Greater Anglia to end First Class seats in most of its trains across region

Most of Greater Anglia's new trains, like this train for rural routes, will have no first class seat

Most of Greater Anglia's new trains, like this train for rural routes, will have no first class seating. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA - Credit: Archant

Greater Anglia is to eliminate First Class seats on almost all its trains from the start of 2020.

The only trains to still have a separate First Class compartment will be InterCity services between London and Norwich through Ipswich, Colchester and Chelmsford.

The company says the change will ensure there is more standard-class seating on every new suburban and rural train it operates – the new trains start to enter service in the middle of next year.

From the start of 2020 First Class seats will be declassified in all trains apart from the InterCity services – meaning that in any old stock still operating on suburban or rural lines passengers with standard class tickets will be able to use first class seats.

The new trains will all be longer with more seats, USB and plug points, air conditioning, fast free wifi and either tables or seat-back tables for most seats. They were designed using feedback from customers and stakeholders.

New trains will come into service from the middle of next year to the end of 2020.

Greater Anglia is announcing the change now, so that all passengers, including annual season ticket holders, have more than a year’s notice of the change.

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The company has written to all first class annual season ticket holders to inform them about the new policy, with details of how to swap a first class ticket for a standard ticket near the time.

Martin Moran, Greater Anglia Commercial and Customer Services director, said: “With the combination of withdrawing first class and our new longer trains, we can provide about 20 per cent more standard seats across our network, which will reduce overcrowding and improve our customers’ experience of travelling with us.

“By 2 January 2020, the phasing in of our new trains will be well underway, so it is a sensible time to withdraw First Class from our suburban services.

“After listening to customer feedback, assessing the ongoing increases in passenger numbers and taking account the rail network capacity, we’re taking this step to give the majority of our customers a much-improved service and advising everyone well in advance of the date from which the new policy will apply.

“Our new trains will also offer a higher quality travelling environment, making rail an excellent option.”

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