New regional trains get approval for use across Greater Anglia network
PUBLISHED: 16:47 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:47 11 June 2019
The first new "bimode" trains for regional services in East Anglia should enter service within the next few weeks after they were given formal approval by the government's rail regulator.
The Office of Road and Rail has given Greater Anglia the green light to introduce new four-carriage Stadler Flirt bimode trains - which can run on either electric or diesel power - on passenger service after months of testing.
The company has been putting the trains through their paces on routes across the region since the end of last year. Currently 10 out of 24 four-car trains have been delivered to Greater Anglia.
A further 14 three-car units will join them. So far only one three-car unit has been delivered.
The three-car units will require a separate approval from the ORR, but most of the testing applied to the four-car trains will also apply to them and that is not expected to be a major hurdle.
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The first routes to see the new trains are expected to be those from Norwich to Cambridge and to Lowestoft or Great Yarmouth.
The first new InterCity trains - which have many similarities to these trains but are electric only - have only recently arrived and started testing.
Many of the tests on the regional trains also apply to the InterCity units - but their testing is expected to continue until the late summer.
A Greater Anglia spokeswoman said: "We are very pleased that the Office of Road and Rail has approved our new four-carriage bimode trains for operation. These trains will transform journeys for passengers travelling on our rural lines in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.
"This is a major milestone for us. There are still other stages of the testing and commissioning process that we need to go through. However, we anticipate these new trains will start to enter service later this summer, as planned."
The first trains to be replaced by the new units will be the old engines and carriages on the lines to Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, followed by the single-car units.
Then they will replace the Turbostar units that will be sent to a new life in Wales and eventually the most common Class 156 units should be transferred away from the region - probably early next year as the last new Stadler units arrive from Switzerland.