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Anyone using the Liverpool Street - Colchester service will have reason to dread Anglia Railways. Colchester is served by First Great Eastern; peak Anglia trains don't stop at Colchester going out of London and are hopelessly crowded going in. The problem is that Anglia Railways run antique locomotives that are very unreliable and keep breaking down. Their trains then have to be rescued by the spare engine that they keep halfway along their London-Norwich route, at Colchester. (Freight companies using the same locomotive have the sense to use them in pairs so that they are less likely to get stuck.) Also local FGE services are always held if an Anglia is running late. After being hours late as a consequence of their choas, I have begged Anglia to take their stock somewhere else, perhaps route it through Cambridge or something. All they do is promise not to let it happen again. Ha!! I am particularly animated by this at the moment because the Anglia region's rail franchise has been shortlisted by the SRA to 3 companies. FGE who provide the reliable and frequent service has been excluded from the list. Anglia who provide the unreliable and irregular service are on the list
I have been using anglia railways all my life except that is when I go further into the country. Anglia railways is a regional train company operating surprisingly in east anglia!! The trains are generally tidy and the staff friendly. I was travelling from Cambridge to Ipswich at about 9:38pm on Saturday. I was one of the first on the train so I had a wide choice of places to sit but due to having a big bag with me I choose to sit in a side seat. Just before the train left Cambridge this guy got on and asked if the train went to Newmarket, which it did. He ended up sitting next to me, I don't know why coz there were plenty of seats. Anyway he was obviously drunk and processed to talk to me about his life, his daughter and rugby. During the conversation he changed his age a few times. The guy was getting a bit close to be and invading my personal space but I could see other passengers keeping an eye on him. Although I was warey of him I felt safe. Luckierly he soon got off. Some of the other passengers and I started talking about him and having a laugh. The ticket guy came to me and said 'I would have moved him but as he was only going 2 stops (which were close together and not far from cambridge) i thought i would cause less hassle to leave him. If he had been on for longer I would have moved him' and that is kinda my point. The ticket man was looking out for the passengers. Then for almost the whole of my journey I was either talking to him and this woman or this other guy. The staff on Anglia railways tend to be friendly unless u catch the odd misrable git or them on a bad day. The trains themselves tend to run on time with only minor delays unlike some companies. (central hope u can take a hint!!) The only delay recently have been due to all the work on the line to improve them. Anglia railways is based in norwich, but the trains run from stations all over east anglia. You can usually get to the places u want to go. Unfortunately you sometimes have to change trains to get everywhere, but apart from that you will find where u wanna go easierly. Overall Anglia railways seem to be the best company I have travelled on so far, lets hope they keep it up.
A decent train company? Surely not? Well, I'll stick up for Anglia Railways for a number of reasons. First of all, they mostly seem to run on time. My usual journeys are Norwich-London on a Friday night (usually on time), and London-Norwich on a Monday morning (late about 1/4 of the time, usually due to incoming trains being late). On the bright side, even when they are delayed, they are pretty quick with the compensation and an apology/explanation. Secondly, I've never had any problems with rude or unhelpful staff. The conductors always have their ticket machine, and rarely give you hassle if you didn't buy a ticket at the station, although they are supposed to be cracking down. I think the leniency, at least on trains from Norwich is due to the intermittent uselessness of the ticket office there. Occasioanlly, it's just ridiculously busy, and things move at a snail's pace. Also, there is just one queue, whereas other stations often have separate lines for immediate travel (i.e. people in a hurry) versus advance bookings, railcards, etc. This would make a big difference, I think - there are often very agitated people whose train is leaving soon, they know the ticket they want, and have the right money, but they're stuck behind someone considerably less organised. The trains themselves are generally clean, not spotless, but not disgusting like some of the ones I've been on (Central Trains I mean you!). Also, I've never had to stand, but I don't travel at peak times, and certainly not on the rush-hour trains coming in on the rural lines. The London trains vary between old Inter-City type stock and newer, but smaller, units, all with buffets and plenty of table seats. Local trains are older and reflect their main commuter purpose (lots of seats, few tables). I understand many people commute in on the train from outlying villages, so their experience may be very different from mine - I am usually a leisure traveller, going away for the weekend, or to the coast for the day. I do know that local services from the east and north are well-used, though, anda new commuter service will be starting in late September, running to/from Cambridge via Ely, giving those to the west of Norwich a more reliable service (currently the Central Trains service from Liverpool is their only option, and it suffers frequent delays further up the line). Prices are pretty reasonable. London Day Out tickets are under £20, evening out tickets are even cheaper, and you can get Anglia Day Rover (unlimited travel in the Anglia area) tickets for under £10. There are often special offers on the main line, such as Ipswich-Norwich return for a fiver. A return from Norwich to the coast is under £5, less if you have a railcard, so ideal for a family day out. You can also get combined bus/train tickets to explore the North Norfolk Coast, which is a nice bit of joined-up thinking. Indeed, there are a number of rural services (well, this is East Anglia!), and plenty of chance for a day out at the coast, at Cromer/Sheringham, Yarmouth or Lowestoft. The first of these is branded the "Bittern Line", and the other two are the "Wherry Lines", reflecting local associations. Leaflets about these services give information about the villages they serve, local attractions and even short walks to do. The services don't run very late, though (not past 11pm), which is probably more of a problem for people in, say, Sheringham who want a night out in Norwich. These rural services can take bikes, but only a limited number, so it's best to book if you can (you then pay your £1 on the train), especially on summer weekends. The mainline services to London can take bikes if it's an old Intercity type train (they go in the guard's van) but the flashy new, smaller trains don't have room. However, a friend tells me he's never had a problem just stand ing by the doors with his bike - this would depend on the time of travel, though, as they can get crowded. Anglia offer a bike recovery service to anyone with a valid train ticket, so if you have an accident or mechanical failure, you know you can get home again. The only downside I've found in the past is that it's ridiculously difficult to get through on their phone booking line - however, I've been told that it's now much improved (see comments). Happily, I am now able to buy the tickets I use the most from the travel shop on my university campus, so don't need to rely on phone booking. Maybe it's because they have a fairly self-contained area, and it was in decent shape before privatisation, but Anglia seem to be doing pretty well at providing a good service. The appearance of the stations and trains, and the attitude of the staff, makes it seem like they actually care about their customers (shock! horror!). Plenty of other train companies could take a few tips.