Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Stratford - Holiday Disruption

There are numerous reports of considerable disruption at Stratford this week as London bound trains terminate there during scheduled maintenance work at Liverpool Street. It is suggested that passengers avoid the peak period if at all possible.

Car Park Disturbances

Further to yesterday's update NXEA have contacted NCP and British Transport Police requesting them to monitor the situation in the car park. Should you witness any sort of disturbance in the station car park please contact either NXEA or NCP. Alternatively you may contact the MRUA on info@mrua.org and we will gladly pass on the information, anonymously if required.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

NCP Pressed To Take Action Against Youths In Car Park

The MRUA has asked National Express East Anglia to press NCP to take action against the youths who have been congregating in their cars in the lower deck of the car park in recent evenings. Not only do they intimidate passengers but they leave considerable amounts of rubbish in the form of bottles and take-away wrappers strewn across the car park.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

The Manningtree Rail Users Association would like to wish everybody a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Open Letter To NXEA Regarding NCP

Below is the text of a complaint from a Manningtree passenger regarding the ongoing mis-managment of the station car park by NCP. It is reproduced here because it brilliantly sums up the feelings of the vast majority of car park users:

"I would just like to put in a formal complaint about the mis-management of the car park and surrounding road and pavements at Manningtree station. Not one person has even attempted to lay any grit/salt and now the car park, road and pavement is like an ice rink. You are very quick to increase the charges for use and are there in a second to issue a penalty ticket but when we have snow/ice there is nobody to be seen. I think it is absolutely disgraceful at the way NCP have ignored the situation there and I am surprised that somebody has not seriously injured themselves.

I would be very interested to know more about your health & safety policy for the maintenance of your car parks.

I look forward to hearing from you."

Christmas Services

For full details of Christmas services on NXEA please click here. For 'highlights' affecting Manningtree passengers see below:

Christmas Eve

A normal weekday timetable will operate but with an earlier closedown to most services during the evening.


Christmas Day and Boxing Day

No Service


Sunday 27th and Monday 28th December

Amended Sunday timetable will operate.

Services between Norwich and London will terminate / start at Ingatestone where a connecting direct coach service will operate to / from Liverpool Street.

Passengers on Great Eastern mainline should change at Romford where a connecting bus service will operate to / from Newbury Park, for connections with London Underground Central Line services to / from Liverpool Street.


Tuesday 29 December to Thursday 31 December inclusive

Services between Norwich and London and all Great Eastern mainline train services will terminate / start at Stratford, for connections with London Underground Central Line services to / from Liverpool Street.


Friday 1 January to Sunday 3 January inclusive

On Friday 1 January most NXEA services will operate to an amended Sunday timetable.

Services between Norwich and London will terminate / start at Ingatestone where a connecting direct coach service will operate to / from Liverpool Street.

Passengers on Great Eastern mainline and Southend Victoria services should change at Romford where a connecting bus service will operate to / from Newbury Park, for connections with London Underground Central Line services to / from Liverpool Street.


Monday 4 January

A normal weekday timetable will operate.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmas Eve Services

A reminder that Christmas Eve services begin to wind down from late afternoon and all are advised to check the timetable for last services.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

National Express Announces New Chief Exec

After a six month search following the departure of Richard Bowker, National Express have today announced Dean Finch as their new Chief Executive. Mr Finch was formerly head of the Tube Lines consortium that maintains half of London's Underground.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Vandalism Causes Spares Worry

Following the 4th instance of criminal damager leading to severe delays in the past ten days there are now fears of a shortage of spares should this vandalism continue. Thieves are stealing the copper wire used in the signalling systems and Network Rail only keep so much in stock.

The nature of these thefts is suggesting a very organised approach as it is not simply a case of cutting a wire - to do so would probably lead to the electrocution of the perpetrator. Also, newer installations use aluminium instead of copper and these gangs seem to know here the copper is.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Ticket Machines In The Car Park

Despite signs to the contrary, the ticket machine on the lower deck of the car park does not currently accept payments by card, only coins. The aerial that enables card payments to happen has yet to be fitted.

A number of occasional users without loose change have been caught out by this and have tried numerous cards, only to see their planned train depart without them. Please note that NCP are being less than sympathetic to those people who have been caught out by this.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Cycle Storage Developments At Manningtree - Update

The installation of stronger stands that are planned for the cycle storage area has been delayed due to annual leave of the maintenance team scheduled to do the work. The stands are in the possession of NXEA and are just awaiting installation. As mentioned previously the current stands have been the victims of vandalism.

Next year there are plans to expand the cycle storage area.

Lighting Failure At Manningtree Station

There have been reports that there were no lights in the subway at Manningtree station late on Friday evening. The situation was made worse by the wet conditions and it is understood that it was only possible to negotiate the steps and subway with the assistance of a cigarette lighter.

This is totally unacceptable and the MRUA has asked NXEA for an explanation as to why this was allowed to happen and what will be done to ensure it does not happen again.

Monday, 7 December 2009

NXEA Season Ticket Promotion

NXEA has launched a promotion to help annual season ticket holders renew their ticket early and avoid the January rush.

Passengers who renew their season ticket before December 31st will receive £20 back as well as obtaining their ticket at the new January prices. Annual season ticket prices are set to fall by 0.4% in the new year.

This offer is available to those renewing or buying for the first time, their tickets between 23rd and 31st December.

MRUA Manifesto for NXEA Replacement

Subject to final committee approval the MRUA will be raising the following points with local MPs and the Department for Transport as key areas that need to be addressed in the new franchise in 2011.

Trains:
  • New trains for the London - Norwich route
  • Improved cleaning and servicing regime
Services:
  • The reintroduction of later 'last' trains
  • Retention of the fast service between London and Manningtree
Tickets:
  • Regulation of all fares and car parking charges
  • Amendment to the restrictions in evening peak travel
Information Systems:
  • Introduction of more up to date station information systems
  • New franchisee to press for improvements to the indicator boards at Liverpool Street
Car Parking:
  • Reduction in the cost of parking
  • An end to the relationship with NCP
Staff:
  • An improvement in staff relations
Media and Public Relations:
  • A return to basic, relevant information sharing rather than 'spin'
General:
  • The franchisee must be seen to be pressing for the significant infrastructure improvements that are required on the Great Eastern mainline
  • The franchisee must be seen to be more robust with suppliers such as Network Rail
If you feel there is anything that should be added, please contact the MRUA at info@mrua.org

Manningtree Station Bicycle Facilities

The MRUA is chasing NXEA over the lack of progress in working on the bicycle storage area at the station. It had been planned to install replacement racks by the end of November but this has not yet happened.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Seven Tonnes Of Fly Tipped Rubbish Taken Away

In a joint effort at the the weekend Network Rail and Tendring District Council cleared away seven tonnes of rubbish from a fly-tipping hotspot in Harwich. An area behind properties in Ingestre Street, Albert Street and Albermarle Street was cleared following reports of people dumping their rubbish there.

Items such as shopping trolleys, wardrobes, bicycles, beds, mattresses, televisions, sinks, fire extinguishers, scrap metal and black sacks of household waste were cleared in Saturday's haul.

