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‘Teething issues’ over new Greater Anglia trains could not have been predicted, director insists

PUBLISHED: 06:57 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:25 26 February 2020

Greater Anglia are investing in an entire new fleet of trains which will be operational across the region by 2020. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Greater Anglia are investing in an entire new fleet of trains which will be operational across the region by 2020. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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A rail operator has said “teething issues” which affected the rollout of the new Greater Anglia trains could not have been predicted during testing.

Great Yarmouth station has seen car park charges rise by 11% for the day, though weekly charging has fallen. Picture: Jacob MasseyGreat Yarmouth station has seen car park charges rise by 11% for the day, though weekly charging has fallen. Picture: Jacob Massey

Issues with the rail provider's new £1.4bn fleet of trains, introduced last year, saw passengers beset with cancellations and disruption due to a range of technical flaws.

Problems included issues with how the trains communicated with the rail system through the tracks, software faults, and issues with switching between electric and diesel power - as well as claims from sources at the company that there was a shortage of drivers trained to drive the new engines, which Greater Anglia denied.

And furious rail users told of their frustrations with the unpredictable service, with commuters and students struggling with their journeys and some even contemplating moving house or leaving jobs.

But speaking after a meeting of Great Yarmouth's area committee, on Tuesday, February 25, one of the operator's directors insisted the issues could not have been predicted during "extensive testing".

READ MORE: Rail passengers set for week of replacement bus services

Jonathan Denby, director of corporate affairs, told councillors: "We had one or two teething issues with the new trains as they've been bedding in.

"We're getting past this. There were these problems on the Sheringham line with signalling and we had to make some checks.

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"The performance of the new trains is now improving fast."

But speaking after the meeting, which also saw Mr Denby grilled by councillors and members of the public over rail replacement buses, improvements to the station building, and ticket office and toilet opening hours, he added: "They haven't been as reliable as we would have hoped as quick as we would have hoped.

READ MORE: What is going wrong with Greater Anglia's new £1.4bn trains?

"None of the things that have happened showed up in the testing. There are certain factors you can't replicate in testing.

"Sometimes it can be about the particular route - factors manifest themselves and it's not clear why.

"If you get the impact of electric currents in a particular place, at a particular time, it can have an impact on the software."

Mr Denby also told councillors the new trains featured air con, USB and plug points, faster wifi and better accessibility.

However, his comments came after thousands of passengers faced weeks of rail replacement buses between Norwich and Great Yarmouth as works took place.

READ MORE: More than 80 trains cancelled as problems on the train lines escalate

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