Thursday, 17 July 2014

Rail Briefing to Essex MPs

The following has been sent to Essex MPs


Essex rail users have suffered from a series of franchises where minimum expenditure has been authorised.  This state of affairs started with the National Express plain vanilla franchise of 2003, and continued with the first Abellio franchise of 2012, and continues now with the second short franchise recently awarded to Abellio which expires in October 2016.  Due to the wording of the franchise documents, in all this time there has been no money available for new trains or even the much needed refurbishment of the rolling stock, which is now in such poor internal  condition that it compares unfavourably with every other franchise that serves London.  Uncertainty over future franchising means that externally most of the train fleet is painted in a temporary white livery that becomes dirty very quickly and does not look smart.

The poor state of the trains is largely beyond the control of the operator and is due to inadequate funding of the rail franchise by successive governments.  The government has failed to recognise that Greater Anglia train services are no longer up to the standard expected by the public.  These are falling well short of the standards maintained by other operators.

What needs to be done?
In order to put things right, there needs to be serious investment in new trains and in refurbishment of existing ones.  These investments need to be stipulated in the tender documents so that all bidders for the new franchise can include funding for this in their tender price.   Details of these investments are included in the Greater Anglia Rail manifesto which has been endorsed by County Councils, MPs, Rail User groups and other interested parties based in East Anglia.  Essex Rail Users Federation has also submitted proposals for these investments directly to DfT.

Network Rail also needs to invest to eliminate a large number of unreliable components in the rail infrastructure that is track and pointwork, signalling and overhead wires.

All interested parties need to lobby DfT and the Treasury to ensure that rail services on the Norwich main line and branches is certainly as good as those on any other franchise serving London.

Above all it is essential that Essex MPs work together on this.  Norfolk and Suffolk MPs have been far better at presenting a united front on rail issues.

Derek Monnery FRICS
Essex Rail Users Federation

17th July 2014

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

£1m investment by Greater Anglia To Improve Services

Following significant recent disruption caused by severe weather conditions, fatalities and infrastructure issues, Greater Anglia has announced £1m worth of actions to improve things ongoing:

  • A contract with Direct Rail Services to provide locomotives and carriages to support service provision on its local routes and increase intercity service carriage availability up to the current franchise end date in July.
  • Recruiting additional maintenance staff at its Norwich Crown Point depot.
  • Review of contingency plans to improve recovery times in the event of disruption and minimise the impact of any short carriage formations which do occur.
  • Further modifications to West Anglia route Class 317 trains to improve door reliability.
  • Work with Network Rail to secure a reduction in speed restrictions and engineering work over-runs, and to ensure a more robust operation of the freight services using the Ipswich to Felixstowe line to lessen their performance impact on the passenger services operating on this route.
  • Additional fleet advisor working with the operations team to provide 24 hours cover to minimise the impact of any in-service faults.
  • Development of further targeted investment schemes to tackle the key causes of delays and disruption.
  • Work with Network Rail to improve the reliability of the cab-to-signaller communication system on the Class 315 and Class 317 trains used on services between Shenfield and London and on the West Anglia route.
  • Extension of remote train monitoring systems which help track train systems and identify faults before they cause delays or more serious problems.

  • Review of traincrew deployment and contingency plans to enable the quickest possible recovery from disruptive events.