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Cambridge to Fenland Train Service

Volume 567: debated on Monday 2 September 2013

The Petition of residents of North East Cambridgeshire,

Declares that at present the population of March has no access via public transport to evening entertainment and activities in Cambridge; further that the population growth rate, faster than for the East of England region and England overall, experienced by Fenland demonstrates the need for better public transport; further declares that another Petition on this subject has been signed by more than 700 residents of North East Cambridgeshire.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to require a late train service from Cambridge to March in the next Greater Anglia franchise.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Stephen Barclay, Official Report, 15 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 885.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

The Government are currently developing the specification for the Greater Anglia Direct Award due to run from July 2014 to October 2016 when the new full East Anglia franchise will begin.

The Direct Award is focused on setting the correct baseline and allowing for the opportunity to assess options for the future franchise while avoiding prejudicing the terms of the 2016 competition.

Looking ahead, the Government will begin to consult on the specifications of the new full East Anglia franchise in late 2014, seeking to secure a quality and affordable service that best fits the needs of the people of eastern England and the requirements of the regional economy. We will consider the firm plans for the new Greater Anglia franchise following this consultation.

Before specifying requirements for additional services or station calls, the Department would need to be satisfied that there was a strong value-for-money business case for doing so. The Department needs to ensure that resources are allocated where they will deliver the greatest benefit.

As such, I am afraid the Department is not currently in a position to commit to specifying additional services from March to Cambridge at this point in time. We will of course consider any proposals received during the upcoming consultation.

The Petitioners may also wish to share their views with Abellio directly as well as the short-listed bidders for the 2016 franchise when these are announced. This is because the future franchise may well allow a certain amount of flexibility for train companies to operate services over and above those which the Department specifies in the contract.