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.