Not only is fly-tipping illegal, with potential fines of £1,000 for offenders, and an eyesore but rubbish such as this attracts rats who like to eat through signal cables which often leads to signal failures, delays and potentially, accidents.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Manifesto For The Successor To NXEA

The Manningtree Rail Users Association, as part of the Essex Rail Users Federation (ERUF) is compiling a 'manifesto' of requirements and expectations of the successor to National Express East Anglia. This manifesto will be presented to local MPs and the Department for Transport as the latter prepares to go out to tender for the new franchise.

If there any any particular points you would like to see included please let us know at info@mrua.org

Friday, 27 November 2009

Who Might Take Over From NXEA?

Last night three major rail operators said they would be interested in bidding for the current NXEA franchise. FirstGroup, who ran the First Great Eastern franchise prior to National Express, Virgin and Stagecoach have all indicated an interest.

However, they have all said that any decision on a potential bid will be subject to the terms of the franchise as advertised by the Department of Transport.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

NXEA To Lose Franchise Early

The government has this morning announced that National Express East Anglia (NXEA) will be losing their franchise in March 2011. Although this is actually the original end date of the franchise the company had been looking forward to a three year extension to 2014 having met the prerequisite performance targets. However, the recent failure of the East Coast franchise has meant that National Express (NX) were likely to lose the NXEA business too. There were rumours that the Department for Transport (DfT) wanted to strip NX of the NXEA and C2C franchises with immediate effect but they have since decided against this. (The C2C business is up for renewal in May 2011)

The DfT have stated that the process for securing a new operator would start immediately so that a new franchise could begin in April 2011.

An interesting footnote to the timing of the end of the franchise is how close it is to the 2012 Olympics which some may see as inconvenient to say the least.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Dovercourt Station Revamp Plan Is Scrapped

Plans to revamp Dovercourt station at a cost of £150,000 have been scrapped because National Express East Anglia (NXEA) and Network Rail are unhappy with the terms of the lease to make it happen.

There had been plans to create a restaurant and perhaps a creche or even doctor's surgery as well as improve facilities for passengers. Grants were in place from the Dovercourt Township Heritage Trust and the Railway Heritage Fund. A third party would have taken over the project by leasing the building with the agreement of NXEA and Network Rail. However this agreement has not been obtained.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Online Plan Of Manningtree Station

Network Rail now provide an online plan of stations on the rail network. For details of Manningtree Station click here. Hovering over the individual icons shown on the plan will provide the relevant photo.

For other stations go to the Network Rail website, enter the station name in the Search box; Click on the relevant station name that comes up and then on Stations Made Easy

Monday, 23 November 2009

Oyster Pay As You Go To Be Extended

From 2 January 2010 all National Express East Anglia stations within the Greater London area (zones 1-6) will accept Oyster pay as you go cards. On the Great Eastern line this means all stations from Harold Wood into Liverpool Street.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

NXEA Vision For Rail Services Between London and Norwich

National Express East Anglia has set out its vision of services on the London to Norwich mainline. Speaking at the conference Shaping Norfolk's Future, NXEA's managing director Andrew Chivers highlighted the three main areas to be addressed: Quicker journey times between Norwich and London with the fastest service taking only 1 hour 30 mins; new Inter-City trains; and further improvements to the railway infrastructure, including tracks and signalling.

Ironically some of the improvements, such as new trains, will come into service beyond the end of the current franchise in 2011 which may see another operator running the service. However, the planning does need to start now. In the short term, the widely publicised increase in capacity on commuter routes will continue with the ongoing addition of 'hand me down' trains to the Class 321 fleet enabling many services to be lengthened. NXEA will also be looking, at last, to installing WiFi services on their Inter City fleet.

The time taken by London - Norwich trains at the moment is dictated by many things: Busy commuter routes into London hindered by there only being four tracks as far as Shenfield; Very few passing loops (Places for trains to pass) beyond Shenfield; Speeds limited to a maximum of 100mph; the number of station stops made on each journey. To achieve the goal of a 1 hour 30 min journey between Norwich and London some of the above, if not all, will need to be addressed.

New trains for the London - Norwich route will be a very welcome change to the tradition on this line of taking elderly, second hand trains off somebody else's hands.

Changes to the infrastructure will take considerably longer to implement but may include a passing loop at the new station proposed near Boreham and even extending four tracks beyond Shenfield, possibly as part of the CrossRail project.

Of concern to Manningtree passengers is the possibility of fewer Inter City trains stopping here to improve overall journey times and as such the MRUA will be monitoring developments closely.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Government Changes Lead To Passengers Paying More

In the week that next year's fare increases are announced across the country the Campaign For Better Transport has highlighted the fact in a report that passengers are actually paying considerably more as a consequence of changes to the rules regarding fare increases.

Traditionally, regulated fare increases were capped at the Retail Price Index (RPI) minus 1. However in 2003 the government changed this to RPI plus 1. This was done as part of the government desire to have rail passengers pay a greater share of the costs of the rail network.

As a result of this change to the rules passengers in Manningtree are paying considerably more. Specifically, the annual season ticket from Manningtree to London at £4,400 is £570 more than it would have been under the previous rules.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

NXEA Among The Worst For Customer Satisfaction

In the latest government rail review National Express East Anglia scored just 61% for customer satisfaction placing it 14th out of 18 operators nationally. London Midland, First Capital Connect, Northern Rail and London Overground are the only operators to score lower.

Somewhat ironically National Express East Coast, the franchise taken over by the government at the weekend, came top with a score of 78%.

Monday, 16 November 2009

National Express To Freeze Unregulated Fares

National Express East Anglia will be freezing all unregulated fares in the new year. The national average for fare increases is 1.1%

Regulated fares such as season tickets will reduce by 0.4%

Adonis Critical Of NX Retaining Franchise

Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis has said it is "unacceptable" for National Express to retain its remaining franchises having given up the East Coast main line at the weekend.

Regarding NXEA and C2C National Express said it "continued to meet all its contractual obligations for the East Anglia and C2C franchises". However, Lord Adonis said in a BBC interview "I regard it as unacceptable and not the way to treat the government that they seek to give up their loss-making franchise.... but keep the ones that are profitable."

Unregulated Fares To Increase by Average of 1.1%

The Association Of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has announced that unregulated fares such as cheap day returns are to increase by an average of 1.1% in the new year. This is the lowest increase since privatisation.

Regulated tickets such as season tickets are set to decrease by 0.4% as a consequence of these prices being tied to the RPI which has fallen.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

National Express To Lose NXEA Franchise Early?

Hidden in the small print of the National Express rights issue document is an admission by the group that its default on the East Coast franchise means that it will "lose the right automatically" to the three year extension to the NXEA franchise. Any extension will now be "at the sole discretion of the Department for Transport".

Under the current terms of the NXEA franchise it will be extended by three years from 2011 if the company meets certain performance targets. It is currently meeting those targets.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Rail Travel Too Expensive For Network Rail

Network trail is transporting 200 of its staff from Reading to a conference in Coventry by coach because going by rail would be too expensive. If open return tickets were bought at £135 per head it would cost £27,000, so the company has opted for the coach alternative which comes in at £12 a head - a saving of £24,000!

Surely a lesson there somewhere....

National Express Announces £350m Rights Issue

National Express Group has announced a £350m rights issue in an attempt to shore up its debt laden balance sheet. Interestingly this move does not appear to have the support of its largest shareholder, the Cosmen family, who own 18% of the business.

