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East Anglia: New trains still far away for region’s rural lines

10:03 24 March 2014

A Greater Anglia train leaving Ipswich for Felixstowe.

A Greater Anglia train leaving Ipswich for Felixstowe.

A shortage of diesel units for rural rail services in the region should ease next week when a train damaged in December’s floods returns to service.

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But there is little hope of a solution to a chronic shortage of diesel trains for those lines which are not electrified, said transport minister Stephen Hammond.

He said any need for new trains was something that should be addressed in the bid for the long-term rail contract for the region – but that is not due to start until 2016.

The shortage of diesel units has led to trains between Marks Tey and Sudbury being replaced by buses several times – and has also contributed to the same situation on the Felixstowe branch.

However the “bustitution” of Felixstowe branch services has also been caused by problems with freight trains using the line.

Mr Hammond said that diesel units could become available when parts of the rail network were electrified over the next few years – work to electrify lines in the north of England is expected to be partly completed within the next two years.

However diesel units on those routes are expected to stay in the north of England to ease overcrowding on other routes there.

“To a large degree the problem is one caused by the success of the industry in attracting new passengers,” Mr Hammond added.

Greater Anglia’s immediate problem should be eased when a diesel unit that was damaged in December’s floods in Lowestoft returns to service next week.

This should give the company more breathing space when units are in the workshops for routine maintenance or repairs – they have also had diesel units away for refurbishment over recent months.

One other solution the company has adopted is running traditional carriages pulled by locomotives that are up to 50 years old between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and possibly Lowestoft.

A long-term solution could be the electrification of the cross-country route from Felixstowe through Bury St Edmunds to Ely and Peterborough, with a branch to Cambridge.

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6 comments

  • So no actual plan to do anything then. I guess this is down to there being no single national strategy for running transport services and no focus on what is in the best interest of the travelling public.

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    amsterdam81

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • My god, you would think they are running a charity rather with people travelling for free. The trains on the lowestoft line are chronic and how on earth did a train managed to get "flood damaged"?? The environment agency issued warnings many hours before so you would think they would stop it in a safe place. And as to "lets have some rubbish from up north", I thought the EADT reliably told us some new ones were coming a few months ago? The lack of investment is embarrassing! Its quicker to drive from Saxmundham to Ipswich than it is to catch the train.......

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    jakeb

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • I drove today from Manningtree to Great Yarmouth and cut 80 minutes off the journey by train! Plus I was in comfort rather than crammed into a knackered old train, probably overcrowded. I thought privatisation was supposed to unleash private sector skills and money into our crumbling railways? So why some 20 years later do we still have the same trains (buried under countless coats of various paint schemes as we keep changing Operators) and slower times than 30 years ago? (and beyond that in some cases). Train Companies "have not attracted new customers", people find little choice with overcrowded roads and still expensive fuel. I still chose that today over the Dutch "Shambellio Greater Anguish" who are a disaster.

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    Disbeliever

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Never going to get new trains. Eventually we will get newer trains. As B.T. said there is absolutely no incentive to pay more to lease newer trains. People moan about the trains, but its something everyone has put up with, moaning about it now is merely politics. I find ironically that some Essex services on the Anglia RailwaysOneGreater Anglia services over the years have relatively lovely trains... just the mainline services and Suffolk and Norfolk services are not. Why? I said it before... the mainline should be a contract, other connecting services should be grouped and tendered out as separate contract tenders. Then and only then, will there be pride of good standards. Would the mainline still be rubbish if all other services are modern and clean? Don't think so!

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Its not just the rural lines, intercity rolling stock is habitually replaced by uncomfortable metro stock for the trip to Norwich. Its not as if we have reasonable fares. Its just a massive rip off.

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    trevorwoolnough

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • We are now reaping the results of Government policy about 20+ years ago, when old trains were grudgingly replaced by fewer new ones. As a result there is a shortage of diesel units. New ones could and should be commissioned, unfortunately they will attract high leasing charges for the operators so there is little incentive to do so. Things are so desperate that one operator has refurbished trains built over 50 years ago!

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    Baptist Trainfan

    Monday, March 24, 2014

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