Regional train services in East Anglia have continued their record-beating run of performance during the autumn months that would usually present the biggest challenges for rail operators.
Autumnal weather conditions and falling leaves traditionally pose problems for the railway as they stick to damp rails and passing trains compress them into a thin, slippery black layer on the rail which – much like black ice on the roads – can affect braking distance and reduce traction and acceleration, leading to delays and cancellations.
However, during autumn 2020, Greater Anglia maintained its run of good performance with an overall punctuality score 94.4% for the four weeks ending 12 December 2020, following on from good results the previous month, when the operator achieved its second highest punctuality figure ever for that period – with punctuality of 91.96% for the four weeks ending 15 November.
Greater Anglia’s new regional bi-mode trains have been credited with handling the challenges of the ‘leaf fall’ season better than the operator’s old fleet.
They use automatic sanders which can deposit a layer of sand on the rails and helps train wheels to grip. They also feature improved Wheel Slide Protection, which is like ABS in cars and helps the trains’ wheels to brake more evenly, preventing wheel damage and wear that could lead to trains being taken out of service for repair.
For the four weeks ending 12 December, the Marks Tey – Sudbury line recorded the best punctuality at 98.6%, followed by the Norwich – Sheringham line 97.7%.
Other top performing routes included the Norwich – Lowestoft and Norwich – Great Yarmouth lines, both at 97.4%, and the Ipswich – Lowestoft line at 94.4%
91.85% of Greater Anglia’s Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester – London Intercity services ran on time.
Greater Anglia’s West Anglia services also continued to improve with punctuality of 95.23%, and 93.48% of Stansted Express services running on time.
Managing Director, Jamie Burles, said: “I’m really pleased that, during what has traditionally been one of the most difficult periods of the year for performance, we have continued to run punctual, reliable services for those who need to travel.
“These continued good results demonstrate that our new bi-mode trains are helping to deliver real improvements in punctuality and reliability, coping much better with the challenges of autumn than our old trains, and are helping to transform journeys for people in the region.”
Greater Anglia continues to ensure that rail travel is safe for staff and passengers with an enhanced cleaning regime, on stations and trains, concentrating on high-touch areas such as push buttons, grab rails and door handles.
The train operator has also introduced a wide range of measures to make it easier for customers to maintain social distancing at stations and on trains – including floor markings, one-way systems, new signs and queuing systems.
It is now mandatory for customers to wear a face covering when using public transport, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Children under the age of 11 and people with a disability or illness which means they cannot wear a face covering are exempt from wearing them.
Photo credit: Greater Anglia