Greater Anglia trains disruption 'appalling' says passenger group

Train in Cambridge Image copyright Greater Anglia
Image caption Eighteen new trains have now been rolled out across by Greater Anglia but glitches have added to a spate of recent problems for passengers

A rail operator has been criticised for its "appalling" service by a passengers' group following a series of cancellations.

Greater Anglia is rolling out a £1.4bn fleet, but passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire have been affected by disruption.

It said it had experienced a "much higher" number of faults than usual.

The East Suffolk Travellers' Association (ESTA) said the problems were "completely unacceptable".

Over the last five days, branch lines have faced cancellations and delays as Greater Anglia rolls out an entire new fleet to replace old trains.

Passengers on the Ipswich-Peterborough line have experienced axed services, with replacement buses, for three days in a row.

Image caption Peter Coghill said ageing trains were adding to travel problems during the changeover to a new fleet

Peter Coghill, from the ESTA, said: "Greater Anglia have an incredibly ambitious programme and that has meant a changeover period.

"In the meantime we are left with this rather appalling level of service."

Chris Bayfield, from Wickham Market in Suffolk, said his daughter had been late for work after her train was cancelled five times in seven days on the Ipswich-Lowestoft line.

"We are very limited for public transport in this area - it's a lifeline really and if it's not operating properly it is causing a lot of inconvenience," he said.

Image copyright Greater Anglia
Image caption Greater Anglia's new trains, made by Swiss manufacturer Stadler, started being rolled out in September

Greater Anglia started replacing its 169 trains in September and plans to have them all running by the end of 2020.

It said it had rolled out 18 new trains, with 17 old ones taken out of service and would have a "wider pool of back-ups" as it introduced more new trains.

A spokeswoman said: "We are very sorry about the cancellations.

"This is partly due to faults on a small number of our old and new trains. Some of our services have also been delayed by signalling problems.

"Replacing all of our old trains with brand new modern trains is a very complex project, which has required extensive testing across every route."

She added a "few glitches" had led to delays and cancellations, but it was working with Swiss manufacturer Stadler to get them fixed.

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