The competition to get the best deal for rail passengers in East Anglia officially got underway today (19 February 2015) as the Department for Transport (DfT) began the search for the next franchise operator.
The publication of procurement documents by the DfT marks the first step in the search for an operator to run rail services in the region.
The East Anglia rail franchise prospectus outlines what potential bidders will need to consider when they start developing their detailed bids later in the year. These include:
- shorter journey times, especially for services into London
- a service that meets the needs of commuters and leisure passengers in the region
- easier connections with London’s transport network at stations like Liverpool Street and Stratford
- a more reliable service with fewer delays and cancellations
- improved customer service
- better passenger communication during disruptions
- improved integration with local transport along the routes
- investment in and around stations
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
East Anglia has a thriving economy and I want it to be served by the best train services possible. Giving the region train services fit for the 21st century is vital to connecting people with jobs and businesses with customers. Good transport is central to our long-term economic plan.
Today marks the beginning of the process to find an operator who can meet the demand for better, faster services and make a real difference to people’s experience on the railways in East Anglia.
Bidders will be asked to consider achieving the recommendations from the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, including reducing London-Norwich journey times to 90 minutes.
Companies interested in running the franchise will be shortlisted following a pre-qualification stage. They will then be invited to submit detailed proposals later in the year. The new operator will take over managing the franchise in October 2016.
The East Anglia franchise runs 5 routes carrying 354,000 passengers every day. These are:
- InterCity services that offer long distance services between London and Norwich on the Great Eastern Mainline
- Great Eastern suburban rail services that operate to Southend Victoria, Southminster, Clacton-on-Sea, Ipswich, Harwich, Braintree and Sudbury
- West Anglia services that operate to Hertford East, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Stansted Express that links London to Stansted airport
- regional services that include inter-urban rail services between Norwich, Cambridge and Ipswich, and rural services to Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Cromer and Sheringham - these services also provide connections to the Midlands and the north of England
The current East Anglia franchise is operated by Abellio Greater Anglia who was awarded a 2 year contract from 5 February 2012. In 2014, a further 2 year direct award was negotiated with Abellio Greater Anglia until 16 October 2016.
The procurement documents are available on GOV.UK.