Essex: Government U-turn casts doubt on rail service's future
4:30pm Wednesday 3rd October 2012 in News
The long-term future of the county’s rail service is in doubt after the Government suspended a series of national franchise competitions.
Abellio’s short-term contract to run the Greater Anglia franchise, which began in February, will only run until July 2014, when a new 15-year contract is due to be awarded.
But, after the Department for Transport (DfT) suspended three officials for their handling of the West Coast franchise award, three other franchise processes have been put on hold.
The London to Glasgow route had been awarded to FirstGroup, but existing franchise holders Virgin has launched a judicial review.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I have ordered two independent reviews to look urgently and thoroughly into the matter so that we know what exactly happened and how we can make sure our rail franchise programme is fit for purpose.”
The backlog threatens to delay the process of awarding the long-term contract for the East Anglia line - a consultation process had been due to begin in mid-2013.
The Greater Anglia service serves seven stations in Braintree district, as well as the Marks Tey to Sudbury branch passing through Chappel and Wakes Colne and Bures stations.
Significant investment in the route is unlikely to take place until the long-term future of the franchise has been resolved.