East Anglia: National Express axed from rail franchise

THE current operator of most rail services in East Anglia has failed to make a shortlist of bidders competing for the the next franchise due to start in February 2012.

National Express has held the Greater Anglia contract since 2004 but was involved in a major spat with the previous government after walking away from its East Coast franchise which suffered heavy losses following the onset of the recession.

The three bidders shortlisted for the new Greater Anglia franchise include the Go-Ahead Group and Stagecoach, plus Nederlandse Spoorwagen which would be a newcomer to UK rail passenger operations.

The Greater Anglia franchise will start on February 5, 2012 and will run for 17 months, with an option to extend by up to one year.

The Department for Transport said the relatively short franchise would allow a longer-term deal to be awarded taking into account the conclusion of the current McNulty review into rail value for money.

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A National Express Express Group spokesperson said, “We are very disappointed not to have been short-listed to bid for the Greater Anglia franchise.

“We believe we put forward a very positive and high quality submission building on the significant improvements delivered on National Express East Anglia. “We are therefore seeking further clarification from the Department for Transport to explain this decision.

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“In the meantime we remain focused on delivering services for our customers, including the introduction of new trains on West Anglia and the on-going industry-leading performance of c2c.”

However, Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, welcomed the absence of National Express from the shortlist, although he added: “The merry-go-round of rail franchising takes another spin and whoever the winners are from these latest beauty contests it certainly won’t be the travelling public.”

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