Thursday, 23 December 2010

National Express Retains C2C Franchise

National Express has retained the right to run the C2C franchise until May 2013.  The C2C franchise runs services out of Fenchurch Street to Tilbury, Southend and Shoeburyness and is regarded as one of the best run in the country, unlike its East Anglian cousin.

Friday, 10 December 2010

New Timetable - Reminder

A reminder that the new timetable comes into force on Sunday.  All Great Eastern mainline services are affected so it is advised that passengers familiarise themselves with the changes relevant to them.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Season Ticket Calculator

A useful tool to work out the price of your next season ticket by clicking here.

(You may wish to sit down before using this)

Sudbury Branch Line Fares Easements

The new user group representing the Sudbury branch line has managed to secure the following easements from NXEA to the new timetable as follows:









Follow the Sudbury user group on Twitter at @thesudburyline

Monday, 6 December 2010

NXEA To Seek To Retain Franchise

In an article in the Financial Times it is reported that National Express (NX) will not be bidding for the big inter city franchises, including the lucrative West Coast Mainline franchise, as they come up for renewal in the next couple years.  NX will be concentrating however on retaining their last two remaining franchises - NXEA and C2C.

A source is quoted as saying "We’re not interested in intercity franchises; we need to prove ourselves with C2C and East Anglia and use them to win back political confidence”

National Express is trying to restore its reputation following its decision to relinquish the contract to run the London to Edinburgh rail service last year.

It is likely that NX will have to compete to keep its franchises as the government is thought to be putting the current NXEA franchise on a short term contract as a test case for the proposed new way of franchising. Other possible changes to perhaps be tested by the government include longer, 15-20 year franchises to encourage investment in stations and new trains, and a restructuring of the revenue sharing between train operators and the government. The review, which has been welcomed by the industry, is an attempt to shore up the rail franchise system, under fire since the East Coast main line was temporarily renationalised last November following NX handing it back.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Christmas Services Affected By Engineering Work

On bank holidays Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 December a base Sunday timetable will operate.

Due to all lines being closed between Liverpool Street and Ilford for engineering work the following train service alterations apply for journeys between Liverpool Street, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and branches:

No trains will operate between Liverpool Street and Ilford. Passengers are to use TfL Central Line services between Liverpool Street, Stratford and Newbury Park. Connecting rail-replacement bus services will operate from Newbury Park to Ingatestone.

Mainline services will operate from Shenfield (interchange for Metro and Southend services) to Ingatestone (interchange for rail-replacement bus service to/from Newbury Park), Colchester, Clacton-on-Sea, Ipswich and Norwich.

Wednesday 29, Thursday 31 and Friday 31 December

Due to a partial line closure between Bethnal Green and Stratford for engineering work (all trains run via platforms 5 and 8 at Stratford) a revised train service will operate between Liverpool Street and Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and branches.

Morning Peak (07:00-10:00) and Evening Peak (16:00-19:00):
Intercity services will operate between Norwich and Liverpool Street; hourly in the morning peak and half-hourly in the evening peak.

Mainline services will operate between Ipswich, Clacton and Colchester to Liverpool Street (6 trains per hour).

Braintree services will operate to/from Witham, Sudbury services will operate to/from Marks Tey, Walton services will operate to/from Colchester via Colchester Town, Harwich Town services will operate to/from Manningtree.

Off Peak (before 07:00, 10:00-16:00, and after 19:00):
Intercity services will operate half-hourly between Norwich and Liverpool Street (hourly early morning / late evening).

Mainline services will operate between Ipswich, Clacton and Colchester Town and Braintree to Liverpool Street (as per Saturday timetable but with minor retimings).

Sudbury services will operate to/from Marks Tey, Walton services will operate to/from Colchester via Colchester Town, Harwich Town services will operate to/from Manningtree.

Possible Monthly Charge For WiFi?

An article published by ZDNet suggests that there may be a monthly charge of £19 for Standard Class passengers intending to use WiFi on London - Norwich services.  NXEA has so far only announced that the service will be free to First Class passengers and that Standard Class passengers will have to pay £2.95 a journey.  A £2.95 charge per journey makes it a very expensive exercise for regular users.

£19 per month would certainly be better value but is still considerably more than some service providers are charging.  The ERUF will continue to press for this to be a free service for all as is the case on National Express coaches..

Friday, 26 November 2010

Train Crash Tanker Driver Jailed For 15 Months

The tanker driver responsible for the serious derailment of a train on the Sudbury branch line in August has been jailed for 15 months.  Arvydas Bartasius, a Lithuanian living in Ely, had pleaded guilty to endangering safety when he crossed the tracks without first seeking permission from the signalman.  The NXEA train was travelling between 50mph and 60mph when it struck the tanker, injuring 22 people.  Bartasius was also banned from driving for three years.

Tube Strike - 29th November

A reminder that the RMT and TSSA unions have called a strike on the Tube starting on the evening of Sunday 28 November. If the strike goes ahead, disruption to Tube services is likely all day Monday 29 November, with services returning to normal on Tuesday 30 November.

TFL will run as many Tube services as possible, but some lines will have a restricted service and some stations will be closed.

Please check before you travel, and use an alternative route or method of transport if possible. Visit the TFL strike page for more detailed information.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

NXEA Gets A Mention In 'Private Eye'

NXEA gets a mention in the Dr B Ching column of the latest Private Eye magazine, highlighting the double standards applied by the company in the paying of fares / fines.

Referring to the Delay Repay scheme the article explains how, when rail or rail replacement bus services are delayed, passengers can obtain and fill in a form to apply, by post only, for compensation for delays exceeding 30 minutes. NXEA aims to respond within 15 days.

However, the NXEA guide to penalty fares states "you will be requested to pay the full amount by the authorised collector at the time the penalty fare is charged".

So basically when a passenger gets it wrong they have to pay up immediately but if NXEA gets it wrong compensation can take weeks to arrive.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

NXEA WiFi To Cost £2.95

Many will be disappointed to hear that NXEA will be charging for their WiFi service when introduced on London - Norwich services. Whilst free to first-class passengers, others will have to pay £2.95 per journey. Regular users will see themselves paying over £1,300 a year!

