Rail services under spotlight

RAIL services in East Anglia were today coming under the spotlight after the Competition Commission said why it was investigating the takeover of rail services by transport giant National Express.

RAIL services in East Anglia were today coming under the spotlight after the Competition Commission said why it was investigating the takeover of rail services by transport giant National Express.

Greater Anglia takes in the old Anglia franchise, the Great Eastern franchise and the West Anglia part of the West Anglia Great Northern franchise.

The acquisition of a rail franchise is treated as a merger under the Railways Act, and the Competition Commission said today that its inquiry was particularly concerned with whether the Greater Anglia "merger" may be expected to affect competition:

nBetween certain rail services and coach services in the Greater Anglia

area;

nBetween the rail services between London and Southend (where National Express now operates both the Greater Anglia services to and from London's Liverpool Street station and the c2c services to and from London's Fenchurch Street station);

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nBetween rail services between Peterborough, Cambridge and Norwich, where National Express now operates overlapping services as part of both the Greater Anglia and Central Trains franchises.

National Express was announced as preferred bidder for Greater Anglia in December 2003.

The seven-year franchise started in April of this year and the SRA expressed surprise when the Office of Fair Trading referred the matter to the Competition Commission on May 27.

The commission will publish a report later in the year.

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