Three train companies have been shortlisted for the East Anglia rail franchise; Abellio East Anglia Limited (a joint venture between Abellio and Stagecoach), First East Anglia Limited and National Express East Anglia Trains Limited.
Having successfully passed the pre-qualification stage, they will now work with the Government to develop proposals before receiving the invitation to tender in August.
Among the demands from ministers, operators will be asked how they would realise the recommendations of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, including reducing London to Norwich journey times to 90 minutes.
Rail minister Claire Perry said: ‘We have ambitious plans for East Anglia’s rail network, and the successful bidder will be central to making these plans a reality. We want to find a partner who will help us meet the increasing demand for transport in the region by providing faster, more reliable journeys and better connections across the region and beyond.
‘We are investing record amounts in building a world-class railway as part of our long-term economic plan, and I am determined that passengers in East Anglia will benefit.
Abellio Greater Anglia is the current operator and carries 354,000 passengers a day on 5 routes across the region.
The new operator is due to take over the franchise in October 2016.