The first of Greater Anglia’s new Bombardier electric trains has now arrived in the region, ready to start a series of safety and performance tests in Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Suffolk.
The five-carriage electric train, designed and built at Bombardier’s Derby factory, was delivered to Greater Anglia’s Ilford depot 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 due to run on commuter lines to Liverpool Street from Essex, Ipswich, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.
The new trains are all longer, with more seats, plug and USB sockets, air conditioning, better passenger information screens and improved accessibility features.
The new trains are greener too: powered by electricity, 40% lighter than previous trains and feature regenerative braking which delivers energy back into the electrical supply network rather than waste the energy, through heat, as in conventional systems.
As new trains arrive on the Greater Anglia network, the team of test drivers will have to put them through their paces in a series of safety and performance tests, to make sure the trains are safe and reliable before they go into passenger service.
The train’s hi-tech features include underfloor heating, real time passenger information and improved passenger door anti-drag safety features previously only seen on underground trains.
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, Communications Director for 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’.
Kevin Tribley, CEO of Angel Trains, Angel Trains, which is procuring and financing the 665 Bombardier carriages which make up the 111 trains, said: “The modernisation of Greater Anglia’s network is a major boost to the future of the UK rail industry and the communities this network serves. We are delighted that, through the supply of 665 Class 720 Aventra vehicles, Angel Trains is investing in improved service and experience for passengers in the region.
“This project, one of the largest private investments into rolling stock in the last 20 years, reiterates our ongoing commitment to creating the railway of the future that modern Britain deserves.”