Thursday 5 September 2019

Greater Anglia Officially Launch The Flirts

Yesterday (4th September) saw the official launch of Greater Anglia's fleet of Stadler Flirt trains. There were events at Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, where the great and the good celebrated the new trains. At Norwich and Yarmouth there was a giant hare present, the symbol on the Swiss built trains, and a steel band. No, I don't know either!

Anyway, while the rest of the media concentrated on Norwich and Great Yarmouth, I went to Lowestoft as I had noticed the enormous effort made by Martin, Tim and Jackie, the Station Adopter Team, to deck the station out in bunting and other decorations, even sweeping puddles away, and guessed correctly it would be ignored by other media. Even the giant hare ignored Lowestoft, but the steel band were there, and I have to say livened up the place, even though I was disappointed not to see Greater Anglia management have an impromptu limbo dancing contest! A Stadler was used to ferry them around, which was open for public viewing.

755413 arrives at Lowestoft for the launch
The Steel Band do their stuff
There were speeches which unfortunately I missed as I was giving someone a tour of the Stadler, and happy to say very proud to do so as they really are remarkable trains on so many levels. Yet again I sat in one of the seats and my back purred with pleasure. First impressions count but so do third, fourth and fifth, and my enthusiasm hasn't waned one little bit.

At one point all three ;platforms at Lowestoft were in use with the 755, a 156 and a 153 all present.

Not a sight to be seen for much longer
Then things went a bit pear shaped, and the various men and women in suits were scurrying around, fearing a PR disaster. The 1457 to Norwich was cancelled, which you don't want when you have a brand new train on display, and a plethora of management proclaiming how good the future is. However, it pleases me to say the day was saved extremely efficiently. Free coffee and cake was handed round to all Norwich bound customers, and a place on the management special to Norwich awarded, which became an "extra service".  Well done to all concerned.

Now, you can have all the testing you like, but you really don't know how something is going to work until it's out there in the big wide world, and then there will be teething troubles. We had them on Southeastern with the Electrostars, and every new fleet of trains, and indeed buses take time for everything to be smoothed out. The Stadlers are proving no different, and various little niggles are cropping up. I urge everyone to be patient as these trains are going to be worth a bit of inconvenience. If they were the standard of the 700's or Great Northern's 387's I'd be a lot more critical, but these are trains not used in the UK before, and when the niggles are sorted will be the envy of the country.

There will be more launches around the network as the new trains, pluss the Intercity 745's and Commuter 720's are introduced in the next few months. I hope to catch as many of these as possible as an entire fleet of trains being replaced doesn't happen very often!

I did video the Stadler leaving, but it crawled away so, in the best of traditions, here is one I prepared 5 days earlier, at Oulton Broad North. The acceleration and lack of noise from the engines are both highly impressive. Have I mentioned I quite like them......


  1. Latest Bus Cuts Update

    If only there were some good news but sadly there is little other than a possible £200M fund from central government if it actually materializes, This is across England though. Not clear if it includes London

    The Galloway services 377 (386) has been cut from 4 journeys to 1 and will now only run between Bury St Edmunds and Bradfield. Service 386 will no longer run

    1. Galloways are only doing Framlingham ipswich service now as the 116 Debenham ipswich services will be done by Ipswich buses the Diss ipswich runs are now with Simons coaches galloway will be keeping the three newest solos the rest will probably be withdrawn the bury to Stowmarket service via a14 that Stevensons are doing will probably stay with Stevensons galloways will run mostly coaches on private hire and tours plus national express

  2. 720's delayed until next year I believe, only a few built and they haven't left the test track.

    The 745's cant come soon enough.

  3. Then just two days later . . . . .
    Great news about the new trains, but I doubt whether the frequent occurrence of cancelled trains on the Yarmouth-Norwich line will entice passengers back. Sad.

    1. That's why I encouraged patience, Mick. It doesn't help that the 156's are dropping like flies, and the 170's already going to Wales. We really could have done with a longer testing period, with the new trains running shadow services, as we did on Southeastern with the Electrostars, so teething troubles could be discovered and rectified before going into normal service

  4. I travelled on a Flirt from Norwich to Ely yesterday. I was impressed by the smooth running and acceleration but disagree about the seats - by Thetford my back was in pain! It reminded me of a Siemens 360 with their straight hard backs. I also travelled on a 153, a turbo 170 and a EMR 158 back from Ely and they all had more comfortable seats.

    1. There will never be a one size fits all seat. Some like the Azuma seats whereas I hate them. I know some who can't wait for the Mk3's to go because of the seats whereas I'd happily trave for days on them. So no, not everyone will like the Flirt seats, but I can only give my own personal opinion, and suggest you try out the Crossrail 345's!!