Friday, 30 October 2009

NXEA Punctuality Improvements

In a report published by Network Rail on 29th October NXEA achieved punctuality figures of 94.1% in the period 20th Sept to 17th October. This compares with 90.9% in the same period last year.

Train Firms Seek Longer Contracts

The Association Of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) which represents franchise holders such as NXEA has called for longer rail franchises to allow them to provide better quality services. ATOC says that agreements of 15-20 years would encourage franchises to improve services and boost investment. Currently bidders compete for deals typically lasting seven years and such deals discourage franchise holders from making long term investment in the railway as they may never reap the benefits.

ATOC has also called for and end to 'inappropriate micro management' by civil servants. At present it is difficult for franchise holders to achieve anything without first gaining approval from, typically, the Department for Transport. Often a lengthy process for often comparatively small improvements or changes.

Poetry And Artwork Hoardings At Hythe

Plans for two huge displays of poetry and artwork at Hythe Station have been unveiled. The 30-metre long hoardings will be installed at the station if approved by the council and NXEA.

Details are in the East Anglian Daily Times.

NXEA Names Its Top Community Train Stations

On 23rd October NXEA held its 2009 Station Adopters Awards at Norwich City Football Club.

NXEA has encouraged and supported volunteers from local communities who have adopted their local station, helping to look after the gardens and improve the environment and community engagement at stations. Local winners of the 2009 awards are:
  • Best Small Station: Burnham-on-Crouch. Highly Commended: Sudbury
  • Best Staffed Station: Witham. Runner Up: Alresford

National Express To Hand Back NXEA?

Following the recent failed attempts at a takeover of National Express (NX) by The CVC/Cosmen and then Stagecoach bids, there is again speculation that the government may still carry through its threat of removing the NXEA and C2C franchises from NX. The threat was originally made as a consequence of NX handing back the NXEC franchise - something that has still to be done - and the belief by some that should a franchise holder default on one franchise it should also relinquish responsibility of any others it may have.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

National Express Calls Off Merger Talks

National Express has said that all talks of a merger with Stagecoach have ended. "It is unlikely that a combination with Stagecoach could be successfully executed in 2009, even if appropriate terms could be agreed" it said.

It is thought that this comment refers to possible issues with the Monopolies Commission who may have blocked such a move. Stagecoach has said that was "extremely disappointed" that National Express decided against its offer.

National Express has said that it intends to raise funds by issuing extra shares as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Teenager Jailed For Rail Vandalism

A seventeen year old teenager has been jailed for 18 months having been found guilty of throwing a shopping trolley from a bridge in Springfield, Chelmsford in front of a train travelling at 100mph. The Liverpool Street to Clacton service was carrying 250 people at the time and fortunately nobody was hurt. There was however serious damage to the train and infrastructure and services were disrupted for 2 hours while repairs were carried out.

This mindless act of stupidity by Adam Holland could so easily have ended differently with many injuries and fatalities.

Sunday Service From Walton to Colchester Town - Timetable

As previously mentioned, NXEA will be trialling a Sunday service between Walton-on-the-Naze and Colchester Town in the four weeks leading up to Christmas commencing 29th November. Timetable details can be found here.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Stagecoach Prepares Bid For National Express

It is reported that Stagecoach is putting the final touches to bank financing to launch a takeover bid of National Express. It is understood that Stagecoach has between £300m and £400m of finance ready to buy National Express and it is thought that they make a move in the coming week.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

** Update ** Manningtree - Harwich Line

Network Rail have now decided to suspend their decision regarding the return of train services on the Manningtree - Harwich line. However there will definitely be buses tomorrow (Friday).

For updates please refer to the Manningtree Rail Users Association and NXEA websites.

Manningtree - Harwich Trains Suspended Until 9th November

Following on from the landslip near Wrabness yesterday evening, train services between Manningtree and Harwich are suspended until 9th November.

Replacement bus services are extending journey times by approximately 30 mins. A number of services to Harwich are being diverted to terminate at Ipswich and some services from Harwich are starting from either Manningtree or Colchester. For details of specific service alterations as a consequence of this suspension click here.

Sunday Service From Walton to Colchester Town

NXEA will be trialling an hourly Sunday Service to Colchester Town from Walton on the Naze and intermediate stations (with connections to / from Clacton) on the four Sundays before Christmas.

National Express Issues Profits Warning

National Express Group (NX) today issued a profit warning and has said that it will be press ahead with plans to ask investors for funding following an increase in the cost of debt. The group now expects full year pre-tax profits to fall "slightly" below expectations.

NX also confirmed that the board would "continue to evaluate the value, risk and certainty offered by the preliminary proposal from Stagecoach".

The company also confirmed that it is meeting its performance targets to achieve a three year extension on the East Anglian (NXEA) and C2C franchises.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Stagecoach Get Cosmen Support

Stagecoach's hopes of securing a £1.7bn merger with National Express were boosted last night when it reportedly won support from the latter's biggest shareholder, the Cosmen family of Spain.

The Cosmens, who have an 18% stake in NX recently led an abortive takeover bid of the transport group of which Stagecoach were a part.

