West Anglia Great Northern

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West Anglia Great Northern
317316 at Cambridge.JPG
Class 317 at Cambridge in 2004
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 size145
Stations called at55
Parent companyPrism Rail (1997–2000)
National Express (2000–06)
Reporting markWN

West Anglia Great Northern[1] was a train operating company in England, owned by Prism Rail and later National Express, that operated the West Anglia Great Northern franchise from January 1997 until March 2004 and the Great Northern franchise from April 2004 until March 2006.


Corporate logos used by WAGN
Interior of a refurbished Class 313
Refurbished Class 317 in the original WAGN livery at Liverpool Street station in 2006

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 from Peterborough to Doncaster but this was rejected by the Office of Rail Regulation.[4]

In July 2000, West Anglia Great Northern was included in the sale of Prism Rail to National Express.[5][6]

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 franchise.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]


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

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,[10] before all five went to ScotRail in 2001.[11] In 2004, sixteen Class 365s were transferred from South Eastern Trains.[12]

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.[13]

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[14] before a metallic purple livery was introduced in 2001.[15]

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 improved interiors and new metallic blue Stansted Express livery.[16][17]

Fleet at end of franchise
Class Image Top speed Number Built Notes
mph km/h
03 FCC 03179 at NVR.jpg 28.5 45.9 1 1957-1961 Used as shunter at Hornsey TMD
313 313064 at London Kings Cross.jpg 75 120 41 1976–1977 London Moorgate/London King's CrossHertford North, Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City
315 Clapton Station - geograph.org.uk - 138336.jpg 75 120 18 1980–1981 London Liverpool StreetChingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town
London Liverpool StreetHertford East (peak times and Sundays only);
transferred to One in April 2004
317 317316 at Cambridge.JPG 100 160 72 1981–1982
London King's CrossCambridge
London Liverpool StreetCambridge, Hertford East and Stansted Airport
StratfordStansted Airport;
60 transferred to One in April 2004
365 365530 arriving at Cambridge.JPG 100 160 40 1994–1995 London King's CrossCambridge, King's Lynn and Peterborough;
24 originally, 16 added in 2004 and 2006 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.[18][19] 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.[20]


  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. ^ "WAGN – Simply no space on East Coast for locals" Rail issue 374 12 January 2000 page 5
  5. ^ National Express buys Prism for £166m The Telegraph 19 July 2000
  6. ^ National Express buys Prism for £166m The Guardian 19 July 2000
  7. ^ Rail issue 426 9 January 2002 page 4
  8. ^ National Express wins rail franchise The Telegraph 22 December 2003
  9. ^ Franchising Program Continues Apace Strategic Rail Authority 13 February 2004
  10. ^ "NWT livery for Class 322 Stansted units" Rail issue 329 22 April 1998 page 12
  11. ^ Rail issue 427 23 January 2002 page 58
  12. ^ Class 365 Southern E-Group
  13. ^ "West Anglia Great Northern unveils new branding". RAIL. No. 326. EMAP Apex Publications. 11–24 March 1998. p. 12. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.
  14. ^ "WAGN ghost trains" Rail issue 368 20 October 1999 page 12
  15. ^ "WAGN reveals livery in line with c2c's" Rail issue 421 31 October 2001 page 10
  16. ^ "WAGN unveils £10m Stansted Express" Rail issue 391 6 September 2000 page 6
  17. ^ Class 317 The Railway Centre
  18. ^ Rail franchising arrangements Strategic Rail Authority Press Release
  19. ^ Rail issue 496 15 September 2004 page 7
  20. ^ Department for Transport Announces Winner of Thameslink/GN Franchise Department for Transport 13 December 2005

External links[edit]

Media related to West Anglia Great Northern at Wikimedia Commons

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 and Great Northern franchise
from 2006