National Express this week hand back their East Coast franchise and it is reported that the Department for Transport is still determined to strip the group of its East Anglian (NXEA) and C2C franchises. However the group said this morning that it would fight any such attempt that would effectively remove it from the UK rail business.

Monday, 9 November 2009

No Compensation For Recent Disruption

NXEA will not be paying compensation to passengers following the recent disruption on the Harwich Branch Line. NXEA are saying that any compensation due will be based on the revised timetable that included the replacement bus service.

Users of this replacement service will know that whilst some of the buses were respectable, modern coaches there were also 30-40 year old buses in use and some of the routes taken were hardly direct. As such many passengers were significantly inconvenienced and did not receive the service they had paid for. The MRUA will be pursuing this with NXEA to get appropriate compensation to those affected.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Harwich Branch Now Fully Open

Following the threat yesterday of further disruption during peak periods it is being reported that the second line on the Harwich Branch is now fully operational.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Cancellations On The Harwich Line

Following on from the resumption of services following the recent landslip, services in the peak period on the Harwich line between Manningtree and Harwich are being cancelled this evening. A Network Rail spokesman has said that this was always planned and is because there is still only one line open to passenger traffic and there are a number of freight trains that have to go at a certain time.

The same thing is likely tomorrow (Friday) with a full service resuming on Monday 9th November.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Harwich Branch Line Services To Resume Early

Network Rail is reporting that services on the Harwich Line are to resume tomorrow (Tuesday), 6 days earlier than the original estimated date.

A 200m sheet metal wall has been placed into the ground and hundreds of tons of granite shingle is being used to stabilise the track which had subsided following a landslip near Wrabness. Although services will be running again, they will be subject to 20mph speed restrictions in the affected area.

Friday, 30 October 2009

NXEA Punctuality Improvements

In a report published by Network Rail on 29th October NXEA achieved punctuality figures of 94.1% in the period 20th Sept to 17th October. This compares with 90.9% in the same period last year.

National Express To Hand Back NXEA?

Following the recent failed attempts at a takeover of National Express (NX) by The CVC/Cosmen and then Stagecoach bids, there is again speculation that the government may still carry through its threat of removing the NXEA and C2C franchises from NX. The threat was originally made as a consequence of NX handing back the NXEC franchise - something that has still to be done - and the belief by some that should a franchise holder default on one franchise it should also relinquish responsibility of any others it may have.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

National Express Calls Off Merger Talks

National Express has said that all talks of a merger with Stagecoach have ended. "It is unlikely that a combination with Stagecoach could be successfully executed in 2009, even if appropriate terms could be agreed" it said.

It is thought that this comment refers to possible issues with the Monopolies Commission who may have blocked such a move. Stagecoach has said that was "extremely disappointed" that National Express decided against its offer.

National Express has said that it intends to raise funds by issuing extra shares as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Cycle Storage Developments At Manningtree

Following on from a number of thefts and incidents of vandalism in the cycle storage area at the station a number of initiatives are underway to improve the situation.

Recently NXEA, in conjunction with British Transport Police (BTP), have moved one of the CCTV cameras to give a better view of the entrance / exit of the area and the main section of cycle storage.

NXEA have some new stands to replace the 'toast rack' types that have been damaged as it seems to be the case that the racks are being vandalised to gain access to cycles. They hope to have these installed by the end of the November at the latest. This will also prevent motorbikes from parking under the cycle shelters.

Unfortunately it was not possible to extend the cycle area this year due to budget constraints but NXEA have ensured it is included in next year's cycle improvements so the storage area can be extended.

NXEA did have a cycle initiative planned for Manningtree (to hand out free bike transponders and advice with BTP) but sadly this was cancelled due to the recent planned driver industrial action. They do still plan to hold this event but need to coordinate the BTP and others to ensure it can go ahead.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Stagecoach Prepares Bid For National Express

It is reported that Stagecoach is putting the final touches to bank financing to launch a takeover bid of National Express. It is understood that Stagecoach has between £300m and £400m of finance ready to buy National Express and it is thought that they make a move in the coming week.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Manningtree - Harwich Service Update

Network Rail had hoped to be able to run trains as far as Mistley or Wrabness to ease the problems being caused to passengers by the current closure of the line. However, a review of the situation has found operational reasons for this to no longer be an option.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

** Update ** Manningtree - Harwich Line

Following on from the earlier announcements it is confirmed that it is intended to restore passenger services on the Harwich branch, albeit with speed restrictions, on 9th November. In the meantime planners are working to see whether it will be possible to run trains to Mistley and perhaps as far as Wrabness on the Manningtree side of the disruption.

With immediate effect buses will operate, calling at all stations on the branch line. A plan is being drawn up for a fast service, a stopping service and a students' service for after half term. In addition buses will be laid on to accommodate any boats docking at Harwich International.

Additional staff will be available at Manningtree station and at stations along the Harwich branch to provide information and assistance.

Manningtree - Harwich Trains Suspended Until 9th November

Following on from the landslip near Wrabness yesterday evening, train services between Manningtree and Harwich are suspended until 9th November.

Replacement bus services are extending journey times by approximately 30 mins. A number of services to Harwich are being diverted to terminate at Ipswich and some services from Harwich are starting from either Manningtree or Colchester. For details of specific service alterations as a consequence of this suspension click here.

Bus Replacement Service

Following yesterday evening's landslip in the Wrabness area and the subsequent suspension of rail services between Manningtree and Harwich Town, buses will replace trains until further notice.

National Express Issues Profits Warning

National Express Group (NX) today issued a profit warning and has said that it will be press ahead with plans to ask investors for funding following an increase in the cost of debt. The group now expects full year pre-tax profits to fall "slightly" below expectations.

NX also confirmed that the board would "continue to evaluate the value, risk and certainty offered by the preliminary proposal from Stagecoach".

The company also confirmed that it is meeting its performance targets to achieve a three year extension on the East Anglian (NXEA) and C2C franchises.

Has Your Bicycle Been Stolen Or Vandalised?

The MRUA would like to hear from anyone who has had their bicycle either vandalised or stolen from Manningtree Station, specifically from the bike sheds on platform 2. All responses treated in confidence.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Harwich Branch Line Services Suspended

Following a landslip in the Wrabness area, services between Manningtree and Harwich are currently suspended. A replacement bus service is in operation with journey times extended by 30 mins. Current estimates suggest no trains until Friday at the earliest, however this is subject to change.

Stagecoach Get Cosmen Support

Stagecoach's hopes of securing a £1.7bn merger with National Express were boosted last night when it reportedly won support from the latter's biggest shareholder, the Cosmen family of Spain.

The Cosmens, who have an 18% stake in NX recently led an abortive takeover bid of the transport group of which Stagecoach were a part.

Additional Carriages In The Winter Timetable

The ongoing introduction of additional carriages to the NXEA fleet now means that a number of trains can be lengthened. The introduction of the winter timetable on 13th December will see a number of changes implemented and those of interest to Manningtree and Harwich branch passengers are:

Trains increased to 12 carriages

  • 18.32 Liverpool Street to Ipswich

Trains increased to 8 carriages

  • 08.00 Harwich Town to Liverpool Street, (8 carriages from Colchester)
  • 16.15 Liverpool Street to Harwich Town, (8 carriages to Colchester)

Other changes being introduced include:

  • 16.30 (Mon-Fri) Ipswich to Colchester re-timed to depart at 16.32 and is extended to run through as an additional service to London Liverpool Street
  • 19.00 (Sundays) Liverpool Street to Norwich will call additionally at Chelmsford, Colchester and Manningtree

Monday, 19 October 2009

'Leaves On The Line' Delays Reduced

Network Rail are claiming a significant reduction in the number of delays caused by leaves on the line. Better management of lineside vegetation, newer trains that can cope better with the slippery conditions and the application of an adhesive substance called Sandite to the rails have all contributed to the reduction in delays.

