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Greater Anglia (train operating company)

Greater Anglia (legal name Abellio East Anglia Limited)[1] is a train operating company in Great Britain owned as a joint venture by Abellio, the international arm of the state-owned Dutch national rail operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen, and the Japanese company Mitsui. It operates the East Anglia franchise, providing the majority of commuter/regional services from its Central London terminus at London Liverpool Street to Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and parts of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire as well as many regional services throughout the East of England.

Greater Anglia
Abellio Greater Anglia Intercity Class 90 Stratford.jpg
Class 90 at Stratford in 2014
Franchise(s)Greater Anglia
5 February 2012 – 15 October 2016
East Anglia
16 October 2016 – 2025
Main region(s)Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk & Suffolk
Other region(s)London & Hertfordshire
Fleet size
Stations called at170
Stations operated154
Parent companyAbellio (60%)
Mitsui (40%)
Route map

Abellio began operating the franchise, then known as the Greater Anglia franchise, in February 2012. Initially it traded under the same name until it rebranded as Abellio Greater Anglia in December 2013. In May 2015, most of the company's suburban services were transferred to London Overground and the precursor to Crossrail, TfL Rail.

The franchise was re-tendered as the East Anglia franchise and awarded to Abellio in August 2016. The company resumed trading as Greater Anglia on 16 October 2016 when the new franchise commenced. In January 2017, Abellio announced that subject to gaining Department for Transport approval, it had agreed to sell a 40% stake in the business to Mitsui. The sale was completed in March 2017.[2]



Abellio Greater Anglia logo as used from December 2013 until October 2016

In December 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the Greater Anglia franchise to National Express, with One commencing operations starting on 1 April 2004.[3][4] The franchise was to run until March 2011, with provision for a three-year extension if performance targets were met.

In November 2009 the Department for Transport announced that National Express would not be granted the three-year extension for which it had met the criteria, after National Express East Coast had defaulted on the InterCity East Coast franchise.[5][6]

Following a change of government as a result of the 2010 general election, the Department for Transport announced in June 2010 that all refranchising would be put on hold while a review was conducted into the franchising process.[7] As a result, National Express East Anglia was granted an initial extension until October 2011, followed by another until February 2012.[8]

Abellio granted franchiseEdit

In March 2011 the Department for Transport announced that Abellio, Go-Ahead, and Stagecoach had been shortlisted to bid for the franchise.[9] In October 2011 it awarded the new franchise to Abellio; the services operated by National Express East Anglia transferred to Greater Anglia on 5 February 2012.[10][11][12]

The franchise was originally to run until July 2014. The reason for awarding a short franchise, at the same time as the government was speaking of a desire to move to longer franchises, was to allow the government to digest the recommendations of the McNulty Rail Value for Money study before letting a long-term franchise.

In March 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the franchise would again be extended until 15 October 2016.[13] Greater Anglia was rebranded as Abellio Greater Anglia in December 2013.

On 31 May 2015 the Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, Cheshunt (via Seven Sisters) and Chingford services, as well as the Romford to Upminster service, transferred to London Overground Rail Operations.[14] On the same day, the Liverpool Street to Shenfield stopping services transferred to the TfL Rail concession managed by MTR.[15]

On 22 December 2014 the refurbishment of the company's fleet of Mark 3 carriages began, involving a total internal rewiring, new toilets with waste-retention tanks, improved Wi-Fi provision, plug sockets at each seat, and a complete refresh of body panels, carpets and seat covers. The refurbishment programme was completed in 2016.

Franchise renewalEdit

In June 2015, an Abellio (60%)/Stagecoach (40%) joint venture, FirstGroup and National Express were shortlisted to bid for the franchise.[16] In December 2015 it was announced that Stagecoach had pulled out of the joint bid with Abellio, and that Abellio would continue the bid alone.[17]

In August 2016, it was announced that Abellio had successfully bid to retain the franchise until 2025. A franchise commitment is to purchase 1,043 new carriages, 660 from Bombardier Transportation's Derby Litchurch Lane Works with the other 383 to be built by Stadler Rail.[18][19] In January 2017, Abellio announced that subject to gaining Department for Transport approval, it had agreed to sell a 40% stake in the business to Mitsui.[20]

