Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Views Sought On New Timetable - A Great Response!

Many thanks to all who have sent in feedback on the new timetable.  There has been a truly magnificent response to our request for views on the latest revision.  Please keep them coming!

We shall be collating the responses and providing Feedback to to NXEA, Passenger Focus, The DfT and local MPs in the New Year.

Just to reiterate, all correspondence is treated in confidence.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Views Sought On New Timetable

Now that the new timetable is in operation the Manningtree Rail Users Association is keen to hear your views.  Have the changes improved your journey or made things worse?  Are you now able to get a seat where previously you had to stand? Email us with your views. All responses treated in confidence.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Dedham Vale Society To Oppose Possible Station Changes

The Dedham Vale Society has said that they will stand against any major work at Manningtree station that may enhance facilities for the less abled.  The timetable changes due to come into effect on Sunday will mean that the vast majority of Harwich services will run as a shuttle between Harwich Town and Manningtree.  This change has highlighted the need for better facilities for the less abled to move between platform 3 and platform 1.  At present moving between platforms is only possible by negotiating steep stairs into the subway or by making prior arrangements to be escorted across the tracks.

The MRUA has campaigned for sometime for facilities to be improved in this regard.  A possible solution is to construct an elevator which would require a certain amount of construction above ground.  However, in an article in the Manningtree and Harwich Standard Paul Gallifant, a Dedham Vale Society committee member said "we would oppose any large work and will have to look at the proposals.  [the station] is a lovely Victorian building, but we would probably have opposed it being built in the first place.  We don't have any objections to minor changes and improved disabled access inside the station itself."

The Dedham Vale Society have previously complained about the recent car park extension which they regard as an eyesore but which has been well received by many.

Friday, 10 December 2010

New Timetable - Reminder

A reminder that the new timetable comes into force on Sunday.  All services are affected so it is advised that passengers familiarise themselves with the changes relevant to them.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Season Ticket Calculator

A useful tool for calculating the price of your next season ticket by clicking here.

It is disappointing to note that the season ticket prices to London from Harwich branch stations are now more expensive that those from Manningtree. Mistley passengers will be paying £20 a year more than those from Manningtree and Harwich Town passengers will be paying £40 more.  This is especially disappointing when journeys to and from Harwich are for the most part to be inconvenienced by having to change at Manningtree after the introduction of the new timetable next week.

Monday, 6 December 2010

NXEA To Seek To Retain Franchise

In an article in the Financial Times it is reported that National Express (NX) will not be bidding for the big inter city franchises, including the lucrative West Coast Mainline franchise, as they come up for renewal in the next couple years.  NX will be concentrating however on retaining their last two remaining franchises - NXEA and C2C.

A source is quoted as saying "We’re not interested in intercity franchises; we need to prove ourselves with C2C and East Anglia and use them to win back political confidence”

National Express is trying to restore its reputation following its decision to relinquish the contract to run the London to Edinburgh rail service last year.

It is likely that NX will have to compete to keep its franchises as the government is thought to be putting the current NXEA franchise on a short term contract as a test case for the proposed new way of franchising. Other possible changes to perhaps be tested by the government include longer, 15-20 year franchises to encourage investment in stations and new trains, and a restructuring of the revenue sharing between train operators and the government. The review, which has been welcomed by the industry, is an attempt to shore up the rail franchise system, under fire since the East Coast main line was temporarily renationalised last November following NX handing it back.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Christmas Services Affected By Engineering Work

On bank holidays Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 December a base Sunday timetable will operate.

Due to all lines being closed between Liverpool Street and Ilford for engineering work the following train service alterations apply for journeys between Liverpool Street, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and branches:

No trains will operate between Liverpool Street and Ilford. Passengers are to use TfL Central Line services between Liverpool Street, Stratford and Newbury Park. Connecting rail-replacement bus services will operate from Newbury Park to Ingatestone.

Mainline services will operate from Shenfield (interchange for Metro and Southend services) to Ingatestone (interchange for rail-replacement bus service to/from Newbury Park), Colchester, Clacton-on-Sea, Ipswich and Norwich.

Wednesday 29, Thursday 31 and Friday 31 December

Due to a partial line closure between Bethnal Green and Stratford for engineering work (all trains run via platforms 5 and 8 at Stratford) a revised train service will operate between Liverpool Street and Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and branches.

Morning Peak (07:00-10:00) and Evening Peak (16:00-19:00):
Intercity services will operate between Norwich and Liverpool Street; hourly in the morning peak and half-hourly in the evening peak.

Mainline services will operate between Ipswich, Clacton and Colchester to Liverpool Street (6 trains per hour).

Braintree services will operate to/from Witham, Sudbury services will operate to/from Marks Tey, Walton services will operate to/from Colchester via Colchester Town, Harwich Town services will operate to/from Manningtree.

Off Peak (before 07:00, 10:00-16:00, and after 19:00):
Intercity services will operate half-hourly between Norwich and Liverpool Street (hourly early morning / late evening).

Mainline services will operate between Ipswich, Clacton and Colchester Town and Braintree to Liverpool Street (as per Saturday timetable but with minor retimings).

Sudbury services will operate to/from Marks Tey, Walton services will operate to/from Colchester via Colchester Town, Harwich Town services will operate to/from Manningtree.

Possible Monthly Charge For WiFi?

An article published by ZDNet suggests that there may be a monthly charge of £19 for Standard Class passengers intending to use WiFi on London - Norwich services.  NXEA has so far only announced that the service will be free to First Class passengers and that Standard Class passengers will have to pay £2.95 a journey.  A £2.95 charge per journey makes it a very expensive exercise for regular users.

£19 per month would certainly be better value but is still considerably more than some service providers are charging.  The MRUA will continue to press for this to be a free service for all as is the case on National Express coaches.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Tube Strike - 29th November

A reminder that the RMT and TSSA unions have called a strike on the Tube starting on the evening of Sunday 28 November. If the strike goes ahead, disruption to Tube services is likely all day Monday 29 November, with services returning to normal on Tuesday 30 November.

TFL will run as many Tube services as possible, but some lines will have a restricted service and some stations will be closed.

Please check before you travel, and use an alternative route or method of transport if possible. Visit the TFL strike page for more detailed information.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

NXEA Gets A Mention In 'Private Eye'

NXEA gets a mention in the Dr B Ching column of the latest Private Eye magazine, highlighting the double standards applied by the company in the paying of fares / fines.

Referring to the Delay Repay scheme the article explains how, when rail or rail replacement bus services are delayed, passengers can obtain and fill in a form to apply, by post only, for compensation for delays exceeding 30 minutes.  NXEA aims to respond within 15 days.

However, the NXEA guide to penalty fares states "you will be requested to pay the full amount by the authorised collector at the time the penalty fare is charged".

So basically when a passenger gets it wrong they have to pay up immediately but if NXEA gets it wrong compensation can take weeks to arrive.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

NXEA WiFi To Cost £2.95

Many will be disappointed to hear that NXEA will be charging for their WiFi service when introduced on London - Norwich services. Whilst free to first-class passengers, others will have to pay £2.95 per journey. Regular users will see themselves paying over £1,300 a year!