Of course some train companies, including NXEA, implement leaf fall timetables in the autumn to add a few minutes to journey times in case of delays caused by lack of wheel grip as a consequence of fallen leaves on the line. Even so, the sound of the train struggling to get traction as it pulls away is certainly less frequent nowadays.


Stagecoach Make Another Offer For National Express

National Express (NX) confirmed on Sunday evening that it has received another takeover approach from Stagecoach. It is understood that Stagecoach wrote to the NX board at the weekend and proposed that NX shareholders should hold up to 40% of a combined company. However insiders say that a 50/50 split would better reflect the earnings of the two groups and as such the the Stagecoach offer is likely to rebuffed, at least in its current form.

Speculation that FirstGroup had also made an approach was denied.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

FirstGroup To Consider National Express Takeover?

Reports are suggesting the FirstGroup will this week consider whether to make its own move on National Express after reacting to a £1.65bn all-share merger proposal from its rival Stagecoach.

FirstGroup formerly ran the the First Great Eastern franchise prior to the introduction of the 'one' greater Anglia franchise (part of National Express)

Friday, 16 October 2009

Stagecoach Still Interested In NXEA

Following on from the collapse of the takeover bid by the CVC / Cosman family it is reported that Stagecoach may still be interested in the UK operations. As part of the CVC bid it was intended that Stagecoach would takeover the UK bus and rail operations of National Express - which includes National Express East Anglia (NXEA) - and Stagecoach are said to still regard these operations as attractive 'at the right price'.

Go Ahead Group Plc, the UK's biggest rail company by passenger numbers has declined to say whether it is interested in National Express. FirstGroup Plc which made an abortive bid earlier in the year has said in the past that it is only interested in the East Coast mainline route.

As previously mentioned, much still hangs in the balance regarding whether the government will take the NXEA and C2C back into public ownership.

CVC & Cosmen Family Withdraw From Takeover Bid

In what is being seen as something of a surprise move the Cosmen Family and CVC have pulled out of their proposed takeover bid for National Express Group. Media reports suggest that the consortium faced a number of hurdles, including the £1bn - £1.2bn needed debt package and they were not able to secure the necessary funding.

National Express Group will now seek to raise cash from investors to strengthen its financial position in a move that will be supported by the Cosmen family who own 18.5% of the company.

This latest move now brings back into play the prospect of the government taking back the NXEA and C2C franchises into public ownership, albeit temporarily, following the imminent hand over of the troubled NXEC franchise by National Express. Assuming, as many do, that the government would rather see the franchises stay in the private sector it may well be that another operator - perhaps Stagecoach - will make a bid....?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Train Refurbishment

Passengers may be aware that the Class 321 trains - the green sliding door trains - are currently undergoing refurbishment, albeit one train at a time. As part of this refurbishment the National Express corporate identity is being applied. The MRUA has asked what plans are in place to cope with the possible imminent change of franchise to Stagecoach and the inevitable rebranding exercise that will take place. The MRUA does not wish to see more money being wasted on yet another rebranding exercise leading to a sixth different colour scheme currently seen on our trains.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Stagecoach Set To Take Over NXEA 'Within Weeks'

According to industry sources National Express is now set to leave the rail industry within a few weeks. The East Anglia (NXEA) and C2C franchises are expected to transfer to Stagecoach while the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) says that the East Coast franchise will be in the hands of the Department for Transport by early December.

It had been expected that an announcement would be made by 16th October but the Spanish buyers of the National Express Group have asked for more time. The remaining uncertainties are reported to concern the Spanish coach operations of NX rather than its assets in the UK.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Emails to MRUA - Update

Emails addressed to info@mrua.org now appear to be working. Please can we request that anybody who emailed us since Saturday and has not had a response send us their email again.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Emails to MRUA

Please note that any emails sent to info@mrua.org since early Saturday will not have reached us. The problem is ongoing unfortunately but we will post here when resolved. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Harwich Branch - 30 Comments Received

NXEA are reporting that despite comments in the media stating that over 800 objections have been sent to them regarding the intended changes to the timetable on the Harwich branch in December 2010, they have in fact only received something in the region of 30 comments.

The reasons behind the intended introduction of a shuttle service between Harwich Town and Manningtree are many and varied and have been reported here before. In summary, the changes that may adversely affect some users of the branch line will actually enhance the journeys of the vast majority of passengers on the Great Eastern mainline, especially nearer London. There is no solution that will please everyone and due to the severe capacity restrictions in our region the timetablers have to take into account the requirements of the vast majority.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Mistley - 800 object to timetable changes

It is reported that over 800 complaints have been raised by people in the Mistley area regarding NXEA's proposed changes to the timetable at the end of 2010.

NXEA intend to cease the direct Harwich to London trains and replace them with a shuttle service between Harwich and Manningtree. Many in the Mistley area feel that this will have detrimental effect on local businesses and that passengers may be left stranded at Manningtree station, amongst other concerns.

The MRUA continues to work with NXEA in identifying a solution to this problem that best satisfies all the relevant parties.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Current Campaigns

Thought it might be appropriate to highlight the things that the MRUA is currently working on:
  • Reducing the cost of parking at Manningtree station.
  • Representing the interests of Manningtree and Harwich branch line passengers in the current timetable consultation process being carried out by NXEA.
  • Getting a later last train from London.
If there are any issues that would like the MRUA to address then please do not hesitate to contact us on info@mrua.org

Saturday, 26 September 2009

CVC Deadline Extended To 16th Oct

Confirmation that the deadline for the CVC consortium to finalise their takeover of National Express Group has been extended to 16th October.

Friday, 25 September 2009

CVC Deadline Extended

The CVC consortium has obtained an extension to the deadline to enable them to continue due diligence on their proposed take over of National Express Group. It is understood that the assessment of the UK business which includes National Express East Anglia (NXEA) has been successfully completed but that additional time is required to review the company's US school bus division.

Should the takeover go ahead then the NXEA business will be transferred to the Stagecoach Group.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

CVC Group May Request More Time On NX Due Diligence

Media reports are suggesting that CVC Capital Partners and Spain's Cosmen family are expected to ask for more time to do due diligence before they make a formal offer for National Express Group. The current deadline is set for 16:00GMT on Friday.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Ever Considered The Actual Cost Of Commuting?

The annual season from Manningtree to London is £4,400 (£5,040 with a Travelcard). Assuming you pay 40% tax as a lot of commuters do, you need to earn £7,333 (£8,400 with Travelcard) just to buy your ticket.

An annual car park ticket at Manningtree costs £960 which would require you to earn £1,600 before tax to pay for it.

So if a couple commute to London, require a Travelcard and park at Manningtree they have to earn
£18,400 between them just to cover the cost of travelling!

