The UK Department for Transport has awarded National Express East Anglia (NXEA), funding to help boost capacity and increase their fleet by 188 more carriages.

Government funding is being used to allow NXEA to increase their fleet by 188 more carriages, of which 120 will be newly built by train manufacturer Bombardier.

Clacton Depot in Essex will also be turned into a maintenance facility to cope with the enlarged fleet.

The 188 carriages, representing a 17% increase in the NXEA fleet, will be introduced on the network to boost the Stansted Express route, and commuter services in and out of London Liverpool Street.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said that this was one of the biggest changes to have been negotiated to an existing franchise since rail privatisation.

“This will be of major benefit to passengers in terms of reducing over-crowding, while Bombardier’s success will help safeguard UK manufacturing jobs and the expansion of the fleet will create welcomed job opportunities with NXEA,” Hoon said.

The first additional capacity will be introduced in December 2009 with approximately 11,000 extra seats set for December 2011. The additional trains will also help provide capacity for the London Olympics at Stratford in 2012.

Bombardier will provide 120 new carriages at a cost of approximately £155m. These new trains will principally be used on the Stansted Express services. A further 68 carriages will be added to the fleet from the London Midland franchise.

In addition to the new carriages NXEA will receive Government funding to expand the car parks at four stations and install two additional carriage washing machines.

By Daniel Garrun.