We at ERUF have been slow recently to update this website to tell readers about what we are doing. Rest assured we are well aware of what is going on, and do monitor Twitter feeds to find out what train commuters are saying about the service. Committee members all use Greater Anglia train services on a fairly regular basis and about half are daily commuters.
Behind the scenes we have been working with local MPs, Essex County Council and Greater Anglia to develop the East Anglia Rail Manifesto, a call for serious investment in the trains and infrastructure in the Greater Anglia Franchise area. This has been well received by the Department for Transport and by government ministers. We are in direct contact with civil servants who are well aware that the train service is not what it should be.
Part of the problem is that government interference in the franchising process has led to a ten year period of decline; first National Express East Anglia (formerly 'one') (2003 to 2012) was a “plain vanilla” franchise, let on the cheap with no money for any sort of investment. This has been followed by the Greater Anglia franchise, which was to last for two years, and will now probably be let for a further two years. These short franchises are far too short for any real investment to be made in improving an already run down train service. Patch and mend can only work for so long, and the results are plain to see.
We are meeting again with civil servants in the coming week and are pressing for major refurbishment of the existing train fleet and for the class 387 trains currently being built for Thameslink to be transfered to our line once new trains are delivered for Thameslink in 2018. Class 387 trains will be similar to the Stansted Express fleet, but will be capable of 110mph. We also want the class 360 (plug door) trains to be upgraded for 110mph running. We believe that many of the class 321 sliding door trains should be displaced as they would be more suitable for use on newly electrified lines in the Cardiff or Manchester areas where they would replace short diesel trains. We will also be pushing for the improvements listed in the East Anglia Rail Manifesto. We have the full support of Essex County Council in what we proposing.