The Anonymous Widower

Can Greater Anglia Run Four-Car Class 755 Trains On Most Services?

Greater Anglia will eventually have the following fleet of Class 755 trains.

  • 14 x three-car
  • 24 x four-car

Note that only four-car trains are in service.

How Many Trains Are Needed For Each Route?

A rough calculation gives theses trains for various routes.

  • Colchester and Peterborough – four trains
  • Ipswich and Cambridge – four stains
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe – one train
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft – three trains
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth/Lowestoft – two trains
  • Norwich and Sheringham – two trains
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – four trains
  • Sudbury and Colchester Town – two trains

This makes a total of only twenty-two trains. And Greater Anglia have a fleet of twenty-four!

I have seen it written that the Sudbury and Colchester Town service will be run using three-car trains.

Trains North Of Ipswich And Cambridge

Sp it looks like all trains North of Ipswich and Cambridge can be four-car trains, as there are enough trains.

It also gives  operational advantages for services to Norwich.

  • I took a train from Cambridge to Norwich and noticed, that after unloading passengers at Norwich, it picked up a load more for Cromer and Sheringham and reversed out of the station.
  • Norwich services to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft weave a pattern between the City and the coast all day.
  • A spare can be based at Norwich Thorpe Depot, in case a train fails.
  • I assume that one Class 755 train can act as a Thunderbird or rescue locomotive for a stalled train.

Ipswich station could see a major sort-out.

  • Only three services to and from Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft, will terminate and go North at the station.
  • Will eventually all these services turnback in the bay platform 1?
  • Through services going South from Norwich and Lowestoft would use Platfoirm 2
  • The new Peterborough and Colchester service will use Platform 2, when going South.
  • All Northbound through services would use Platform 3.
  • Terminating services from London will use Platform 4.

It looks like Greater Anglia’s proposed timetable simplifies operation at Ipswich and means no new building there.

I suggested that the three services from Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft all terminate in Platform 1.

  • Platform 1 can handle a four-car Class 755 train.
  • Three trains per hour (tph) could easily be accommodated in one platform.
  • There is space around the platform to improve the passenger experience.

There may be the possibility to use the trains more efficiently.

  • Ipswich and Lowestoft currently takes 91 minutes
  • Ipswich and Cambridge currently takes 81 minutes

The Class 755 trains will shave a few minutes off these times, but they will still result in a long wait at terminals.

Combining the two services with a reverse at Ipswich might be advantageous.

  • Greater Anglia could need less trains for the service.
  • Passengers would have extra route choices.

There are some interesting possibilities.

Where Will The Three-Car Trains Be Used?

I believe and I have tried to show the possibilities, that Greater Anglia will use four-car trains efficiently on all their core routes, with the exception of Sudbury and Colchester Town, where three-car trains will be used.

So where will the other three-car trains be used?

New Services

Greater Anglia, Network Rail and politicians have talked about the following new services.

  • A direct service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth via Reedham.
  • Reinstatement of the March and Wisbech service.
  • Partial reopening of the Aldeburgh Branch if Sizewell C is built.

In recent years Greater Anglia, Network Rail and others have used the Mid Norfolk Railway, which is a heritage railway for various purposes.

  • Storing rail maintenance equipment.
  • Moving light tanks for the Army by train.
  • Training emergency services.
  • Rail enthusiasts tours, including one in an HST,
  • Storing trains for Greater Anglia. This was a £3.25million. deal.

I feel that because of the train storage deal, Greater Anglia will explore the possibility of a local Norwich service to Dereham, which is a town of just under 19,000 people with no National Rail connection..

  • It could be a joint venture between Greater Anglia and the Mid Norfolk Railway.
  • Norwich and Dereham would take under thirty minutes.
  • Services could use the Mid-Norkfolk Railway’s stations at Wymondham Abbey, Kimberley Park, Thuxton, Yaxham and Dereham as appropriate.
  • Felixstowe, a similar sized town to Dereham attracts 200,000 passengers per year.

The service could be a nice little earner for both companies.

Capacity Increases

With new trains on all Greater Anglia’s services, I suspect that Greater Anglia believe they will see a substantial increase in passengers.

  • There will be a large increase in train capacity.
  • Services should be faster.
  • Services will be more frequent.

But some services will need more capacity.

So will we see pairs of three-car trains working on some services, where a four-car train is not big enough?

Sub-Leasing To Other Companies

It does seem that either Greater Anglia is going to have a large expansion of services or they have acquired too many trains.

Unless of course, they hope to make some of the Class 755 trains available to other companies.



In answer to the title of this post, the answer is yes!

But Greater Anglia must have expansion plans using their three-car Class 755 trains.