As mentioned in an earlier article here the system is being installed thanks to a grant of £346,000 from the EEDA and Suffolk and Norfolk county councils.

It will be interesting to see what the take up will be for something that should surely be a free service.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Train Fares To Increase By Average Of 6.2%

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has provided figures indicating that fares will increase by an average of 6.2% in the new year. Regulated fares which include season tickets will go up by an average of 5.8% but some increases could be as high as 10.8%.

Regulated fares are tied to an annual price cap formula meaning fares can increase each January only by the previous July's RPI inflation rate plus 1%. Hence the 5.8% average rise for 2011.  However, companies are able to put up some fares by more than 5% as long as other fares decrease at the same rate.  Precise details of NXEA fares are not known at this stage.

In January 2012, passengers will have to dig even deeper into their pockets when the annual price rise formula changes to RPI plus 3% across the national network.

NXEA Announce Customer Service Investment

In what will be seen by some as a tacit acknowledgement that trains are in a pretty poor state, that customer service often falls short of expectations and to perhaps soften the blow of the significant fare increases that are imminent, NXEA has announced a range of measures to improve things as follows:
  • 20 additional cleaning staff to improve presentation and cleaning on board trains and between journeys 
  • A new cleaning team improving exterior presentation of trains, complementing NXEA’s additional investment of £2m in new carriage washers at Ilford and Orient Way train maintenance depots 
  • An enhanced station cleaning programme for NXEA’s London stations and other key stations 
  • Improvements in communication and engagement with customers led by the recruitment of a new Customer Information Manager and welcome hosts at key stations including, London Liverpool Street, Cambridge, Colchester, Ely, Ipswich, Norwich and Witham 
  • Provision of free weekend travel for partners of NXEA annual season-ticket holders 
  • Production of a new Commuter News publication for season-ticket holders and enhanced at-seat breakfast service for First Class customers on the 07.10 and 07.40 Intercity services from Norwich 
  • Senior Citizens 2-for-1 travel offer on Wednesdays in the New Year
The ERUF will continue to press for the reinstatement of the texting service that is seen by many as key to improving customer communications.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sunday Service to Colchester Town

National Express East Anglia are once again introducing a Sunday service to Colchester Town during the run up to Christmas.  The services will run on the 5th, 12th and 19th December starting at 10:50 and running hourly until 18:50.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Network Rail Criticised By NXEA

Andrew Chivers, Managing Director of National Express East Anglia, has written to local MPs criticising the performance of Network Rail, saying that its progress in reducing delays caused by infrastructure problems in the last seven years had been "minor" when compared to NXEA's record in tackling delays caused by train faults. Passengers have suffered from long delays recently as a consequence of overrunning maintenance work.

As well as over-running engineering work last week, Mr Chivers said it had also emerged that “some of the additional infrastructure problems on Tuesday and Wednesday resulted from sub-standard installation of equipment during the same weekend engineering work programme”. “Network Rail have already carried out an initial investigation, which suggests that the key causes of the problems related to poor project management, inadequate programme preparation and unsatisfactory real time delivery of the works by the contractors...,” Mr Chivers said. “They are taking steps to ensure that better planning and monitoring of such schemes is in place for future projects.

“We have acted quickly to raise our concerns with the Network Rail Route Director, Andrew Munden. In addition, our group chief executive Dean Finch has also met personally with the Network Rail Chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite, to emphasise just how damaging such disruption is for our passengers and to highlight our wider discontent that the rate of performance improvement and overall punctuality standards being achieved by Network Rail on the Great Eastern Mainline are not acceptable. Their progress in reducing infrastructure-related delays over the last seven years has been minor in comparison to the major reduction we have achieved in delays caused by train faults.”

He added that National Express East Anglia had also appointed a manager to work at the joint control centre in London, and would co-locate teams at Network Rail depots to increase the urgency in Network Rail’s decision-making and create a “greater focus on passengers’ needs”.

Whilst the Essex Rail Users Federation welcomes this public criticism by NXEA of the services provided by Network Rail there is concern too that NXEA's handling of these problems can be handled so much better.  Improved communications, including the reintroduction of a text alerting service and better use of the NXEA website, are essential.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Kelvedon Commuter Swaps The Trains For A Car

The new December timetable being introduced by National Express East Anglia has persuaded Maureen Browning to give up on the railways and commute by road instead.  The new timetable sees the number of trains to Chelmsford calling at Kelvedon drop from four to two.  The only alternative for Mrs Browning is to catch a train and change at Witham, effectively doubling her journey time.

Dissatisfied with the response from NXEA to her concerns, Mrs Browning has purchased a second hand car and has calculated that she will be spending about the same on fuel as she would have done on fares.

Mrs Browning got a reply from Essex County Council which said: “The original intention in the timetable was to provide through services at 0743 and 0815.  However, Network Rail has not consented to these services stopping at Kelvedon as the power supply for the route is insufficient to accommodate all the additional services to be operated.”

Another indication that the infrastructure on the Great Eastern Mainline is not up to the job.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Witham MP Criticises NXEA in Parliament

Priti Patel, MP for Witham, secured a debate in parliament entitled "The Performance of National Express East Anglia" which took place yesterday.  Sadly only one other MP was was present (One Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole) but Ms Patel took the opportunity to list her constituents' concerns which included:

  • The fact that the Great eastern mainline is one of the busiest in the country but is only single track in each direction and the overall poor condition of the infrastructure, including the 50 year old overhead wires.  (Not actually the responsibility of NXEA but certainly worthy of a mention)
  • The proposed loss of certain services for Witham and Kelvedon passengers in the new December timetable.
  • The exhorbitant fares endured by passengers and the prospect of considerable increases.
Ms Patel also took up the plight of Nigel Clark whose refreshment business is under threat following the refurbishment of Marks Tey station.  She revealed that she has written to the Prime Minister and Rail Minister about his plight and has also handed in a 700 signature petition calling for his stall to be retained.

