New suburban trains finally arrive on Greater Anglia network
PUBLISHED: 14:28 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:28 16 January 2020
The first new Bombardier Aventra train, which is due to transform Greater Anglia suburban services over the next few years, has arrived in the region for testing.
The trains are being built at Derby and the first was due to arrive in East Anglia early last year, but there have been problems with getting identical trains to work properly on London rail services.
However the first has now arrived for testing by engineers at Greater Anglia's Ilford depot in east London. It has not yet been cleared to start testing on the tracks in the region and it could be several months before the first passengers are carried on its services.
The Aventra trains are due to take over all electric suburban services in the region. They will form the trains from Liverpool Street to Colchester, Clacton, Harwich and Braintree. Some will also reach Ipswich on suburban trains.
In the west of the region, they will take over services between Liverpool Street and Cambridge.
The five-carriage electric train, designed and built at Bombardier's Derby factory, was delivered on Tuesday 14 January.
A group of Greater Anglia train drivers have been for test drives on the new Bombardier electric trains at Network Rail's national test facility in Leicestershire.
Seven drivers have taken one of the new trains for a spin, checking out all of the features in the hi-tech driver's cab, so that they can start testing them on the Greater Anglia network.
Bombardier has now built around a third of the carriages which will make up 111 new electric trains.
The new trains are all longer, with more seats, plug and USB sockets, air conditioning, better passenger information screens and improved accessibility features.
Ian McConnell, Greater Anglia franchise and programme director, said: "It's fantastic to have one of these new Bombardier trains now on our patch.
"Our test drivers have been very impressed with them. They said it was like going from a bottom of the range small car to a Rolls Royce compared to driving our old trains.
"We're confident our customers will be equally pleased with the quality of the new trains, as they should greatly improve their journeys with us.
"The drivers will now spend many hours in the cab of the new trains as we test how the trains interact with the overhead wires, signals and points, their performance at different speeds, double-checking them at platforms in stations across the network to make sure new signage is in the right place."
The Bombardier electric trains are expected to enter passenger service this spring and should all be in service by spring 2021.
Will Tanner, from Bombardier, said: "These British-designed and built trains have been delayed by a range of factors, but production is now being ramped up with extra staff recruited at our Derby factory so that Greater Anglia's customers can benefit from these state-of-the-art trains as quickly as possible."