Abellio will place an order for replacement intercity-standard rolling stock on the Great Eastern Main Line next year if it wins the longer-term East Anglia franchise, the operator’s Managing Director has told RAIL.
With the eventual outcome of a General Election expected by the end of May, AGA MD Jamie Burles was upbeat on May 1 about the prospects of faster journey times and brand new rolling stock in the next few years, despite potential uncertainties.
“The good news is that ‘Norwich in 90’ has been accepted by the Government,” Burles told RAIL. “We look forward to a lot more for this rail corridor.”
Asked by RAIL about the likely timescales and specification of future new rolling stock, Burles said it would be suitable for a “middle-distance, premium inter-city route”. He said it would need to be ordered by the start of the new East Anglia franchise in October 2016, so that the fleet of Mk 3s, which will not fully meet Persons of Reduced Mobility regulations, can be completely withdrawn.
“These trains will cease to operate at the end of 2019,” he said, adding that the Mk 3 refurbishment was kept deliberately limited. He also questioned the logic of spending a further £12 million putting new doors on the Mk 3 fleet.
Burles would not be drawn on the type of unit that Abellio (as a presumed bidder for the longer-term franchise) would aim for, explaining: “There are competing pressures of an existing design of unit.” The output specification would need to consider reliability, speed, acceleration and ambience, he said.
“Government has signalled that it will back rolling stock investment. But a whole lot of work is needed. We are at the stage of looking at a range of options.”
- For more on this story see RAIL 774, published on May 13 2015