East Anglia's new Intercity train carries its first passengers
PUBLISHED: 12:59 08 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:08 08 January 2020
The first new Intercity train entered passenger-carrying service on the main line from East Anglia to London this morning.
The 7.40 from Norwich - the 8.20 from Ipswich - was formed of a 12-carriage Stadler Intercity train. The train is due to continue in service for the rest of the day.
The first Intercity trains arrived in the UK from Stadler's Swiss factory early last summer - and have been tested extensively on the main line.
They are similar in appearance to the new bimodes that entered service on regional and rural lines from the summer - but they are longer and also have a cafe/bar and first class accommodation.
A total of 10 12-carriage trains are due on the main line services to East Anglia and all are expected to be in service by the end of March when the last traditional Intercity train is expected to be withdrawn from the region.
Greater Anglia hopes to introduce the new trains at a rate of about one a week, ensuring they are all in service by the time the new deadline for compliance with the government's Disablity Discrimination Act is reached on March 31.
In the meantime the arrival of the new trains should allow the company to strengthen its current fleet of older trains - ensuring there are no more main line services cancelled because of train faults and that all main line trains are eight or nine carriages long.
The new trains are 12 carriages with much more space - and there passages between carriages are much wider than with traditional carriages.
The seats are slightly firmer than those in older carriages, but most passengers found them very comfortable and liked the higher headrests.
One passenger whose seat was on top of a set of wheels did say the ride reminded him of driving in his Alfa Romeo sports car at speed!
The wifi is better than in existing trains - although there were a couple of points in the journey between Ipswich and London where the signal was lost.
But if you want to charge up a phone, tablet or laptop on the move the charging points are very good at pushing power into your device.
The step-free access on to the train for wheelchair users or those with other mobility problems seemed very good - and the on-board toilets were fine.
There is a cafe/bar on the Intercity trains and a trolley passing through the train. The Intercity trains will be the only services in the company's fleet that has catering or first class accommodation once all its new trains are delivered.
Jenny Thompson travels from Woodbridge to London regularly for work - and found the new Intercity train very similar to the regional services which recently came into service on the East Suffolk Line.
She said: "They're not exactly the same. There are more tables on this train which you need if you want to work on a computer on the journey and that is good. I think this is an improvement on what we had before."
Ipswich-based Zoe Moldram also travels to London every week - and accepted that she would have to use the train whatever it was.
However she said: "This is an improvement on what we had before although the wi-fi is a bit patchy. I use the train two or three days a week so it is good to see something better like this coming into service."