As mentioned in an earlier article here the system is being installed thanks to a grant of £346,000 from the EEDA and Suffolk and Norfolk county councils.

It will be interesting to see what the take up will be for something that should surely be a free service.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Train Fares To Increase By Average Of 6.2%

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has provided figures indicating that fares will increase by an average of 6.2% in the new year. Regulated fares which include season tickets will go up by an average of 5.8% but some increases could be as high as 10.8%.

Regulated fares are tied to an annual price cap formula meaning fares can increase each January only by the previous July's RPI inflation rate plus 1%. Hence the 5.8% average rise for 2011.  However, companies are able to put up some fares by more than 5% as long as other fares decrease at the same rate.  Precise details of NXEA fares are not known at this stage.

In January 2012, passengers will have to dig even deeper into their pockets when the annual price rise formula changes to RPI plus 3% across the national network.

NXEA Announce Customer Service Investment

In what will be seen by some as a tacit acknowledgement that trains are in a pretty poor state, that customer service often falls short of expectations and to perhaps soften the blow of the significant fare increases that are imminent, NXEA has announced a range of measures to improve things as follows:
  • 20 additional cleaning staff to improve presentation and cleaning on board trains and between journeys 
  • A new cleaning team improving exterior presentation of trains, complementing NXEA’s additional investment of £2m in new carriage washers at Ilford and Orient Way train maintenance depots 
  • An enhanced station cleaning programme for NXEA’s London stations and other key stations 
  • Improvements in communication and engagement with customers led by the recruitment of a new Customer Information Manager and welcome hosts at key stations including, London Liverpool Street, Cambridge, Colchester, Ely, Ipswich, Norwich and Witham 
  • Provision of free weekend travel for partners of NXEA annual season-ticket holders 
  • Production of a new Commuter News publication for season-ticket holders and enhanced at-seat breakfast service for First Class customers on the 07.10 and 07.40 Intercity services from Norwich 
  • Senior Citizens 2-for-1 travel offer on Wednesdays in the New Year
The MRUA will continue to press for the reinstatement of the texting service that is seen by many as key to improving customer communications. 

Friday, 19 November 2010

Network Rail Criticised By NXEA

Andrew Chivers, Managing Director of National Express East Anglia, has written to local MPs criticising the performance of Network Rail, saying that its progress in reducing delays caused by infrastructure problems in the last seven years had been "minor" when compared to NXEA's record in tackling delays caused by train faults. Passengers have suffered from long delays recently as a consequence of overrunning maintenance work.

As well as over-running engineering work last week, Mr Chivers said it had also emerged that “some of the additional infrastructure problems on Tuesday and Wednesday resulted from sub-standard installation of equipment during the same weekend engineering work programme”. “Network Rail have already carried out an initial investigation, which suggests that the key causes of the problems related to poor project management, inadequate programme preparation and unsatisfactory real time delivery of the works by the contractors...,” Mr Chivers said. “They are taking steps to ensure that better planning and monitoring of such schemes is in place for future projects.

“We have acted quickly to raise our concerns with the Network Rail Route Director, Andrew Munden. In addition, our group chief executive Dean Finch has also met personally with the Network Rail Chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite, to emphasise just how damaging such disruption is for our passengers and to highlight our wider discontent that the rate of performance improvement and overall punctuality standards being achieved by Network Rail on the Great Eastern Mainline are not acceptable. Their progress in reducing infrastructure-related delays over the last seven years has been minor in comparison to the major reduction we have achieved in delays caused by train faults.”

He added that National Express East Anglia had also appointed a manager to work at the joint control centre in London, and would co-locate teams at Network Rail depots to increase the urgency in Network Rail’s decision-making and create a “greater focus on passengers’ needs”.

Whilst the Manningtree Rail Users Association welcomes this public criticism by NXEA of the services provided by Network Rail there is concern too that NXEA's handling of these problems can be handled so much better.  Improved communications, including the reintroduction of a text alerting service and better use of the NXEA website, are essential.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Coach Hits Bridge At Manningtree

A coach being used on a rail replacement service was involved in a serious accident whilst attempting to use the A137 underpass next to Manningtree station yesterday evening.  10 people were taken to hospital suffering mainly from injuries sustained by flying glass.  One of the injured had to be cut free by emergency services.

It appears that the coach was too tall for the low bridge.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Call For Rail Safety Review

Following on from predictions of more overcrowding on trains as more and more people are expected use the railways, the Chair of the Transport Select Committee has called for a review of passenger safety.  Louise Ellman is calling for Health & Safety legislation to be looked at again.

The Rail Safety and Standards Board, which is owned by the train operating companies, has denied safety is being compromised whilst admitting that overcrowding caused discomfort.

Apart from the obvious potential for disaster in the event of an accident, passengers are often to be  found passing out in cramped conditions on a daily basis.

Unlike planes and buses there are no legal restrictions on how packed a train can be.  However, the Office of Rail Regulation, which is in charge of keeping the railways safe, said overcrowding did not affect safety and pointed out that rail was the safest form of land transport.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Overcrowding To Get Worse

A report by MPs has stated that overcrowding on trains will get worse and that targets set by the Department for Transport for increasing passenger places will be missed. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was concerned that the "already unacceptable levels of overcrowding will simply get worse and even more intolerable".

The PAC went on to state that ""At present there is no incentive for the rail industry to supply extra capacity without additional public subsidy.

"The DfT should, for future franchises, require operators to take measures themselves to avoid overcrowding and to meet the costs of doing so."

The report recommends that new carriages be fitted with automatic passenger counting equipment and that smart card technology be adopted to monitor passenger numbers to target overcrowding.

At present franchisees, such as National Express East Anglia (NXEA), are not incentivised to make the investment necessary to ensure that services keep up with growth in demand. This is one of the reasons the government is reviewing the franchising system with a view to providing longer franchises to encourage the necessary investment.

NXEA is increasing the number of seats available to Manningtree commuters in the new December timetable but the growth in passenger numbers nationally - 40% in ten years - may see this as a temporary solution if that sort of increase in replicated here.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Poor Communication Over Delays

The MRUA has asked National Express East Anglia for an explanation as to why this morning's delays caused by overrunning engineering work were not better communicated to passengers.  It is thought that it was known late yesterday afternoon that services would be adversely affected this morning by the overrunning work by Network Rail to overhead lines near Ilford.  However no action appears to have been taken by NXEA to advise passengers until this morning.

The MRUA will be asking NXEA to reinstate its texting service to passengers.  This was replaced by an emailing service earlier this year but this morning's events clearly show that emails sent at 3:30am are less likely to be read in time than a text message.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Disappointing Attendance In Parliamentary Debate On NXEA

Witham MP, Priti Patel, secured a debate in parliament entitled "The Performance of National Express East Anglia" which took place yesterday.  In the debate Ms Patel took the opportunity to raise her constituents' concerns at the service provided by NXEA with the Rail Minister Theresa Villiers.  Sadly only one other MP was present - the MP for Brigg and Goole (Yorkshire, before you ask).