The numbers for those paying 20% tax are as follows:

Season ticket - £4,400 (£5,040)
Needs to earn £5,500 (£6,300)

Car Park - £960
Needs to earn £1,200

When taking into account that people on 20% tax are earning less than £34,800 that is quite a sizeable chunk of income going on the cost of travel.

Of course, it should be mentioned that all the above assumes that individuals can fork out for an annual ticket. Monthly, weekly and daily tickets obviously cost more over a 12 month period.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Strike Refunds - Deadline 23rd September

A reminder that any claims for refunds on monthly or annual seasons following on from the recent strike action need to be with NXEA by 23rd September.

Buses Replacing Trains Between Manningtree And Harwich

Buses are currently replacing trains between Manningtree and Harwich following the discovery of a body on the line near Mistley. The discovery was made at approximately 08:30 this morning.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Severe Delays This Evening

Severe delays this evening allegedly caused by some clown cutting down a tree and letting it fall across the tracks near Chelmsford.

A137 Parking Restrictions

Lawford Parish Council will be requesting that the lay-by on the A137 used for parking by Manningtree commuters be included in the Clearway along the A137. This is to "... stop the number of cars parking there as they reverse into the road..."

Threatened Strike Called Off

The threatened strike by ASLEF train drivers due to start next Monday (21st) has been called off.

TUC Conference To Vote On Franchise Future

Delegates at the TUC's annual conference in Liverpool are to vote later today on calls to keep the East Coast mainline in public hands once it is handed back by National Express. ASLEF has tabled a motion urging ministers to abandon plans to find another buyer next year and to run it instead on a not-for-profit basis.

Of particular interest to Manningtree passengers is the call by the union to also have the East Anglian (NXEA) and C2C franchises handed back to public ownership. ASLEF are also urging the government to ban National Express from ever running a rail service again.

Hopes Rise Over Planned Rail Strike

Hopes are rising that the planned strike by train drivers at National Express East Anglia (NXEA) will be called off.

Leaders of the drivers' union Aslef are meeting to decide whether to accept a new pay and conditions deal put forward by NXEA in a bid to avert the threatened action.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Industrial Action Altered Timetables 21 - 26 September

NXEA have published an emergency timetable to cover the duration of the threatened ASLEF strike between 21st and 26th September which can be found on the NXEA website.

Shuttle Service Between Harwich and Manningtree

As part of the consultation process being carried out by NXEA regarding timetable changes at the end of 2010 it has been suggested that direct rains from Harwich to London may be replaced by a shuttle service between Harwich and Manningtree.

One of the reasons for this is that both Mistley and Wrabness stations can only accommodate 4 carriage trains and the regulations stipulate that longer trains are not allowed to stop there. This means that a valuable train path to London is taken up by a 4 carriage train which often gets overcrowded as it gets nearer to London. Whilst the running of a shuttle is very inconvenient for Harwich branch users it does mean that a greater number of passengers further down the line do not lose a service and consequently this is the thinking behind such a proposal.

Unfortunately, physical constraints such as bridges etc. prevent the platforms at Mistley and Wrabness being lengthened. The MRUA will continue to campaign for longer trains to be run on the Harwich branch where the introduction of a system whereby only the doors on, say, the front 4 carriages are allowed to open at Wrabness and Mistley could be introduced as has been done in other parts of the country.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Cosmen Family Given Two Weeks To Complete Takeover of National Express

The proposed Cosmen family / CVC takeover of National Express group (NX) has been given a two week extension to finalise the details of the deal whilst they carry out the necessary due diligence on NX's books.

As previously recorded, such a deal is likely to see control of NX bus and rail businesses, including National Express East Anglia, transfer to Stagecoach.

70% 'back rail re-nationalisation'

According to a poll of more than a 1,000 people taken for the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) most people are in favour of returning the railways to public ownership. 70% are in favour with just 23% supporting privatisation.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

ASLEF Rejects 4% Pay Deal Whilst RMT & TSSA Members Overwhelmingly Accept

More evidence emerges that ASLEF have rejected a 4% pay rise in just over 12 months. It is not clear how many NXEA drivers have rejected the deal as ASLEF are not releasing precise details but apparently 80% of RMT and TSSA members - the other two unions involved in the previous dispute - voted to accept the offer.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

National Express Set To Accept £765m Cosmen - CVC Bid

National Express is poised to accept a 500p a share offer for the Cosmen - CVC consortium having now ruled out breaking up the group by selling its UK bus and rail businesses to Stagecoach in a bid to frustrate the offer.

At a board meeting today the company voted to recommend the £765m bid although the recommendation is subject to a few final conditions it has agreed to allow the consortium to start due diligence. An announcement could be made as early as Thursday.

Previous reports suggest that the consortium will sell the NX UK bus and rail businesses, including NXEA, to Stagecoach.

ASLEF Rejects 4% Pay Deal

Media reports are saying that ASLEF have rejected a 4% pay offer, an offer accepted by both the RMT and TSSA unions. There are also issues regarding staff relations and rostering which have led to 95% of drivers voting to strike. It is not clear at this stage whether that is 95% of all drivers or 95% of those who voted.

Calling all ASLEF Members!

We should be grateful if any ASLEF members reading this would contact the MRUA on info@mrua.org and let us know what exactly the issues are that are prompting the current industrial action. Any responses will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

Thank you.

Talks To Avert Strike

National Express East Anglia is seeking urgent talks with the Aslef train drivers' union in a bid to avert a week long strike due to start on Monday 21st September.

Aslef members yesterday rejected a deal that was put to them last month as a result of the strikes held by them and members of the RMT and TSSA. The dispute is over 'pay and conditions' and it is believed that the unions were offered 3.5% over two years. However, there appears to be little information available as to what the union's issues are regarding 'conditions'.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

ASLEF Members Vote To Strike

ASLEF members have voted to reject the recent offer made by NXEA that ended the recent industrial action and will be striking for a week commencing Monday 21st September.

NX Looking At Alternatives To Cosmen / CVC Takeover

Media reports suggest that National Express (NX) is working on a last ditch plan to offer its UK bus and rail franchises, which include National Express East Anglia, directly to Stagecoach in a side deal which could save it from a takeover by the Cosmen family and CVC.

The sale of UK assets to Stagecoach would allow NX to significantly reduce the size of a deeply discounted rights issue that was initially intended to raise £350m in an attempt to reduce its significant debt problem.

As mentioned previously, Stagecoach appears to have provisional agreement from the Department for Transport to take on the NXEA and C2C franchises.

Train Ballot Due

One of the three trade unions in the dispute over pay and conditions with NXEA which led to the recent strike action will today confirm whether they've accepted a new wage offer.

ASLEF is expected to reveal the results of a ballot on its members as to whether they are happy with the latest pay deal being offered by NXEA. The other two unions involved in the strike action were the RMT and TSSA.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Stagecoach To Pay £100m In Rail Deal

Stagecoach has agreed to pay £100m as a "change of control" payment to take over National Express' rail business. The payment to the Department For Transport is in exchange for an agreement that the government will not force Stagecoach to relinquish National Express' East Anglia and C2C franchises as "cross default" punishment for its failure to honour its £1.4bn East Coast contract.

In what seems a rather bizarre arrangement this seems a clear indicator that Stagecoach are close to taking over the National Express UK rail business, including NXEA.

Friday, 4 September 2009

The Winton Train

Earlier today the 'Winton Train' passed through Manningtree on its way from Harwich to Liverpool Street to commemorate the 1939 evacuation of Jewish children from Prague to London by Sir Nicholas Winton. The train today made up the last leg of the journey which started earlier in the week in Prague.


