Fare caps for train passengers between Norwich, Thetford and Ely after monopoly investigation

Train fares between Norwich and Ely will be capped. Picture: Ian Burt

Train fares between Norwich and Ely will be capped. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Train passengers travelling between Norwich and Ely are to have their fares capped, after an investigation ruled they needed protection as one company is getting a monopoly on services.

Earlier this year, Abellio, which already runs the Greater Anglia franchise, was awarded the East Midlands rail franchise by the Department of Transport.

That meant Abellio would have a complete stranglehold on services between Norwich and Ely - running both Greater Anglia and East Midlands Trains services.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) carried out a review.

And that investigation identified concerns that, with passengers having no alternatives, the lack of competition could lead to higher fares.

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The CMA said, after careful consideration, it had accepted proposals from Abellio, called Undertakings in Lieu, to overcome its concerns.

Those measures include inflation-linked fare caps on advance fares from Norwich to Ely and on all unregulated fares from Thetford to Ely.

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The operators have also agreed to maintain the availability of advance fares on both routes at existing levels.

They will have to submit regular reports to the CMA to show they are complying.

Colin Raftery, senior director of mergers at the CMA, said: "Thousands of people use this route, so it's vital they don't lose out due to reduced competition.

"We've thoroughly examined Abellio's proposals to make sure they address all of our concerns, and believe these price caps will protect passengers from potentially facing higher fares.

"These measures mean the award of the franchise is able to go ahead without a more in-depth merger investigation, referred to as a 'Phase 2' investigation."

Tickets from Norwich to Ely costs from £4.70 to £16.20 for single tickets in advance, while Thetford to Ely costs from £4.20 to £15.70.

Dutch firm Abellio is taking on the East Midlands franchise from tomorrow, with the service being renamed as East Midlands Railway.

Stagecoach, which had run the East Midlands contract, was banned from bidding for franchises after clashing with the Department for Transport over pension risks.

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