It is disappointing to note that no other Essex MPs were present and that an opportunity for a consolidated approach was not taken.  The MRUA has this morning written to Bernard Jenkin MP to highlight the disappointment already being voiced by Manningtree and Harwich commuters.

Friday, 22 October 2010

UK Rail Network 'At Risk' From Global Warming

In a report in the quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology scientists suggest that the UK rail network is at risk from global warming. The scientists from the University of Southampton and Network Rail studied the number of landslides and floods that resulted in delays to rail travel of more than eight hours. They found that the frequency of these major incidents was far higher during the wet winter of 2000-2001, when rail passengers experienced widespread travel disruption.

Scientists predict that such wet winters will become more common in the future, raising fears that climate change could result in "travel chaos".

In a separate study, Network Rail engineers have concluded that half of the UK's railway cuttings and embankments were in "poor" or "marginal" condition leaving them prone to landslides.

One of the most 'at risk' areas is the south east of England where much of the rail network is built on soft clay which is particularly prone to landslides. The Great Eastern mainline has often suffered from movement due to this soft clay and the Harwich branch has been closed on more than one occasion following the tracks and overhead catenary moving.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Spending Review - Impact On Rail

Following on from yesterday's spending review announced by the government there is a mixture of good and bad news for Manningtree passengers.

On the positive side the government have confirmed that Crossrail will go ahead.  This will provide a greatly enhanced service for those who wish to travel across London and should take some pressure off existing services.

On the negative side from 2012 regulated fares are to increase by RPI+3.  Currently fare increases are capped at RPI+1.  The precise impact of these increases will not be known until 2011 when the then current rate of inflation can be incorporated into the equation.  Whatever the eventual answer, the UK will continue to have the most expensive rail fares in Europe and it may well be that passengers are forced into their cars as a consequence.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

National Express To Benefit Even More From High Fare Increases?

A number of articles in the media are suggesting that the likely high increase in rail fares could benefit National Express (NX) even more with disgruntled rail passengers moving over to NX coach services instead. There has been much talk in the media of compound rises in rail fares of 40% by 2014 although this has perhaps understandably been played down by the government.

NX Coach services may not have an effect on commuter routes such as those between Manningtree and London which are regarded as something of a guaranteed market, but longer journeys may well see people move from train to coach.

National Express yesterday reported that it was on target to meet full-year profit forecasts, with analysts expecting a pre-tax profit of more than £153m. Last year National Express reported a pre-tax loss of £83.5m as it struggled with debts of more than £1bn, three attempted takeover bids and losing the prestigious east coast rail franchise.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Evening Delays On 13th October

National Express East Anglia are reporting that the significant delays suffered yesterday evening were due to a "line-side fire caused by criminal damage in the Brentwood area".

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Reminder - NXEA To Hold Dec 2010 Timetable 'Surgery' On 14th October

A reminder that representatives from National Express East Anglia (NXEA) will be at Manningtree station on 14th October between 17:00 and 20:00 to assist with any queries passengers may have about the new timetable due to come into operation in December.  This new timetable is a radical departure from the normal subtle changes that take place twice a year and almost all services are affected.

NXEA has also set up a dedicated email address to take queries regarding the new timetable which can be accessed here.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Commuters Faced With Significant Fare Rises

A cross-party Transport Select Committee has warned that commuters face significant fare increases while other travellers face "unlimited" increases. Currently season tickets are capped at RPI + 1 which would see a fare rise of 5.8% in January. However as part of the imminent spending review the cap of RPI + 1 could be scrapped.

"I'm concerned that fares could rise up to 10%, [and] that some fares might not have any limit imposed on them at all," said the chair of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman.

In addition to higher fares, plans for 2,000 new carriages across the UK have been put on hold which will lead to delays in providing extra capacity. On the Great Eastern mainline and outer suburban routes that serve Manningtree, National Express East Anglia has obtained hand-me-down Class 321 trains from elsewhere which should go some way to reduce overcrowding but plans for new replacement trains on the London - Norwich route may now be some way off.

Friday, 1 October 2010

More Buses Laid On To Combat Tube Strike

Transport for London (TfL) is to put on 100 extra buses to increase capacity during the tube strike scheduled to take place on Monday.  TfL has also said that roadworks are being delayed and it will be organising marshalled taxi ranks and increasing capacity for approximately 10,000 more journeys on the River Thames.

For up to date information on the strike go to the TfL website.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Tube Strike Reminder

A message from Transport for London:

"The RMT and TSSA unions plan strike action on the Tube. This will affect Tube services from early evening on Sunday 3 October and throughout Monday 4 October. Some lines may have a limited service and some stations may close. Please check before you travel on the day."

National Express East Anglia services are not affected although they may be busier towards London.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

NXEA To Hold Dec 2010 Timetable 'Surgery' On 14th October

Representatives from National Express East Anglia (NXEA) will be at Manningtree station on 14th October between 17:00 and 20:00 to assist with any queries passengers may have about the new timetable due to come into operation in December.  This new timetable is a radical departure from the normal subtle changes that take place twice a year and almost all services are affected.

NXEA has also set up a dedicated email address to take queries regarding the new timetable which can be accessed here.

Manningtree Station Top For Service Quality

Manningtree Station has come top in the latest review of National Express East Anglia (NXEA) stations for Service Quality Standards gaining a score of 98%.  NXEA manages 197 stations throughout East Anglia and this award reflects the outstanding contribution made by the staff at Manningtree. All NXEA stations are assessed for customer service and quality standards on a regular basis by independent assessors or ‘mystery shoppers’ who visit stations and experience the service as any member of the public would. The mystery shoppers are entirely independent of the train operator and rate the provision of customer service and cleanliness in all parts of the station, as well as assessing the quality of public address announcements and information provided.

Many have commented on how good the level of service is at the station with helpful and friendly staff when compared to other locations where service is often of a questionable standard. This service is maintained despite occasional demanding and unreasonable behaviour from some passengers and being at the sharp end during periods of disruption.

The MRUA would like to congratulate the staff at Manningtree for this award.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

New Timetable Highlights

The new timetable announced by National Express East Anglia sees a significant change to the services being provided at Manningtree.

In the morning peak between 05:25 and 08:53 there will be an additional three services to London - an increase of 23% - and an additional 2,842 seats - an increase of 42%.  This has been achieved by reducing the number of Inter City trains stopping at the station and increasing the number of outer suburban sliding door trains, which have greater capacity.  Eleven services will call at Stratford - up from the current six - and the fastest journey time to London will be improved by 6 minutes to 58 minutes.

In the evening peak between 16:00 and 20:00 there will be an additional three trains from London - an increase of 19% - and an additional 2,943 seats - an increase of 34%.  Again these increases come at the cost of losing a number of Inter City services.  There will be more services calling at Stratford on their way home from Liverpool Street.