The train, hauled by the recently built A1 class locomotive 'Tornado' is pictured here at Harwich International next to a much older National Express class 360!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Franchise Extension To Be Confirmed?

As a condition of Stagecoach taking over the NXEA franchise in the event that the NX Group is taken over by the Cosmen / CVC consortium, the Department for Transport are expected to confirm in due course that the specific performance conditions that are required to be met for the franchise to be extended from 2011 to 2014 have been satisfied.

Should Stagecoach acquire the current NXEA franchise, the prospect of yet another colour scheme on our trains, currently running at four, is highly likely!

Offer For National Express Raised

Spain's Cosmen family who, with an 18.5% holding in National Express (NX), are the biggest shareholder has upped its offer for NX with what they are saying is their final bid valuing the company at £765 million. Working in conjunction with buy-out firm CVC they are looking for a board recommendation to go ahead.

Of particular interest to Manningtree rail users is the claim by NX rival Stagecoach that in the event of a takeover, the Department for Transport would not seize the East Anglia and C2C franchises as threatened following the handing back of the loss making East Coast franchise by NX. Stagecoach has agreed an outline deal with the Cosmen / CVC consortium to take on NX's UK bus and rail businesses in the event of a takeover.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Cancellations last Saturday - Clarification

Regarding the item dated Saturday 29th August alleging the 40+ cancellations were as a result of staff simply not turning up for work (see below), it is now understood that these cancellations were as a consequence of issues around staff rosters. Happy to put the record straight.

The Winton Train

To commemorate the 1939 evacuation of hundreds of Jewish children from Prague to London by Sir Nicholas Winton, the UK's newest steam locomotive 60163 Tornado will be pulling a special train from Harwich International to London Liverpool Street on Friday 4th September. The 'Winton Train' will be passing through Manningtree at 09:30 on its trip to London. Detailed timings below:

Harwich Int 09.12
Manningtree 9.30
Colchester 9.42
Witham 9.53
Chelmsford 10.01
Shenfield 10.11
Stratford 10.27
Liverpool St 10.37

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Cancellations Caused By Staff Not Turning Up For Work

Reports in the media are suggesting that the significant number of cancellations today - over 40 - has been caused by staff simply not turning up for work. This is often one of the busiest weekends of the year but NXEA have had to cancel many trains for what was originally described as an 'operating incident'. However an NXEA spokeswoman later revealed the cause was down to 'unavailability of staff'.

Increased Offer For National Express

National Express (NX) has received an increased takeover offer from its largest shareholder. The improved offer from the Spanish Cosmen family, backed by buy-out firm CVC, reportedly values NX at nearly £700 million - a value close to that which the board is thought to place on the business.

However NX directors are thought to be still canvassing other shareholders on whether to follow up on on the offer or go it alone and pursue a £350 million rights issue of new shares as an alternative strategy for reducing its £977 million debt mountain.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Train Fares Set To Fall in 2010

Regulated rail fares including season tickets are set to fall by 0.4% next year after the Retail Price Index (RPI) - a key inflation indicator - was measured at -1.4% in July. Increase in regulated commuter fares are pegged to the RPI figure plus 1%.

In 2010 the rules on regulated fares will change, with most rail companies having the limit of RPI plus 1% imposed on them. Previously train operators have been allowed to increase individual regulated fares by as much as 6% over the RPI rate.

Specific details regarding NXEA fares will be announced in due course.

Extra Services for V Festival

Extra services are being laid on by NXEA on both Saturday the 22nd and Sunday 23rd August for the V Festival at Chelmsford. Details can be found on the NXEA website.

Bank Holiday Service Disruption

Passengers are advised to allow for longer journey times when travelling over the bank holiday weekend. Work on overhead lines, testing of new signalling equipment and ongoing work on the Stratford transport hub in preparation for the 2012 Olympics, means that the line will be closed between Liverpool Street and Stratford, Witham and Manningtree and Colchester Town.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Friday, 14 August 2009

Strike Action Over

Old news now, but just to confirm that Aslef, RMT and the TSSA unions have called off all planned strike action.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Aslef Call Off Strike

Aslef, the train driver's union, has called off their strike scheduled for Friday 14th August. Media reports suggest that a 3.5% offer over 2 years has been accepted. The RMT have also indicated that are likely to accept the offer.

Week Long Strikes Threatened

As the third 48 hour strike by RMT, Aslef and TSSA members takes hold, Aslef are now threatening week long strikes next month. Another 48 hour strike is already threatened for next Thursday 20th and Friday 21st August.

The move by Aslef comes as a union spokesman said that talks with NXEA had become "increasingly fractious and unproductive".

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Strike Action Confirmed

NXEA have confirmed that strike action will go ahead on Thursday 13th and Friday 14th August. Details of the few services running can be found at the NXEA website.

Assistance Needed....

The unions involved in the current dispute with NXEA are saying that their issues are over 'pay and conditions'. Whilst there is much talk in the media about the pay dispute, specific details of the other differences with NXEA are sketchy, even at this stage, with very woolly comments being made.

If you are one of the strikers and would like to expand upon what the issues actually are then please contact the Manningtree Rail Users Association, in confidence, on info@mrua.org .

Strike Talks Continue

Talks to try and resolve the strike of RMT, Aslef and now TSSA members working for NXEA continue today.

As it stands, the third strike in as many weeks is due to take place tomorrow and Friday. Previous weeks have seen only a very few services running during these strikes.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Apologies....

Apologies for this site not being available for a while this morning. Problems at the domain name registration provider which they now seem to have resolved.

Strike Talks To Continue

Talks between the three striking rail unions - RMT, Aslef and new this week, the TSSA - resume today in the hope that a settlement can be reached before the next round of strikes scheduled for Thursday and Friday of the this week.

Confusion still exists as to the specific reasons for the strike with contradictory messages being sent out by the individual unions and NXEA. The more general reasons being given are pay and conditions but the specifics are still thin on the ground even at this stage.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

NXEA Strike Update

NXEA are reporting that they have invited ACAS to help in resolving the dispute with the RMT, Aslef and TSSA. However none of the trade unions are now prepared to talk further until Monday. NXEA are also reporting that they have asked the unions to suspend industrial action whilst talks continue and to also present NXEA's revised offer to their members but both requests have been refused.

The TSSA are not taking part in the strike today and tomorrow but if a resolution is not reached they will be joining the planned strikes on the 13th and 14th August.

Aslef are disputing media reports regarding their pay claim saying that they have never stated that they demand a minimum pay increase of 2.5%. Similarly they say claims that they have demanded 4% more drivers are untrue.

In a TV interview tonight RMT leader Bob Crow gave out no real details to justify strike action, giving added weight to the growing media and public perception that their motives are perhaps more politically driven.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Planned Strike To Go Ahead

The planned 48 hour strike by NXEA workers will be going ahead tomorrow (Thur) and Friday after talks aimed at resolving the row over pay and conditions ended unsuccessfully today.

It is expected that a service will run similar to last week's when only 100 trains out of the usual 1,800 services ran. Trains running later on today may be affected as may some services on Saturday. Revised service details can be found on the NXEA website.

