Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 23°C

min temp: 15°C

ESTD 1874 Search

East Anglia: Decision on future of rail franchise may be delayed until 2016

07:00 22 January 2013

Rail summit

Rail summit

Archant © 2012

FEARS are rising that the award of the long-term franchise for East Anglia could be delayed by two years.

shares

And that has prompted the alliance of MPs and local authorities from across the region to step up their pressure on ministers to get some early decisions on train investment taken in advance of the franchise award.

Another regional rail summit is due to be held at the end of the month. And this time the summit will be joined by transport minister and Chelmsford MP Simon Burns.

The summit, on January 31, comes after Waveney MP Peter Aldous asked a parliamentary question asking for the Department for Transport to say investment in the region’s trains should be authorised before the franchise is granted if there is a delay to the process.

Current rail operators Abellio, running services as Greater Anglia, have a short-term franchise which is due to run out in July 2014.

However, the collapse of the West Coast rail franchise process has forced the DfT to reconsider how it awards them across the country.

Many expect the Greater Anglia franchise to be delayed, possibly by up to two years.

Suffolk county councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor said such a delay would be disastrous for rail services in the region if there was no investment until the long-term franchisee was appointed.

He said: “If we don’t get the operator in place until 2016, and there is no commitment to new trains before they take over, realistically we won’t get any new trains on the line until 2018.

“That will mean there has been no substantial new investment on trains on the line for nearly a decade. With increasing demand and capacity problems that is unacceptable.” Mr McGregor said he would be pressing the minister to get the DfT to specify in the new franchise that the new operator should use upgraded carriages of the type currently in use on the line – enabling the work to start immediately.

“There is capacity at British rail workshops to carry out this work. Upgrades have already been successfully carried out for Chiltern Railways – and carriages for us could piggy back on that.”

Mr Aldous said the consortium of MPs and local authorities had been successful in getting some investment on the line, but he was keen this should not be stalled by any delay in the franchise process.

“That was why I raised the question with the minister and hopefully we can take the issue of getting an early decision forward at this month’s summit.”

However, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who will also be at the summit, warned that all options needed to be considered before any final decisions were made.

He said: “I know Guy is keen on refurbishing existing trains, but it might be that bringing in brand new trains is a better solution – we should not rush this.”

The timescale for the award of the long-term franchise could become clearer in the near future. Once a decision on that is made it should be easier to talk to DfT officials about investment needs.

A Greater Anglia spokesman said: “We have been instrumental in developing the East Anglian Rail Prospectus which sets out the region’s rail aspirations for the future and makes the case for further investment and improvements in our railway.

“We have also been helping to build the coalition of regional stakeholders – including MPs, local authorities, business organisations and rail user groups – to lobby in support of those aims.”

shares

1 comment

  • So Simon Burns 'MP', is attending this forum on rail services from our region and yet he is above using the trains on this route himself despite 'Representing' Chelmsford. He takes the tax payer provided car to work while other suffer the train. I expect he will travle by car to this forum. What will other MP's do ???

    Report this comment

    A Smith

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dame Fiona Kendrick:, chief executive of Nestlé  UK & Ireland

Food giant Nestlé has announced plans to close its defined benefit pension scheme, sparking the threat of industrial action.

The Treasury has sold another 1% stake in Lloyds Banking Group.

The taxpayers’ stake in Lloyds Banking Group has fallen to below 16% after the Government sold off another tranche of shares.

The installation of solar panels on the roof of Precision Marketing Group's premises in Lamdin Road, Bury St Edmunds

A Suffolk-based firm will be among the organisations taking part in a nation-wide celebration of solar energy tomorrow.

Candy Gaga'’s Wanda Hewell, right, and daughter, Cherish.

Tower Ramparts in Ipswich now has its very own castle – thanks to the success of a local sweet shop business.

Stansted Airport

A report into the future of Britain’s airports does not rule out a second runway at Stansted – and raises fears of extra night flights to the Essex airport.

Growth in manufacturing eased last month  to its slowest level in two years.

Britain’s manufacturing sector grew at its slowest pace in more than two years last month, impacted by subdued demand from Europe.

Speedy Hire
 has warned that its results for this year will come in

Tool rental business Speedy Hire saw nearly a third of its stock market value wiped off after it announced the shock departure of its chief executive and warned over a major blow to full year profits.

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand.

Pubs and brewing group Greene King today posted another year of record revenues, with sales within its key Retail division topping £1billion for the first time.

Suffolk Coastal considers convenience store bid

Planning chiefs have responded to concerns about noise and antisocial behaviour arising from proposals for a new convenience store in Kesgrave by insisting on closing times being brought forward an hour and the installation of a barrier to restrict overnight parking.

Tim Dunford, managing director and master brewer at the Green Jack Brewery, third from left, with Beer for Summer judges Mark Dorber, left, and Charlie McVeigh of The Draft House, right, and Peter Gordon, on trade director of Budweiser Budvar.

A Suffolk brewing company is celebrating after winning a new national “Beer for Summer” competition.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages