East Anglia: Business leaders urged to help share future of region’s rail franchise

Greater Anglia managing director Ruud Haket speaking at the Suffolk IoD event at Hintlesham Hall

Greater Anglia managing director Ruud Haket speaking at the Suffolk IoD event at Hintlesham Hall - Credit: Archant

THE head of regional train operator Greater Anglia has urged business people to help shape the specification for future improvements.

Ruud Haket, managing director of Greater Anglia, which is owned Abellio, a subsidiary of Netherlands Railways, was speaking at a breakfast event held by the Suffolk branch of the Institute of Directors.

Abellio’s current short-term franchise runs only until July 2014, although it is possible this will be extended pending the outcome of the Government’s review of the rail franchising system.

Mr Haket said the Department of Transport’s specification would be key to what Abellio would able to do in the future.

“The theme of the short franchise is customer service and continuing to improve performance,” he said. “Over-crowding can only be addressed with replacing Inter-City trains with larger trains, so it is important for business people to give their input to the specification on which our budget is set. We want to build local relationships.”

Mr Haket added that, during 2013, the Suffolk community would be involved in a consultation on the contract specification for the forthcoming 15-year franchise for Greater Anglian passenger services.

The event was held at Hintlesham Hall, near Ipswich, and sponsored by Ensors, Pound Gates, Crafted and Barker Gotelee.

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Suffolk IoD chairman Luke Morris, a partner at Larking Gowen, said: “Abellio Greater Anglia is recognised by the business community as making a positive start to its franchise operation, with improvements being formally recognised less than a year in at the 2012 National Rail Business Awards.

“I feel Ruud’s clear explanation of the constraints inherent in franchise specifications have given IoD members and guests a clear incentive to get involved and influence this debate.”