our new trains have transformed rail travel in the region, and we are delighted that they have been recognised again with this award.

“This excellent result is a tribute to the work of both our team and the Stadler team at our Norwich Crown Point depot, who work round the clock keeping our trains running and further improving their performance.

“It is that excellent reliability which is also a key factor underpinning the very high punctuality results we have been achieving on our regional routes.”