In August 2017, amidst a background of ongoing rail strikes on a national level, Greater Anglia conductors voted in favour of going on strike in a dispute over planned ticket office closures and the planned introduction of more widespread driver-only operation on the Greater Anglia network.[21] Industrial action has been held on numerous occasions since October 2017, and the dispute remains unresolved as of February 2018; Greater Anglia has been criticised by the RMT for their alleged strike-breaking tactics.[22][23]

Franchise commitmentsEdit

Greater Anglia Franchise (2012–2016)Edit

A number of improvements were planned during the first franchise period (2012-2016) which included:[10]

  • Improved station and ticket facilities and better information for passengers;
  • A text messaging service to keep passengers informed of any disruptions;
  • Extending Oyster card pay-as-you-go capabilities between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield/Hertford East;
  • Mobile-phone and print-at-home ticketing facilities;
  • 600 extra car park spaces at stations;
  • Additional bicycle storage facilities;
  • New automatic ticket barriers at Brentwood (no automatic ticket barrier was installed by Abellio and management of the station later passed to TfL Rail).

East Anglia Franchise (2016–2025)Edit

The following improvements have been planned as part of the Abellio bid for the East Anglia franchise (2016-2025):[24]

  • Replacement of the entire current fleet, with 1,043 new vehicles by September 2020 to run on the Rural, Intercity, Stansted Express, West Anglia and Great Eastern routes.
  • Extensive refurbishment of some of the existing vehicles, prior to replacement.
  • Raise Public Performance Measure scores to at least 92.9%.
  • Two weekday trains operating between Norwich and Ipswich to London with a journey time of 90 min and 60 min respectively.
  • Free WiFi on trains and stations.
  • £60 million investment for station upgrades with a focus on Broxbourne, Cambridge, Cheshunt, Harlow Town and Southend Victoria stations.
  • Introduction of digital information screens on all stations with improvements in car and cycle parking (1,800 and 4,000 extra spaces respectively) along with upgrades to ticket offices and vending machines.
  • New ticketing programmes with offers for infrequent travellers and part-time workers.
  • Introduction of an automatic Delay Repay service for season and advance ticket holders.
  • £120 million of investment into depots with a new maintenance facility at Manningtree.
  • Hiring of twenty trainees per year and at least thirty apprenticeships by 2019.
  • Extension of the Gainsborough Line from Marks Tey to Colchester Town.[25]
  • Reintroduction of four direct Lowestoft to London services on the East Suffolk Line.
  • Improving the frequency of the Ipswich to Ely Line services to Peterborough from every two hours to hourly with some additional services extending to Colchester.


As of May 2019, the following services operate during the off-peak period, Monday to Friday:[26]

