Latest Rail News

03.07.12

DfT promises more flexibility in Essex Thameside franchise

Smart ticketing and opportunities for private sector investment are to be part of the new 15-year Essex Thameside franchise, the Government has announced.

The invitation to tender has been published, including more flexibility for the franchise owner to develop their own train timetable and provide more responsive services.

The four shortlisted bidders to run the franchise are Abellio, First Group, National Express and MTR. The existing operator, c2c, part of National Express group, is one of the UK’s best-performing TOCs in terms of punctuality and customer satisfaction.

National Express was originally going to be banned from bidding for the new franchise because of its record on the East Coast franchise, which it defaulted on and abandoned in 2009, but this decision was reversed by the Government.

The franchise, which serves stations on the Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness route, will run from May 2013 until May 2028, with the option to extend by up to seven months. Full repairing responsibilities of the 25 stations will be transferred from Network Rail to the train operator.

New service quality targets have been set, based around stations, train services, train facilities and customer services.

Rail minister Theresa Villiers said: “A more flexible franchise will encourage private sector investment, for example in improving stations. It will promote greater efficiency to drive down costs and also enable the train operator to react more flexibly to changing passenger demand.

“The introduction of new requirements on passenger satisfaction will mean the operator has to focus strongly on the issues that matter most to passengers. Across the franchise, the roll out of smart ticketing will provide many more passengers with greater convenience and the sort of advantages already enjoyed in the capital.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Image c. Matt Buck under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.

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