National Express loses rail franchise

PUBLISHED: 09:53 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 08:54 01 August 2010

NATIONAL Express is to be stripped of its East Anglia rail franchise from 2011, meaning that the company will be unable to bid for a renewal of the contract.

NATIONAL Express is to be stripped of its East Anglia rail franchise from 2011, meaning that the company will be unable to bid for a renewal of the contract.

The East Anglia deal could have been extended until 2014 but Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has decided that because of the company defaulting on its East Coast operations, it would not be in the public interest for it to remain the operator of services from London to Braintree, Colchester, Harwich Ipswich, and Norwich or the cross-country routes in Suffolk and Norfolk.

Transport secretary Lord Adonis said the process for securing a new operator to run East Anglia would start immediately so a new franchise could begin from April 2011.

Earlier this week the Department for Transport announced a bidding timetable for National Express's other rail franchise - the London to Tilbury and Southend c2c line - which will change hands in May.

“My judgment is that the public interest would not be served by terminating the (East Anglia and c2c) franchises immediately, necessitating state management during the refranchising period and three operators in two years.

“In determining the future of the c2c and East Anglia franchises, my overriding concern has been to minimise disruption to passengers and staff, and cost to the taxpayer, while ensuring that train companies stand by their commitments.

“I judge these objectives are best served by terminating the East Anglia franchise in 2011, causing them (National Express) to forego three years of profit, and beginning the refranchising process immediately so that a new operator is in place in early 2011.”

However, the trade unions want National Express renationalised immediately. “We are calling on the government to seize this golden opportunity to take National Express East Anglia back into public ownership, and for the sake of both passengers and staff we are delighted that the company's days as a train operator are well and truly numbered,” said Bob Crowe of RMT.

“The sooner they and the rest of the money-grabbing train companies are kicked off our tracks for good, the better.”

National Express took over the franchise in 2004 from previous operators Anglia Railways - mainline and cross-country routes - First Group, which runs services on the suburban lines in Essex, and some West Anglia Great Northern routes. The company is also the franchise holder for the Stansted Express.

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