The Rail Minister, Theresa Villiers responded to Ms Patel's points by defending NXEA's overall performance of 90.9% of services running on time as opposed to the 62% of services to London and 48% of services from London as claimed by Ms Patel based on figures provided by Passenger Focus.  Mrs Villiers also mentioned that 70% of delays were down to infrastructure problems and were not the responsibility of National Express.  An extensive programme of renewal work was underway to replace the overhead wires but this would not be completed until 2012.  The Rail Minister also revealed that her department had intervened in the summer when NXEA was experiencing problems with its fleet by ensuring additional engineers were on hand to assist.

Mrs Villiers assured Ms Patel that she would be keeping a close eye on the future performance of NXEA.

It was disappointing to note however that no other Essex MPs were present at this debate.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Sudbury Train Crash - Tanker Driver Pleads Guilty

The tanker driver involved in the derailment of a train on the Sudbury - Marks Tey branch on 17th August has pleaded guilty of endangering safety on the railway. 22 people were injured when the 17:31 service from Sudbury to Marks Tey was in collision with the tanker which was blocking the track.

Arvydas Bartasius, 38, of Hawthorn Close, Ely, Cambridgeshire, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court. He will return to court on 26th November for sentencing.

Friday, 22 October 2010

UK Rail Network 'At Risk' From Global Warming

In a report in the quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology scientists suggest that the UK rail network is at risk from global warming. The scientists from the University of Southampton and Network Rail studied the number of landslides and floods that resulted in delays to rail travel of more than eight hours. They found that the frequency of these major incidents was far higher during the wet winter of 2000-2001, when rail passengers experienced widespread travel disruption.

Scientists predict that such wet winters will become more common in the future, raising fears that climate change could result in "travel chaos".

In a separate study, Network Rail engineers have concluded that half of the UK's railway cuttings and embankments were in "poor" or "marginal" condition leaving them prone to landslides.

One of the most 'at risk' areas is the south east of England where much of the rail network is built on soft clay which is particularly prone to landslides. The Great Eastern mainline has often suffered from movement due to this soft clay and the Harwich branch has been closed on more than one occasion following the tracks and overhead catenary moving.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Spending Review - Impact On Rail

Following on from yesterday's spending review announced by the government there is a mixture of good and bad news for Essex passengers.

On the positive side the government have confirmed that Crossrail will go ahead.  This will provide a greatly enhanced service for those who wish to travel across London and should take some pressure off existing services.

On the negative side from 2012 regulated fares are to increase by RPI+3.  Currently fare increases are capped at RPI+1.  The precise impact of these increases will not be known until 2011 when the then current rate of inflation can be incorporated into the equation.  Whatever the eventual answer, the UK will continue to have the most expensive rail fares in Europe and it may well be that passengers are forced into their cars as a consequence.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

National Express To Benefit Even More From High Fare Increases?

A number of articles in the media are suggesting that the likely high increase in rail fares could benefit National Express (NX) even more with disgruntled rail passengers moving over to NX coach services instead. There has been much talk in the media of compound rises in rail fares of 40% by 2014 although this has perhaps understandably been played down by the government.

NX Coach services may not have an effect on commuter routes such as those between Essex and London which are regarded as something of a guaranteed market, but longer journeys may well see people move from train to coach.

National Express yesterday reported that it was on target to meet full-year profit forecasts, with analysts expecting a pre-tax profit of more than £153m. Last year NX reported a pre-tax loss of £83.5m as it struggled with debts of more than £1bn, three attempted takeover bids and losing the prestigious east coast rail franchise.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Evening Delays On 13th October

National Express East Anglia are reporting that the significant delays suffered yesterday evening were due to a "line-side fire caused by criminal damage in the Brentwood area".

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

North Fambridge Station Wins Award

North Fambridge station, renowned locally for its beautiful gardens, was named Best Small Station 2010 at the National Express East Anglia Adopter Station Awards.  The ceremony was held at Ipswich Town Football Club where retired couple John and Win Wait received their award.  Station adopters are local volunteers who work with National Express in improving the general appeal of stations in the region.  Mr and Mrs Wait who live on site at North Fambridge station have been station adopters for six years and won a similar award a few years ago.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Billericay Station Buffet Petitions Downing Street

The owners of Bread and Buffers, the snack bar at Billericay station, will be presenting a petition to Downing Street on Thursday. The 3,000 signature petition calls for Hugh and Nadia McMahon to be able to continue with their business after the planned £1.4 million revamp of Billericay station. Under the current plans Bread and Buffers will be knocked down to make way for a bigger ticket office. Mr and Mrs McMahon are asking for a suitable location to be provided during the rebuilding works and in the new station once completed.

Joining them on Thursday will be representatives from the Essex Federation of Small Businesses and Billericay MP John Baron.

Bread and Buffers has been operating at the station for eighteen years.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Commuters Faced With Significant Fare Rises

A cross-party Transport Select Committee has warned that commuters face significant fare increases while other travellers face "unlimited" increases. Currently season tickets are capped at RPI + 1 which would see a fare rise of 5.8% in January. However as part of the imminent spending review the cap of RPI + 1 could be scrapped.

"I'm concerned that fares could rise up to 10%, [and] that some fares might not have any limit imposed on them at all," said the chair of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman.

In addition to higher fares, plans for 2,000 new carriages across the UK have been put on hold which will lead to delays in providing extra capacity. On the Great Eastern mainline and outer suburban routes that serve north and east Essex, National Express East Anglia has obtained hand-me-down Class 321 trains from elsewhere which should go some way to reduce overcrowding but plans for new replacement trains on the London - Norwich route may now be some way off.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Marks Tey Coffee Seller Gets Offer Of Further 6 Month Extension

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) have now offered Nigel Clark at Marks Tey station a six month extension to enable him to continue selling coffees etc. during the rebuilding works.  Mr Clark's business will be located in a secure metal shed during this period.  However, a number of legal issues need to be clarified before agreement on going forward can be reached.  Longer term, NXEA will be going out to tender for the new retail unit that will be included in the refurbished station.

As previously mentioned here, Mr Clark had been threatened with eviction and some 700 commuters have signed a petition in support of him and local MP Priti Patel has raised her concerns in the House of Commons.

