East Anglia: Lobbying starts for upgraded trains

rail-improvements

- Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

BUSINESS and civic leaders are expected to step up their lobbying of the government to upgrade trains on the main line to London after a consultation over the future the Greater Anglia franchise was launched.

The government plans to extend the current short-term franchise by two years, meaning it would finish in 2016 rather than 2014.

However before that can happen, current operator Abellio needs to speak to key organisations – including councils, businesses, and regular travellers about their priorities for the potential franchise extension period.

The company is keen to hear stakeholders’ priorities for improvements during a potential extension period – and upgrading the current InterCity trains by refurbishing the existing carriages is a key requirement for Suffolk County Council.

However Abellio – which runs the trains as the Greater Anglia brand – warned that because of the short period of the extension, it is not clear how much investment will be available.

County council transport spokesman Guy McGregor said he was working with colleagues in Norfolk and Essex to improve the line.

He said: “We need to ensure there is improved rolling stock on the line, and we will be making that point to the government during this consultation process.”

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Greater Anglia Managing Director Ruud Haket said: “We have achieved much in our first 14 months operating the Greater Anglia franchise.

“This includes better punctuality, improved information provision, easier ticket purchase and, in partnership with Network Rail, a major reduction in disruptive weekend service alterations.

“However, we know that our passengers rightly expect further improvements, we recognise that we have more to do to achieve higher standards, more consistently, and we are keen to maintain the positive momentum of service enhancements we have created since February 2012.

“By working together with and listening to our stakeholders, we aim to do all we can to secure the best possible programme of affordable upgrades from an extension period, for the customers and communities we serve in East Anglia.”

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