Crammed carriages. Standing room only.

But this description of train travel between Southend Victoria and Liverpool Street is set to change.

That is the promise being made by train operator Greater Anglia as it unveils its £1.4million investment on new trains.

Hot on the heels of its announcement of the Stadler Flirt fleet of trains, the rail giant is ready for phase two - the electric Aventra train - which will level the playing field between first class and standard.

With the new trains, capacity during peak times will increase by 55 per cent.

A typical ten-carriage train will provide 1,150 seats.

Some 665 new carriages will be built by Bombardier, in Derby, and come into service from December 2019.


Mike Kean, who is the deputy managing director of Greater Anglia, is confident they will transform journeys for everyone.

He said: “The Bombardier trains really form the backbone of the franchise. It provides the main commuting stock and carries the most number of people on our franchise.

“The real heart of our franchise was providing enough capacity for the full nine years and also to maximise the efficiency of that operation.

“The railway is constrained, we have certain platform lengths and train lengths, but we’re really trying to push that to the maximum to make sure our customers have a better opportunity of getting a seat.

“There’s not much of the West Anglia and Great Eastern Main Line routes, except for the diesel sections, that this train won’t touch.

“The trains are absolutely as modern as you can get.”

The 22 ten-carriage (Class 720/1s) and 89 five-carriage trains (Class 720/5s) will run between London Liverpool Street and Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Ipswich.

They will serve key commuter towns including Chelmsford, Witham, Braintree, Colchester, Clacton and Harwich, and the line to and from Southend Victoria.

Each train will offer four cycle spaces, an accessible toilet, or two, wheelchair spaces, plug sockets and USB ports near each pair of seats which are cantilevered, meaning no nuisance bar underneath, for increased legroom.

Doors separating carriages will be a thing of the past alongside non-connectivity as free, fast broadband will be fitted on each train.

Mr Kean said: “Less people standing on the trains is the real hope. We did a lot of research before starting the franchise and now know what people really value.

“What you’ll find is people really value a seat, even if it’s the third seat between two people.

“We’re maintaining this fleet out of Ilford and have employed Bombardier as our partners to maintain them.

“As you’ll see from the mock-up, we haven’t skimped on the interior and on the cleaning side, we’ve been pushing hard over the past couple of years to maintain that high level of cleanliness.”

A sum of £900million is being spent specifically on the Bombardier trains with a further 58 trains being built by Stadler, in Switzerland, for Greater Anglia’s intercity, Stansted Express and regional services.


However, promises have been made the cost will not be inherited by the more than 29,000 Essex commuters using the Great Eastern line and just over 17,000 using the Southend line every day.

He said: “For every pound people pay, 97 per cent goes back into the railway.

“What we’re doing here in the model is we’ve actually looked at these trains and the number of people that are going to use them.

“That drives revenue and then that gets returned to Government in a bigger premium payment.

“The way the rail industry works, it’s a regulated model. We actually don’t control the peak fares so it shouldn’t have an impact at all."