Friday, 1 October 2010

More Buses Laid On To Combat Tube Strike

Transport for London (TfL) is to put on 100 extra buses to increase capacity during the tube strike scheduled to take place on Monday.  TfL has also said that roadworks are being delayed and it will be organising marshalled taxi ranks and increasing capacity for approximately 10,000 more journeys on the River Thames.

For up to date information on the strike go to the TfL website.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Marks Tey Coffee Seller Gets Extra Fortnight

Nigel Clark, the coffee seller faced with eviction from Marks Tey station has been given a two week reprieve to consider his options. Plans are in place to spend £2.4 million on refurbishing the station and National Express East Anglia want Mr Clark to move to a new pitch at the front of the station. This move would see his rent increase from £2,500 to £7,000 which he says he cannot afford. His notice to quit expired yesterday [Wednesday].

Some 700 commuters have signed a petition in support of Mr Clark and local MP Priti Patel has raised her concerns in the House of Commons.

She told MPs: “National Express has behaved disgracefully over Marks Tey station and shown complete contempt for local commuters. In recent months, it has made no effort to consult commuters and only now, on the eve of work beginning, has it bothered to send a few people out to showcase the plans, choosing to be there at a time which is inconvenient to many commuters.

“We’ve had to fight long and hard to get National Express to agree to allow Nigel to continue to sell newspapers and coffees to commuters while the work takes place, but after that, his future is uncertain."

A National Express East Anglia spokesman said: “We have sought to engage positively on this matter and will continue to do.”

Tube Strike Reminder

A message from Transport for London:

"The RMT and TSSA unions plan strike action on the Tube. This will affect Tube services from early evening on Sunday 3 October and throughout Monday 4 October. Some lines may have a limited service and some stations may close. Please check before you travel on the day."

National Express East Anglia services are not affected although they may be busier towards London.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Olympic Boss To Head Up Network Rail

The chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority is leaving to join beleaguered Network Rail in a similar position. David Higgins will be replacing Iain Coucher who is stepping down in October. Mr Higgins, who is already a non-executive director of Network Rail, will take up his new position on 1st February.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

NXEA Timetable Surgeries - Dates & Times

As previously mentioned National Express East Anglia will be holding surgeries at a number of stations to provide information to passengers about the new timetable due to come into operation in December 2010.

Dates as follows:

Tuesday 5th October    17:00 - 20:00   Ipswich
Tuesday 12th October   17:00 - 20:00   Chelmsford
Thursday 14th October  17:00 - 20:00   Manningtree
Wednesday 3rd November 17:00 - 20:00   Witham
Monday 6th December    17:00 - 20:00   Chelmsford
Friday 10th December   17:00 - 20:00   Colchester
The dedicated NXEA email address to take queries regarding the new timetable can be accessed here.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

NXEA To Hold Dec 2010 Timetable 'Surgeries'

National Express East Anglia will be holding a number of surgeries at stations on the Great Eastern Mainline to provide information and assistance regarding the new timetable due to come into operation in December 2010.  Details of dates and times of these surgeries will be advertised at the relevant stations.

NXEA has also set up a dedicated email address to take queries regarding the new timetable which can be accessed here.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

New December Timetables Published

The new timetable due to come into force in December has been published by National Express East Anglia (NXEA). Details can be found on the NXEA website.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Passenger Robbed And Knocked Unconscious

British Transport Police (BTP) are appealing for witnesses after a man was allegedly knocked unconscious and robbed on a train somewhere between Colchester and Ipswich stations. The incident is alleged to have taken place after the man boarded the train at Colchester at 12:30pm on Saturday.

On the train the man is alleged to have been struck on the back of the neck whilst near to the buffet car, leaving him to fall unconscious for a short while. Assisted by rail staff he was taken to Ipswich Hospital where he later claimed that £800 was missing from his wallet.

Anyone with information is asked to contact BTP on Freefone 0800 405040.

NXEA Get Seven Month Extension To Franchise

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.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

NXEA Punctuality At 93.5% For Month To 21 Aug

NXEA ran 93.5% of services on time in the period between 25th July and 21st August.  The main causes of hold-ups being a serious lineside fire at Romford and a fatality at Enfield Lock.  This figure contrasts with 98.8% achieved by C2C (a National Express company) between Southend and London Fenchurch Street which is the best ever recorded on Britain's railways.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

NXEA Told To Remove Misleading Posters

National Express East Anglia has been told by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to remove posters at Stansted Airport suggesting journey times of 35 mins to Central London.  Journeys from Stansted to Liverpool Street take 45 mins with only Tottenham Hale being reached in 35 mins.  The ASA considered this to be misleading, especially to visitors to the UK who would not be familiar with the route.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Tube Strike Contingency Plans Announced

Contingency plans to assist people in getting to work during next week's planned tube strike have been unveiled by Transport for London (TfL). Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) are protesting against plans to cut 800 ticket office jobs, although no compulsory redundancies are planned.

Details of contingency plans for the 6th and 7th September can be found on the TfL website.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Local Businesses Fear Rent Increases Following Refurbishments

Businesses around Brentwood station have voiced concerns that rents may be significantly increased after the station has its planned £1.4m refurbishment. The Essex Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has written to local MP Eric Pickles and Leader of Brentwood Council, Louise McKinlay looking for assurances that rents will not increase in the same way as Billericay and Marks Tey - stations also due for refurbishment as part of the National Stations Improvement Plan.

Speaking to the Brentwood Weekly News, David Miles, Chairman of South West Essex branch of FSB, said “The £1.4million refurbishment is long overdue and should improve the station facilities, but our experience elsewhere in the county is National Express East Anglia uses such schemes to significantly increase the rent and rates paid by businesses in the station.

“At Billericay station a £1.7million refurbishment saw Bread and Buffers face higher costs and at Marks Tey station, the kiosk owner who has been there for more than ten years, faces such an increase in his rent that his business would be unviable.”

