Extra seats and smarter trains for rail passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex are the result of a £12 million train refurbishment.
There are now 600,000 more standard seats a year – or 2500 more seats a day – available on Abellio Greater Anglia’s intercity trains between Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester and London, after seven catering carriages were fitted with 54 standard seats instead of 24 First Class seats, and extra seats added in some standard carriages.
The £12 million initiative, completed earlier than planned, included refurbishment of all intercity trains with new seats, tables, LED lights, plug points, new carpet fitted in every carriage and redecoration throughout.
Exterior painting of all carriages has also been completed and a separate programme to fit controlled emission toilets on the carriages is on course for its scheduled completion in October –already preventing over 2 million flushes being spilt onto the tracks since their introduction.
During the year long programme, the intercity refresh has required:
6000 litres of paint
12000 sq. m carpet
7686 seats and backs
23,000 sq. m fabric
By carrying the work out on site at Norwich Crown Point Depot with project partners Vossloh, also saved at least three to six months in the completion time for the programme, as the vehicles didn’t have to be transported across the country and back for the upgrades to be carried out.
MPs and stakeholders in the region who have participated in the Great Eastern Mainline Taskforce, along with representatives of Abellio Greater Anglia, formally marked the completion of the programme at photo calls in Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester on Friday 16 September 2016.
Abellio Greater Anglia’s Commercial Director, Andy Camp, said: “We are pleased to have delivered this major upgrade programme for our intercity services, providing an additional 600,000 seats a year and refreshing the entire intercity fleet for our customers travelling on the Norwich – London mainline, with the aim of consistently raising service standards to make passengers’ journeys better.”
“We are getting all new trains by 2020, under the new franchise, but in the meantime we’re making big improvements for our passengers today.”
Mark Pendlington, Co-Chair of the GEML Taskforce and Chair of the New Anglia LEP said, “Well done Abellio. We’ve worked hard to achieve over £1billion of new investment which will bring new trains, faster services, better facilities and thousands more seats every day. Meanwhile existing trains have been refurbished ahead of schedule and Abellio has spent millions of pounds on improving stations too.
“In coming years, the result will bring a £4.5billion boost to our already growing economy and up to 50,000 new jobs across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
“So year on year, passengers will notice a sustained improvement to their rail services, which was a promise at the heart of our campaign for transformational change. And business leaders can say with increasing confidence that the East is a truly mobile and accessible economy, competing and winning in UK and global markets.”
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, commented: “As chair of the GEML Taskforce, I’m proud to have secured new trains for our region. And until those can be delivered, this refresh of the existing carriages is an important benefit for passengers. People travelling in East Anglia deserve high standards, and we can now say that our region is open for business. All of the achievements of our campaign, from this refresh through to new trains through to necessary track improvements, are a win for passengers and will bring thousands of new jobs to East Anglia too.”
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, said: “I am delighted that the carriage refresh programme is now complete. As the new carriages have been put into service, passengers, including me, have benefited from the new plug points, refreshed interiors and increased standard class seating capacity. This is only the first part of improvements to come for which I have campaigned since becoming the town’s MP. In the coming years, over a billion pounds worth of investment in new trains will finally deliver the improvements to speed, quality and reliability for which our passengers have long awaited.”
David Burch, Director of Policy at Essex Chamber of Commerce, commented: “It is really good news that Abellio Greater Anglia has finished the upgrade of its rolling stock on the Great Eastern Main Line resulting in the provision of not just extra seating but also improved facilities on board the carriages. Whether you are a business or leisure traveller the additional seating together with refurbished interiors and plug sockets for recharging mobile phones and lap tops will be very welcome indeed and Abellio is to be congratulated for making this investment in advance of the delivery of the all-new trains as part of its new franchise. Improvements to rolling stock are something that we campaigned for as part of the rail taskforce and we are pleased to see that rail users in Essex are at last getting them.”
• Pictured Mark Pendlington of the New Anglia LEP, Ben Gummer MP and Abellio Greater Anglia’s Andy Camp