What the next decade holds when it comes to our rail services

Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles and rail minister Paul Maynard at the new franchise la

Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles and rail minister Paul Maynard at the new franchise launch at London Liverpool Street. Pic by Paul Bigland - Credit: Paul Bigland

Passengers will have a 'tiny bit of pain' for a very large gain to transform the region's train services over the next decade, the boss of the reappointed operator has said. Speaking on the first commuting day of the new East Anglia franchise yesterday, managing director of Great Anglia, Jamie Burles, said he realised reliability was the number on priority for passengers. He said Abellio and Network Rail were going to need a 'step-change' in performance if they were going to improve the punctuality of services.

Network Rail and Abellio announced an 'accord' , pledging to work together to improve the line. Abellio chiefs attended a Network Rail executive meeting last week, and a joint team has been created to focus on how they can deliver the key features of the bid.

The regional boss of Network Rail Richard Schofield said they were currently drawing up a bid for funding from the government for work, which will take place after 2019.

He said that the key feature of the franchise - new trains - would require infrastructure work to make them fit and he was confident they could achieve that, but warned the timetable was 'slightly more difficult' because they had to run freight and passenger trains.

'The timetable is absolutely fundamental. We could run a Norwich in 90 service today, but what would you move out of the way? It is about compromise at station stops or frequency, and it is the pinch points. For us, it is level crossings where you have to slow and accelerate. It is three things. The infrastructure, timetables and trains. He said that the engineering work calendar was currently chokka block.

'In reality there is more we need to do to deliver Abellio's franchise commitments, not least depots to service the new trains, but in reality it is CP6 (2019 to 2024).

'It is about everyone convincing the government they are going to make some good income on the back of this franchise, what are they prepared to give back to the region. It is about third party funding, it is about convincing the government as part of the CP6 settlement to perhaps allow more enhancements in Anglia that they would be comfortable with otherwise and Abellio say they are giving £3bn in premium payments, how much of that could we have back to reinvest in the railway?'

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