Neil Skinner, from the Manningtree Rail Users Association spoke on BBC Look East saying that many people do not fully understand why the strikes are taking place with the unions giving few details of the specific issues they have with NXEA. Click here

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A Third Union To Join Strike?

Senior managers belonging to a third rail union and working for NXEA have voted to join the planned 48-hour strike by Aslef and RMT members on Thursday.

Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) said that 75% of 100 senior staff who took part in the ballot backed strike action.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Strike Action - Ticket Refunds

Holders of Monthly and Annual Season Tickets who were unable to travel as a consequence of strike action will be entitled to claim a refund for the days affected.

A specific Claims form will be available via the NXEA website once the industrial action has ended. Delay Repay forms will not be accepted by NXEA for claims related to the strike action.

Talks To End Strikes

Talks are scheduled to take place today between National Express and the unions in an attempt to avert further strikes. Following strike action last Thursday and Friday, further strikes are planned by the Aslef and RMT unions for 6th - 7th, 13th - 14th and 20th - 21st August.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

National Express Announce Half Yearly Results

On the first day of strikes by NXEA staff, National Express announce pre tax losses of £48.1m for the first 6 months of 2009. £20m was lost on the troubled East Coast franchise.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Strike Action - Union Requirements

Reports in the media are detailing some of the claims being made by the unions as cause for the proposed strike action this week.

Among a variety of demands the ASLEF union for example want a minimum pay increase of 2.5%, a four day working week for all its members and a 4% increase in the number of train drivers employed by NXEA. During two days of talks the unions have also apparently refused to discuss any productivity improvements to fund the pay increase.

Poll Results Over Strike

In an online poll taken by the MRUA 56% of respondents did not agree with the strike action being threatened by NXEA staff. The remaining 44% did agree.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

NXEA Strike Update

NXEA are advising that it is almost certain that the strike by Aslef and RMT members will go ahead this Thursday and Friday and that almost no services will run.

There may be a skeleton service of three trains up and three back between Norwich and London and an hourly service between Colchester and London. Details will appear on the NXEA website.

The advice is however, to stay at home if at all possible.

NX Takeover - 'Put Up Or Shut Up'

National Express (NX) is understood to have asked the Takeover Panel to impose a 'Put Up or Shut Up' deadline on the takeover approach from CVC, the private equity group and the Cosmen family from Spain. (see comment dated 24th July)

The order would force the prospective bidders into making a firm offer within four weeks or walking away. NX is anxious to end uncertainty and also wants to press on with a rights issue if it is not taken over.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Stagecoach Joins NX Takeover Race

There is speculation that Stagecoach is joining the the list of potential suitors for National Express. According to press reports Stagecoach has appointed Deutsche Bank to draw up plans for an all-share takeover offer. Stagecoach currently runs the South West Trains franchise and has an interest in the Virgin West Coast route. Any takeover would make it a considerable force in the UK railway industry and as such, subject to monopoly investigation.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

NXEA Strike Action

Despite ongoing talks between NXEA and the ASLEF and RMT unions, strike action is still planned for 30th July, 6th, 13th and 20th August respectively. Each strike is planned to last 48 hours.

It is understood that NXEA have offered a salary increase above the rate of inflation.

In the event of strike action being called it is unlikely that any trains will run on these days.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Spanish Join National Express Bid

Following the announcement that an unnamed suitor has made a takeover approach for National Express, a major shareholder has joined with a private equity firm to formulate a possible takeover bid.

The Cosmen family from Spain, which owns 18.5% stake in National Express has teamed up with CVC Partners. CVC confirmed the consortium has made an initial proposal "to acquire for cash" all shares in National Express.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

New Suitor for National Express

National Express (NX) has received a fresh takeover approach from an unnamed suitor. The news comes the day after rival FirstGroup said that it had scrapped plans to make a takeover bid for NX. FirstGroup had said that it would now be inappropriate to consider a formal takeover of NX, because of uncertainties surrounding the business. This follows the latter's decision to cease funding it's East Coast franchise and the possible implications of this move on it's East Anglian and C2C franchises.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Platform Work Continues

Work to resurface the platforms at Manningtree continues with an expected end date of 9th September. Works is also being carried out to install new lighting.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

European Funding for Midlands Link

A project to upgrade the line between Felixstowe and Nuneaton has received £8m of European Funding. This upgrade will enable more freight trains from Harwich and Felixstowe to go straight through to the Midlands rather than go via London, thereby freeing up valuable space on the Great Eastern mainline.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

NXEA Staff To Strike

NXEA staff are to stage four 48 hour strikes in a dispute over pay and conditions.

The RMT and Aslef unions said their members will walk out from 30 July, August 6th, August 13th and August 20th.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

NXEA Staff To Be Balloted On Strike Action

NXEA staff are to be balloted for industrial action in a row over pay and working conditions.

The RMT union said its members will be asked whether they want to launch a campaign of strikes after accusing NXEA of failing to make any significant offer on pay.

Any strike action is likely to find little sympathy with passengers.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

NX Lose East Coast Franchise. Bowker Resigns

In a widely expected move, the government has stripped National Express of its East Coast franchise. As part of the franchising agreement the government has stated that the NXEA and C2C franchises are also at risk and could be taken back to be run by the DfT.

Richard Bowker has resigned as Head of National Express. Ironically, as Head of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) Bowker awarded the NXEA franchise to National Express.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

NXEA Second Lowest in Satisfaction Poll

NXEA has come second from last in a national survey of customer satisfaction carried out by Passenger Focus. NXEA achieved an overall satisfaction rating of 76% against a national average of 81%. Only London Overground scored lower whilst First Capital Connect and Southeastern also scored 76%.

Monday, 29 June 2009

National Express Reject Takeover Bid

Reports in the press are claiming that National Express have rejected a takeover bid from FirstGroup. National Express continue to have problems in reducing a debt pile of £1.2 billion and talks with the government over their failing East Coast franchise are said to be stalled.

Many will remember that FirstGroup ran the successful and much missed Great Eastern franchise prior to National Express taking over the route with the now defunct 'one' branding.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Hot Weather Forecast

Following forecasts of very hot weather this week, NXEA are advising all passengers to carry bottled water whilst travelling.

Speed restrictions may well be imposed to protect the overhead wires in certain areas. These can droop through expansion in the hot weather which in turn can lead them to come down under certain conditions.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Manningtree Car Park - Official Opening

The extension of the car park at Manningtree station is today being officially opened by Bernard Jenkin MP.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Cruise Ships At Harwich

The following Cruise Ships will be visiting Harwich this summer:

Constellation (91,000 tons) - 27th June, 11th & 25th July, 8th & 22nd August, 5th September.

Jewel Of The Seas (90,090 tons) 4th, 16th & 28th July, 9th & 21st August, 2nd September.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Improved Punctuality

National Express East Anglia saw punctuality improve in the year to 30th May, with a full two percentage point jump to 94.3% of trains arriving on time.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Potentially Significant Changes To Train Services

NXEA has begun a 12 week consultation period in preparation for significant changes to the timetable in December 2010. This follows the announcement earlier in the year of new and used carriages being acquired by NXEA, increasing the fleet size by 17%.

Manningtree is likely to be affected by these changes following a promise by NXEA to Norfolk passengers of a faster service to London. It may be that Manningtree loses one of the two Inter City services each hour in the off peak period. There is no suggestion of an actual reduction in the number of stopping services however.

