New trains go into service on East Suffolk Line between Lowestoft and Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 07:15 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:52 02 December 2019
The arrival of Greater Anglia's new trains onto the East Suffolk Line has been heralded as a "significant milestone".
The 5.25am from Lowestoft to Ipswich on Monday, December 2 was the first journey on the route to benefit from one of the new Stadler trains, which can travel at up to 100mph and boast free wi-fi, air conditioning and more spacious seats.
Powered by diesel and electricity, they are a far cry from the ageing carriages they are replacing and will make a particular difference on the East Suffolk Line, which has suffered overcrowding of late.
Each of the new trains will have three or four cars to carry more passengers, easing congestion onboard.
Greater Anglia head of corporate affairs Jonathan Denby was aboard the service to personally welcome the first passengers on the new trains with a small free gift.
He said: "Clearly, this is a significant milestone. It is a significant step forward in every respect."
Mr Denby admitted that during the early part of the changeover to the new trains, the East Suffolk Line has "sometimes ended up with single carriage trains, where you've clearly had issues with overcrowding".
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However the arrival of the new trains onto the East Suffolk Line also means the end of the one-car trains from the 1980s, which ran for the final time at the weekend.
"The single carriage trains are now finished and that milestone has gone as well," Mr Denby said.
Of the Stadler trains, he added: "The feedback from where we have got them has been superb. It's a step change from what's been on here before. It's great the response has been so positive."
In particular Mr Denby pointed to benefits such as the lower floors on the Stadler trains, making disabled access easier, as well as separating cycle storage from the disabled area - again improving accessibility, but also allowing for more bicycles on the trains.
More of the new trains will now gradually go into service on the East Suffolk Line, with Mr Denby saying it will be the end of January or early February before the transition is fully completed.
He added that the East Suffolk Line has enjoyed a "real renaissance" in recent years and is "really important to the region".
In the last year it has seen a 4% growth in passenger journeys, with just over 725,000 passenger journeys a year.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: "We are seeing increasing numbers of people use our services on route between Ipswich and Lowestoft, so it's brilliant that we're now able to run our new longer trains on this line.
"The new trains should make a big difference to customers' journeys - with more seats and all the mod-cons people expect of a 21st century train. This route is important for customers travelling for business, leisure and education, and we're confident the new trains will be a big boost to the area."