November 27, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , ,


  1. why would DofT sanctioned so many trains unless they had a use? EMR could use them on the Lincolnshire services perhaps

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 27, 2019 | Reply

    • I agree! In addition, no sensible train company would buy more trains than it has a use for.
      Perhaps, Stadler and Rock Rail see a large need for these trains in the UK, so having a few that other companies could try before they buy, might be a good ploy to get more sales.
      The Class 755 design also appears to have a modular power unit for diesel, electric, battery and hydrogen.
      It should also be remembered that these trains can run at speeds of up to 125 mph in some other variants and I suspect they can be fitted out for third rail too!
      Are they the ultimate multimodal train?

      Comment by AnonW | November 27, 2019 | Reply

  2. There will, as far as I know, be no Sudbury to Colchester Town Service until the footpath across the tracks from the island platform at Marks Tey to the car park is removed or replaced by a bridge.

    Otherwise agree. I do suspect that they are finding that services they initially pencilled in for three car stadlers are better served by four car Stadlers. This is fine for the Sudbury-Marks Tey line as no more bus replacement services while trains have broken down.

    Comment by Tim Regester | November 27, 2019 | Reply

    • It was stated in Modern Railways (?) that three car trains would work the branch!
      Marks Tey probably needs a sort out although if the service went to Colchester would passengers change there for London to get there faster? And Colchester is step free!
      I wonder if it would allow Greater Anglia to drop the London Colchester Town service.

      From London, if the train from Marks Tey pulled in after the London train, it could be an easy trip to Colchester Town

      But they would have to do something with the car park crossing at Marks Tey!

      Comment by AnonW | November 27, 2019 | Reply

  3. Any likelihood that the three car trains will split and join somewhere?

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | November 27, 2019 | Reply

    • I would suspect they can do it. But I don’t know where.
      Unless, perhaps the fourtrains per day London service was paired with a Bury St. Edmund’s service. But as Ipswich and Bury St. Edmund’s will be two trains per hour, this could be synchronised with London trains.

      Comment by AnonW | November 27, 2019 | Reply

    • Thinking about, train frequencies Norfolk and Suffolk is a bit unbalanced.
      Consider the following services in trains per hour (tph) after Greater Anglia’s proposed changes in their franchise.
      Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds- 1 tph

      Cambridge and Ipswich – 1 tph

      Cambridge and Norwich – 1 tph

      Cambridge and Peterborough – 1 tph

      Cambridge and Stansted Airport – 2 tph

      Ipswich and Bury St. Edmund’s – 2 tph
      Ipswich and Colchester – 4 tph
      Ipswich and Lowestoft – 1 tph
      Ipswich and Norwich – 3 tph

      Ipswich and Peterborough – 1 tph

      Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth – 0 tph

      Norwich and Great Yarmouth – 2 tph

      Norwich and Lowestoft – 1 tph

      Norwich and Peterborough – 1 tph


      Most services are a measly 1 tph

      Norwich and Ipswich get 3 tph, whereas Norwich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Cambridge get just 1 tph.

      East West Rail will add an extra 1 tp2h on the Norwich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Cambridge routes, but improvements are needed now.

      I would recommend.

      Two tph from Cambridge to Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough.

      A direct Norwich service to Kings Cross, via Ely and Cambridge.

      Building Cambridge South station tomorrow!

      Terminate the Ipswich and Cambridge service at Cambridge South.

      All passing services would stop at Cambridge South.

      Add a second Ipswich and Cambridge service that terminated at Stansted Airport.

      Improve the frequency on as many of the other routes as possible.

      Comment by AnonW | November 27, 2019 | Reply

  4. Having Sudbury services run though to Colchester would allow off-peak fares to/from London to be reduced.

    GA only seem to sell Advanced tickets on the fast trains, not the trains that stop at Marks Tey (for the change to Sudbury), so the obvious connection results in fares which can be almost double the cheapest possible currently (by going to Colchester and coming back). And this fare optimisation is not something the split ticketing websites pick up (these websites don’t look for cases where a “beyond and back” would be cheaper and not too much longer). There are a number of other stations on the LST-NRW line that are also impacted by this issue.

    Also, if there was to be a scheduled service to Dereham jointly with the Mid Norfolk heritage railway, then why not some sort of connecting weekday service from Sheringham to Holt on the North Norfolk, using a otherwise redundant 1-2 car DMU, or as an ongoing demonstrator for a Vivarail D-stock train (battery, diesel, or hybrid, similar to the proposed use of Vivarail trains on the Isle of Wight), or maybe a Parry People mover (if the uphill run to Holt is not too far for that equipment). Yes, current Holt station is a long walk out of town, but that end of Holt is gaining a lot of new houses (and I expect more will be built) and it would be a useful service for Gresham’s School (which is nearby), as well as High Kelling. Weekend service would need to be heritage stock at heritage prices rather than trying to mix traffic.

