The National Express East Anglia franchise has been further extended to February 2012. The government has made it clear it wishes to review the whole franchising system and it is likely that any future franchises will be for a longer period than currently awarded - a length of 15 years is being mentioned. This is to encourage the train operating companies to invest properly in the railway they are responsible for. Current franchises typically run for 7 years or so which is not long enough for companies to necessarily see the benefits of their investment, so they don't do it to the extent that perhaps they should.
So, in a rather bizarre move it seems that the government will be going out to tender for the new Greater Anglia franchise which will run from February 2012 to the summer of 2013. Such a short franchise is being considered to give the Department for Transport sufficient time to define the future of franchising so that a longer such arrangement can be tendered to run beyond 2013.
It is unlikely of course that there will be many bidders - other than National Express - for the franchise to summer 2013. There is significant expense in putting together a bid and most companies are likely to wait until the 'main' franchise to run from summer 2013 goes out to tender rather than bid for such a short franchise which will only run for just over a year.