During recess my officials concluded negotiations with Abellio Greater Anglia on a new directly awarded franchise, which will see the company continue to provide passenger rail services for 27 months. This will secure continuity of service until the new competed franchise, expected to start in October 2016, is let.
The agreement secures tangible benefits for passengers, including a refresh of the Mark III rolling stock fleet that will see the installation of power sockets, new carpets, new seat covers and better lighting. The new agreement also requires Abellio Greater Anglia to install controlled emission toilets on to their train fleet, which will significantly reduce the amount of waste dropped onto the tracks on the network.
New service improvements secured as part of the franchise agreement will double the current levels of off-peak services between Cambridge and Stansted airport (between 09.00 and 16.00) on Mondays to Fridays and provide a significant number of additional Sunday services on some of the branch lines operated by Abellio Greater Anglia.
This direct award lays the groundwork for the competed franchise to continue the improvements made to rail services in the region. It will also allow the findings and recommendations of the Norwich in 90 taskforce to be considered when the next franchise specification is developed.
This new contract continues my Department’s successful franchising programme in line with the schedule I set out in March 2013 and recently. The Government will continue to work in partnership with the private sector to deliver benefits for the industry, passengers and taxpayers.