Three Illegal Workers Found At Colchester Station

UK Border Agency officers have discovered three immigrants working illegally at Colchester station. The three were working as train cleaners and were arrested on 20th August following a tip off.  Two of the three, a man and woman from Namibia, have since been deported and the third, a Kenyan, is in custody while efforts are made to remove him from the country.

The three were agency workers and were not directly employed by National Express East Anglia.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Negligent Anglia Rail Crossing Inspector Sacked

Network Rail has sacked a maintenance worker for failing to inspect level crossings in the Anglia area.  The employee was sacked for deliberately falsifying records regarding the inspection of railway level crossings.  Network Rail have confirmed that several crossings were involved but did not say where.  A number of crossings in the Anglia area, which includes Essex, had not been inspected when they should have been.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

National Stations Improvement Programme

As part of the National Stations Improvement Programme, National Express East Anglia (NXEA) will be carrying out significant building work at four local stations, Billericay, Colchester, Marks Tey and Brentwood, in the coming months.  Leaflets explaining the work will be distributed shortly and NXEA will also be holding a series of local briefings with stakeholders and customers including a 'Meet the Manager' session at each station as follows:

  • Billericay - 1st September
  • Colchester - 2nd September
  • Marks Tey - 7th September
  • Brentwood - 14th September

Precise timings of these events will be advertised locally.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Extra Trains For Clacton Airshow

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is providing extra train services to the Clacton Airshow on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 August. Extra trains will run on both days of this year’s Airshow between Colchester and all stations to Clacton-on-Sea. In addition, a special train service will also operate between Walton-on-the-Naze and Clacton-on-Sea.

Some services between Colchester and Walton-on-the-Naze will be diverted to run to Clacton, passengers for stations on the Walton branch should change at Thorpe-le-Soken. For full details see the NXEA website.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Normal Service Resumes Between Sudbury and Marks Tey

National Express East Anglia has confirmed that a normal timetabled service between Sudbury and Marks Tey will resume on Friday 20th August.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Extra Services for V Festival

National Express East Anglia will be providing extra services for this weekend's V Festival 2010 as follows: 

Travelling to Chelmsford – Saturday 21 August
Additional train services will call at Chelmsford.  For details go to the NXEA Website

Travelling from Chelmsford – Saturday 21 August 
Additional services will operate to London, Colchester, Clacton and Ipswich. For details go to the NXEA Website

The last trains will depart:

• to London at 01.30 on Sunday morning,
• to Colchester at 01.33 on Sunday morning
• to Southend at 01.30 on Sunday morning (changing at Shenfield)
• to Ipswich at 01.00 on Sunday morning
• to Clacton-on-Sea at 23.53.

Travelling to Chelmsford – Sunday 22 August
Many additional train services will call at Chelmsford throughout the day
Additional services will operate from Liverpool Street to Chelmsford from 10.15 to 15.15.

Travelling from Chelmsford – Sunday 22 August
Additional train services will operate from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street from 19.45 until 01.30.
Additional services will also operate to Colchester, Clacton and Ipswich.

The last trains will depart:

• to London at 01.30 on Monday morning
• to Colchester at 01.33 on Monday morning
• to Southend at 01.30 on Monday morning (changing at Shenfield)
• to Ipswich at 01.03 on Monday morning.
• to Clacton-on-Sea at 00.13 on Monday morning

Bus Replacement Service Between Marks Tey And Sudbury

Following yesterday's accident near Sudbury National Express East Anglia are running a replacement bus service between Sudbury and Marks Tey.  Details of timings can be found here

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Freight Takes A Step Closer to Avoiding London

Network Rail has agreed to install double track on the new curve being installed north of East Suffolk Junction near Ipswich.  This new track will allow freight from Felixstowe to reach the Midlands and north of England without having to travel via London, along the Great Eastern mainline.  Quite apart from freeing up space on the line to London it is estimated that by 2030 the new cross country route will be taking 750,000 lorry journeys off the busy A14 each year.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Possible 8% Fare Increases

Following on from our earlier item dated 19th July suggesting possible 10% fare increases, the Daily Telegraph is today suggesting rises of 8% are on the cards.  Currently most fares are capped at the July Retail Price Index (RPI) + 1 but the Telegraph is claiming that the formula could be changed to RPI + 2 or 3.  With the RPI figure for July expected to be 5% this would mean a possible increase of 8%.

Whether the rises are 8% or 10%, this is still a significant increase that is likely to make rail travel less attractive to many.

'Bread And Buffers' Campaign Gathers Pace At Billericay Station

A petition to save the shop at Billericay station now has over 2,000 signatures. 'Bread and Buffers' has been threatened with closure by National Express East Anglia (NXEA) as part of the redevelopment of Billericay station.  Local MP John Barron last month presented a petition to the Secretary of State for Transport with 1,000 signatures calling for the popular shop to stay, and another thousand signatures have been added since then.

Hugh and Nadia McMahon have run 'Bread and Buffers' for 18 years and have made it a popular and integral part of Billericay station and it is hoped that NXEA will reconsider their decision as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

NXEA Awards Contract For Provision of Onboard WiFi

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) has awarded the contract for installing and maintaining internet connectivity on London - Norwich intercity services to public transport vendor Icomera.  As previously reported here this initiative has been partly funded by a £346,000 grant from the East of England Development Agency and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils.

It is expected that Vodafone and Orange will provide the cellular backhaul with each network being capable of download speeds of up to 7.2 megabits per second.  It is not clear at this stage how the service, which is due to be up and running by the end of 2010, will be accessed by customers.  For example there has been no mention of whether there will be a charge or whether the likely service provision by Vodafone and Orange precludes users of other service providers from using the service.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Rail Firms Asked To Simplify Ticket Machines

Rail firms including National Express East Anglia are being asked to simplify ticket machines as many passengers are choosing to shun the machines and queue at the the ticket office instead. Customer watchdog Passenger Focus has said that passengers were being "defeated" by the "bewildering jargon" they faced when using these machines and would rather talk to a person as a consequence. This leads to significant queues at peak times whilst ticket machines often go unused.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Possible 10% Fare Increases

Following on from our item on the 9th July about the possible scrapping of the RPI+1 cap on fare increases, reports in the press are now suggesting the possibility of fare increases in the region of 10% in the new year. Examples of potential increases in Standard Fare annual season tickets as follows:

Chelmsford - £310
Witham - £346
Braintree - £356
Colchester - £394
Manningtree - £438
Ipswich - £504
Clacton - £428

Monday, 12 July 2010

Removing Freight From The GE Mainline

Network Rail has been given the go-ahead from the Department for Transport to build a new freight line in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Called the Nuneaton North Chord Scheme the new line will only be 1km in length but it will link the existing cross-country rail route from Felixstowe to Nuneaton with the West Coast mainline. This will allow freight trains to travel directly to the West Midlands and North West England without having to travel down the Great Eastern mainline to London as is currently the case. The extension will allow for eight additional freight trains per day in each direction - the equivalent of 225,000 lorries a year. Perhaps of more interest to Essex passengers, it will also free up much needed space on the line between Ipswich and London.

