companies are believed to have submitted bids for the Essex Thameside rail route by yesterday’s deadline.
The Department for Transport received proposals from National Express, which currently runs the route under the c2c name, as well as FirstGroup, Abellio and London Overground operator MTR.
All four firms were shortlisted last March.
The winner, to be announced by the department in January, will run the route between Fenchurch Street and Southend for 15 years from the start date of 26 May 2013.
The government wants the eventual operator to upgrade to smart-ticketing such as the Oyster card, improve accessibility and keep up the route’s punctuality record.
National Express trumpeted its bid with new figures that showed a punctuality rate of 98.7 per cent in the four weeks to 15 September on the c2c route.
“We believe the bid for the new franchise that we’ve submitted today builds on c2c’s current industry-leading performance, provides a high quality service to customers, and delivers excellent value to both farepayers and taxpayers,” said Andrew Chivers, managing director for rail at National Express.