Main line testing of Greater Anglia’s Class 720 Aventra electric multiple units began early on March 17, although still almost 14 months later than originally planned.
Five-car 720509, one of two so far delivered to Ilford, left its home depot at 2312 on March 16, running to Southend Victoria (one of the routes it will serve). It then operated a Southend-Stratford round trip, before returning to Ilford depot.
GA has 89 five-car and 22 ten-car Class 720s on order from Bombardier, funded by Angel Trains. They will replace the operator’s Class 317, ‘321’ and ‘360’ EMUs as well as ‘379s’ on non-Stansted Express services. They will also serve Norwich on certain trains. The Aventras have either 544 seats (five-car) or 1,145 (ten-car trains)
No official date for their delayed introduction into traffic has been announced, with GA Franchise and Programmes Director Ian McConnell simply stating: “Once we are fully satisfied the trains are performing as we want them to, we will put them into passenger service, which will be later this year.”
So far, Bombardier has built 46 Class 720s at Derby Litchurch Lane. They have been delayed by software issues relating to their train management systems.