Contractor Taylor Woodrow has started work at Greater Anglia’s (GA) Crown Point depot in preparation for longer trains.
A fleet of 58 Flirt trains are currently on order from Stadler and will be maintained and housed at the depot in Norwich from 2019.
The £40 million project will see improvements made to the depot’s facilities and a new washing facility installed.
A GA spokesperson said that these trains have lowered floors to make them more accessible to passengers, meaning most of their components are on the roof.
As a result, special high walkways will be installed to give engineers access for maintenance and repairs.
Additionally, new jacks will be installed to enable engineers to lift a complete train without having to split carriages for bogie and underframe equipment removal. New equipment transfer turntables and support offices will also be added.
The depot will also gain upgraded toilet maintenance facilities, as all of the new trains will have large tanks to collect waste rather than emptying it onto the tracks.
Working with GA, Stadler will be responsible for maintaining the new regional bi-mode, Airport Express and InterCity trains at the depot, which opened in 1982.
Around 70 GA staff will transfer to Stadler, 12 of whom will be seconded as systems technicians and will each spend six months with Stadler in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland and/ or Spain to learn how to look after the new trains’ systems.
GA franchise and programme director Mike Kean said: “The coming months will be an exciting and busy period as we implement the major project to prepare the depot for the new trains.
“At the same time, the team continue to work hard maintaining and repairing our existing trains to ensure that customers still receive a reliable and punctual service while Stadler are building our brand-new train fleet.”
To provide additional space while the work is being carried out, GA has leased an additional depot from Balfour Beatty at Colchester.
Options for other additional maintenance facilities – originally planned to be at Brantham – are still being considered.