Route tph Calling at Stock
London Liverpool Street - Norwich 1 Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich, Diss 90
1 Stratford,[a] Chelmsford, Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich, Stowmarket, Diss
Great Eastern
Route tph Calling at Stock
London Liverpool Street - Southend Victoria 3 Stratford, Romford (1tph), Shenfield, Billericay, Wickford, Rayleigh, Hockley, Rochford, Southend Airport, Prittlewell 321
Wickford - Southminster 1 12 Battlesbridge, South Woodham Ferrers, North Fambridge, Althorne, Burnham-on-Crouch
London Liverpool Street - Ipswich 1 Stratford, Shenfield, Chelmsford, Hatfield Peverel, Witham, Kelvedon, Marks Tey, Colchester, Manningtree 317, 321, 360
London Liverpool Street - Colchester Town 1 Stratford, Romford, Shenfield, Chelmsford, Witham, Kelvedon, Marks Tey, Colchester
London Liverpool Street - Clacton-on-Sea 1 Stratford, Shenfield, Ingatestone, Chelmsford, Witham, Colchester, Wivenhoe, Thorpe-le-Soken
London Liverpool Street - Braintree 1 Stratford, Shenfield, Ingatestone, Chelmsford, Witham, White Notley, Cressing, Braintree Freeport
Marks Tey - Sudbury 1 Chappel & Wakes Colne, Bures 153, 156
Colchester - Walton-on-the-Naze 1 Colchester Town (trains reverse), Hythe, Wivenhoe, Alresford, Great Bentley, Weeley, Thorpe-le-Soken, Kirby Cross, Frinton-on-Sea 321, 360
Colchester - Colchester Town 1
Manningtree - Harwich Town 1 Mistley, Wrabness, Harwich International, Dovercourt
West Anglia
Route tph Calling at Stock
London Liverpool Street - Hertford East 2 Hackney Downs, Tottenham Hale, Ponders End, Brimsdown, Enfield Lock, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Rye House, St Margarets, Ware 317, 379
Stratford - Bishop's Stortford 1 Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Harlow Town, Sawbridgeworth
1 Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park, Enfield Lock, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Harlow Town, Harlow Mill, Sawbridgeworth
Stratford - Meridian Water 2 Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park
Reduced service until September 2019
London Liverpool Street - Cambridge 1 Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Harlow Town, Bishop's Stortford, Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway
London Liverpool Street - Cambridge North 1 Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Harlow Town, Harlow Mill, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop's Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford, Cambridge
Stansted Express
Route tph Calling at Stock
London Liverpool Street - Stansted Airport 2 Tottenham Hale, Bishop's Stortford 379
2 Tottenham Hale, Harlow Town, Stansted Mountfitchet (1tph)
Route tph Calling at Stock
Stansted Airport - Cambridge 1 Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway 317
Ipswich - Felixstowe 1 Westerfield, Derby Road, Trimley 153, 156, 170
Ipswich - Lowestoft 1 Woodbridge, Melton, Wickham Market, Saxmundham, Darsham, Halesworth, Brampton,[b] Beccles, Oulton Broad South
Ipswich - Cambridge 1 Needham Market, Stowmarket, Elmswell, Thurston, Bury St Edmunds, Kennett (1tp2h), Newmarket, Dullingham (1tp2h)
Kennett and Dullingham are served by alternate trains.
Ipswich - Peterborough 12 Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds, Ely, Manea, March, Whittlesea
Norwich - Sheringham 12 Salhouse (Norwich-bound only), Hoveton & Wroxham, Worstead (Sheringham-bound only), North Walsham, Cromer (trains reverse), West Runton 153, 156, 170
12 Salhouse (Sheringham-bound only), Hoveton & Wroxham, Worstead (Norwich-bound only), North Walsham, Gunton, Roughton Road, Cromer (trains reverse), West Runton
Norwich - Great Yarmouth 1 Brundall Gardens, Brundall, Lingwood, Acle 37, 153, 156, 170, 755
1 Acle (Great Yarmouth-bound only)
Norwich - Lowestoft 12 Oulton Broad North
12 Brundall, Buckenham[b] (limited service), Cantley, Reedham, Haddiscoe, Somerleyton, Oulton Broad North
Norwich - Cambridge 1 Wymondham, Spooner Row[b] (limited service), Attleborough, Eccles Road (limited service), Harling Road (limited service), Thetford, Brandon, Lakenheath[b] (limited service), Shippea Hill[b] (limited service), Ely, Cambridge North 170

Stansted ExpressEdit

Greater Anglia operates the Stansted Express sub-branded airport rail link between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.[27]


Greater Anglia operates the Dutchflyer sub-branded boat train between London Liverpool Street and Harwich International.[28] There is no special livery for trains.


The latest punctuality statistics released by Network Rail for period 7 of 2013/2014 were 94.0% PPM (Public Performance Measure) down 1.0 percentage points on the same period last year and the MAA (Moving Annual Average) up to 12 October 2013 also fell slightly to 92.3%.[29] In 2013, Abellio Greater Anglia was named train operator of the year.[30] However, a survey in February 2014 by the consumer group Which? found that customer satisfaction of Abellio Greater Anglia was at last place (out of 20 train operators) with a satisfaction percentage of 40%[31] and in 2016 Abellio Greater Anglia were rated the fourth worst UK train operator with a commuter rail services satisfaction rating of 35%.[32]

Rolling stockEdit

Greater Anglia inherited a fleet of Class 90, Mark 3 carriages, Driving Van Trailers, Class 153, Class 156 and Class 170 diesel multiple units, and Class 315, Class 317, Class 321, Class 360 and Class 379 electric multiple units from National Express East Anglia. Due to its short initial franchise term, Greater Anglia was not planning to introduce any new trains[33] before their second franchise term started in October 2016.

