The UK Department for Transport has announced the extension of the Abellio Greater Anglia franchise to October 2016. The extension will deliver a £20m improvement programme for passengers over a 27 month period.

The improvement programme ensures that our passengers will benefit from refreshed rolling stock between Norwich and London, more local services on the Abellio Greater Anglia network, and twice as many weekday off peak services between Stansted Airport and Cambridge. The upgraded connection between Cambridge, a global centre of technological expertise, and Stansted Airport, will boost the city's links with the rest of Europe.

The package of enhancements builds on the progress made since Abellio started running the franchise in February 2012, including improved punctuality, re-painting of stations, refurbishment of some diesel trains, smart ticket purchase options, better customer information, and (in partnership with Network Rail) a major reduction in disruptive weekend engineering work.

In welcoming the announcement, Abellio UK's Managing Director Dominic Booth said:

"Abellio will now work hard with the team at Abellio Greater Anglia to roll out the improvements quickly and efficiently. The extension also sets the course for future development. We look forward, therefore, to starting a dialogue with stakeholders soon about the requirements for the long term franchise and the investments required to create a rail service that will unlock and support the long term economic development of this important part of the country."

Abellio Greater Anglia's new Managing Director, Jamie Burles, added:

"I am delighted that we have agreed a very positive new contract with the Department for Transport, which will deliver real improvements for customers across our franchise network. We have taken a deliberately customer and community-focused approach to the development of this new deal, ensuring that there are tangible benefits for passengers and stakeholders."

Details of the enhancement programme:

  • A major refresh of intercity services operating between Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford and London. This includes power points, new carpets, new seat covers, better lighting, upgraded toilets and interior/exterior re-painting.
  • New off peak services for the Cambridge - Stansted Airport route on Mondays to Fridays from July 2014.
  • Sunday service enhancements on several routes - Norwich to Sheringham, Marks Tey to Sudbury, Ipswich to Lowestoft, Norwich to Lowestoft and Great Eastern Mainline - to be phased in during 2014 and 2015.
  • 1600 additional standard seats on weekday intercity services by October 2016.
  • Over 400 additional cycle parking spaces at stations, and schemes to ensure that all stations will have cycle parking by October 2016.
  • 20% funding increase for Community Rail Partnerships.
  • Fitting of controlled emission toilets (CET) allied with a £2 million investment by Network Rail to stop waste being flushed onto the tracks.
  • Completion of station upgrades at Bishops Stortford, Cambridge and Chelmsford.