Dutch-owned group gains direct award to extend franchise

The Department for Transport has concluded a direct award contract with Dutch-owned transport group Abellio covering an extension of the Greater Anglia franchise for 27 months.

The franchise had been due to expire in July this year, but the new agreement will see Abellio continue to manage Greater Anglia until October 2016.

Abellio has committed to a number of improvements to its services throughout the course of the 27-month contract. These include refurbishment of the rolling stock used in the Great Eastern Main Line between London, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich and additional standard class seats on these services with the conversion of some First Class seating.

Off-peak services between Cambridge and Stansted Airport on weekdays will also be introduced from July and there will be a programme of Sunday service enhancements on the
East Anglia network.

There will also be initiatives to increase cycle parking at a number of stations, a 20% increase in funding for Community Rail Partnerships across the network and a number of customer service improvements. Abellio has also committed to continue to work with the DfT and other stakeholders as part of the ‘Norwich in 90 Taskforce’ to develop plans to improve journey times and services on the Great Eastern Main Line.

“This agreement is further proof that the government’s new franchising schedule is on track, is delivering value for money for the tax payer, and is supporting the ongoing multi-billion pound investment programme in our railways,” said transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Julian Edwards, the operator’s deputy managing director and finance director, added: “The DfT is to be congratulated on the tough yet fair approach it brought to the negotiations. This has resulted in a great deal for both passengers and the taxpayer.”

Last month the DfT concluded negotiations with Abellio and its joint venture partner Serco which led to the extension of the current Northern Rail franchise until February 2016 (PT080).

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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