During the day there will still be two Inter City services an hour in each direction calling at Manningtree. There will also be a service to and from Ipswich to Liverpool Street giving three trains an hour in each direction.

The Harwich line will see off peak services terminating at Manningtree although the overall journey time, subject to connections, reduces by 6 minutes (9 minutes from London).  (The MRUA continues to campaign for a more appropriate method for the less able of getting from platform 1 to platforms 2 and 3. Something which will become more of an issue with fewer through trains)

In the morning peak the 07:15 from Harwich International and the 07:16 and 07:58 from Harwich Town will go through to London.

New December Timetables Published

The new timetable due to come into force in December has been published by National Express East Anglia (NXEA). Details can be found on the NXEA website.

Manningtree passengers should note that trains for Manningtree appear on two separate timetables (Liverpool Street to Colchester, Clacton-on-Sea and Ipswich and Liverpool Street to Ipswich and Norwich) with services between Manningtree and Harwich appearing on a third - Manningtree to Harwich Town.  All timetables will need to be viewed to get a complete picture of services.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Passenger Robbed And Knocked Unconscious

British Transport Police (BTP) are appealing for witnesses after a man was allegedly knocked unconscious and robbed on a train somewhere between Colchester and Ipswich stations. The incident is alleged to have taken place after the man boarded the train at Colchester at 12:30pm on Saturday.

On the train the man is alleged to have been struck on the back of the neck whilst near to the buffet car, leaving him to fall unconscious for a short while. Assisted by rail staff he was taken to Ipswich Hospital where he later claimed that £800 was missing from his wallet.

Anyone with information is asked to contact BTP on Freefone 0800 405040.

NXEA Get Seven Month Extension To Franchise

The Department for Transport has extended the franchise of National Express East Anglia for another seven months beyond the current expiry date of March 2011. The original franchise agreement had a three year extension beyond this date but this was cancelled following on from National Express handing back its East Coast franchise.

National Express Group Chief Executive Dean Finch commented "We are pleased to have been given this initial extension and to be able to continue to serve our customers on the East Anglia franchise. We continue to explore opportunities to deliver our industry-leading rail performance across both our franchises (referring to C2C as well) beyond 2011." It is not clear what he means by "industry leading".

The re-franchising exercise to find a replacement for NXEA was put on hold after the general election following the new government's announcement that it would be reviewing the whole franchising process. Today's announcement would suggest that a new franchising process will be in place by the end of 2011 but this would take the possible change of franchisee very close to the 2012 Olympics which may further delay an announcement.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

NXEA Punctuality At 93.5% For Month To 21 Aug

NXEA ran 93.5% of services on time in the period between 25th July and 21st August.  The main causes of hold-ups being a serious lineside fire at Romford and a fatality at Enfield Lock.  This figure contrasts with 98.8% achieved by C2C (a National Express company) between Southend and London Fenchurch Street which is the best ever recorded on Britain's railways.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Hadleigh Community Transport Group Launch New Bus Service to Manningtree

The Hadleigh Community Transport Group has recently launched a new bus service between Hadleigh and Manningtree station.  The number 796 will leave Hadleigh at 05:56, arriving at Manningtree at 06:22 and in the evenings the service will leave Manningtree at 18:35 arriving at Hadleigh at 19:00.

Full details as follows:

Monday – Friday (except public holidays)                                                                       

Hadleigh Magdalen Road       0556 
Upper Layham                 0600 
Raydon opp Church            0603               
Holton St Mary opp phone box 0609 
East Bergholt Four Sisters   0611 
East Bergholt Lambe School   0613 
East Bergholt Rectory Road   0615 
Cattawade slip road          0618 
Manningtree Rail Station     0622 

Manningtree Rail Station     1835
Cattawade slip road          1838
E Bergholt Rectory Road      1841
East Bergholt Lambe School   1843
East Bergholt Four Sisters   1845
Holton St Mary phone box     1847
Raydon opp Church            1851
Upper Layham                 1856
Hadleigh Magdalen Road       1900

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

NXEA Asked To Explain Early Termination Of Train

The MRUA has asked National Express East Anglia (NXEA) for an explanation following the decision to terminate the 17:20 ex Liverpool Street at Colchester on Monday 6th September.

Services were already severely delayed due to signal problems and the service in question was running almost an hour late when the decision was taken to terminate at Colchester. As such passengers were delayed for almost another hour with those hoping to meet a connection at Manningtree for the Harwich branch further inconvenienced.

There are suggestions that the serious overcrowding at Colchester station partly caused by this train terminating may have compromised passenger safety.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Tube Strike Contingency Plans Announced

Contingency plans to assist people in getting to work during next week's planned tube strike have been unveiled by Transport for London (TfL). Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) are protesting against plans to cut 800 ticket office jobs, although no compulsory redundancies are planned.

Details of contingency plans for the 6th and 7th September can be found on the TfL website.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Negligent Anglia Rail Crossing Inspector Sacked

Network Rail has sacked a maintenance worker for failing to inspect level crossings in the Anglia area.  The employee was sacked for deliberately falsifying records regarding the inspection of railway level crossings.  Network Rail have confirmed that several crossings were involved but did not say where.  A number of crossings in the Anglia area, which includes Essex, had not been inspected when they should have been.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

MRUA Querying Ticket Office Availability

Regular users of Manningtree station in the off-peak hours, during the day, will quite possibly have noticed lately that the ticket office is often closed.  Although there is a ticket machine available the types of tickets that it sells are limited.  There are a number of reports of passengers visiting the station to buy post dated tickets, or to ask for information, only to find the ticket office closed.  The nature and location of Manningtree station is such that some passengers come some distance to use it - all the more frustrating when it's a wasted journey.  Staff shortages are being blamed for this and the MRUA has asked National Express East Anglia to rectify the situation.

NXEA Asked To Fix Ladies' Toilets

The MRUA has asked National Express East Anglia to investigate and resolve the rather unpleasant drainage problems in the Ladies toilets at Manningtree station.

Extra Trains For Clacton Airshow

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is providing extra train services to the Clacton Airshow on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 August. Extra trains will run on both days of this year’s Airshow between Colchester and all stations to Clacton-on-Sea. In addition, a special train service will also operate between Walton-on-the-Naze and Clacton-on-Sea.

Some services between Colchester and Walton-on-the-Naze will be diverted to run to Clacton, passengers for stations on the Walton branch should change at Thorpe-le-Soken. For full details see the NXEA website.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Normal Service Resumes Between Sudbury and Marks Tey

National Express East Anglia has confirmed that a normal timetabled service between Sudbury and Marks Tey will resume on Friday 20th August.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Bus Replacement Service Between Marks Tey And Sudbury

Following yesterday's accident near Sudbury National Express East Anglia are running a replacement bus service between Sudbury and Marks Tey.  Details of timings can be found here

Monday, 16 August 2010

Possible 8% Fare Increases

Following on from our earlier item dated 19th July suggesting possible 10% fare increases, the Daily Telegraph is today suggesting rises of 8% are on the cards.  Currently most fares are capped at the July Retail Price Index (RPI) + 1 but the Telegraph is claiming that the formula could be changed to RPI + 2 or 3.  With the RPI figure for July expected to be 5% this would mean a potential increase of 8%.

