“ First Great Eastern was a railway company that operated suburban, local and medium distance train services from London Liverpool Street via Romford to Essex and Ipswich. From April 1, 2004, all First Great Eastern services were transferred to 'one', a new company operating all services from Liverpool Street. Most lines previously served by First Great Eastern are electrified (25 kV AC overhead catenary) with the exception of the Marks Tey to Sudbury line, which is served by diesel units. It lost the franchise in April 2004 to the National Express Group when it was re-let as the expanded 'Greater Anglia' franchise. „
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First Great Eastern became One in 2004 and a new service was created running between Norwich and London Liverpool Street and all intervening stations in between. Having commuted from Ipswich to Liverpool Street for years I have to say that generally they are fairly good. For around £5000 a year you get a season ticket allowing you on any train from Ipswich to London, this includes any stations between Ipswich and London, you can only sit in economy class but this is fine. Generally there are trolly staff offering drinks and food at highly inflated prices. I do have to say that the trains leave generally every 20 minutes to half hour, but from 6am in the morning and after 5pm at night even from Ipswich it can be a struggle getting a seat which means you then have a 60 to 90 minute commute stood up or sat on the carpeted area near the toilets between carriages which isn't ideal or good value for money, the trains are incredibly overcrowded by the time they reach Chelmsford. One good point is that if the trains are delayed by over 30 minutes you can apply for a partial refund, as they are so often delayed or there are issues with track repairs I have often claimed back almost £200 a month due to this and things generally get worse in the summer for some reason. Engineering works are regular at weekends which makes the commute even worse with buses replacing trains and increasing journey time to nearer two hours. Overall I would say the service is about average, I don't find it good and don't think its awful as there are systems in place to compensate me for delays, although the number of evenings i've lost due to train issues is silly!!
I always thought that when you buy a train ticket that you were purchasing a seat on a train. First Great Eastern obviously think differently. First Great Eastern run train services between London, Southend, Ipswich, Harwich and Clacton plus a couple of smaller branch lines. First Great Eastern itself was formed with privatisation in the late 1990’s as part is the First Bus group of companies. This review mainly concentrates on services between Chelmsford and Liverpool Street as this is the route that I have daily experience of. However having used other services on an infrequent basis and discussed their services with friends who use First Great Eastern services from other destinations I think this review does give a fairly accurate pictures of their services as a whole. In general terms the facilities at Chelmsford Station are very good and on the whole clean although the toilets are well overdue for refurbishment. The station is well staffed and keeps passengers well informed of delays/ changes to services etc. My main gripe with services from Chelmsford is that if you travel during peak times ie 06.30 and 08.30 it is almost impossible to get seats on trains. The problem doesn’t appear to be because of the frequency of the trains, they run about every ten minutes, but because they don’t have enough carriages. It would also be helpful if they ran more trains that actually began from Chelmsford rather than arriving at Chelmsford from another destination already full. Travelling on Great Eastern outside of peak times services is better with seats being available on the majority of trains. Their reliability also seems to improve. On the whole their services are fairly reliable and the journey from Chelmsford to London takes about 35 minutes however when things do go wrong it is not unknown for this to treble (no joke if your standing on a squashed commuter train!) The trains themselves are largely fairly new rolling stock probably no more than fifteen years old. There are still a few of the old “slam door” trains left but these are due to be replaced later this year. What lets the trains down is that they never seem to get cleaned so even if you are fortunate enough to get a seat you have to think twice and consider whether you can afford the dry cleaning bill that may arise as a result. The toilets are also far from clean first thing in the morning that suggests they are not cleaned on a daily basis. Fares on trains between Chelmsford and London are as follows: Liverpool Street Weekly £60.00 Liverpool Street Monthly £230.40 Liverpool Street Annual £2,400.00 All Zones Travelcard Weekly £72.00 All Zones Travelcard Monthly £276.50 All Zones Travelcard Annual £2,880.00 Standard Day Return £16.90 Cheap Day Return £9.30 Peak Day Travelcard £20.40 Off-Peak Day Travelcard £12.40 Although it has to be acknowledged that a lot of improvements have been made to the services and infrastructure since privatisation the one problem they have not been able to crack is the chronic overcrowding of trains during peak times. If they could just crack this problem I could truly say that they are running a service to be proud of and that warranted the cost of the fares we have to pay. Sadly until that day comes (I’m not sure it ever will!!) I don’t think First Great Eastern can be described as anything except mediocre.
First Great Eastern have served east anglia well, they provide fast frequent, reliable sevices between london and ipswich. Their trains are fairly modern and usually clean. The service as a whole is probably the best on which i have travelled on. The company has new trains just in and they are fitted with mod cons such as air conditioning and 'plug' doors that dont scare you to death when another train flies past! Overall an outstanding service from many other train operators.
I use First Great Eastern trains most weekends. The reason is that I live in SE London. My mates live around Hornchurch/Ilford, so I normally go drinking in these areas. After a heavy(ish) evening`s boozing session I require a late train home. To commence with, I catch a train from Stratford,the early evening service is frequent and reliable with few delays or cancellations! Returning home, they are less frequent, however, the trains are still reliable and tend to finish late. More recently, we have started going to Brentwood. Again no problem as the last train runs at 2330 approx. My only criticism is that maybe services could operate a little later towards London as Romford has quite a vibrant nightlife. The only alternative being the Night Bus or an expensive taxi ride! Having said that, I would urge residents in these areas to the late trains as thay are quite safe! I have been using them for about ten years now. All in all, a very good service!!