Greater Anglia has been named Train Operator of the Year for the second year running at the Rail Business Awards.
Judges praised the operator for improving punctuality to record levels, transforming services by bringing in brand new trains, delivering station improvements and ticketing initiatives, and focusing on community relations work.
Greater Anglia also won the Accessibility and Integrated Transport Excellence Award for accessibility improvements provided by the low floor and retractable step and other on-board features of its new Stadler-built regional, intercity and Stansted Express trains.
The judges highlighted the increased travel independence brought about by the trains, the consultation work with customers and stakeholders in shaping and finalising their specification and the fact that the trains are a real “game-changer” for accessible travel.
Last year, despite the pandemic, Greater Anglia implemented a range of improvements including completing the roll-out of new, longer bi-mode trains which run on diesel and electricity to replace its old diesel trains and replacing all its old slam-door trains with brand new state-of-the-art trains on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street intercity route.
The company also ran more trains on time, with months of record-breaking punctuality of between 94% and 96% of trains running on time. The annual punctuality figure for Greater Anglia has now, in February 2021, reached a record high of 93.66%.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “To be named train operator of the year for a second year running, especially through the challenges created by the pandemic, is a tremendous accolade and a credit to the hard work and determination of everyone in our team, across the whole of Greater Anglia, to make our service much better for our customers.
“I’m very proud of what we have achieved in terms of continuing the roll out of our high-quality new trains and the step change in performance that has seen our punctuality results improve significantly.
“Our continued customer-focused approach and commitment to continually improving the rail service in East Anglia puts us in the best position to attract passengers back to rail when travel restrictions are eased.”
Judges looked at Greater Anglia’s performance and projects over the period between autumn 2019 and autumn 2020. During that time, the company launched new direct Norwich to Stansted Airport services and introduced hourly Sunday services on a number of regional lines.
Greater Anglia also invested in station improvements, including the installation of clearer information screens which give passengers more details about train services, more seats, upgraded waiting rooms, new waiting shelters and LED lighting, additional cycle parking and improved and extended car parks.
Highlights include a £1 million platform renewal and extension at Sheringham and improvements at Norwich station –named national Large Station of the Year in 2020 – Attleborough, Cambridge North, Cheshunt, Colchester, Harlow Town, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Rye House and Saxmundham, with major upgrades underway for Wickford, Witham, Ipswich and Broxbourne.
In addition, the company installed additional ticket machines and help points at every station, except the 11 quietest and most rural stations.
Greater Anglia introduced Delay Repay 15 for its customers – enabling them to claim back 25% of a single fare in compensation after 15-minute delays – earlier than scheduled in April 2019 and has taken steps to make buying tickets simpler.
Meanwhile, Greater Anglia’s industry-leading roll out of smartcard season tickets, led to 98% of annual season ticket holders and 78% of all season ticket holders switching to the more convenient and resilient smartcards.
The company also continued to work closely with customers and communities through its Community Rail Partnerships, and Station Adoption initiative, undertaking projects to promote rail, improve stations and increase community engagement, and brighten up stations with flowers, gardens and environment initiatives.
The Rail Business Awards recognise improvements and achievements across the UK rail industry on an annual basis, with awards recognising excellence in a range of areas including accessibility, customer service, rolling stock and sustainability, as well as the overall Train Operator of the Year award.
Photo credit: Greater Anglia