Additional Carriages In The Winter Timetable

The ongoing introduction of additional carriages to the NXEA fleet now means that a number of trains can be lengthened. The introduction of the winter timetable on 13th December will see the following changes implemented:

Trains increased to 12 carriages

  • 05.21 & 08.03 Colchester to Liverpool Street
  • 06.21 Colchester Town to Liverpool Street
  • 07.03 Chelmsford to Liverpool Street
  • 09.00 Braintree to Liverpool Street
  • 17.08 Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea, (12 carriages to Colchester)
  • 18.22 Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea, (12 carriages to Witham)
  • 18.32 Liverpool Street to Ipswich

Trains increased to 8 carriages

  • 08.00 Harwich Town to Liverpool Street, (8 carriages from Colchester)
  • 08.58 Witham to Liverpool Street
  • 16.15 Liverpool Street to Harwich Town, (8 carriages to Colchester)
  • 19.08 Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea

Other changes being introduced include:

  • 08.02 (Mon-Fri) Liverpool Street to Colchester Town will call additionally at Kelvedon
  • 16.30 (Mon-Fri) Ipswich to Colchester re-timed to depart at 16.32 and is extended to run through as an additional service to London Liverpool Street
  • 19.00 (Sundays) Liverpool Street to Norwich will call additionally at Chelmsford, Colchester and Manningtree

Monday, 19 October 2009

'Leaves On The Line' Delays Reduced

Network Rail are claiming a significant reduction in the number of delays caused by leaves on the line. Better management of lineside vegetation, newer trains that can cope better with the slippery conditions and the application of an adhesive substance called Sandite to the rails have all contributed to the reduction in delays.

Of course some train companies, including NXEA, implement leaf fall timetables in the autumn to add a few minutes to journey times in case of delays caused by lack of wheel grip as a consequence of fallen leaves on the line. Even so, the sound of the train struggling to get traction as it pulls away is certainly less frequent nowadays.

Stagecoach Make Another Offer For National Express

National Express (NX) confirmed on Sunday evening that it has received another takeover approach from Stagecoach. It is understood that Stagecoach wrote to the NX board at the weekend and proposed that NX shareholders should hold up to 40% of a combined company. However insiders say that a 50/50 split would better reflect the earnings of the two groups and as such the the Stagecoach offer is likely to rebuffed, at least in its current form.

Speculation that FirstGroup had also made an approach was denied.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

FirstGroup To Consider National Express Takeover?

Reports are suggesting the FirstGroup will this week consider whether to make its own move on National Express after reacting to a £1.65bn all-share merger proposal from its rival Stagecoach.

FirstGroup formerly ran the the First Great Eastern franchise prior to the introduction of the 'one' greater Anglia franchise (part of National Express)

Friday, 16 October 2009

Stagecoach Still Interested In NXEA

Following on from the collapse of the takeover bid by the CVC / Cosman family it is reported that Stagecoach may still be interested in the UK operations. As part of the CVC bid it was intended that Stagecoach would takeover the UK bus and rail operations of National Express - which includes National Express East Anglia (NXEA) - and Stagecoach are said to still regard these operations as attractive 'at the right price'.

Go Ahead Group Plc, the UK's biggest rail company by passenger numbers has declined to say whether it is interested in National Express. FirstGroup Plc which made an abortive bid earlier in the year has said in the past that it is only interested in the East Coast mainline route.

As previously mentioned, much still hangs in the balance regarding whether the government will take the NXEA and C2C back into public ownership.

CVC & Cosmen Family Withdraw From Takeover Bid

In what is being seen as something of a surprise move the Cosmen Family and CVC have pulled out of their proposed takeover bid for National Express Group. Media reports suggest that the consortium faced a number of hurdles, including the £1bn - £1.2bn needed debt package and they were not able to secure the necessary funding.

National Express Group will now seek to raise cash from investors to strengthen its financial position in a move that will be supported by the Cosmen family who own 18.5% of the company.

This latest move now brings back into play the prospect of the government taking back the NXEA and C2C franchises into public ownership, albeit temporarily, following the imminent hand over of the troubled NXEC franchise by National Express. Assuming, as many do, that the government would rather see the franchises stay in the private sector it may well be that another operator - perhaps Stagecoach - will make a bid....?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Train Refurbishment

Passengers may be aware that the Class 321 trains - the green sliding door trains - are currently undergoing refurbishment, albeit one train at a time. As part of this refurbishment the National Express corporate identity is being applied. The Manningtree Rail Users Association (MRUA) has asked what plans are in place to cope with the possible imminent change of franchise to Stagecoach and the inevitable rebranding exercise that will take place. The MRUA does not wish to see more money being wasted on yet another rebranding exercise leading to a sixth different colour scheme currently seen on our trains.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Stagecoach Set To Take Over NXEA 'Within Weeks'

According to industry sources National Express is now set to leave the rail industry within a few weeks. The East Anglia (NXEA) and C2C franchises are expected to transfer to Stagecoach while the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) says that the East Coast franchise will be in the hands of the Department for Transport by early December.

It had been expected that an announcement would be made by 16th October but the Spanish buyers of the National Express Group have asked for more time. The remaining uncertainties are reported to concern the Spanish coach operations of NX rather than its assets in the UK.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Colchester Station Travel Plan - Set For Launch

More information regarding the Colchester Station Travel Plan can be found on the NXEA website here.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Emails to ERUF - Update

Emails addressed to now appear to be working. Please can we request that anybody who emailed us since Saturday and has not had a response send us their email again.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Emails to ERUF

Please note that any emails sent to since early Saturday will not have reached us. The problem is ongoing unfortunately but we will post here when resolved. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Colchester Station Travel Plan - Stakeholder Event

NXEA, Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council are to host an event to mark the launch of the Colchester Station Travel Plan. The event takes the form of a small exhibition on the north side forecourt of the station on Monday 12th October from 15:30 to 19:30.

The aim of the event is to explain to stakeholders and users of the station the purpose of the Station Travel Plan and the various elements that will be implemented, starting this winter.