Abellio wins East Anglian rail franchise for nine years in £1.4bn deal

Abellio will run rail services in the region until 2025.

Abellio will run rail services in the region until 2025. - Credit: Archant

Abellio Greater Anglia is to run rail services in the region for the next nine years after being awarded a £1.4bn contract by the government.

The new service for rail passengers across East Anglia promises to deliver more than 1,040 new state of the art carriages and cut journey times by an average of 10%.

It will also deliver one of the biggest orders for British-built trains – almost £1 billion for 660 carriages from the Bombardier factory in Derby – as part of a contract that will secure 1,000 jobs into the next decade.

Key benefits of the new franchise include:

•At least four 90 minute services (two in each direction) between London and Norwich each weekday and two 60 minute services per day between London and Ipswich.

•Free WiFi for all passengers on trains and at stations.

•1,043 new, state of the art carriages between January 2019 and September 2020 to support the faster timetable, with a full programme of refurbishment for the current fleet in the meantime.

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•Automatic ‘delay repay’ for season and advance purchase tickets.

•Tough new targets for operational performance levels at 93% - up from 89.7% currently.

•A host of new ticketing initiatives, starting in October 2017, including new offers for part time users and those who don’t travel every day.

By 2021, there will be more than 32,000 more seats on services arriving at London Liverpool Street in the morning peak, while the new franchise will introduce 1,144 additional weekday services– an increase of 13% - to stations including Ipswich, Norwich, Stansted Airport, Lowestoft, and London Liverpool Street.

•There will be an hourly service between Ipswich and Peterborough – currently trains run every two hours – and most services will be extended to Colchester.

•Most services on the Sudbury branch will run to Colchester Town, through Colchester main station.

•There will be four trains a day between Lowestoft and London using the East Suffolk line.

•Most Norwich to Cambridge services will be extended to Stansted Airport.

•There will be later trains between Norwich and Sheringham, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are making the biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian era. By awarding this franchise to Abellio East Anglia we will improve journeys for people in East Anglia.

“Abellio’s decision will ensure our train building industry in Derby remains strong.

“This is part of our plan to make an economy that works for everyone – not just the privileged few – by ensuring prosperity is spread throughout the country.”

Mr Grayling is to travel to Derby, the home of Bombardier – Britain’s largest rail manufacturer – to make the announcement which is likely to include a multi-million-pound order for new trains.

Dominic Booth managing director of Abellio UK said: “This is great news not only for Abellio but for the whole of East Anglia. We are pleased to become preferred bidder to deliver a transformation in rail services across the region.

“It will enable us to build on the successes of the two short East Anglian franchises we have run since 2012, and we commend the DfT in running a transparent and rigorous procurement process.

“Our plans will greatly improve our customers’ experience with faster and more reliable journeys on new trains with higher frequencies and reduced journey times, to support the socio-economic well-being of East Anglia, one of the country’s most successful and fastest growing areas.”

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP and co-chair of the GEML rail taskforce said: “To have secured new state of the art rolling stock is a massive win for all those who depend on a reliable and high performing railway here in the East.

“Businesses, commuters, students at universities and colleges are among many who have worked tirelessly to support our GEML campaign.

“Today we have been rewarded with the guarantee of transformational change to our rail services in years to come. And as we set about growing our economy, winning new investment and securing new jobs, we can say with growing confidence that the East is a modern, mobile and accessible economy, fit to compete and win in the UK and global marketplace.

“We presented the government with a compelling case for transformational improvements to our mainline railway. We provided solid evidence for the potential £4.5bn boost to the economy and 50,000 new jobs across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

“The award of the franchise to Abellio marks the beginning of realising that ambition. It brings the promised Norwich in 90, Ipswich in 60, Colchester in 40 within reach, and our work continues to secure a consistently high standard of rail service for everyone.

“We congratulate Abellio on their success, and look forward to meeting them very soon to hear the full detail of their plans for all routes across the East.

“Our campaign is reinvigorated, as is our relentless pursuit of a better, faster more efficient rail service.

“Thank you to everyone for the success we have all achieved so far.”

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