A DUTCH company has been awarded the Greater Anglia rail franchise for 29 months.
Abellio Greater Anglia will take over from February 5, the transport minister Theresa Villiers announced today, running trains across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.
The company is part of Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Netherlands Railways). Other bids were received from Eastern Railway Limited and Stagecoach Anglia Trains Limited.
The ministry said Abellio’s contract included a requirement to improve services and facilities. It added: “These include providing better station and ticket facilities and measures to improve passenger information. A text messaging service to keep passengers informed if service disruption occurs will be introduced.”
Easier ticketing has been promised including extending the Oyster Card service, better ticket machines and a mobile phone and ‘print at home’ service.
Abellio Greater Anglia Limited has also committed to provide an additional 600 car park spaces, subject to planning approvals, more cycle storage facilities and to deliver measures to improve the service to customers including deep cleaning of stations and trains.
When the franchise is renewed in July 2014 it will be for 15 years.
Abellio will be responsible for 3,000 employees and operating 43,000 services a month, carrying 2 million passengers a week.
It said: “The first priority will be to ensure the seamless transition of operations to Abellio and start to deliver the improvements in customer service, station condition and operational performance that Abellio has committed to.
“In addition, Abellio will be focused on ensuring that the Greater Anglia network is ready to offer a major transport link to the London 2012 Olympic Games.”