Rail passengers will benefit from refreshed rolling stock and more services on the Greater Anglia network, including twice as many weekday off peak services between Stansted airport and Cambridge as a result of a new franchise agreement announced today (16 April 2014).
Under the agreement the government has reached, Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA) will continue providing services between London Liverpool Street and major towns and cities across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex for the next 27 months.
Following comments from the public and partners in the rail industry, the government has secured a number of additional rail services in the off-peak period as part of the deal, which will lead to more services on local lines, providing a boost to the region’s economy. It will also mean more services between Cambridge, a global centre of technological expertise, and Stansted Airport, which will boost the city’s links with the rest of Europe.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
This deal means real improvements for passengers on the Greater Anglia network. It means more services and better-equipped trains, including international connections via Stansted Airport to the rest of Europe that the region needs.
This agreement is further proof that the government’s new franchising schedule is on track, is delivering value for money for the tax payer, and is supporting the ongoing multi-billion pound investment programme in our railways.
Commenting on the direct award, the Deputy Managing Director and Finance Director Julian Edwards said:
Today’s (16 April 2014) announcement of a further important suite of service enhancements for passengers adds to the steady flow of improvements delivered since Abellio started operating the franchise. The DfT is to be congratulated on the tough yet fair approach it brought to the direct award negotiations. This has resulted in a great deal for both passengers and the taxpayer, and the fact that today’s (16 April 2014) announcement comes several months ahead of the July 2014 start date is a reassuring sign that the department has regained a firm hold of the franchising timetable.
The agreement includes improvements to the intercity carriages on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) route between Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester and London. Passengers will benefit from new seat covers, new carpets and better lighting, improving the travelling environment. The deal also secures the addition of at seat power sockets, helping people on those services work and stay in touch.
The increase in services between Cambridge and Stansted Airport is in line with the recommendations of the Airport Commission’s study into airport capacity in the UK, which recently highlighted the importance of surface access to the UK’s airports. It will also increase services for passengers at the intermediate stations on the route, providing connections that can stimulate the local economy.
The new agreement paves the way for the next franchise competition on the Greater Anglia network. It also helps meet the aims of the Norwich in Ninety Taskforce, a panel of experts and local stakeholders formed last year to focus on improving services on the Great Eastern Mainline and securing faster, more reliable journeys on the Greater Anglia network.
The government is also taking a significant step towards the removal of waste from the tracks, which sees the installation of controlled emission toilets (CET) on a huge proportion of the rolling stock fleet. This demonstrates the department’s commitment to improving the railway not just for the passengers that rely on it but also for those that work on and maintain it.