At long last we, the long suffering rail users of East Anglia have got a proper long term deal for our rail services. Abellio (Dutch Railways) has won a nine year franchise in which they promise to replace the entire train fleet, Suburban, Main Line, Stansted Express, and Regional.
There will be essentially five types of unit supplied by two manufacturers, Bombardier and Stadler. All trains will have free wi-fi.
The Bombardier units will be built in Derby and will have a lot of similarities to the Crossrail trains already being built there. These will be used on all suburban services where class 317, 321 and 360 trains are used now. There will be two different types, 5 car and 10 car, with the former used on branch lines and the latter on the main line. These will be delivered in 2020.
There will be three different types of Stadler units, 10 car, 5 car and 4 car. The 10 car units will be electric and replace InterCity sets and Stansted Express class 379 units. The 5 car and 4 car units will be bi-mode (able to operate both on diesel and electric power) and will be used on Regional Services to replace existing class 153, 156, and 170 diesel railcars. These will be delivered in 2019.
Of course regular rail users will know that many of the problems on the line relate to infrastructure faults, so we will be putting pressure on Network Rail to eliminate the string of signal, point and other failures that wreck our timetables on a regular basis. New trains will only solve half our existing problems.
We also need to know that the existing train fleet will not be allowed to deteriorate further while we wait for the new trains. Again we will be putting pressure on Abellio to ensure that we do not suffer a poorer service before new trains arrive.