Wednesday, 10 December 2014

East Anglia Rail Franchise Consultation

As you may be aware the current rail franchise run by Abellio Greater Anglia ends of 16th October 2016.  The Department for Transport has launched a consultation process to ensure that the views of interested parties are taken into account when deciding the specification of the new franchise.  This is an opportunity therefore to make our case for a better service.

Details of the consultation can be found here and we strongly urge you to respond.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Inter City Carriages To Be Refurbished

Greater Anglia has today issued the following Press Release which is self explanatory 

"A key milestone in the refurbishment programme for Abellio Greater Anglia's intercity MkIII carriages has been reached with the signing of a contract with Vossloh Kiepe UK to carry out the major upgrade. The significant refresh will see all of the train operator's Mark III fleet enhanced, with the following improvements throughout for both First Class and Standard carriages: 
  • Plug points for charging laptops, smartphones and other electronic devices;
  • New LED lighting;
  • New carpets;
  • New tables;
  • New seat covers;
  • Upgraded environmentally-friendly controlled emission toilets, including new floors and new taps;
  • Re-painting of the carriage interior saloon and vestibule panels, walls and ceilings.
Exterior painting of all carriages is also currently being undertaken as part of a separate programme already underway.

The work will be undertaken at a specially prepared facility at Abellio Greater Anglia's Crown Point Depot in Norwich and the first refurbished carriages are due to enter service in the first quarter of next year, with the full programme completed by the end of the train operator's current short franchise in October 2016. Work to prepare the site in Norwich is already underway and key materials needed as part of the project are already being ordered...."

Friday, 15 August 2014

Apology From Network Rail & Greater Anglia

Network Rail and Greater Anglia have issues an apology following the appalling service in recent weeks, which continues even this evening:

"We are genuinely sorry for the problems that have affected train services in recent weeks. Performance has been well below the standards you rightly expect and we intend to deliver. As you may be aware there have been a variety of causes, ranging from infrastructure failures (e.g. with track, signalling and overhead line equipment) and engineering work problems to train faults, fatalities, flooding and road vehicles striking bridges.

We are acutely aware of the frustration and inconvenience felt by our passengers when things go wrong, so we are taking urgent action to improve performance as follows:

  • Putting in place quicker response arrangements for fixing infrastructure faults
  • Investing in an enhanced maintenance regime for points, signalling and level crossing equipment
  • Accelerating the track-side vegetation removal programme to try and prevent trees and branches falling on overhead lines and tracks - including tackling trees close to the railway, but on third party land
  • Upgrading other track and signalling equipment in the Ipswich area over the next 4 weeks to improve infrastructure reliability
  • Improving the planning, project oversight, resource management and contingency arrangements for engineering work projects
  • Investing in a programme to tackle the main causes of train faults (doors, couplers and pantographs)
  • Accelerating the fitment of remote train monitoring equipment to more of the train fleet, which helps identify potential faults before they occur
  • Adding management resource in our Control centre to provide more focus on the rural routes and branch lines to ensure performance is more consistent across the network
  • Trialling the use of a small number of stand-by buses, at key locations such as Bishops Stortford, Witham, Ipswich and Norwich, to reduce the response times in providing alternative transport, where appropriate, in the event of service disruption.
In addition, we are making progress on the five initiatives we outlined in June:

1. An enhanced maintenance regime for overhead line equipment is in place, including route monitoring using a train fitted with a special rooftop camera to identify faults and potential problems
2. An enhanced maintenance regime for the track and signalling on the approaches to London Liverpool Street station (including a re-organisation of the maintenance team) has been introduced. Some track and signalling staff will now be based at Liverpool Street itself, to reduce incident response times should things go wrong

3. Improved customer information procedures to provide better information during disruption are being implemented
4. Additional customer information staff are now in place during the morning and evening peak periods
5. A software upgrade programme is underway for the London Liverpool Street departure board to improve the accuracy of information about train departures during service disruption.
Please accept our apologies for the recent problems. We are under no illusion as to the impact these problems have had on passengers and we are anxious to put things right. We believe that this targeted programme of initiatives will help restore the more consistent service we all want to see. Everyone in our teams is working as hard as possible to deliver real improvements over the coming weeks.

