The Anonymous Widower

Comparing Greater Anglia’s Old And New Electric Multiple Units

Currently, Greater Anglia has the following electric multiple units, which will be replaces by new Class 720 trains.

Class 317 Train

  • 68 x 4 car trains
  • Length 79.32 metres.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 0.55 metre per second²
  • No regenerative braking
  • Capacity – 260/290 seats.
  • First Class section

Note the acceleration seems to be standard for all BR EMUs

Class 321 Train

  • 104 x 4 car trains
  • Length 79.8 metres.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 0.55 metre per second²
  • Regenerative braking can be fitted.
  • Capacity – 309 seats.
  • First Class section

Thirty trains are being upgraded to the Class 321 Renatus

Class 360 Train

  • 21 x 4 car trains
  • Length 81.36 metres.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 0.98 metre per second²
  • Regenerative braking.
  • Capacity – 280 seats.
  • First Class section

These are the specifications of the two lengths of new Class 720 trains.

Class 720 Train – Five Car

89 x 5-car trains

Length 122 metres

Capacity – 544 seats and 145 standing.

Class 720 Train – Ten Car

22 x 10-car trains

Length 243 metres

Capacity – 1145 seats and 290 standing.

All trains will have the following.

  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Acceleration of 1 metre per second²
  • Regenerative Braking (Using batteries?)
  • No First Class section.

Also, these trains are modern trains will all the features passengers, staff and train operators need and desire.

How Do Old And New Trains Compare?

Ten-Car Class 720 Trains

Note that these trains are just over 240 metres long, which is conveniently the length of three Class 321 or Class 360 trains.

When the order for the Class 720 trains was announced, this was said to have been a design criteria.

So will the twenty-one Class 360 trains, which regularly run as twelve-car trains be replaced by seven Class 720 trains?

  • There will be 1145 seats in the new trains, as opposed to 840 in the old.
  • There will be a Universal Access Toilet and three other toilets in the new trains, as opposed to a Universal Access Toilet in each train.
  • The new trains won’t have any First Class.
  • The new trains will be walk-through, with no intermediate cabs.
  • Operating speed and acceleration appears to be almost the same.
  • The new trains will have a lot more of the things passengers need.

It appears, that everybody could be a winner.

  • Passengers have 36 % more seats and better facilities.
  • On-board staff can handle the whole train without needing to get off to reach the other trains.
  • Network Rail won’t need to do much work to prepare for the new trains, as they fit the current platforms.
  • Maintenance of one train instead of three must be easier and less costly.

Most of these arguments also apply to replacing a three-train formation of Class 321 trains, which would give a capacity increase of 24 % more seats.

But there is one big difference.

The acceleration of Class 720 trains is nearly twice that of a Class 321 train, so there could be time savings on routes like Southend and ones with a higher number of stopss.

Destinations which the new ten-car trains from Liverpool Street station could serve include, with current frequencies in train per hour (tph)

  • Bishop’s Stortford
  • Cambridge – One tph
  • Cambridge North – One tph
  • Clacton – One tph
  • Colchester
  • Ipswich – One tph
  • Norwich
  • Southend – Three tph

With the current services and the timetable improvements, the new trains would bring could mean the following trains would be needed for

  • Cambridge – 2 trains for 1 tph
  • Cambridge North – 3 trains for 1 tph
  • Clacton – 3 trains for 1 tph
  • Ipswich – 2 trains for 1 tph
  • Southend – 8 trains for 4 tph

This is a total of eighteen trains, which would mean ideas like extending some of the Ipswich services to Norwich are possible.

One of the beauties of modern train design, is that lengthening and shortening trains is a relatively easy process, that was invented by Lego and refined by Microsoft with Plug-and-Play!

Five-Car Class 720 Trains Replacing The Current Eight-Car Services

Some destinations like Braintree, Colchester Town, Harwich, Kings Lynn and Walton-on-the-Naze can’t accommodate the current twelve car trains, so they can’t be served by new ten-car Class 720 trains.

So how does a five-car Class 720 train compare with two Class 321 or 360 trains working as an eight-car train.

  • There will be 544 seats and 146 standees in a five-car Class 720 train.
  • There will be 560 seats in an eight-car formation of Class 360 trains.
  • There will be 618 seats in an eight-car formation of Class 321 trains.
  • There will be about 440 seats in an eight-car formation of Class 317 trains
  • The new trains are 122 metres long, whereas the current eight-car trains are 160 metres long.
  • All trains have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The Class 720 and 360 trains have an acceleration of around 1 metre per second², whereas the acceleration of a Class 321 train is only 0.55 metre per second².

Given that the Class 720 is a modern train, designed with passengers, staff and operators in mind, I can’t see any problems with replacing the current eight-car trains with a five-car Class 720 train.

I also suspect that if required, an extra car could be added to make six-car trains with a length of 146 metres, that would be shorter than an eight-car Class 321 train.

Five-Car Class 720 Trains Replacing The Current Four-Car Services

There is only one electric service on Greater Anglia, that needs to be run using a four-car train and that is the service between Wickford to Southminster stations on the Crouch Valley Line.

Under Infrastructure in the |Wikipedia entry for the Crouch Valley Line, this is said.

Only Wickford and South Woodham Ferrers have platforms long enough to accommodate 12-coach trains, while each of the other stations on the line can accommodate eight coaches, though services on the line are typically only formed of four carriages due to the short terminus platforms at Wickford being able to only accommodate one four car unit.

So it would appear that the platform at Wickford station needs to be lengthened!

Or does it?

I’ve read that Greater Anglia plan to run four tph between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations, so trains will pass through Wickford station in both directions every fifteen minutes.

Helpfully, both services seem curently to be in the station at the same time.

So if this happens after the fourth train is added to the schedule, there will be a fifteen minute window, where there is no train movements at Wickford station.

So instead of using the current platform, a five-car Class 720 train could stop in one of the main platforms to discharge and pick-up passengers.

Hopefully, the better acceleration of the Class 720 trains could be able to run along the branch in well under thirty minutes to allow a genuine two tph service, as opposed to the current difficult timetable of a train every forty minutes.

Greater Anglia does run other four-car trains at times, but surely running a five-car train wouldn’t really matter and it may attract more passengers.

Conclusion

Greater Anglia seem to have made a good choice of train size.

August 28, 2018 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Not sure there are 86 317 EMU’s operated by GA.Wikipedia says 58 ? Not enough Aventra units to cover for 86 317 units.

    Comment by Richard Evans | August 28, 2018 | Reply

    • I think there was a touch of dyslectic typing there. Thanks for spotting.

      I suspect quite a few pairs of 317s and 321s will be replaced with a single 5-car 720! The capacity is similar!

      Comment by AnonW | August 28, 2018 | Reply

  2. […] In Comparing Greater Anglia’s Old And New Electric Multiple Units, I said this. […]

    Pingback by Braintree Freeport Station « The Anonymous Widower | August 28, 2018 | Reply


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