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Abellio GA to hire more staff, improve stations and upgrade train interiors

Abellio Greater Anglia is spending £10m on interior refurbishments for its 24 Class 317/6s and 21 Class 350s, adding an additional set of intercity Mark 3 carriages, replacing ticket gates, and hiring more cleaners, customer service operatives and catering staff.

The operator, which has a new short franchise to October 2016, says it will also spend more on standby buses for people who miss connections at Ipswich, Norwich and Witham when services are disrupted, wireless mobile PA systems at eight stations, and waiting room upgrades at four stations.

Jamie Burles, managing director of Abellio Greater Anglia said: “We are totally committed to delivering a better service for our customers, focusing on those areas they prioritise as important. This extensive package of service improvements represents a major investment in key areas of service delivery including the on-train travelling environment, cleaning, seating capacity and performance.”

The full details of the £10m pledge – which is additional to the £20m announced earlier this year – are below:

  • A refresh for the 24 Class 317/6 trains used on the West Anglia routes between London and Hertford, Harlow, Bishops Stortford and Cambridge, with new seat covers and re-painting of the carriage interiors (including grab handles and luggage racks);
  • New seat covers for the 21 Class 360 trains used on the Great Eastern Main Line between London and Chelmsford, Colchester, Clacton and Ipswich (provided through a partnership scheme with Siemens and Angel Trains);
  • Hire of an additional set of intercity Mark 3 carriages to improve vehicle availability and maintain planned seating capacity during the Mark 3 refurbishment programme, which begins in January;
  • Replacement of the automatic ticket gates at London Liverpool Street, Shenfield, Southend Victoria, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and Harlow stations to provide new, better, more efficient gates - which will also enable the introduction of more mobile ticketing, print-at-home ticketing and future smart-ticketing schemes;
  • Recruitment of an additional 40 cleaning staff (including eight roving on-train cleaners to work mainly on Southend and Clacton trains);
  • Recruitment of 10 extra customer service staff at stations including London Liverpool Street, Billericay, Wickford, Chelmsford, Clacton, Norwich and Cambridge to provide additional customer assistance and information;
  • Introduction of six additional staff at Ilford and Norwich to repair train interior faults (such as damage to or problems with seats, tables, toilets, lighting or wall panels);
  • Recruitment of six additional catering staff for the trial of an at-seat catering service in First Class carriages on three morning and evening peak trains in each direction on the Norwich to London intercity services;
  • Wireless mobile public address systems at eight stations (Bishops Stortford, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Shenfield and Witham) to enable customer service staff to make announcements whilst out on the platforms;
  • Additional investment in standby buses to provide support for missed connections at Ipswich, Norwich and Witham in the event of service disruption; and
  • A refresh for the waiting rooms at the stations between Southend and Billericay and at Witham and Ipswich.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Neil Palmer   27/11/2014 at 00:54

"Hire of to improve vehicle availability and maintain planned seating capacity during the Mark 3 refurbishment programme which begins in January;" Hire of WHAT ?

RTM   27/11/2014 at 17:07

Sorry about that Neil, we've corrected it. "an additional set of intercity Mark 3 carriages" were Abellio's words that somehow got deleted!

Andrew Gwilt   28/11/2014 at 12:01

I live in Wickford and I use the station when I travel to London and 1 thing that really annoys me is that Wickford only has a old rusty footbridge and the problem is happening-Mothers with pushprams (with babies), commuters with their pedal bikes and disabled commuters with walking sticks and/or wheelchairs having to use the Footbridge to get to Platform 3 to board a train to London Liverpool Street and I think that Abellio Greater Anglia should also invest £10-£20million to replace old footbridges and install new lifts or step free ramps at Wickford station for those commuters heading to London Liverpool Street. Basildon is the nearest station which has lifts which is on the London Fenchurch Street-Southend/Shoeburyness (c2c) line. Abellio GA should invest £10-£20million on improving stations and replacing footbridges with new lifts or step free ramps to be installed. Other stations including Rayleigh, Hockley, Rochford, Prittlewell, Billericay, Ingatestone, Hatfield Peveral, Kelvedon, Marks Tey and other stations in Essex and East of England to have step free access and lifts for commuters with pushprams and disabled commuters to get the train to London and other destinations.

Paul H   30/11/2014 at 22:50

Worth noting that on a national basis most schemes for lifts. etc. at stations are covered the Access For All programme, led by Network Rail and funded by DfT. Some of the stations mentioned are on the list at:

Matthew Read   03/12/2014 at 22:30

Those 360s really need a refurbishment the seats are in really poor condition. Although some of them have already had their seats re-upholstered. The Intercity set they will be hiring is the Pretendolino I do believe.

Nonsuchmike   02/01/2015 at 14:13

I was jut getting ready to wade into Abellio GA for not suggesting any more track such as dualling, chords to improve flexibility, improved junctions etc when I actually read the promise of more train units, improved ticket barriers, far more passenger help and cleanliness of train personnel, not to mention refurbishment of actual seats on the trains. These and the wifi introductions will enhance passenger experiences for most of the sardines who travel on their lines. But where are the commitments to longer trains? To more trains per hour? To more recruitment and training of drivers? We passengers are not too worried if TOCs do not shave ten minutes off a journey time from Ipswich or Norwich, but we are worried about the gaps between trains time-wise, and the non appearance of trains at all owing to last minute cancellations. Perhaps they can in future invest in Depot drivers who can take out a train after sudden illness or no-show? That would show ambition in improving customer satisfaction.

Andrew Gwilt   14/03/2015 at 22:17

It be good to have wi-fi on the trains. That's my opinion on.

John Crown   14/10/2017 at 11:02


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