Work is anticipated to start in spring 2011 and take 18 months to complete.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

National Express East Anglia's Ageing Trains

In the National Rail Trends survey issued by the Office of Rail Regulation, the train fleet run by National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is noted as having an average age of 24.95 years old. These figures put the NXEA fleet third from bottom in the national rankings behind Merseyrail (31.25 years) and the Island Line which has an average age of 71.25 years! (The Island Line runs on the Isle of Wight and uses old London Underground tube trains).

At the other end of the scale TransPennine Express trains have an average age of 4.25 years.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Rail Passengers Could See Big Fare Increases

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has warned that rail passengers could see a big rise in ticket costs in the new year if investment in the railways is to be protected. He said the current formula used to set fares at 1% above the Retail Price Index (RPI) was not "set in stone". Speaking to the National Rail Conference in Liverpool Mr Hammond said the government faced "stark choices" and it would be "irresponsible" to not consider charging passengers more.

The UK already has the highest fares in Europe and there are fears that significant fare increases will drive people off the railways. The Liberal Democrats had a pledge in their manifesto to amend the RPI+1% formula to RPI-1% and the coalition will no doubt be pressed on this in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Extra Trains For The Kelvedon Free Music Festival

Extra trains will be stopping at Kelvedon this coming Saturday for people attending the Kelvedon Free Music Festival. National Express East Anglia will be operating a normal scheduled Saturday timetable with additional services stopping at Kelvedon.

The last train from Kelvedon to Colchester will depart at 01:16am and the last train to London will leave at 22:40pm.

Details of the festival can be found at

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

National Express Backs Government's Possible Rail Fare Rise

National Express has entered the debate over rail fares by backing the government's consideration of ticket prices as part of a drive to cut the state's £5bn subsidy of the railways.

National Express' Chief Executive, Dean Finch, said that the government was right to warn passengers that it might scrap the fares cap that limits price increases to RPI + 1%. This follows a comment made by the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, saying that the formula could be sacrificed in the autumn spending review.

Mr Finch said "It is absolutely legitimate for anybody to look at, in terms of raising revenues. Everybody complains about rail fares being awful, but we have more than 1bn journeys on the railways every year. That tells you that in the overall scheme of things the railway is an effective form of travel and is an integral part of people's lives."

It is unlikely that Mr Finch's comments will find much support amongst the travelling public.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Passenger Satisfaction With NXEA Still Low

Passenger Focus today published the official statistics on passenger satisfaction with rail travel from the National Passenger Survey from spring 2010. The results show that National Express East Anglia has again performed badly coming third from bottom with an overall satisfaction level of 77%. Only London Overground (72%) and First Capital Connect (76%) scored lower. The highest ratings were scored by Wrexham & Shropshire (99%), Grand Central (94%) and Merseyrail (93%).

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Greater Anglia Franchise Replacement Cancelled

Theresa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport this morning issued a written statement on the future of rail franchising which will have a dramatic effect on the future of the Greater Anglia franchise currently run by National Express East Anglia (NXEA).

"The Department for Transport will shortly begin a consultation exercise on the future of rail franchising policy. This consultation will provide industry partners with the opportunity to comment on the Government’s approach to rail franchising and whether bidders for longer franchises would be able to offer investment in improvements to trains and services. It will also allow the industry to set out its proposals for improving the efficiency and value for money of rail franchises, for both taxpayers and fare payers. I will set out further details to the House in due course.

To enable the next Greater Anglia and Essex Thameside franchises - which are currently in the process of being re-let - to fully reflect the changes resulting from this review of policy the competitions for these franchises, which were started in January 2010, are to be cancelled.

It is currently expected that a new competition for the Greater Anglia franchise will be advertised by the end of the year, after the consultation responses have been considered, with the Essex Thameside franchise following in Autumn 2011....

The effect of this announcement appears to be that NXEA will retain the franchise beyond the current planned end date of 31st March 2011.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Colchester Rail Users Group

The Essex Rail Users Federation would like to pay tribute to Graham Male who has stepped down as Chairman of the Colchester Rail User Group (CRUA) after many years of sterling service supporting Colchester passengers. His contributions will be sorely missed and we wish him well in his new life 'south of the river'.

Unfortunately Graham's retirement, and other changes, mean that the Colchester Rail User Group has effectively ceased to exist. Colchester is the second busiest station on the Great Eastern mainline and the passengers who use the station benefit from having a group to represent their interests. If you would be interested in carrying on the work of the CRUA please contact ERUF on who will be pleased to assist in any way we can.

Friday, 11 June 2010

NXEA To Discontinue TXT Alerting Service

National Express East Anglia have announced that with effect from 13th June they will no longer be providing their Text alerting service to mobile phones. Instead such alerts will be provided by email only. It is the belief of NXEA that many customers now have access to email both in the office, home and on the move. It is true that the email format allows for more information to be provided but whether the same target audience can be reached remains to be seen.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Stagecoach Tenders For New Anglia Trains

Stagecoach has issued tender notices for a new train fleet for the Greater Anglia franchise according to the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) notices.

Stagecoach Anglia Trains is inviting interest in 'up to 800 vehicles' for Greater Anglia including suburban commuter EMUs, 100mph electric inter-city trains and regional diesel trains. The cost of the new fleet is put at £1.28 billion - about £1.16 million per vehicle.