Highlights as follows:
  • Longer peak time trains
  • Two additional morning peak trains
  • Two Inter City arrivals in London before 07:00
  • More peak services to call at Stratford

Details to follow...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Resurfacing Work At The Station

There is currently platform resurfacing work being done at the station together with some replacement of the platform edge. Extra care should be taken whilst this work is undertaken.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Manningtree Buffet In The Top Ten!

The buffet at Manningtree Station has been included in the top ten station buffets in the country as described in today's Guardian.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Additional London to Ipswich Service

In light of the potential overcrowding on the 17:00 BST and 17:30 BST London to Norwich services on the 21st and 22nd May (see previous entry) there will be an additional service on both days.  Leaving Liverpool Street at 17:28 it will call at Manningtree and Ipswich only.

Peak Trains Fully Booked For Holiday Weekend

Travellers have been advised to avoid peak-time trains from Liverpool Street to Norwich on Thursday (today) and Friday.

National Express East Anglia have warned passengers to avoid the 1700 BST and 17:30 BST trains from London which are already fully booked.  Notices at Liverpool Street say that this is due to the bank holiday weekend.

In an attempt to placate angry commuters NXEA has said it will lay on an extra train going as far as Ipswich.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

MRUA AGM Elections

At the MRUA AGM held on Monday 18th May the following officers were elected:

Chairman - Neil Skinner
Vice Chairman - Derek Monnery
Treasurer - Val Pretty

Monday, 18 May 2009

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Commuters Finding Alternative Parking Arrangements

Adverts in local shop windows suggest that more and more people are renting out space in their driveways for Manningtree commuters.  Despite the extension to the station car park, the excessive cost of parking at Manningtree is forcing motorists to make alternative arrangements.  

Reports in the media suggest that Manningtree is not alone in this.

Seat Reservations Charges To Be Introduced

Starting with effect from Sunday 17th May – the day the new summer timetable starts - National Express East Anglia will start charging for seat reservations on their London to Norwich services.  A charge of £2.50 will be levied for each journey.  However it is noted that  these charges will not apply to any advance purchase tickets, first class tickets, season tickets, customers with a disabled railcard or assisted passengers. 

It has been apparent for many years that a significant proportion of passengers do not take up their seat reservations, leading to reserved seats left empty while people stand.  It is hoped that by charging for this facility the instance of seats left empty will be reduced.

MRUA AGM

A reminder that the MRUA AGM will be held in the station buffet at 7:15pm on 18th May.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

National Express Revenue Growth Slows

National Express have reported a slow down in revenue growth for the first three months of the year on their East Anglian franchise, NXEA, to 3.8%.

Revenue growth has also fallen on their other rail franchises, East Coast and C2C, 0.3% and 4.6% respectively.

Monday, 4 May 2009

National Express Franchise Problems Continue

Further reports in the press  suggest that National Express are still trying to renegotiate their East Coast franchise.  The government are adamant however that franchises not open to renegotiation which may leave National Express with no option but to hand back the franchise.  Press reports also indicate that this could well have an impact on their other franchises - C2C and NXEA.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Inter City Downgrade?

The additional class 321 units (Green sliding door trains) that are due to start arriving from London Midland in 2009 are due to provide longer trains on the London to Ipswich, Clacton, Colchester and Southend lines.  However reports in the railway press suggest they will also be used  to "... help provide additional capacity on services between Norwich and London...".  

Could this be another indication that the London to Norwich line is to be downgraded from Inter City status?

Friday, 24 April 2009

Delays Caused By Vandalism

Delays to services on the evening of the 23rd April were caused by vandals attempting to steal signalling cables in the Marks Tey area.  Such thefts have been a problem in south Essex for sometime, especially in the Southend area, but now seem to be occurring further north.

Oliver Cromwell


The Oliver Cromwell passing Ardleigh Level Crossing on 23rd April.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Oliver Cromwell To Visit Manningtree

The Oliver Cromwell - the steam locomotive that hauled the last steam train in service in the UK - will be passing through Manningtree station on Thursday 23rd April.  It is timetabled to pass through Manningtree at 12:11 on its way to Norwich and then again at 18:43 on its return trip to London.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Car Park Completed

Regular users of Manningtree station will have noticed that the car park extension is now complete.  Feedback thus far has been very positive with the general view being that the design is sympathetic to the surrounding area.

Campaigning for a reduction in the charge for parking will continue.


Lord Adonis

Lord Adonis, the transport minister responsible for rail, is touring Britain by train this week in an attempt to see what it's really like on routes he has not used before.   On Wednesday 15th April he will travel from Brighton via Ashford International, Margate, Gillingham, Gravesend, Tilbury, Upminster, Romford and Ipswich before arriving in Norwich.

Passengers are encouraged to talk to him and let him know what they think of the service.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

More Carriages for NXEA

National Express East Anglia have today announced a significant increase in seating capacity on the London - Ipswich - Clacton routes with the addition of 68 carriages. These additional trains are not new but are being brought in from the London Midland franchise and will enable more trains to be made up of twelve carriages in peak periods.  Network Rail have committed to extend station platforms that are currently too short to accommodate twelve carriages.

The trains themselves are Class 321s which are the green sliding door stock we currently have serving Manningtree.  The additional trains are due to start coming into service in late 2009.

Also announced today are new trains for the Stansted Express line which are due to be in service in 2011 in time for the Olympics.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Easter Disruption

A reminder to passengers that services over the Easter period will be severely disrupted due to planned engineering work.

Replacement bus services will run between Ingatestone and Liverpool Street and also between Colchester and Clacton and Walton.

Details can be found on the NXEA website

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

National Express Franchise Problems

Speculation continues that National Express are struggling with their rail franchises.   The Daily Telegraph today says that the Department for Transport is looking for the help of troubleshooters if it is forced to step in as an "operator of last resort".  Mike Mitchell, the DfT's head of rail, has told MPs that National Express is one of five operators on the government's "red light list".

The East Coat franchise is seen as particularly vulnerable but several industry insiders have indicated that NXEA is also facing difficulties as a result of the white collar recession which has hit commuter traffic into Liverpool Street.

The rules say that if National Express has to hand back one of its franchises it will have to hand them all back.  So if NXEC fails, so will NXEA and C2C.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

Strike Cancelled

The strike planned for Monday the 30th March has been called off to enable further talks to take place.

While this is clearly good news, it is not the first time that the RMT have threatened a strike and then called it off having already caused passengers to make alternative arrangements.

Welcome!

Welcome to the new look website for the Manningtree Rail Users Association (MRUA).  As you will see it is now in the form of a blog so we can update it with relevant items of news for Manningtree rail passengers.  Visitors can also post comments to the published items.

We hope you find this useful and any comments or suggestions gratefully received at info@mrua.org

Strike Action

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) have confirmed that industrial action is planned by members of the RMT union on Monday 30th March.  It is expected that there will be no services on the Manningtree - Harwich branch line and that mainline services between Norwich and London will be limited to one per hour in each direction.  Elsewhere services on the Clacton, Walton and Sudbury branch lines will be affected.  Up to date information should be posted on the NXEA website - a link for which is at the bottom of this page.

The dispute is over the planned axing of 300 roles mainly in the NXEA Customer Services area.  However it is understood that there have been no compulsory redundancies and that the reductions have been achieved through reorganisation and voluntary redundancies.