Whether the rises are 8% or 10%, this is still a significant increase that is likely to make rail travel less attractive to many.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

MRUA Now On Twitter

You can now follow the Manningtree Rail Users Association on Twitter at

NXEA Asked To Sort Out Car Park Flooding

Following recent heavy downpours motorists parked on the far side of the top deck of the new car park will have returned to their vehicles to find them standing in 2 inches of water.  Whilst 2 inches may not sound a lot it is more than enough to cover your feet.  Excess water is then cascading over the top producing an impressive waterfall effect onto the cars parked below.

The MRUA has asked NXEA to investigate and rectify the situation as soon as possible. To pay silly money to park at Manningtree is bad enough but to find that you cannot return to your car without ruining your shoes is simply adding insult to injury.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

NXEA Awards Contract For Provision of Onboard WiFi

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) has awarded the contract for installing and maintaining internet connectivity on London - Norwich intercity services to public transport vendor Icomera.  As previously reported here this initiative has been partly funded by a £346,000 grant from the East of England Development Agency and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils.

It is expected that Vodafone and Orange will provide the cellular backhaul with each network being capable of download speeds of up to 7.2 megabits per second.  It is not clear at this stage how the service, which is due to be up and running by the end of 2010, will be accessed by customers.  For example there has been no mention of whether there will be a charge or whether the likely service provision by Vodafone and Orange precludes users of other service providers from using the service.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Dedham Vale Hopper Bus

Apologies for the late notice but for those not aware, the Dedham Vale Hopper Bus service resumed on the 3rd July.  Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Trust and the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley project, the service will run 5 days a week (Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays) until 26th September.

The bus will leave Manningtree station every hour between 09:40 and 17:25.  A £2 day ticket will allow passengers to hop on and off the bus as they please.  The bus will follow an anti clockwise circular route from Manningtree Station via Flatford, East Bergholt, Stratford St Mary, Dedham, Lawford and Manningtree.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

New Doors For Manningtree Station

The replacement doors to the station have been installed.  Handmade specially, these new doors replace those damaged by the break in a couple of months ago. Unfortunately there are no plans at present to replace the cashpoint.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Rail Firms Asked To Simplify Ticket Machines

Rail firms including National Express East Anglia are being asked to simplify ticket machines as many passengers are choosing to shun the machines and queue at the the ticket office instead. Customer watchdog Passenger Focus has said that passengers were being "defeated" by the "bewildering jargon" they faced when using these machines and would rather talk to a person as a consequence. This leads to significant queues at peak times whilst ticket machines often go unused.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Possible 10% Fare Increases

Following on from our item on the 9th July about the possible scrapping of the RPI+1 cap on fare increases, reports in the press are now suggesting the possibility of fare increases in the region of 10% in the new year. This would see a £430 increase in the price of an annual Standard Fare season ticket between Manningtree ad London.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Dedham Vale Society Calls For Stricter Planning Regulations

The Harwich & Manningtree Standard is reporting that The Dedham Vale Society is lobbying Tendring District Council (TDC) to consult the public on any further building plans in the Suffolk Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This follows the construction of the car park extension at Manningtree Station which the society describes as "...simply a steel structure which was unfortunately constructed. It's an eyesore".

The society goes on to say that they expect "...Network Rail will stick a bit on top of that extension at some point. We don't want anything like this to happen again."

Network Rail and National Express East Anglia who built and financed the car park extension did not require planning permission from TDC as the work was carried out under permitted rights development.

Interestingly feedback about the extension received by the MRUA has been very positive. It is unlikely that any further extension will be considered for quite some time as the car park overall is barely half full on most days. This is as a consequence of the economic downturn and also the exorbitant charges levied for parking.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Removing Freight From The GE Mainline

Network Rail has been given the go-ahead from the Department for Transport to build a new freight line in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Called the Nuneaton North Chord Scheme the new line will only be 1km in length but it will link the existing cross-country rail route from Felixstowe to Nuneaton with the West Coast mainline. This will allow freight trains to travel directly to the West Midlands and North West England without having to travel down the Great Eastern mainline, through Manningtree, to London as is currently the case. The extension will allow for eight additional freight trains per day in each direction - the equivalent of 225,000 lorries a year. Perhaps of more interest to Manningtree passengers, it will also free up much needed space on the line between Ipswich and London.

Work is anticipated to start in spring 2011 and take 18 months to complete.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

National Express East Anglia's Ageing Trains

In the National Rail Trends survey issued by the Office of Rail Regulation, the train fleet run by National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is noted as having an average age of 24.95 years old. These figures put the NXEA fleet third from bottom in the national rankings behind Merseyrail (31.25 years) and the Island Line which has an average age of 71.25 years! (The Island Line runs on the Isle of Wight and uses old London Underground tube trains).

At the other end of the scale TransPennine Express trains have an average age of 4.25 years.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Rail Passengers Could See Big Fare Increases

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has warned that rail passengers could see a big rise in ticket costs in the new year if investment in the railways is to be protected. He said the current formula used to set fares at 1% above the Retail Price Index (RPI) was not "set in stone". Speaking to the National Rail Conference in Liverpool Mr Hammond said the government faced "stark choices" and it would be "irresponsible" to not consider charging passengers more.

The UK already has the highest fares in Europe and there are fears that significant fare increases will drive people off the railways. The Liberal Democrats had a pledge in their manifesto to amend the RPI+1% formula to RPI-1% and the coalition will no doubt be pressed on this in the coming weeks.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

'Hidden' Parking Charges At Manningtree

A reminder to passengers of the potential hidden costs when buying a ticket to park at Manningtree station. If you elect to buy your ticket via mobile phone there is an additional charge of 30p on top of the already extortionate £6.20 daily cost. There is then the option to receive a text message confirming your booking but this will cost another 10p.

The system used to take these 'phone bookings is fully automated and is based on speech recognition. However, there are a number of reports that this system is very unreliable and requests often have to be repeated a number of times thereby lengthening the call, for which of course the customer is paying.

National Express East Anglia outsource their car parks to NCP who in turn appear to outsource the mobile phone element of the ticketing to RingGo Parking. All these companies presumably want to make a profit on the arrangement, hence the ridiculous charges.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Warm Weather Disruption - Air Conditioning

Once again the warm weather brings disruption to the trains. For those not already aware the air conditioning on the ageing London - Norwich Inter City trains has all but given up in many carriages. As the windows don't open on these trains conditions can become unbearable, especially during the evening peak period.

Passengers may want to consider other train types where possible. The Class 360 units (The newer, purple trains with sliding doors) have *very* efficient air conditioning. The older sliding door trains (Class 321) do not have air conditioning but the windows do open which can help things considerably.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

National Express Backs Government's Possible Rail Fare Rise

National Express has entered the debate over rail fares by backing the government's consideration of ticket prices as part of a drive to cut the state's £5bn subsidy of the railways.