Stagecoach is also seeking financial packages for the new fleet, but states that contract award depends on the outcome of the franchising competition. It will not be known until the summer, who has won the franchise that will replace the current National Express East Anglia arrangement.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Shortlist For New Franchise Bidders Awaited

Details of the shortlist of bidders for the franchise to replace National Express East Anglia are awaited. The original schedule proposed by the DfT would have seen the list made public in April but the General Election has delayed the announcement. Such a delay has made what was already a very tight schedule even more of a challenge. The new franchise is due to start on April 1st next year.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Maintenance Work Over The Weekend

A reminder that buses replace trains between Romford and Liverpool Street over all three days of the holiday weekend, and as such journey times will be significantly longer.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

"Service Worse Than 40 Years Ago"

In a letter to the Department for Transport, Wivenhoe Town Council has claimed that the service provided between Colchester Town and Clacton is worse than in the sixties. It claims that lack of staff, fewer ticket machines and an increase in fares have left the service at a worse level than 40 years ago.

The letter adds "In contrast to virtually all other lines in East Anglia, many of which have seen a doubling or more of their service level in recent years, the Colchester Town to Clacton service remains at a worse level than in the sixties.

"The line has suffered from a spiral of neglect since then, with several unkempt stations, abnormally high fares discouraging use, a very high percentage of ticketless travel reducing revenue and a generally negative ambience".

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

NXEA Performance Down Slightly

In figures released today by Network Rail 91.5% of National Express East Anglia services arrived at their final destination on time in the period 7th March to 31st March 2010. This is down from 92% for the same period last year. The national average was 93.5% (92.7% last year)

The definition of 'on time' is within 5 minutes for inner and outer suburban services and within 10 minutes for Inter City services.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Rail Strike Off

Network Rail has been granted a court injunction against the proposed strike action by the RMT union.

Whilst the decision to call off the strike is obviously welcomed, once again thousands of passengers have been inconvenienced into making alternate arrangements by a RMT threat of strike action.

Service Details In The Event Of Strike Going Ahead

Details of National Express East Anglia services that may run in the event of a strike next week can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Rail Strike to Face Legal Challenge

Network Rail has started a legal bid to halt the planned strikes by railway signallers and maintenance staff belonging to the RMT and TSSA unions. Strikes are due to start from Tuesday next week.

Network Rail are arguing that "scores of discrepancies and inaccuracies" were contained in the signallers' ballot.

The strike centres on Network Rail plans to cut 1,500 jobs and increase evening and weekend maintenance work.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Strike Days - Compensation

Reports in the media suggest that compensation may not be payable to season ticket passengers if the Train Operating Company (In our case NXEA) manage to run a skeleton service. The wording in the NXEA message dated 26th March (see below) would seem to back this up.

Friday, 26 March 2010

NXEA Service Provision On Strike Days

National Express East Anglia has issued the following statement regarding services during the proposed strike by RMT and TSSA unions:

"We are working to provide the best possible alternative timetable in the event Network Rail's signaller?s belonging to the RMT and TSSA unions take strike action.

Where alternative services are not available, customers including season-ticket holders will be eligible to apply for a refund for the days affected.

Customers with pre-booked tickets will be offered the option to travel at other times of the day, or to travel on another day or apply for a refund. Full details of these arrangements will be available in due course.

The following is an outline of the alternative timetable service we are planning to operate between approximately 0700 and 1900 inclusive on the 6th, 7th, 8th, & 9th April.

- 2 x Intercity services per hour at peak time between London Liverpool Street, Stratford, Chelmsford, Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich, Stowmarket, Diss and Norwich (Off peak Intercity services will run as per the normal calling pattern)

- 2 x 12 car services per hour between Liverpool Street, Stratford, Shenfield and all stations to Ipswich

- 2 x 12 car services per hour between Liverpool Street, Stratford, Shenfield and all stations to Southend Victoria

- 4 x 12 car services per hour between Liverpool Street, Tottenham Hale, Harlow Town, Bishops Stortford and Stansted Airport

- 2 x 8 car services per hour between Liverpool Street, Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Sawbridgeworth and all stations to Cambridge

Branch line services operating:

- Romford - Upminster: a shuttle service

- Witham - Braintree: a shuttle service

- Marks Tey - Sudbury: a shuttle service

- Norwich - Sheringham: a shuttle service

For the latest information on how possible industrial action will affect national train services please visit or call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50".

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Strikes Threatened By RMT & TSSA 6-9 April Inclusive

RMT and TSSA union members who work for Network Rail, specifically track and signal workers, are threatening to strike from Tuesday 6th April to Friday 9 April inclusive. National Express East Anglia will be publishing details in due course of how services will be affected.

The network can function for a short while without track maintenance workers so long as major repairs are not required. However, if the signalmen go on strike then no trains will run.

The RMT have in the past threatened to strike only to call it off at the last moment, having already caused disruption with people making alternative arrangements.

More Trains Running On Time

Network Rail has released punctuality figures showing that 5.5% more trains run by National Express East Anglia are running on time. The figures showed that between 7th February and 6th March 92% of NXEA services ran on time.

'On time' means that a train arrived at its final destination within 5 minutes (10 minutes for Inter City services) of the advertised time.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Essex CC Undertakes To Protect Essex Passengers

Essex County Council has confirmed that it will be seeking to protect the journeys of Essex passengers should this become an issue as a consequence of the Norwich in 90 campaign.

A possible solution to enable journey times between Norwich and London to be reduced to 90 minutes may be to cut out stops at places such as Manningtree, Colchester and Chelmsford. Whilst ERUF supports any improvements to the infrastructure and introduction of new trains that could speed up the journey and therefore be to the benefit of all, we cannot support any developments that are to the detriment of Essex passengers. The announcement by Essex County Council is therefore welcomed.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Maximum Score For Liverpool St. Team

Liverpool Street station has scored 100% for customer service, cleanliness and information provision in the most recent 'mystery shopper' survey carried out at the station.

