The Department for Transport has extended the franchise of National Express East Anglia for another seven months beyond the current expiry date of March 2011. The original franchise agreement had a two year extension beyond this date but this was cancelled following on from National Express handing back its East Coast franchise.
National Express Group Chief Executive Dean Finch commented "We are pleased to have been given this initial extension and to be able to continue to serve our customers on the East Anglia franchise. We continue to explore opportunities to deliver our industry-leading rail performance across both our franchises (referring to C2C as well) beyond 2011." It is not clear what he means by "industry leading".
The re-franchising exercise to find a replacement for NXEA was put on hold after the general election following the new government's announcement that it would be reviewing the whole franchising process. Today's announcement would suggest that a new franchising process will be in place by the end of 2011 but this would take the possible change of franchisee very close to the 2012 Olympics which may further delay an announcement.