Jamie Burles Richard Schofield
Managing Director Managing Director
Abellio Greater Anglia Network Rail Anglia"

Sadly, much of the above sounds familiar.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Lift Plan Approved For Manningtree Station

It is being reported that Tendring District Council has approved the application to provided lifts at Manningtree Station.  Funding comes as part of £100 million made available by the government to improve facilities for disabled passengers.   Detailed designs and costs are now to be drawn up by Network Rail with completion of the project by 2019(!)

Monday, 5 May 2014

MRUA AGM - Election Of Officers

At the 2014 MRUA AGM Chris Richards and Phillip Reed were Co-opted onto the committee.

Neil Skinner had indicated his intention to step down as Chairman and the committee thanked him for his 8 years in the role.  The following officers were elected:

Chairman: Derek Monnery
Vice Chairman: - Chris Richards
Treasurer: - Val Pretty

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Car Park Approach Road

The MRUA has written to NCP requesting urgent repair work be carried out on the approach road to Manningtree Station.  The size of the potholes that appeared over the winter period are making things treacherous for cyclists and motorists alike and we are keen to see them fixed as a matter of urgency before somebody is hurt.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Planning Application For Lifts

A planning application notice has been posted at the station.  This is for the construction of lifts to facilitate easier access between platforms 2 and 3.

Whilst any such installation is long overdue and is to be welcomed, it seems they want to reverse the direction of the steps on Platform 2 so they face the opposite direction to now i.e. away from the station buildings, which seems rather strange.

As ever, your comments are welcome.

"Better Services For Passengers On The Greater Anglia Franchise"

Under the headline "Better Services for passengers on the Greater Anglia franchise" The Department of Transport has today confirmed the Greater Anglia franchise run by Abellio will, as expected, be extended for 27 months.

However, details of the improvements are sketchy with the only details relevant to the Great Eastern route that serves Manningtree being cosmetic changes to the Inter City fleet. Namely: new seat covers, new carpets and new lighting. At seat power sockets will also be installed.

No mention unfortunately about sorting out the appalling state of the Class 321 and 360 outer suburban fleet that look shabbier by the day.

Interesting to note that the Norwich in 90 campaign gets a mention. Though quite how new seat covers speed the time it takes to get between Norwich and London is unclear.  Regarding Norwich in 90 though, it is hoped that a speedier service to Norwich will not be to the detriment of stations in between.  The great and the good of Norfolk and to a slightly lesser extent in Suffolk are speaking with one voice to get improved services. Sadly nothing similar exists in Essex with MPs and local authorities only showing concern for their own patch and as such, achieving little.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

£1m Investment by Greater Anglia To Improve Services

Following significant recent disruption caused by severe weather conditions, fatalities and infrastructure issues, Greater Anglia has announced £1m worth of actions to improve things ongoing:

  • A contract with Direct Rail Services to provide locomotives and carriages to support service provision on its local routes and increase intercity service carriage availability up to the current franchise end date in July.
  • Recruiting additional maintenance staff at its Norwich Crown Point depot.
  • Review of contingency plans to improve recovery times in the event of disruption and minimise the impact of any short carriage formations which do occur.
  • Further modifications to West Anglia route Class 317 trains to improve door reliability.
  • Work with Network Rail to secure a reduction in speed restrictions and engineering work over-runs, and to ensure a more robust operation of the freight services using the Ipswich to Felixstowe line to lessen their performance impact on the passenger services operating on this route.
  • Additional fleet advisor working with the operations team to provide 24 hours cover to minimise the impact of any in-service faults.
  • Development of further targeted investment schemes to tackle the key causes of delays and disruption.
  • Work with Network Rail to improve the reliability of the cab-to-signaller communication system on the Class 315 and Class 317 trains used on services between Shenfield and London and on the West Anglia route.
  • Extension of remote train monitoring systems which help track train systems and identify faults before they cause delays or more serious problems.
  • Review of traincrew deployment and contingency plans to enable the quickest possible recovery from disruptive events.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Greater Anglia Bottom In Customer Satisfaction Survey

In the latest survey carried out by Which? Magazine to gauge customer satisfaction with their rail service, Greater Anglia came joint bottom with a score only 40%.  This will come as no surprise to those who have seen the state of the trains deteriorate ever more in recent months coupled with disruption reminscient of the old NXEA days.

The Which? survey tends to be more representative that the Passenger Focus surveys carried out as the latter only ask about that day's journey rather than the Which? survey which refers to the previous year's overall experience.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Information Screen - Mistley

Passengers from Mistley will have noticed the information screen is not working. This was reported 3 weeks ago but the faulty component is obsolete and will therefore take time to replace.