Suffolk: New rail group future pledge as franchise change looms

SUFFOLK: Dutch-based transport group Abellio hopes to run rail services in East Anglia until 2029 after being awarded the short-term franchise starting in February.

Meanwhile new figures from Network Rail showed that rail punctuality in East Anglia improved slightly over the last month when compared to the same period last year.

Abellio chief executive Anton Valk told Ipswich MP Ben Gummer that the company plans to bid for the 15-year franchise which is due to start in July 2014, after winning the short-term franchise due to run for 29 months from next February.

Mr Gummer said he came away from the meeting confident that the company would improve services on the line and that passengers would benefit.

He said: “I was impressed by Mr Valk. He has been in Britain heading Abellio since 2001 after being a senior manager on Dutch railways and he clearly knows the industry.

“He accepts there is only a limited amount a company can do in 29 months, but he wants to be much more customer-focused, improving reliability and customer service.”

Mr Gummer said Abellio were already thinking about longer-term improvements that it would introduce if it were given the 15-year franchise starting in 2014.

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Figures released by Network Rail showed that between 16 October and 12 November this year, 89.3per cent of National Express East Anglia (NXEA) trains ran on time.

During the same period last year the figure was 86.7pc. The NXEA figure was exactly the same as the national average across all rail companies.

The Evening Star is planning a detailed look at the region’s rail services. If you have any views please send them to Paul Geater, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, IP4 1AN or you can e-mail