New services, new trains and a £2 billion rail improvement package launched today

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New trains, new and faster services and a £2 billion package of improvements to transform rail travel has been promised as Greater Anglia starts a new nine-year franchise today.

This transformation includes:

* Replacement of the entire fleet of trains with 1,043 brand new carriages by end-2020. Built by Bombardier in Derby (665 carriages) and Stadler in Switzerland (378 carriages) they will all have air conditioning, free high speed WiFi and power sockets.

* Investment of £60 million in stations including the redevelopment of Broxbourne, Cambridge, Cheshunt, Harlow Town and Southend Victoria stations.

* More services and faster journeys, with journey times falling on average 10%. Headline improvements include two ‘Norwich in 90’ trains each way to/from London every day. Faster services from Ipswich and Colchester to London and faster journey times from London to Southend - falling to 47 minutes - and to Cambridge in 61 minutes.

* Better connectivity across the wider region with direct services from Lowestoft to London, Norwich to Cambridge services extended to Stansted Airport, and an hourly service from Ipswich to Peterborough.

* 55% more seats into London in the morning peak period (an extra 32,000 seats), increased capacity on many regional services, and more than 1,000 extra services per week.

* Better ticketing options including more journey opportunities on smartcards, a new flexible ‘carnet’ to give people who travel regularly but not every day a discount, and lower fares on Stansted Express.

Rail Minister, Paul Maynard, said: “Abellio’s exciting and ambitious plans will make a real difference to passengers in East Anglia, giving them faster and smoother journeys. It will also ensure the region has a rail network that supports its growing economy.

“With new trains being built by Bombardier in Derby, we are making sure that our train building industry remains strong, while delivering the biggest investment in the railways in decades.”

Jamie Burles, Managing Director of Greater Anglia, said: “Today is a new dawn for rail services across East Anglia. We now begin the task of delivering on our promises and rolling out exciting improvements such as state of the art new trains, better stations and faster journeys. By 2020, the railways of East Anglia will look and feel very different to today.”

Greater Anglia will invest in additional marketing to attract more people to use rail services. To mark the start of the new franchise, Greater Anglia is running a “Wake up your Weekdays” offer with special adult return fares - £10, £15 or £20 for off-peak travel. Children can travel for just £2 return. Tickets are available to purchase until 30th October for travel up to 30th November, including the autumn half-term period.