Dutch company wins Greater Anglia rail franchise

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The Independent Online

A rail franchise contract was awarded to a Dutch company today rather than to one of two British firms.

Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said Abellio Greater Anglia Limited, part of Dutch rail company NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen, will operate the Greater Anglia franchise from February 2012 until July 2014.

Abellio was up against UK companies Stagecoach and Go-Ahead Group in the battle for the Greater Anglia franchise, which includes routes out of London to Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

When the franchise is renewed in July 2014, it is expected to last for 15 years.

Ms Villiers said that under the terms of the contract agreed with Abellio, the company will deliver a series of improvements for passengers during the 29-month franchise.

These include providing better station and ticket facilities and measures to improve passenger information. A text messaging service to keep passengers informed of service disruption will be introduced. New information desks will be provided at major stations including Liverpool Street in London, Cambridge, Norwich, Ipswich and Stansted Airport.

The new franchise will make it easier for passengers to buy tickets, including extending the Oyster pay-as-you-go facility between Liverpool Street and all stations to Shenfield in Essex and to Hertford East in Hertfordshire.

Abellio has also committed to provide an additional 600 car park spaces (subject to planning approvals), more cycle storage facilities and to deliver a number of other measures to improve the service to customers including deep cleaning of stations and trains.

In a new move, from the start of the new franchise, Abellio will start publishing a breakdown of punctuality figures by route, giving passengers more transparency over the performance of the lines they use. The reliability requirements for the new franchise are more demanding than the previous one.

The Anglia franchise is currently operated by National Express.

Ms Villiers said: "This new franchise will start delivering important improvements for passengers, with more to come in the longer contract that will follow it.

"The franchise will also play a significant role in transport for the London 2012 Games, providing crucial services to the Olympic Park area."