    Comment by MilesT | November 27, 2019 | Reply

    • There are plans existing in Norfolk County Council to see if a Norfolk Orbital Railway can be created, that would link Heringham and Wymondham via the two heritage railways. I have a feeling that the Mid-Norfolk Railway might play ball, but that the North Norfolk Railway isn’t. But surely, through running would be a wonderful commercial asset for a county, where tourism is a major industry. I also think that in the current climate most Governments would find it favourable. The problems of the Norfolk Orbital Railway appear to be not engineering, politics or even money, but various local relationships.
      I hope they sort things out as it could be a good scheme. Norfolk and other counties needs more visitors,who leave their cars in a car park nearer home.

      As to the lower cost Advanced tickets, it may be they need a train that can accept seat reservations. So when the new fleet is in place, you may even be able to reserve seats for the whole of a London Sudbury journey. I’ll put up a separate post to see if someone else has any details.

      Comment by AnonW | November 27, 2019 | Reply

      • The North Norfolk wouldn’t be able to do same train through running–the crossing at Sheringham isn’t suitable for regular use and no practical prospects to make it so. But could do a guaranteed connecting service with relatively little outlay as I suggested (and would also create a new rescue train for the line) If the service succeeds then more modern trains could be obtained to replace the old trains used for a pilot, or even restore some Pacers to use in daily service to remind people what travel used to be like .

        Orbital railway also has an issue at Holt because the original track route (into town and beyond) has been lost (built over in several places) and there is no alternative “protected” on the remaining currently empty land, so a completely new route would be needed, and a “heavy rail” replacement feels too expensive for the likely traffic, and a light rail replacement would not allow through running/same seat travel. But at least could get to Holt (and maybe pair it up with an electric shuttle bus into the centre of town).

        Comment by MilesT | November 28, 2019

      • The lack of advanced tickets on the stopping service has been a problem for a long time; I think the (current) stopping trains could do the paper based reservation process (at a cost, although they could just not bother to put out the paper flags on the seats), so why not the new trains as well. Or GA could sell an as a “super off peak” a similarly priced through ticket to Sudbury (and other intermediate stations affected by this pricing issue) on selected trains, without needing a reservation. (Super Off peaks are being sold on other lines, e.g. London-Leeds LNER and also Thameslink on stations through to Bedford at the weekend)

        On the plus side, I have noticed that getting an advanced ticket from London to Sheringham (via Norwich) usually doesn’t cost anymore than the advanced London to Norwich, and I think this is true on some of the other branches off the London-Norwich main line.

        Comment by MilesT | November 29, 2019

      • I think with the extra capacity on the branches, we’ll see GA trying to fill it with clever pricing.

        Comment by AnonW | November 29, 2019

      • There has been plenty of offpeak capacity on the Sudbury line for years (and the off peak trains), I think GA will continue to exploit the hassle of having to change trains and take extra time to maximise their revenue for the current traffic, unless locals campaign against it.

        Comment by MilesT | December 2, 2019

      • Why would they do that? Train companies know that passengers who change trains are a major source of trains being delayed or passengers getting upset.

        Look at the merging of the Norwich-Cambridge and Cambridge-Stansted services. It’s better for GA and better for passengers.

        Sudbury and Colchester Town is similar.

        Comment by AnonW | December 2, 2019

  5. New Class 755 cannot come soon enough.

    So glad I don’t commute anymore.
    Delayed once a week on average, bus replacements way too often and the trains are noisy and bad for the environment.

    The Sudbury train really only needs to run to Platform 6 at Colchester North and shuttle from there.
    But not to fix accessibility issues, that needs a new combined lift and bridge at Marks Tey and it is well overdue. Since you can see the strengthening bars through the concrete on existing bridge would be surprised if it lasted much longer..


    Comment by Tim Regester | November 27, 2019 | Reply

    • I read somewhere (maybe even here) that introducing the 755’s to Sudbury will be delayed a bit, mainly due to a weak bridge (strong enough for current trains, but not for heavier 755’s) , but maybe also due to platform works

      Longer term, I think the Colchester/Sudbury route would be an interesting candidate for a Tram-Train, running in Tram mode through parts of Sudbury and then rejoining the disused track bed up through Rodbridge and lower end of Long Melford (with some additional halts), and then either onwards towards Bury St Edmunds, or looping round the northern industrial estates of Sudbury, or both, using a mixture of road running and disused/new track bed, and careful attention to at grade crossings. Would require the former rail bridge at Rodbridge to be replaced, and cannot easily access the former station area in Long Melford (which is now a private house). Maybe a branch out towards Glemsford/Clare/Cavendish to join up with a restored service between Cambridge/Haverhill.

      What would justify extension to Long Melford is the new housing already developed at the Sudbury end and also being planned (I know the current plans are very controversial locally “Save the Skylark Fields”).

      Comment by MilesT | December 5, 2019 | Reply

      • I don’t know about the weak bridge,but one of the rail magazines said it would be last and will be running three-car trains.
        For some time, I’ve thought that a Sudbury and Cambridge service via Haverhill could be possible, at some time in the future.
        As you say tram-trains are a possibility. Especially as the East-West Rail guys are proposing tram-trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe to improve capacity for freight trains.

        Comment by AnonW | December 5, 2019

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