Next operator of East Anglia's railways asked to cut London to Norwich journey times to 90 minutes

PUBLISHED: 16:17 19 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:51 19 February 2015

An Abellio Greater Anglia train at Norwich railway station. 

An Abellio Greater Anglia train at Norwich railway station. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2015

The competition to find the next operator of East Anglia's railways officially began today, with bidders being asked to cut journey times between London and Norwich to 90 minutes.

The Department for Transport (DfT) launched the search for the next franchise operator with the publication of procurement papers.

Rail services in the region are currently run by Abelio Greater Anglia but the firm’s current two-year contract runs out in October 2016.

An East Anglia rail franchise prospectus has been drawn up which outlines what potential bidders will need to consider when they start developing their bids later in the year.

These include:

•Shorter journey times, especially for services into London;

•A service that meets the needs of commuters and leisure passengers in the region;

•Easier connections with London’s transport network at stations like Liverpool Street and Stratford;

•A more reliable service with fewer delays and cancellations;

•Improved customer service;

•Better passenger communication during disruptions;

•Improved integration with local transport along the routes;

•Investment in and around stations.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “East Anglia has a thriving economy and I want it to be served by the best train services possible.

“Giving the region train services fit for the 21st century is vital to connecting people with jobs and businesses with customers. Good transport is central to our long-term economic plan.”

Bidders will be asked to consider achieving the recommendations from the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, including reducing London-Norwich journey times to 90 minutes.

Companies interested in running the franchise will be shortlisted following a pre-qualification stage.

They will then be invited to submit detailed proposals later in the year.

The next operator will take over managing the franchise in October 2016.

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