National Express' Chief Executive, Dean Finch, said that the government was right to warn passengers that it might scrap the fares cap that limits price increases to RPI + 1%. This follows a comment made by the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, saying that the formula could be sacrificed in the autumn spending review.

Mr Finch said "It is absolutely legitimate for anybody to look at, in terms of raising revenues. Everybody complains about rail fares being awful, but we have more than 1bn journeys on the railways every year. That tells you that in the overall scheme of things the railway is an effective form of travel and is an integral part of people's lives."

It is unlikely that Mr Finch's comments will find much support amongst the travelling public.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Cyclists - A Reminder

A reminder to all cyclists who leave their bikes at the station. Please ensure that they are securely locked up as thieves are finding ever more ingenious ways of removing them.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Passenger Satisfaction With NXEA Still Low

Passenger Focus today published the official statistics on passenger satisfaction with rail travel from the National Passenger Survey from spring 2010. The results show that National Express East Anglia has again performed badly coming third from bottom with an overall satisfaction level of 77%. Only London Overground (72%) and First Capital Connect (76%) scored lower. The highest ratings were scored by Wrexham & Shropshire (99%), Grand Central (94%) and Merseyrail (93%).

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Greater Anglia Franchise Replacement Cancelled

Theresa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport this morning issued a written statement on the future of rail franchising which will have a dramatic effect on the future of the Greater Anglia franchise currently run by National Express East Anglia (NXEA).

"The Department for Transport will shortly begin a consultation exercise on the future of rail franchising policy. This consultation will provide industry partners with the opportunity to comment on the Government’s approach to rail franchising and whether bidders for longer franchises would be able to offer investment in improvements to trains and services. It will also allow the industry to set out its proposals for improving the efficiency and value for money of rail franchises, for both taxpayers and fare payers. I will set out further details to the House in due course.

To enable the next Greater Anglia and Essex Thameside franchises - which are currently in the process of being re-let - to fully reflect the changes resulting from this review of policy the competitions for these franchises, which were started in January 2010, are to be cancelled.

It is currently expected that a new competition for the Greater Anglia franchise will be advertised by the end of the year, after the consultation responses have been considered, with the Essex Thameside franchise following in Autumn 2011....

The effect of this announcement appears to be that NXEA will retain the franchise beyond the current planned end date of 31st March 2011.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

More Seats For Manningtree Passengers

Subject to final approval, the new timetable due to come into operation in December 2010 may see Manningtree getting an impressive 42% increase in the number of seats during the morning peak and an increase of 32% during the evening peak period. The improvements will also see more services from Manningtree calling at Stratford and an improvement to the fastest journey time to London.

Friday, 11 June 2010

NXEA To Discontinue TXT Alerting Service

National Express East Anglia have announced that with effect from 13th June they will no longer be providing their Text alerting service to mobile phones. Instead such alerts will be provided by email only. It is the belief of NXEA that many customers now have access to email both in the office, home and on the move. It is true that the email format allows for more information to be provided but whether the same target audience can be reached remains to be seen.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Station-by-Station Footfall 2008-09

Figures compiled by Railfuture show mixed results for passenger numbers using Manningtree and the Harwich branch. (previous year in brackets)

Manningtree 846,484 + 173,264 interchanges (910,384)
Mistley 49,762 (46,800)
Wrabness 19,846 (22,540)
Harwich Int'l 111,258 (92,116)
Dovercourt 149,740 (147,528)
Harwich Town 148,748 (145,527)

Friday, 4 June 2010

Stagecoach Tenders For New Anglia Trains

Stagecoach has issued tender notices for a new train fleet for the Greater Anglia franchise according to the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) notices.

Stagecoach Anglia Trains is inviting interest in 'up to 800 vehicles' for Greater Anglia including suburban commuter EMUs, 100mph electric inter-city trains and regional diesel trains. The cost of the new fleet is put at £1.28 billion - about £1.16 million per vehicle.

Stagecoach is also seeking financial packages for the new fleet, but states that contract award depends on the outcome of the franchising competition. It will not be known until the summer, who has won the franchise that will replace the current National Express East Anglia arrangement.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Shortlist For New Franchise Bidders Awaited

Details of the shortlist of bidders for the franchise to replace National Express East Anglia are awaited. The original schedule proposed by the DfT would have seen the list made public in April but the General Election has delayed the announcement. Such a delay has made what was already a very tight schedule even more of a challenge. The new franchise is due to start on April 1st next year.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Theft At Station

Police had cordoned off the the entrance to the station this morning following reports of the attempted theft of the cashpoint.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

We're Still Here....

Just to let you know that we're still here. It's just *very* quiet at the moment......

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Maintenance Work Over The Weekend

A reminder that buses replace trains between Romford and Liverpool Street over all three days of the holiday weekend, and as such journey times will be significantly longer.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

MRUA AGM Elections

At the MRUA AGM held on Monday 26th April 2010 the following officers were elected:

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

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

NXEA Performance Down Slightly

In figures released today by Network Rail 91.5% of National Express East Anglia services arrived at their final destination on time in the period 7th March to 31st March 2010. This is down from 92% for the same period last year. The national average was 93.5% (92.7% last year)

The definition of 'on time' is within 5 minutes for inner and outer suburban services and within 10 minutes for Inter City services.

Armed Man Arrested Near Station

It is being reported that a Frinton man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm 'with intent to cause fear of violence' in Station Road at 6:15pm yesterday. Armed police were called to search the area after a man was spotted with a shotgun. The police helicopter was also involved.


The MRUA AGM will be held in the station buffet at 7pm on Monday 26th April.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Rail Strike Off

Network Rail has been granted a court injunction against the proposed strike action by the RMT union.

Whilst the decision to call off the strike is obviously welcomed, once again thousands of passengers have been inconvenienced into making alternate arrangements by a RMT threat of strike action.

Service Details In The Event Of Strike Going Ahead

Details of National Express East Anglia services that may run in the event of a strike next week can be found by clicking here.

As previously mentioned there are currently no plans to run services between Harwich and Manningtree.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Rail Strike to Face Legal Challenge

Network Rail has started a legal bid to halt the planned strikes by railway signallers and maintenance staff belonging to the RMT and TSSA unions. Strikes are due to start from Tuesday next week.

Network Rail are arguing that "scores of discrepancies and inaccuracies" were contained in the signallers' ballot.

The strike centres on Network Rail plans to cut 1,500 jobs and increase evening and weekend maintenance work.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Strike Days - Compensation

Reports in the media suggest that compensation may not be payable to season ticket passengers if the Train Operating Company (In our case NXEA) manage to run a skeleton service. The wording in the NXEA message dated 26th March (see below) would seem to back this up.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Strike Disruption - Harwich Branch

National Express East Anglia has confirmed that at the current time there are no plans to run trains on the Harwich branch line during the planned strike by the RMT and TSSA unions, as Network Rail will not be able to man the signal boxes needed.

