Overcrowding boost for rail passengers

The region's rail passengers received a major boost today with thousands more seats soon to be provided on trains in a bid to ease overcrowding.Sarah Hall

The region's rail passengers received a major boost today with thousands more seats soon to be provided on trains in a bid to ease overcrowding.

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) trains will be furnished with 11,000 extra seats and 188 additional carriages - providing nearly 20pc more trains than their current capacity.

The new carriages will be introduced in December this year and once all improvements are in place the seats will be provided for the peak periods in and out of London Liverpool Street.

The move is being heralded as a major boost for train passengers from Norwich who have had to endure overcrowded trains along with a series of delays on the services over recent months.

Dr Ian Gibson, Norwich North MP, who has been fighting for improvements on the rail network between Norwich and London, heralded the news as a welcome boost for passengers.

He said: 'This is the best news for train passengers in 20 years. It is so necessary that we have more seats and this is really great news for people who have suffered on the trains for far too long.

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'I am glad transport bosses finally recognised how crowded the trains are and I hope we will also start seeing more reliable trains and better services.'

Julie Mickelburgh, 67, was one passenger at Norwich train who was pleased with the plans. She said: 'Crowding is often a problem, especially at peak times. Holidays are also really busy- it's often difficult to get a seat and they could really do with some extra carriages. National Express' plans are definitely a good idea.'

The construction of the new rail carriages will be taken on by Derby-based train builder train builder, Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd and will cost �155m.

Together with 68 additional modern and refurbished carriages transferred from elsewhere, a total of 188 carriages will be added to East Anglia services - a 17pc increase.

The carriages will be used to provide longer trains on the Great Eastern routes and help provide additional capacity on services between Norwich and London.

Richard Bowker, National Express Group chief executive, said: 'National Express is delighted to work in partnership with the Department for Transport and welcomes the Department's �155 million investment in new trains and improvements to seating capacity on our East Anglia network.

'The introduction of these 188 extra carriages will provide our customers across East Anglia with a significantly improved quality of service and demonstrates our commitment to high standards of customer service.'

Rt. Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Secretary of State for Transport said: 'This is one of the biggest changes to have been negotiated to an existing franchise since rail privatisation with the operator National Express East Anglia playing a key role in developing these plans, which are a mark of our continued commitment to invest in long term projects to improve the railways.'

For further information about National Express trains log onto www.nationalexpress.com

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