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 The threat was originally made as a consequence of NX handing back the NXEC franchise - something that has still to be done - and the belief by some that should a franchise holder default on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 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 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.