Friday, 26 March 2010

NXEA Service Provision On Strike Days

National Express East Anglia has issued the following statement regarding services during the proposed strike by RMT and TSSA unions:

"We are working to provide the best possible alternative timetable in the event Network Rail's signaller?s belonging to the RMT and TSSA unions take strike action.

Where alternative services are not available, customers including season-ticket holders will be eligible to apply for a refund for the days affected.

Customers with pre-booked tickets will be offered the option to travel at other times of the day, or to travel on another day or apply for a refund. Full details of these arrangements will be available in due course.

The following is an outline of the alternative timetable service we are planning to operate between approximately 0700 and 1900 inclusive on the 6th, 7th, 8th, & 9th April.

- 2 x Intercity services per hour at peak time between London Liverpool Street, Stratford, Chelmsford, Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich, Stowmarket, Diss and Norwich (Off peak Intercity services will run as per the normal calling pattern)

- 2 x 12 car services per hour between Liverpool Street, Stratford, Shenfield and all stations to Ipswich

- 2 x 12 car services per hour between Liverpool Street, Stratford, Shenfield and all stations to Southend Victoria

- 4 x 12 car services per hour between Liverpool Street, Tottenham Hale, Harlow Town, Bishops Stortford and Stansted Airport

- 2 x 8 car services per hour between Liverpool Street, Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Sawbridgeworth and all stations to Cambridge

Branch line services operating:

- Romford - Upminster: a shuttle service

- Witham - Braintree: a shuttle service

- Marks Tey - Sudbury: a shuttle service

- Norwich - Sheringham: a shuttle service

For the latest information on how possible industrial action will affect national train services please visit or call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50".

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Strikes Threatened By RMT & TSSA 6-9 April Inclusive

RMT and TSSA union members who work for Network Rail, specifically track and signal workers, are threatening to strike from Tuesday 6th April to Friday 9 April inclusive. National Express East Anglia will be publishing details in due course of how services will be affected.

The network can function for a short while without track maintenance workers so long as major repairs are not required. However, if the signalmen go on strike then no trains will run.

The RMT have in the past threatened to strike only to call it off at the last moment, having already caused disruption with people making alternative arrangements.

More Trains Running On Time

Network Rail has released punctuality figures showing that 5.5% more trains run by National Express East Anglia are running on time. The figures showed that between 7th February and 6th March 92% of NXEA services ran on time.

'On time' means that a train arrived at its final destination within 5 minutes (10 minutes for Inter City services) of the advertised time.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Essex CC Undertakes To Protect Essex Passengers

Replying to an enquiry by the MRUA, Essex County Council has confirmed that it will be seeking to protect the journeys of Essex passengers should this become an issue as a consequence of the Norwich in 90 campaign. (see article dated 5th March)

Friday, 19 March 2010

May 2010 Timetable Changes

National Express East Anglia have announced the changes to the summer timetable due to commence on 23rd May 2010. The only changes that directly affect Manningtree are earlier start times of the 0610, 0625, 0640, 0655 and 0710 Norwich - London services which will start 5 minutes earlier during the 'leaf fall period' between 1st October and 11th December.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Maximum Score For Liverpool St. Team

Liverpool Street station has scored 100% for customer service, cleanliness and information provision in the most recent 'mystery shopper' survey carried out at the station.

Interestingly this result is in stark contrast to comments received from Manningtree passengers who find many of the staff at Liverpool Street surly and unhelpful. Also, the new indicator boards at the station have been the subject of much criticism since their implementation.

Friday, 12 March 2010

MRUA Response DfT Consultation Paper Re New Franchise

The MRUA has today sent a response to the Department for Transport consultation paper covering the requirements for the new franchisee that will replace National Express East Anglia next year. The response has been compiled following feedback from Manningtree and Harwich branch line passengers and local councils.

If you would like an electronic copy please email us at and we will happily send you one. Unfortunately printing costs prevent us from sending out hard copies.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Norwich in 90

There has been much coverage in the media about a campaign being backed by MPs, councils and local businesses in Norfolk called Norwich in 90. This campaign sets out to see journey times between London and Norwich reduced to 90 minutes.

The MRUA recognises that there are probably three ways that this can be done, as follows:
  • Improvements to the rail infrastructure to allow for faster running of services.
  • Introduction of new trains with better acceleration and braking characteristics specifically designed for the length of journey and stopping patterns.
  • A reduction in the number of stops made by London - Norwich services.
The MRUA happily supports the idea of improving the rail infrastructure and introducing new trains better suited to this route. Such improvements would benefit all passengers who use the London to Norwich services. However, in reducing the number of stops there is a danger that Manningtree, along with Colchester and Chelmsford, could see some Norwich services no longer stopping at these stations.

In light of the growing publicity surrounding the Norwich in 90 campaign - which enjoys the full backing of Norfolk County Council - the MRUA has written to Essex County Council requesting information on what they will be doing to safeguard the Inter City services currently calling at Manningtree.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

NXEA Requested To Remove Abandoned Car

The MRUA has asked NXEA to remove what appears to be an abandoned Mondeo that has been parked in front of the station for a number of weeks now.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

National Express Profits Slump

National Express Group (NX) today ended an eventful year by reporting a 43% drop in profits. The group which runs the National Express East Anglia (NXEA) franchise have reported pre tax profits of £116.2m down from £202.4m last year. In December NX completed a £360m rights issue to cut debt.

The past year has seen the group lose the East Coast rail franchise and as a consequence they will not be having the NXEA franchise extended from 2011. NX have been all but barred from bidding for the new franchise along with their other remaining rail business, C2C. 2011 will effectively see NX leaving the UK rail business all together.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Man Charged With Rail Offences

British Transport Police have arrested and charged a man with trespassing on the railway and a 'theft related offence'.

Simon Scott has been wanted by police in connection with the theft of cables last December, which led to significant delays for passengers on the London mainline. He is due to appear at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Wi-Fi To Be Installed on London - Norwich Services

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is today announcing that Wi-Fi for all passengers is to be installed on all London - Norwich services. NXEA has secured a grant of £346,000 from the East Of England Development Agency (EEDA) and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils to go towards the installation of the equipment.

Monday, 8 February 2010

£1,000 Reward Offered For Information On Cable Thief

Further to the previous item regarding British Transport Police's search for one Simon Scott wanted in connection with cable thefts that led to disruption to thousands of NXEA commuters in recent months, there is now a £1,000 reward on offer for information leading to his arrest.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Police Release Image Of Man Wanted For Cable Thefts

British Transport Police have issued details of a man they wish to question following the spate of cable thefts that brought chaos and disruption to thousands of commuters in recent months.

Further details about one Simon Scott can be found here. If anybody knows of this individual's whereabouts please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting BTP reference number B603022010

Customer Satisfaction With NXEA Below National Average

In the latest Passenger Focus report on customer satisfaction of rail passengers in the UK, National Express East Anglia (NXEA) scored 79%. Despite being below the national average of 83% they are still the best results that NXEA (formerly 'one') have ever scored.

