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New trains won't come to all East Anglia's rural services until next year

PUBLISHED: 16:30 09 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:56 09 August 2019

The first new Stadler Flirt train has entered service on the line between Lowestoft and Norwich - but they won't appear everywhere until early next year. Picture; GREATER ANGLIA

The first new Stadler Flirt train has entered service on the line between Lowestoft and Norwich - but they won't appear everywhere until early next year. Picture; GREATER ANGLIA

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New trains are unlikely to be introduced to all Greater Anglia's rural and regional lines until next year - despite growing complaints about overcrowding and services that are too short.

An overcrowded single-carriage train on the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft - new trains are not coming everywhere until early next year. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHAn overcrowded single-carriage train on the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft - new trains are not coming everywhere until early next year. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

The first of the new Stadler bimode trains have entered service on Wherry Line routes between Norwich, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth within the last two weeks - and they have been well-received by passengers.

However the testing procedure for each unit, and the training that is needed for drivers and conductor/guards, is so comprehensive that it takes a long time to get them ready to put into service.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said it would be the early months of next year before the new trains were operating on all the company's rural and regional routes.

In the meantime it is due to start handing back existing Turbostar units - which date back to the 1990s - to their leasing company so they can be re-allocated to Wales and the East Midlands during the autumn.

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Over the last few weeks there has been growing criticism of single-car Class 153 units being used on popular medium-distance services like Ipswich to Lowestoft and Ipswich to Peterborough.

This has led to crowded trains with standing-room only for much of the journey.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said: "We apologise to our passengers if their journey has not been as comfortable as they would like, but we have had issues outside our control like a train hitting a tree and another train hitting a herd of deer which both caused damage, taking the trains out of service."

The new trains were still only able to operate on the two routes out of Norwich, but their range would increase during the autumn.

The spokeswoman said: "We should have them on all our regional routes by the early months of next year. Certainly people using our services during the summer of 2020 should notice a major improvement across the network."

The first of the new "bimode" trains - which can operate on electric or diesel power - arrived in East Anglia last November. So far 19 out of the planned 38 have been delivered from Swiss manufacturer Stadler. Eight of the 20 Intercity/Stansted Express trains have also arrived in the region.

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