Now it's Nationalised Express

A HUGE question mark today hung over the future of East Anglia's passenger train service.

A HUGE question mark today hung over the future of East Anglia's passenger train service.

National Express, which runs the franchise, was forced to hand over its flagship East Coast service from London to Edinburgh to the government.

And the Department of Transport said the future of its other two franchises - East Anglia and theC2C service to Southend was also in question.

However National Express bosses insisted these routes need not be affected by the decision.


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Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said he had set up a publicly-owned company which will take over the East Coast line when National Express ceases to operate the franchise - probably later this year.

Lord Adonis added that the Government may have grounds to terminate National Express's other rail franchises - East Anglia and the London to Tilbury and Southern franchise c2c.

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The company disputed this and said it should retain the other two franchises.

Chief Executive Richard Bowker is leaving his job - and the it is also fighting off a takeover bid from rival First Group.

Over the last five years, rail passengers in Ipswich have travelled on trains controlled by National Express, which is struggling with debts of �1.2 billion.

Mr Bowker, who joined the group in 2006, will leave at the end of August to take up a new role as head of Union Railway in the United Arab Emirates.

On Monday, National Express knocked back an approach over a possible takeover by the UK's biggest transport firm, FirstGroup.

National Express has three rail deals in the East Coast and East Anglia as well as the c2c London commuter service.

It agreed to pay �1.4 billion to the DfT over the life of the East Coast deal - struck before the recession.

But revenue growth on the franchise has since stalled, edging up by just 0.3 percent in the first three months of the year.

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