A new East Anglia rail franchise won by Abellio East Anglia has pledged to deliver the Government’s long-standing ambition of 90-minute services between London and Norwich and 60-minute services between London and Ipswich.
Former chancellor George Osborne launched a taskforce in 2013 to find ways to deliver a 25% reduction in journey times, involving Department for Transport (DfT) officials, Network Rail officers and local MPs involved in the decision-making process.
Announcing the new franchise, DfT boasted the new deal would deliver four 90-minute services - two in each direction - between London and Norwich each weekday, and two 60-minute services a day between London and Ipswich.
Journey times are in line for a 10% cut on average across the region, DfT officials added.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘This is part of our plan to make an economy that works for everyone – not just the privileged few – by ensuring prosperity is spread throughout the country.’
Abellio East Anglia will run the franchise from October 2016, and is set to oversee a £1.4bn boost to rail services with more than 1,040 new carriages.
Almost £1bn will be spent on British-built trains – 660 carriages from the Bombardier factory in Derby – as part of a contract that will secure 1,000 jobs into the next decade, the government said.
However Abellio will also be held to targets for operational performance levels at 93% - up from 89.7% currently.
Following sustained campaigning on part time and flexible ticketing, the Government also promised ‘a host of new ticketing initiatives, starting in October 2017, including new offers for part time users and those who don’t travel every day’.
Dominic Booth managing director of Abellio UK said: ‘It will enable us to build on the successes of the two short East Anglian franchises we have run since 2012, and we commend the DfT in running a transparent and rigorous procurement process.'
The East Anglia rail network serves London commuters, regional hubs in Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich, leisure travellers to Stansted Airport and coastal and rural resorts around the region, with around 8,600 trains running every week.