The government yesterday named the firms who have qualified to bid to operate the East Anglia rail franchise.
The operators, that will now endeavour to succeed incumbent Abellio East Anglia, are First East Anglia and National East Anglia Trains.
Abellio East Anglia Limited – a joint venture between Abellio Transport Group and Stagecoach – will also be allowed to rebid to continue running the service.
The three companies will receive an invitation to tender from the government by August, and the winner will take over the East Anglia franchise in October 2016.
Those bidding for the franchise will have to prove they can reduce journey times to London. In particular, bidders must demonstrate that they can meet the target to reduce journey times between the capital and Norwich to just 90 minutes, an improvement to the line that was recommended by a taskforce who looked at it last year.
Rail minister Claire Perry said: “We want to find a partner who will help us meet the increasing demand for transport in the region by providing faster, more reliable journeys and better connections across the region and beyond.”
Infrastructure spending was a key component in the Conservatives’ election manifesto in May. The party promised to improve the rail line in East Anglia as part of a bid to win over crucial swing voters in the region.
The selected operators welcomed the announcement. Stagecoach boss Martin Griffiths said: “We believe our strong track record, combined with the insight of Abellio, can produce a powerful joint bid to deliver a better experience for customers, and support jobs and businesses in the region.”
The bids drew criticism from the RMT trade union, which represents rail workers. General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This is a three-way combination of foreign state operators who want to plunder Britain’s railways to subsidise their domestic operations.”
|TRAIN OPERATOR TENDERS COMING DOWN THE LINE|
|Invite to tender||August 2015|
|Contract award||June 2016|
|Franchise start||October 2016|
|Invite to tender||Jan 2016|
|Contract award||Nov 2016|
|Franchise start||Apr 2017|
|Invite to tender||April 2016|
|Contract award||Feb 2017|
|Franchise start||June 2017|
|Invite to tender||August 2016|
|Contract award||June 2017|
|Franchise start||October 2017|
|Invite to tender||April 2017|
|Contract award||Feb 2018|
|Franchise start||June 2018|
|WALES & BORDERS|
|Invite to tender||August 2017|
|Contract award||June 2018|
|Franchise start||October 2018|