Anglia Railways lose franchise battle

DOZENS of Ipswich-based rail workers were today left wondering if they would have jobs after Anglia Railways' owners lost the battle to take over the Greater Anglia franchise.

DOZENS of Ipswich-based rail workers were today left wondering if they would have jobs after Anglia Railways' owners lost the battle to take over the Greater Anglia franchise.

The race was won by National Express, the largest passenger rail operator in Britain, which will take over all services running out of Liverpool Street station from April next year.

At present National Express runs the West Anglia service from London to Cambridge and Kings Lynn.

Today's announcement comes as a surprise, although not a shock.


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Anglia's parent company GB Railways had been seen as the favourite for the franchise – especially after it was taken over by transport giant First Group in the summer.

Today's announcement is seen as a double snub to First Group, which runs Great Eastern trains – it was initially excluded from the bidding when the shortlist was published in April.

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It re-entered the race by purchasing GB Railways at a high price, only to see its efforts fail again.

All Anglia Railways and Great Eastern staff will transfer to National Express when the new franchise starts on April 1.

And National Express spokeswoman Nicola Marsden said the company would be looking to increase the number of staff it employs.

"We will be putting a heavy emphasis on customer care and taking on new staff there – although there may be the opportunity for some administrative rationalisation.

"But that will happen after the new franchise comes into operation and we have had the chance to study the situation," she said.

At present about 50 people are employed at Anglia Railway's headquarters in Ipswich – and the mood there today was understood to be subdued.

GB Railways director Max Steinkopf said: "We're extremely sorry that we've not been awarded the new franchise, especially as we've established an excellent record for customer service."

Ms Marsden said today that InterCity-style trains would continue to run on the main line between East Anglia and London.

The branding of the new company running the trains would be revealed early in the new year – but she gave a pledge it would reflect the area's heritage.

"It won't be some obscure name that will have all our passengers scratching their heads," she said.

Ipswich council chief executive James Hehir said he would be seeking to get in touch with National Express early in the new year in an attempt to persuade them to retain a head office in the town.

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