Thursday, 17 July 2014

Rail Briefing to Essex MPs

The following has been sent to Essex MPs


Essex rail users have suffered from a series of franchises where minimum expenditure has been authorised.  This state of affairs started with the National Express plain vanilla franchise of 2003, and continued with the first Abellio franchise of 2012, and continues now with the second short franchise recently awarded to Abellio which expires in October 2016.  Due to the wording of the franchise documents, in all this time there has been no money available for new trains or even the much needed refurbishment of the rolling stock, which is now in such poor internal  condition that it compares unfavourably with every other franchise that serves London.  Uncertainty over future franchising means that externally most of the train fleet is painted in a temporary white livery that becomes dirty very quickly and does not look smart.

The poor state of the trains is largely beyond the control of the operator and is due to inadequate funding of the rail franchise by successive governments.  The government has failed to recognise that Greater Anglia train services are no longer up to the standard expected by the public.  These are falling well short of the standards maintained by other operators.

What needs to be done?
In order to put things right, there needs to be serious investment in new trains and in refurbishment of existing ones.  These investments need to be stipulated in the tender documents so that all bidders for the new franchise can include funding for this in their tender price.   Details of these investments are included in the Greater Anglia Rail manifesto which has been endorsed by County Councils, MPs, Rail User groups and other interested parties based in East Anglia.  Essex Rail Users Federation has also submitted proposals for these investments directly to DfT.

Network Rail also needs to invest to eliminate a large number of unreliable components in the rail infrastructure that is track and pointwork, signalling and overhead wires.

All interested parties need to lobby DfT and the Treasury to ensure that rail services on the Norwich main line and branches is certainly as good as those on any other franchise serving London.

Above all it is essential that Essex MPs work together on this.  Norfolk and Suffolk MPs have been far better at presenting a united front on rail issues.

Derek Monnery FRICS
Essex Rail Users Federation

17th July 2014