British Rail Class 720

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British Rail Class 720 Aventra
GA Class 720 on test at Wolverton, September 2020
Greater Anglia 720545 on test at Wolverton in September 2020
GA Class 720 Interior.jpg
Interior of a Greater Anglia unit
In serviceGreater Anglia: 26 November 2020
c2c: 2021 (planned)
ManufacturerBombardier Transportation
Built atDerby Litchurch Lane Works
Family nameAventra
Constructed2018 – present
Number under constructionGreater Anglia: 133 units
c2c: 6 units
FormationGreater Anglia:
133 x 5 cars
6 x 10 cars
Capacity5-car: 540 seats, 145 standing
10-car: 1,100 seats, 290 standing[1][2]
Greater Anglia
Train length5 cars - 122 m (400 ft 3 in)
10 cars - 243 m (797 ft 3 in)
Maximum speed100 mph (161 km/h)
Electric system(s)25 kV AC (OHLE)
Current collection methodPantograph
Coupling systemDellner
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The British Rail Class 720 Aventra is a class of electric multiple units (EMUs) designed and produced by the rolling stock manufacturer Bombardier. Orders for the type have been placed by both Greater Anglia and c2c.

As of October 2017, a total of 133 Class 720 units have been ordered in both five car and ten car configurations; these are to be operated across multiple suburban lines leading out of both London Liverpool Street (Greater Anglia and c2c) and London Fenchurch Street (c2c).[4] Originally intended to be introduced during 2019, delays were encountered during development that minorly impacted this timetable. On 26 November 2020, Greater Anglia commenced the Class 720's introduction, its initial operations were centered on the London Liverpool Street to Southend Line;[4] all units are intended to be in service by the summer of 2020.[5] c2c's fleet has been anticipated to enter service sometime during 2021.[6]

Cab interior of a class 720


The Class 720 is a member of the rolling stock manufacturer Bombardier's Aventra family of multiple units, having been developed from the company's successful line of Electrostar electric multiple units (EMUs).[5] In comparison to the preceding Electrostar, with which it shares numerous elements, the Class 720 is a considerably lighter vehicle, and features longer carriages: a 10-car Class 720 train is approximately the same length as a 12-car Class 360 train, the 10-car Class 720 has a tare weight of 386 tonnes in contrast to the 516 tonnes of the 12-car Class 360 train, while providing considerably more seating.[5]

Each car has a length of 24 metres, the bodyshell of which is composed of aluminium, the assembly of which using both welding and bolting techniques.[5] The Class 720 has a maximum speed of 100mph (161km/h), possessing a starting tractive effort per motor of 21.6kN and a peak traction power at the wheel of 2,300kW per unit to achieve its maximum rate of acceleration if 0.8m/s². The driver is seated in a central position within in the forward cab; a second seat is provisioned for an observer/instructor.[5]

The Class 720 has been produced on both five car and ten car configurations. Th five car units have a length of 122 m and accommodate up to 540 seated passengers in a standard class seating configuration; in contrast, the ten car units have a length of 234 m and provide 1,100 standard class seats. As of January 2018, no operator has chosen to configure their Class 720 fleets with first class accommodation.[2][7]

The interior of Class 720 features a 3+2 seating arrangement, these seats are intentionally cantilevered above the floor to provide greater under-seat space for storing personal luggage as well as to ease cleaning.[8] Furthermore, various amenities are present for the convenience and comfort of the travelling public; each car benefits from air conditioning throughout, while numerous passenger information systems, displaying passenger-loading indicators amongst other information, are present across each carriage's interior.[4] Every seat is provided with its own seat-back table and power sockets, while on-train WiFi enables online connectivity throughout the journey. Onboard toilet facilities are also present.[4] Akin to trains operated by the London Overground, the Class 720s have through gangways to encourage passengers to spread out across the train.[4] The interior is also fully compliant with the Technical Specification for Interoperability for Persons of Reduced Mobility, featuring dedicated spaces for wheelchairs, as well as spaces for bicycles; one of the two toilets present in a five-car formation is also outfitted for greater accessibility.[5]

In September 2017, Greater Anglia unveiled an early mockup of the interior intended to be fitted to the Class 720 fleet; this was used as part of a consultation that solicited 1,000 responses from members of the public; numerous changes were subsequently made to the interior. Alterations included the replacement of the originally intended Fainsa seating with softer seating supplied by Kiel, as well as the addition of seat back tables.[4] The units also featured underfloor heating, eliminating the need for the bodyside heaters and thus increasing floorspace for more passengers;[5] this heating arrangement was allegedly the first use amongst any train on the British railway system.[citation needed]


Greater Anglia[edit]

In August 2016, Greater Anglia was awarded the East Anglia franchise with a commitment to replace all of the existing fleet. As part of this, an order was placed with Bombardier for 111 electric multiple units that were members of the recently-launched Aventra family.[9][10] These new trains were designated as the Class 720 and were originally planned to be divided into two sub-classes; 89 five-carriage 720/5 units and 22 ten-carriage 720/1 units.[11] However, during October 2020, Greater Anglia amended its order to increase the quantity of the Class 720/5s to 133 and increasing flexibility by cancelling all orders of 720/1s, which will give the same amount of carriages, a total of 665.[12][5]

