West Anglia Great Northern

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West Anglia Great Northern
Wagn 317 346.JPG
Franchise(s): West Anglia Great Northern:
5 January 1997 - 31 March 2004
Great Northern only:
1 April 2004 - 31 March 2006
Main region(s): East of England
Other region(s): Greater London (north and north-east)
Fleet size: 145
Stations called at: 55
National Rail abbreviation: WN
Parent company: National Express

West Anglia Great Northern[1] was a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by National Express that operated the West Anglia Great Northern franchise from January 1997 until March 2006.


The corporate logos used by WAGN

Prism Rail was awarded the West Anglia Great Northern franchise and commenced operations on 5 January 1997.[2][3]

West Anglia Great Northern made an Open Access application to extend services to Doncaster but this was rejected by the Office of Rail Regulation.

In July 2000 Prism Rail was purchased by National Express.[4][5]

In 2002 as part of a franchise reorganisation by the Strategic Rail Authority, it was announced that the franchise would be split with the West Anglia part merged into the Greater Anglia Rail Franchise.[6] In December 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the Greater Anglia franchise to National Express with the West Anglia services transferring to One on 1 April 2004.[7] After being granted a two-year franchise extension, the Great Northern services were retained with the company now referring to itself as WAGN rather than West Anglia Great Northern.[8]


West Anglia Great Northern operated all stops and limited stops West Anglia services out of London Liverpool Street to Chingford, Enfield, Hertford East, Stansted Airport, and Cambridge, and all stops and limited stops Great Northern services out of London King's Cross and London Moorgate to Cambridge, King's Lynn and Peterborough.

Rolling stock[edit]

West Anglia Great Northern inherited a fleet of Class 313, Class 315, Class 317, Class 322 and Class 365s from British Rail.

Some Class 322s were loaned to First North Western from 1997 until 1999 before National Express transferred all five to ScotRail.[9] In 2004 sixteen Class 365s were transferred from South Eastern Trains.[10]

The interior of a refurbished Class 313

The trains to receive an overhaul were twenty-four Class 317/2s, which were made more suitable for long distance use through repainting, the addition of carpet, installation of lower-density seats and an improved first class area. Dedicated bicycle and wheelchair spaces and improved lighting were also provided, with the exterior receiving a new white, grey, blue and red livery.

Suburban trains were also improved with the Class 313s gaining new seats with higher backs, wheelchair provision and minor improvements to fittings such as stanchions in the passenger areas. These emerged from refurbishment at Railcare, Wolverton in a plain white undercoat before a new two tone purple livery was introduced.

A dedicated Class 317/7 fleet was created for the Stansted Express through the refurbishment of 9 Class 317 units during 1999/2000. These featured an improved passenger environment and new metallic blue livery Stansted Express livery.[11]

Refurbished Class 317 317663 in the original WAGN livery at London Liverpool Street

Fleet details[edit]

Class Image Top speed Number Built Notes
mph km/h
Class 313 313064 at London Kings Cross.jpg 75 120 41 1976-1977 Moorgate/London King's Cross - Hertford North, Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City
Class 315 Clapton Station - geograph.org.uk - 138336.jpg 75 120 18 1980-1981 London Liverpool Street - Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town
London Liverpool Street - Hertford East (peak times and Sundays only)
Transferred to One in April 2004
Class 317 317316 at Cambridge.JPG 100 160 72 1981-1982
London King's Cross - Cambridge
London Liverpool Street - Cambridge, Hertford East and Stansted Airport
Stratford - Stansted Airport
60 transferred to One in April 2004
Class 365 365530 arriving at Cambridge.JPG 100 160 40 1994-1995 London King's Cross - Cambridge, King's Lynn and Peterborough
24 originally 16 were added in 2004 from South Eastern Trains


West Anglia Great Northern's fleet was maintained at Hornsey and Ilford depots.


As part of a franchise reorganisation by the Strategic Rail Authority, the Great Northern services were merged into the Thameslink franchise.[12][13] In December 2005 the Department for Transport awarded the Thameslink franchise to FirstGroup with the services operated by West Anglia Great Northern transferring to First Capital Connect on 1 April 2006.[14]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 3007944 West Anglia Great Northern Railway Limited
  2. ^ Tooher, Patrick (7 December 1996). "Prism wins franchise for Great Northern". The Independent (London). 
  3. ^ Railway Organisations Research Paper 99/80 House of Commons Library 20 September 1999
  4. ^ National Express buys Prism for £166m The Telegraph 19 July 2000
  5. ^ National Express buys Prism for £166m The Guardian 19 July 2000
  6. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 426 9 Jan 2002 Page 4
  7. ^ National Express wins rail franchise The Telegraph 22 December 2003
  8. ^ Franchising Program Continues Apace Strategic Rail Authority 13 February 2004
  9. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 427 23 January 2002 Page 58
  10. ^ Class 365 Southern E-Group
  11. ^ Class 317 The Railway Centre
  12. ^ Rail franchising arrangements Strategic Rail Authority Press Release
  13. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 496 15 September 2004 Page 7
  14. ^ Department for Transport Announces Winner of Thameslink/GN Franchise Department for Transport Press Release 13 December 2005
Preceded by
Network SouthEast
As part of British Rail
Operator of West Anglia Great Northern franchise
West Anglia 1997 - 2004
Great Northern 1997 - 2006
Succeeded by
Greater Anglia franchise
from 2004
Succeeded by
First Capital Connect
Thameslink/Great Northern franchise
from 2006