Friday, 30 December 2011

Abellio "The Most Cost Effective Bid"

The Radio 4 programme 'You And Yours' today did a feature on the railways which included mention of the recent award of the Greater Anglia franchise to Abellio.  The programme explained that as part of the bidding process the losing bidders - in this case Stagecoach and Go Ahead - are told why they lost out.  Both companies were effectively told that their emphasis was on customer service rather than giving the government value for money.  Abellio therefore apparently came top for putting the emphasis on value for money for the tax payer rather than the customer.  Interesting times ahead possibly...

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Late Evening Timetable Changes - A Reminder

Passengers are reminded that on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9th January to 21st March the last train to Manningtree from Liverpool Street leaves London at 22:30.

Passengers leaving on the 23:30 from Liverpool Street will find themselves in Billericay from where a coach will take them to Witham.  A train from Witham will then deliver them to Manningtree at 01:14.

Sadly NXEA have not yet widely publicised these changes which will no doubt cause inconvenience to theatre and concert goers alike.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Train Punctuality Just Below National Average

Trains last month were more punctual than last year.

However, National Express East Anglia was just below the national average, with 88.3% of trains arriving on time between November 13 and December 10.  The national average was 88.4%.  Last year National Express East Anglia had 84.4% punctuality for the same period.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Tell NXEA What You Think

National Express East Anglia are asking customers, staff and stakeholders for feedback on their service. Take part in the survey here.

Happy Christmas From The MRUA

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

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

MRUA Attends Meeting With Abellio

Members of the MRUA Committee attended a meeting with senior managers from Abellio today to discuss their plans for the new Greater Anglia franchise.

Abellio took the opportunity to explain again that the short nature of this franchise - only 29 months - means that the emphasis will be on improving customer service rather than major projects such as acquiring new trains.  A Customer Training programme will be provided to all operational staff and 1,650 PDAs will be distributed amongst customer facing staff to enable them to provide timely information to passengers.  Regular customer surveys will be carried out to monitor service quality. A texting service will be reintroduced, as well as advising passengers via email of service issues.

Abellio will be launching a mobile phone application from which tickets can be bought and new, easier to use, ticket machines will be introduced by May 2012.  A new website will be introduced from which tickets can be bought together with a 'print at home' service.

As has been widely publicised the Oyster Pay-As-You-Go service will be extended to Shenfield.

Abellio assures passengers that the reduction to the fleet of 8 carriages will not increase crowding as existing stock will be better utilised.  This may mean that certain trains appear fuller than before i.e. trains previously 40% full may now be 80% full but this is due to better utilisation of existing carriages.  Also timetables will be colour coded to identify crowded services to allow passengers to make better choices about those they use.  Platform zoning will also be introduced to identify where the busy carriages are and also first class.

Abellio will also be taking steps to ensure services run smoothly during the Olympics.

Abellio are keen to entice more people onto the trains and the MRUA has asked them to review parking charges at Manningtree which is known to be a deterrent to many.

Overall the impression given was promising but of course the proof will be in how they perform once they take over on 5th February.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Disruption Over Christmas - A Reminder

A reminder that services will be disrupted on certain days over the Christmas break.  Overhead lines are being replaced between Ilford and Liverpool Street and as such there will be no services between Ingatestone and Liverpool Street on 24th, 27th and 31st December and the 1st and 2nd January.

As usual there will be no service on 25th and 26th December.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Abellio - Don't Expect Miracles

Abellio has warned passengers not to expect miracles when they take over the Greater Anglia franchise in February.  The short term of the franchise - only 29 months - means that there is a limit to what can be achieved.  However Abellio are looking to establish themselves with a view to successfully winning the longer, 15 year franchise due to start in 2014 when large projects such as the possibility of new trains between London and Norwich can be investigated.

During the shorter franchise Abellio hope to improve customer service by issuing all customer facing staff with smartphones to keep them up to date with service issues.  Abellio has also promised to deep clean every carriage before the Olympics.

Various new ticketing initiatives will be introduced to encourage passengers onto off-peak services with discounts being offered in the same way the company has successfully done on the other two franchises it runs in partnership with Serco - Merseyrail and Northern Rail.

Abellio has also confirmed that the new franchise will be known as "Greater Anglia".

Monday, 12 December 2011

"...progressively unreliable loco-hauled fleet..."

As part of the Virgin Group gearing up for the re-franchising process - which may include a bid for the 15 year Greater Anglia franchise due in 2015 - Sir Richard Branson has been speaking about the success the group has made of the West Coast Mainline.

Sir Richard was speaking on the day Virgin celebrated the carriage of its 30 millionth passenger this year, and he highlighted the strong growth of the business over the past 14 years, which included the introduction of the Pendolino sets replacing the ageing and progressively unreliable loco-hauled fleet.

The ageing and progressively unreliable loco-hauled fleet to which he refers is of course the fleet that moved over to run trains between London and Norwich some six or seven years ago and that we still enjoy to this day.  One day we might get new trains running our Inter City service rather than somebody else's "ageing and progressively unreliable" hand-me-downs.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Thursday, 8 December 2011

MRUA Meets With Transport Minister

Neil Skinner, Chairman of Manningtree Rail Users Association and Derek Monnery, Chairman of the Essex Rail Users Federation today met with the Transport Minister Theresa Villiers.  Items discussed included the shocking state of our trains, infrastructure investment and the need for improved information Systems.  Also discussed was the recent fare increase announcement and unregulated charges such as car parking which have soared in recent years.  Also in attendance at the meeting was Bob Russell MP.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Theresa Villiers Confirms No Reduction In Train Numbers

In response to a question raised by Bernard Jenkin MP, the Rail Minister Theresa Villiers has confirmed that there will not be a reduction in the number trains on the Great Eastern line when Abellio takes over.  The Hansard entry reads as follows:

    "Mr Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many trains are in service on the National Express East Anglia Great Eastern Line. [83711]

     Mrs Villiers: The fleet deployment plan provided by National Express East Anglia for the timetable running from May to December 2011 shows an allocation of 11 locomotive-hauled sets, and 147 electric multiple units to Great Eastern services each day (Monday to Friday).

     Mr Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of how many trains will be in service on the Great Eastern Line under the new franchise holders. [83712]

     Mrs Villiers: The successful bid for the Greater Anglia franchise by Abellio Greater Anglia Ltd includes a fleet deployment plan that allocates 11 locomotive-hauled sets and 147 electric multiple units to Great Eastern services each day (Monday to Friday)."

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Service Disruption Over Christmas And New Year

Details of engineering works on the NXEA network over the Christmas and New year Period can be found here.  Due to the replacement of overhead wires between Ilford and Stratford, services are severely restricted on certain days over the holiday period.