The three shortlisted bidders are

FirstGroup and National Express shortlisted for new East Anglia rail franchise

They will now work with the Government to develop their proposals before receiving the formal invitation to tender in August.

Bidders will be asked to show how they will improve the region’s railways, including providing reduced journey times to London, more reliable services, and better connections.

They will also be expected to show how they could achieve the recommendations of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, which includes reducing London to Norwich journey times to 90 minutes.

The three shortlisted bidders are:

: : Abellio East Anglia Limited (a joint venture between Abellio and Stagecoach)

: : National Express East Anglia Trains Limited

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 cheap jerseys 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.”

The new operator is due to take over the franchise in October 2016. The East Anglia franchise, which is currently operated by Abellio Greater Anglia, carries 354,000 passengers a day on 5 routes across the region.

A public consultation on the future of rail services in East Anglia closed in March and the responses will be taken into account as the franchise proposals are developed further. Why there is this manic obsession about Norwich in 90 defeats me? Quality and reliability at a reasonable price to me are far more important. The current trains can be found elsewhere on the system but generally have been upgraded and refurbished to a much higher standard. Considerably better than many of the newer trains found now, try a Cross Country Voyager to experience tat. IpswichMan is absolutely correct, why is there no public or not for profit company allowed to bid? Oh of course, the public would then get the dividends, not shareholders (probably overseas).

I think it’s all the wrong way round. The trains are old and crappy and nobody will replace them, the tracks are probably no better but run by someone else. Just give it so whoever offers to make it cheap. I’ve not used the train in over two years as not only is it extortionate, but the trains are so dirty and late I would rather take the far cleaner, cheaper and reliable coach.

I agree with Matt. First were purely profit based and the only new rolling stock was awarded before their tenure. National Express. heaven help us. Abelia thus far at least seem to have got the ‘be friendly’ message out to staff. The refurbed trains are a vast improvement. Any hope that we would get Dutch style service and trains went out of the window with the shorty franchise. I would say Abelia are the best of a bad bunch. Pity Arriva are not in the running. Look what they’ve done for Chiltern.

Not Abellio again. CommuteLondon has reported Abelliup as the most complained about rail company. National Express also had a go and were equally incompetent having to re brand itself from “One” (that was usually one delay after another). And we know what they did on the East Coast Mainline. To be fair, whichever company wins, it is the same old dilapidated rolling stock running on the same old tracks operated by the same hard working but ultimately hopeless staff. But please, please, not Abellio. Norman Lamb tweeted on 6 Dec 2011 “Good meeting with Abellio the new rail company for East Anglia. Focus on reliability and info, more ticket machines, branch lines + vision”. If only. They have had their chance and failed.

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