In November 2013, an online petition was launched, aiming to stop Greater Anglia trains from dumping raw sewage from the train toilets.[34] There were also been concerns with the 'sewage mist' from passing trains making Network Rail staff ill, and Greater Anglia announced it was "working closely" with the government to introduce a fleet upgrade.[35] As of October 2016 all Mk3 carriages and class 156 units have controlled emission toilets.[36]

On 31 May 2015, the company's fleet of Class 315 trains were cascaded to London Overground and TfL Rail, and some Class 317 trains have been cascaded to London Overground, which has taken over local services in North and East London from the Greater Anglia franchise.

Current fleetEdit

Class Image Type Top speed Carriages Number Routes operated Built
mph km/h
Shunting locomotive
08[citation needed] Shunter 15 24 N/A 3 Stock movements 1952–62
Locomotive hauled stock
37   Diesel loco 80 129 N/A 4 Wherry Lines 1960–65
Mark 2   Carriage 100 161 3 1963–75
90   Electric loco 110 177 15 Great Eastern Main Line 1987–90
Mark 3   Carriage 130 1975–88
  DVT 15 1988
Diesel multiple units
153 Super Sprinter   DMU 75 121 1 5 Bittern Line,
East Suffolk Line,
Ely to Peterborough Line,
Felixstowe Branch Line,
Gainsborough Line,
Ipswich to Ely Line,
Wherry Lines
156 Super Sprinter   2 9 1987–89
170/2 Turbostar   100 161 3 Bittern Line,
Breckland Line,
East Suffolk Line,
Ely to Peterborough Line,
Ipswich to Ely Line,
Wherry Lines
3 7
Electric multiple units
317/1, 317/5,
317/6 & 317/8
  EMU 100 161 4 12 Fen Line,
Hertford East Branch Line,
West Anglia Main Line
24 1985–87
6 1981–82
321/3 & 321/4   EMU 100 161 4 66 Braintree Branch Line,
Crouch Valley Line,
Great Eastern Main Line,
Mayflower Line,
Shenfield to Southend Line,
Sunshine Coast Line
360/1 Desiro   EMU 100 161 4 21 Braintree Branch Line,
Great Eastern Main Line,
Mayflower Line,
Sunshine Coast Line
379 Electrostar   EMU 100 161 4 30 Fen Line,
Stansted Express,
West Anglia Main Line
Bi-Mode Multiple Unit
755/4 FLIRT BMU 100 161 4 24 Wherry Lines 2018-20

Future fleetEdit

In August 2016 it was announced 1,043 new carriages would be purchased, which will allow for all of the ageing stock to be replaced, especially necessary given that a number of coaches are not compliant with accessibility requirements beyond 2019 and they would not be able to meet Abellio's new targets for lower journey times without extensive modification.[37][38] Bombardier won a contract worth nearly £1 billion to build 111 Aventra electric multiple units and Stadler will also build 58 FLIRT electric multiple units, all of which will come into service between January 2019 and September 2020.[19][24][39]

The following types of rolling stock are planned:[24]

Class Image Type Top speed Carriages Number Routes operated Built In service
mph km/h
Electric multiple units
720/1 & 720/5 Aventra EMU 100 161 10 22 West Anglia,
Great Eastern
2018–20 2019–20
5 89
745/0 & 745/1 FLIRT   12 20 Inter-City
Stansted Express
Bi-mode multiple units
755/3 FLIRT   EDMU[40] 100 161 3 14 Regional routes 2018–20 2019–20

Past fleetEdit

Former units operated by Greater Anglia include:

Class Image Type Top speed Carriages Number Built Withdrawn Notes
mph km/h
Locomotive hauled stock
Class 68   Diesel 100 161 N/A 3 2013-2017 2017 Returned to Direct Rail Services after hire period
Diesel multiple units
Class 170 Turbostar   DMU 100 161 2 1 2002 2019 Transferred to Transport for Wales
3 1 1999
Electric multiple units
Class 315   EMU 75 121 4 61 1980–81 2015 Transferred to
TfL Rail (44)
London Overground (17)


Greater Anglia's fleet is maintained at Clacton-on-Sea, Ilford and Crown Point depots.