The Class 720 is a replacement for a diverse range of units, including the Class 317 and Class 321 units, together with the more modern Class 360 and Class 379 fleets that has been long used on Outer suburban services on the West Anglia and Great Eastern Main Lines.[11] The Class 720s are constructed at Bombardier's Derby Litchurch Lane Works.[13] The order has been financed by the rolling stock company Angel Trains.[14][15] The introduction of the fleet has been accompanied by a roughly £300 million investment in new and refurbished infrastructure, affecting depots, sidings, and stations, to best accommodate the new trains.[5]


During December 2017, c2c announced it had reached an agreement with Bombardier to procure 60 vehicles of the latter's Aventra family, formed into six 10-car trains, that were anticipated to enter service in approximately 2021.[6] They will be classified as the Class 720/6, having originally been designated as the Class 711.[16][17] The new Aventra trains will replace the six four-car Class 387s that have been operated along side the Class 357s.[18] These units have been financed by Porterbrook.[19]


Greater Anglia[edit]

Production of the first unit for Greater Anglia began in February 2018 and was completed in September 2018.[20][21] Early on, it had been intended for the type to enter service during 2019, but the fleet's introduction had to postponed into the following year due to software issues pertaining to the onboard Train Control Management System (TCMS).[5][22] Testing of the first unit commenced on 17 March 2020, this work initially took place on the London Liverpool Street to Southend Line.[23] Both the testing and production programmes were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that took hold during 2020. On 8 June 2020, operational use of the Class 720 was formally authorised by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).[5]

On 26 November 2020, the first two units started passenger service on the London Liverpool Street to Southend Line,[24] on 16 December 2020, they started service on the Braintree branch,[25] and on 23 December 2020, the Class 720s were rolled out on Southminster services.[26] In February 2021, it was reported that driver training had begun for their introduction to the Cambridge route.[27] That same month, Ian McConnell, Greater Anglia’s franchise and programmes director, noted that the Class 720 was already running relatively well and free of any meaningful technical issues, with challenges with the onboard software issues being the chief concern with the type's deployment at that point.[5] According to railway industry periodical Rail Engineer, Greater Anglia intend to gradually extend the new fleet's usage to eventually cover all of the Great Eastern routes in Essex and through to Ipswich during the first half of 2021, while the Class 720 would be introduced to the west Anglia route between Liverpool Street and Cambridge in the second half of the year.[5]

Fleet details[edit]

The units resemble that of the Class 345 and Class 710 built for Crossrail and London Overground respectively. However, owing to the services that they will operate, the 720s will be built with a higher top speed of 100 mph (161 km/h), and will be fitted with a more appropriate interior.

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit Nos.
Class 720/5 Greater Anglia 44 TBC 5 720101–720144[28]
89 2018- 720501–720589
GA Class 720.png
Class 720/6 c2c 6 TBC 10 720601–720606


  1. ^ "EAST ANGLIA FRANCHISE AGREEMENT" (PDF). p. 178. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Why Paul Geater is giving nine out of ten to new Greater Anglia commuter trains". Ipswich Star. Archant Community Media. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  3. ^ Bednall, Joe (June 2010). "A low impact commuter train". Rail Professional (159). p. 27. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "GA shows off Aventra mock-up". Modern Railways. October 2017. p. 13.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Dobell, Malcolm (15 February 2020). "New Trains in a Pandemic".
  6. ^ a b "Bombardier to supply Aventra EMUs to c2c". Railway Gazette. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Greater Anglia reveals interior of Aventra commuter train fleet". Railway Gazette. DVV Media. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  8. ^ "On board a Greater Anglia Aventra". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Stadler and Bombardier to supply trains for Abellio East Anglia franchise". Railway Gazette International. 10 August 2016. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Bombardier to supply 665 Aventra trains for Abellio". 4 October 2016. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  11. ^ a b Clinnick, Richard (3 April 2017). "Greater Anglia seeks passenger views on new fleet designs". Rail Magazine. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Greater Anglia amends Class 720 order from Bombardier to increase flexibility". RailAdvent. 8 October 2020. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  13. ^ "The New Face of Rail in Anglia." Modern Railways, issue 818, November 2016. p. 12.
  14. ^ "Angel Trains to finance Aventras." Rail Magazine, issue 811, 12 October 2016. p. 18.
  15. ^ "Angel secures funding to refinance Greater Anglia Aventra rolling stock". Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  16. ^ @c2c_Rail (11 July 2019). "The Class 711 carriages are 4 metres longer then either our Class 357 or Class 387 carriages" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  17. ^ @c2c_Rail (5 September 2019). "The 387's will be returned when the [Class 711]'s come in to service. The 357s will be staying with us throughout" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  18. ^ "New trains boost to deal with 'unprecedented' demand". Railnews. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  19. ^ "c2c Signs major deal for brand-new British trains". c2c. 14 December 2017. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Bombardier starts assembling Aventra EMUs for Greater Anglia". International Railway Journal. 21 February 2018. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  21. ^ Barrow, Keith (13 September 2018). "Bombardier rolls out first Aventra EMU for Greater Anglia". International Railway Journal. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  22. ^ "Bombardier Class 720s to enter Greater Anglia service late". 5 September 2019.
  23. ^ "Greater Anglia's new electric trains complete test run". Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  24. ^ "Greater Anglia Class 720 Aventra EMUs enter service". Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  25. ^ "New-trains-in-passenger-service-Braintree-branch". Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  26. ^ "New-trains-in-passenger-service-Southminster-line". Archived from the original on 23 December 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  27. ^ "New trains for Cambridge to London route a step closer as driver training starts". ITV News. 25 February 2021.
  28. ^ "Numbers for extra 5 car units confirmed." Todays Railways Uk, issue 227, 23 December 2020. p. 69.

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