Scoring particularly low was the availability of staff on trains (22%) and the standard of toilets (29%). Perhaps surprisingly 34% felt NXEA was good value for money and 33% felt that NXEA handled delays well.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Greater Anglia Consultation Process - Reminder

A quick reminder to let us know if there is anything you would like to see in the new franchise which will take over from National Express East Anglia in April 2011.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Greater Anglia Consultation Process

The Department for Transport has today launched the consultation process as the first stage in awarding the next franchise to replace National Express East Anglia whose agreement expires in March 2011.

Details of the consultation process can be found here.

The MRUA will be responding to this in due course but if there is anything specific you would like to see included in the new franchise then please do let us know at

"Better Services Planned For Greater Anglia Rail Users"

The Department for Transport has today issued highlights of the improved service standards the Government will expect from future bidders to run the franchise on the line once the current National Express East Anglia franchise ends in 2011.

"The needs of passengers must come first – and we want the next operator of this key commuter route to offer a first class service.

“Today we are setting out what bidders interested in taking over the route must consider, including providing quicker journeys and more carriages on trains into London during peak periods.

"The new operator will be expected to provide better information for passengers about their services and improved facilities at stations, including more parking spaces for cyclists and drivers.

“They will also be required to monitor service quality and ensure stations and trains are clean and maintained to a high standard.”

Following the consultation process, the specification may require bidders for the franchise to consider:

- Options for faster journey times between London and Norwich;

- Improving the performance and reliability of long distance services;

- Enhancing the provision of ticket machines across the Greater Anglia franchise network;

- Minimum standards for catering on InterCity trains;

- Making smartcards available across the franchise;

- Better CCTV coverage at stations focusing on the coverage of cycling facilities and station car parks to improve passenger security;

- All new rolling stock on the franchise to have CCTV coverage providing more security for passengers;

- Setting targets ensuring the operator monitors their environmental performance and proposes reductions to carbon emissions;

- Tackling fare dodging, which may include additional gating and increasing staffing;

- Improving access to the network by developing Station Travel Plans and significantly increasing car parking and cycle storage facilities across the network;

- Providing more modern passenger information facilities on platforms and on trains;

- Making the future operator set National Passenger Survey targets for trains, stations and customer service – if the operator fails to meet those targets they would have to invest more to make improvements in those areas."

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Rail Punctuality Falls

In figures released today National Express East Anglia achieved a punctuality figure of 78.5% in the period from 13th December to 9th January. This is 13.5% down on the same period last year. At least some of these delays can be attributed to the particularly poor weather experienced in recent weeks.

Longer Franchise in Prospect

The Transport Secretary is proposing that future rail franchises, including the one that will replace National Express East Anglia, should run for at least 10 years with contracts of up to 22 years also on the cards. Longer franchises are designed to encourage the holder to invest more in the service they provide as they are more likely to see a return on their investment. Current franchises run for an average of seven years which is not seen as long enough to incentivise holders to invest appropriately.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Yet Another Increase In Parking Charges

In a move that will further discourage people from using the train, effective from 11th January the cost of parking at Manningtree station has gone up yet again. The new charges are as follows:

Daily £6.20
Off Peak (After 09:30) £3.60
Evening (After 16:00) £2.10
Saturday £2.10
Sunday £1:00
Bank Holidays £2.10

Weekly £24.60
Monthly £94.81
Annual £984.00

The MRUA will continue to campaign for the end of the NCP's involvement in the management of the car park at Manningtree which is seen as ineffective at best and clearly not value for money.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Possible Harwich Connection Problems This Evening

At the time of writing both the 17:50 and 18:20 services from Liverpool Street this evening are cancelled. NXEA are hoping to reinstate these services but as these trains provided connections to the Harwich branch passengers are advised to check before travelling to avoid a potentially lengthy wait.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

NXEA Response To Yesterday's Delays

Andrew Chivers, Managing Director of National Express East Anglia has responded to yesterday's delays as follows:

"...The project being undertaken involved the replacement of overhead line equipment (such as cables and support stanchions) as part of the major investment programme by Network Rail to renew the overhead lines between London and Chelmsford – a very important and necessary initiative to help further improve punctuality and reliability on the Norwich – Ipswich – Colchester – London and Southend – London routes.

We had worked closely with Network Rail on the planning for this blockade and on contingencies in the event of problems. When some complications emerged last week we coordinated with them to enable a revised engineering work plan to be implemented which was meant to have ensured the lines would have been re-opened as planned this morning. As late as 23.00 last night we were still being assured that a punctual restoration of the lines - and thus a smooth “start-up” for services this morning - was fully on course.

Unfortunately we were advised between 03.30 and 04.00 that this was not going to be the case. As soon as we were aware we put information on our website, advised the local media and provided information at stations and on trains where services were affected. In the end it was 07.45 before all the lines were open, which resulted in major delays for passengers due to arrive in London before 10.00. Those passengers who were delayed will be able to claim compensation in the normal way.

We are seeking a full explanation from Network Rail about the cause of the problems, why the contingency plans proved unsuccessful and why we only knew that the work would over-run in the early hours of this morning. We will also be seeking assurances from Network Rail that they are putting in place more robust and effective engineering work planning, particularly for major projects, as we have suffered in the past from damaging over-runs which have been extremely disruptive and frustrating for our customers and our company....

It is the view of the Manningtree Rail Users Association that NXEA's own contingency plans should have been implemented on Sunday rather than wait until the last possible moment to take action. This would have given passengers the opportunity to make alternative arrangements and it is hoped that such action will be taken in future.

Monday, 4 January 2010

MRUA Requests Explanation For Poor Communication

The MRUA has requested an explanation from National Express East Anglia as to why this morning's problems were not better communicated to passengers beforehand. It has to be assumed that Network Rail were aware that their work was overrunning at Liverpool Street and that NXEA were informed of this. Why then was no prior notification given to passengers and the media?

The MRUA also looks forward to hearing from Network Rail as to why, for the second time in two years, serious disruption has been caused by overrunning engineering work at Liverpool Street.

Overrunning Engineering Works Again

In what seems to be a Christmas tradition engineering works at Liverpool Street have overrun and are threatening to cause chaos again as commuters return to work after the break. At the time of writing services are terminating at Stratford until 9:30. Stratford barely coped as an alternate terminus during the period between Christmas and New Year when fewer people travel, so this morning's rush hour may well be chaotic.

Passengers are strongly advised to check for updates from National Express East Anglia before travelling.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

NXEA To Be Investigated After Train Mayhem

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is to be investigated by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). This follows an incident at Stratford station during the recent disruption caused by the planned maintenance work over the Christmas break. There have been numerous reports of overcrowding and lack of information given to passengers at Stratford where trains were terminating due to the closure of Liverpool Street.

An ORR spokesman has said that they are investigating an incident that occurred at Stratford on the 29th December.

Fare Changes - Reminder

A quick reminder that regulated fares such as season tickets on National Express East Anglia have gone down in price by 0.4%. Unregulated fares remain unchanged.