New Greater Anglia trains need upgrade to stop at small stations
- Credit: Archant
Passengers using one of the most crowded rail routes in the region have received a boost with the introduction of the first new four-car train on the route.
For months there have been complaints about cancellations and overcrowding on the line between Ipswich and Cambridge - with passengers often finding single-carriage trains being put on services that are already very busy.
But now the first four-car Stadler train has been put into service on the route - and Greater Anglia has promised more will be coming into service over the next few weeks.
The single-car trains are being taken out of service at the end of this week and returned to the leasing company that owns them. They are destined for new lives in Wales and Scotland.
The first new train was operating on the line on Tuesday, giving more space for workers and students heading to colleges on the route.
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The new trains have more seats, plug and USB sockets, free fast wifi, air conditioning, better passenger information screens and improved accessibility features.
They are powered by diesel and electricity, and are much greener than the existing diesel trains, with lower emissions, and modern brakes which release less brake dust into the environment.
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Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: "The Ipswich to Cambridge route is our busiest regional route.
"We were really keen to introduce longer trains on the route as soon as we could to improve our customers' journeys.
"We are now offering intercity quality on a regional service - ideal for people travelling to work, school, university and for leisure."
Earlier this month the problems on the cross-country services prompted Mid Suffolk Green councillor Sarah Mansel to warn that so many passengers had become fed up with trains not turning up or being overcrowded that they had turned to cars - and it would be difficult to attract them back to the rail services.
Greater Anglia denied that this was because trains had been returned to leasing companies before the new trains had been accepted for use.
The new trains are not able to stop at some stations because of their platforms are too short and they are not able to only open some doors at present.
A new piece of software is due to be installed within a few weeks - but until then passengers heading east from Elmswell and west from Kennett are being taken by bus to the next station.
The issue is expected to be resolved within the next two or three weeks - but Greater Anglia was keen to get the new trains on track as soon as possible.
A Greater Anglia spokeswoman said: "We expect the software to be ready in the coming weeks. Given the many advantages of the new trains over our existing older trains, we considered it was best not to hold up the roll-out for one system and one supplier.
"We have arranged rail replacement buses between Elmswell and Thurston and Kennett and Bury St Edmunds. We sincerely apologise to our customers for the inconvenience this temporary arrangement causes."
The company has now accepted 13 of the 38 trains it has ordered for its rural routes from Stadler - and more are coming into service after completing exhaustive tests every week.
The East Suffolk Line from Ipswich to Lowestoft is expected to be the next to get new trains - they started operating on the Felixstowe branch last week.
The following services are affected:
Monday to Friday
0654 Ipswich to Cambridge (0743 at Kennett)
0848 Cambridge to Ipswich (0939 Elmswell)
1320 Ipswich to Cambridge (1407 at Kennett)
1147 Cambridge to Ipswich (1238 at Elmswell)
1447 Cambridge to Ipswich (1538 at Elmswell)
1620 Ipswich to Cambridge (1707 at Kennett)
1747 Cambridge to Ipswich (1802 at Dullingham, 1840 at Elmswell)
1913 Ipswich to Cambridge (2007 at Kennett)
2047 Cambridge to Ipswich (2138 at Elmswell)
Services not calling at Dullingham:
17.47 Cambridge to Ipswich (18.02 at Dullingham)
A rail replacement bus service will be made available as follows:
Customer for Elmswell station: change at Thurston for a rail replacement service to Elmswell
Customers at Elmswell station: use rail replacement service to Stowmarket. Please note the timings of this bus service are different to the normal train times due to connections at Stowmarket for mainline services to Ipswich.
Customers for Kennett: to change at Bury St Edmunds for a rail replacement service to Kennett
Customers at Kennett: use rail replacement service to Cambridge North, calling at Newmarket if required.
Customers for Dullingham travelling on the 17.47 from Cambridge, should get off the train at Newmarket at 18.07 and then catch the 18.18 service from Newmarket to Cambridge, which will stop specially at Dullingham at 18.23.