  1. ^ Pick up only northbound, set down only southbound.
  2. ^ a b c d e Request stop


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 7861414 Abellio East Anglia Limited
  2. ^ "Abellio deal: Japanese firm Mitsui completes 40% Greater Anglia sale". BBC News. 21 March 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  3. ^ "National Express Group Announced as Preferred Bidder for new Greater Anglia Franchise". Strategic Rail Authority. 22 December 2003. Archived from the original on 4 January 2004.
  4. ^ "National Express wins rail franchise". The Daily Telegraph. London. 22 December 2003.
  5. ^ "National Express loses East Anglia rail franchise". BBC News. 26 November 2009.
  6. ^ Millward, David (26 November 2009). "National Express loses East Anglia franchise three years early". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  7. ^ "Rail Franchising". Department for Transport. 17 June 2010.
  8. ^ Osborne, Alistair (15 September 2010). "National Express wins extension to East Anglia rail franchise". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  9. ^ "Shortlisted Bidders for Greater Anglia and Intercity West Coast Rail Franchises" (PDF). Department for Transport. 24 March 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ a b "Better services for East Anglian passengers under new franchise" (Press release). Department for Transport. 20 October 2011.
  11. ^ "Abellio awarded Greater Anglia franchise". Railway Gazette International. London. 20 October 2011.
  12. ^ "Abellio has been awarded the Greater Anglia Franchise" (Press release). Abellio. 20 October 2011. Archived from the original on 25 October 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  13. ^ "Railway plan puts new focus on passengers". Department for Transport. 26 March 2013.
  14. ^ London Overground operator appointed to run additional services for TfL Archived 17 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine Travel & Tour World 4 June 2013
  15. ^ TfL announces MTR to run Crossrail services Transport for London 18 July 2014
  16. ^ Shortlist for East Anglia franchise announced Department for Transport 2 June 2015
  17. ^ Stagecoach pulls out of East Anglia rail franchise bid BBC News 9 December 2015
  18. ^ Better journeys for rail passengers and boost for Derby train industry as new East Anglia franchise announced Department for Transport 10 August 2016
  19. ^ a b Bombardier gets £1bn contract in biggest rail boost since Victorian era BBC News 10 August 2016
  20. ^ Abellio to sell 40% stake in Greater Anglia to Mitsui Railway Gazette International 17 January 2017
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b c "Stadler and Bombardier to supply trains for Abellio East Anglia franchise". Railway Gazette International. 10 August 2016.
  25. ^ "Sudbury, Peterborough and Lowestoft get a better link for commuters as Abellio signs new franchise for Greater Anglia services". East Anglian Daily Times.
  26. ^ Timetables | Abellio Greater Anglia
  27. ^ "Stansted Express". Abellio Greater Anglia. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  28. ^ "Dutchflyer". Stena Line. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  29. ^ "Rail performance results period 7". Network Rail. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  30. ^ "Greater Anglia named train operator of the year". Rail Business Awards. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  31. ^ "Best and worst UK train companies". Which?. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  32. ^ "Best and worst UK train companies". Which?. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  33. ^ "Greater Anglia franchise agreement" (PDF). Department for Transport. 1 November 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 December 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  34. ^ "Commuters demand end to raw toilet waste being dumped at Liverpool Street station". Metro. London. 18 December 2013.
  35. ^ "Cambridge rail worker's health fears over excrement spray". BBC News. 18 December 2013.
  36. ^ "600,000 extra seats and smarter trains following completion of intercity fleet refurbishment". Greater Anglia. 19 September 2016.
  37. ^ Class 317 Angel Covering Letter Department for Transport 23 April 2010
  38. ^ Abellio Greater Anglia/ Stansted Express National Rail Enquiries
  39. ^ Abellio wins East Anglian rail franchise for nine years in £1.4bn deal East Anglian Daily Times 10 August 2016
  40. ^ "New trains as Abellio scoops East Anglia franchise". Rail. 10 August 2016.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Abellio Greater Anglia at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
National Express East Anglia
Greater Anglia franchise
Operator of Greater Anglia franchise
2012 – 2016
Succeeded by
Greater Anglia
East Anglia franchise
Preceded by
Abellio Greater Anglia
Greater Anglia franchise
Operator of East Anglia franchise
2016 – present