The nine-year franchise promises significant investment in rolling stock. Abellio will refurbish the current fleet and plans to introduce 169 new trains between January 2019 and September 2020. Bombardier's Derby plant will build 665 Aventra suburban EMU cars in a £1bn order comprising 22 10-car and 89 five-car trains. These trains will enter service on West Anglia and Great Eastern services from 2019.
In its first British order for main line rolling stock, Stadler will supply 58 Flirt UK EMUs in regional and inter-city variants. The order comprises 10 12-car EMUs for London - Norwich services; 10 12-car EMUs for Stansted Express airport services, 24 four-car bi-mode (diesel and electric) trains for regional services; and 14 three-car bi-mode trains for regional services.
By 2021, Abellio will provide more than 32,000 additional seats on morning peak services into London Liverpool Street with 1144 additional weekday services across the network.
The new franchise will accelerate inter-city services on the London Liverpool Street - Ipswich - Norwich line to achieve the ‘Norwich in 90’ aspiration of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce. With the introduction of new rolling stock from March 2019 onwards, at least two services in each direction will link Liverpool Street with Norwich in 1h 30min and at least one service per day will connect Liverpool Street and Ipswich in an hour. The current peak service of three London - Norwich trains per hour will be extended to off-peak periods.
There will be free passenger Wi-Fi at stations and on trains together with automatic ‘delay repay’ for season and advance purchase tickets.
Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA) took over the Greater Anglia franchise in February 2012, and a further direct award deal with the DfT began in July 2014, extending its tenure until October 2016.
AGA currently operates around 1900 suburban, regional, and long-distance services per weekday in eastern England and carries 135.2 million passengers per year, serving 176 stations with a fleet of 1034 vehicles.
Abellio was shortlisted for the new franchise last June alongside First Group and National Express.
Photo: Inter-city variant of the Stadler Flirt UK for London - Ipswich - Norwich services.