Bidders to run trains from Norwich to London to be grilled over plans

Bidders for the Greater Anglia Main Line franchise will be quizzed today. Photo: Bill Smith

Bidders for the Greater Anglia Main Line franchise will be quizzed today. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2012

Rail companies which want to run trains between Norwich and London will today be grilled on whether their ambitions match those of passengers who demand improvements.

Services are currently run by Abellio and the Dutch company hopes to continue with the franchise under a new tie-up with Stagecoach.

But National Express and FirstGroup want to take over the services from October next year and it will be up to the government to decide who will get the franchise.

Today, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, will meet senior representatives from the companies.

The pair, who are joint chairmen of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, will be pressing for the companies to meet their demands for faster trains, more reliable services and better timetabling – so trains can travel between Norwich and London in 90 minutes.

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Mr Pendlington said: 'We will be driving home to each of the bidders the importance of achieving our goals and delivering on the key recommendations from our campaign.

'This is so much more than business as usual, it's about fresh ideas and innovative thinking and about transforming the Great Eastern Main Line into the 21st century service that passengers need and deserve, and which is so essential for our growing successful economy.'

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Ms Smith said: 'Thousands of passengers joined our campaign for better rail, which has won commitment to all the investment we asked for. We've arranged these meetings with franchise bidders to make sure they are in no doubt what passengers want in East Anglia.'

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