Testing underway GA ‘720’


ON-NETWORK TESTING has begun with the first Class 720 EMU for Greater Anglia.

PRM-compliant EMUs: Rail Operations Group loco No 37800 Cassiopeia approaches Wivenhoe Park crossing towing ex-Northern EMUs Nos 321901/902 on delivery to Greater Anglia as the 5Q98 10.50 Crewe South Yard to Clacton depot working on 31 March 2020.
Antony Guppy

GA has ordered 111 ‘720s’ from Bombardier (89x5-car and 22x10-car), financed by Angel Trains. They will operate on all GA’s suburban services in both East and West Anglia.

The first test took place in the early hours of Tuesday 17 March on the Southend Victoria line. Since then daytime testing included trips to Norwich, King’s Lynn and London Liverpool Street before the end of March.

GA is targeting entry into service for this autumn, although this may be affected by the coronavirus situation. The full fleet is due to be in place by 2022, replacing EMUs of Classes 317, 321, 360 and 379.

As a short-term measure, GA is receiving additional Class 321 and 322 units to bolster its suburban fleet as part of its plan to improve compliance with Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) regulations and cover for the departure of Class 360s to East Midlands Railway to operate the St Pancras to Corby electric service. On 31 March Nos 321901/902 were delivered to Clacton, having previously operated with Northern, and a further ‘321’ and five ‘322s’ are due to follow, although GA told Modern Railways it did not have a date for when these units will arrive.

All eight EMUs are PRM compliant; GA currently has a mixed level of compliance within its EMU fleet, with 30 Class 321s which underwent Eversholt Rail’s ‘Renatus’ overhaul compliant with PRM but the remainder of its ‘321s’ not compliant.

A sub-fleet of GA’s Class 317s is also undergoing PRM compliance work, and a dispensation for their continued non-compliant operation was due to run out on 15 April.