Interestingly this result is in stark contrast to comments received from Essex passengers who find many of the staff at Liverpool Street surly and unhelpful. Also, the new indicator boards at the station have been the subject of much criticism since their implementation.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

National Express Profits Slump

National Express Group (NX) today ended an eventful year by reporting a 43% drop in profits. The group which runs the National Express East Anglia (NXEA) franchise have reported pre tax profits of £116.2m down from £202.4m last year. In December NX completed a £360m rights issue to cut debt.

The past year has seen the group lose the East Coast rail franchise and as a consequence they will not be having the NXEA franchise extended from 2011. NX have been all but barred from bidding for the new franchise along with their other remaining rail business, C2C. 2011 will effectively see NX leaving the UK rail business all together.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Man Charged With Rail Offences

British Transport Police have arrested and charged a man with trespassing on the railway and a 'theft related offence'.

Simon Scott has been wanted by police in connection with the theft of cables last December, which led to significant delays for passengers on the London mainline. He is due to appear at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Wi-Fi To Be Installed on London - Norwich Services

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is today announcing that Wi-Fi for all passengers is to be installed on all London - Norwich services. NXEA has secured a grant of £346,000 from the East Of England Development Agency (EEDA) and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils to go towards the installation of the equipment.

Monday, 8 February 2010

£1,000 Reward Offered For Information On Cable Thief

Further to the previous item regarding British Transport Police's search for one Simon Scott wanted in connection with cable thefts that led to disruption to thousands of NXEA commuters in recent months, there is now a £1,000 reward on offer for information leading to his arrest.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Police Release Image Of Man Wanted For Cable Thefts

British Transport Police have issued details of a man they wish to question following the spate of cable thefts that brought chaos and disruption to thousands of commuters in recent months.

Further details about one Simon Scott can be found here. If anybody knows of this individual's whereabouts please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting BTP reference number B603022010

Customer Satisfaction With NXEA Below National Average

In the latest Passenger Focus report on customer satisfaction of rail passengers in the UK, National Express East Anglia (NXEA) scored 79%. Despite being below the national average of 83% they are still the best results that NXEA (formerly 'one') have ever scored.

Scoring particularly low was the availability of staff on trains (22%) and the standard of toilets (29%). Perhaps surprisingly 34% felt NXEA was good value for money and 33% felt that NXEA handled delays well.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Greater Anglia Consultation Process

The Department for Transport has today launched the consultation process as the first stage in awarding the next franchise to replace National Express East Anglia whose agreement expires in March 2011.

Details of the consultation process can be found here.

The ERUF will be responding to this in due course but if there is anything specific you would like to see included in the new franchise then please do let us know at, or alternatively contact your local Rail User Group.

"Better Services Planned For Greater Anglia Rail Users"

The Department for Transport has today issued highlights of the improved service standards the Government will expect from future bidders to run the franchise on the line once the current National Express East Anglia franchise ends in 2011.

"The needs of passengers must come first – and we want the next operator of this key commuter route to offer a first class service.

“Today we are setting out what bidders interested in taking over the route must consider, including providing quicker journeys and more carriages on trains into London during peak periods.

"The new operator will be expected to provide better information for passengers about their services and improved facilities at stations, including more parking spaces for cyclists and drivers.

“They will also be required to monitor service quality and ensure stations and trains are clean and maintained to a high standard.”

Following the consultation process, the specification may require bidders for the franchise to consider:

- Options for faster journey times between London and Norwich;

- Improving the performance and reliability of long distance services;

- Enhancing the provision of ticket machines across the Greater Anglia franchise network;

- Minimum standards for catering on InterCity trains;

- Making smartcards available across the franchise;

- Better CCTV coverage at stations focusing on the coverage of cycling facilities and station car parks to improve passenger security;

- All new rolling stock on the franchise to have CCTV coverage providing more security for passengers;

- Setting targets ensuring the operator monitors their environmental performance and proposes reductions to carbon emissions;

- Tackling fare dodging, which may include additional gating and increasing staffing;

- Improving access to the network by developing Station Travel Plans and significantly increasing car parking and cycle storage facilities across the network;

- Providing more modern passenger information facilities on platforms and on trains;

- Making the future operator set National Passenger Survey targets for trains, stations and customer service – if the operator fails to meet those targets they would have to invest more to make improvements in those areas."

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Rail Punctuality Falls

In figures released today National Express East Anglia achieved a punctuality figure of 78.5% in the period from 13th December to 9th January. This is 13.5% down on the same period last year. At least some of these delays can be attributed to the particularly poor weather experienced in recent weeks.

Longer Franchise in Prospect

The Transport Secretary is proposing that future rail franchises, including the one that will replace National Express East Anglia, should run for at least 10 years with contracts of up to 22 years also on the cards. Longer franchises are designed to encourage the holder to invest more in the service they provide as they are more likely to see a return on their investment. Current franchises run for an average of seven years which is not seen as long enough to incentivise holders to invest appropriately.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Planning Application Submitted For New Station In Chelmsford

Countryside Properties and its development partner, L&Q, have submitted a planning application for a new railway station in North East Chelmsford. The proposals represent a major addition to the sustainable transport infrastructure of both the town and the county. The application complements the recent planning application for the enlarged neighbourhood at Beaulieu Park, with up to 4,000 new homes and a total of 750,000 sq. ft. of commercial space incorporating a business park.

The station, which is expected to open in Spring 2015, will include four platforms with passing loops that will bring efficiency and capacity benefits to the operation of the Great Eastern main line and therefore both to the county and region. It will be a new transport hub where passengers can complete journeys using sustainable modes of transport. The proposals incorporate a bus interchange and substantial cycle parking. It is expected that 60 per cent of passengers will travel to the station by non-car means.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

NXEA Response To Yesterday's Delays

Andrew Chivers, Managing Director of National Express East Anglia has responded to yesterday's delays as follows:

"...The project being undertaken involved the replacement of overhead line equipment (such as cables and support stanchions) as part of the major investment programme by Network Rail to renew the overhead lines between London and Chelmsford – a very important and necessary initiative to help further improve punctuality and reliability on the Norwich – Ipswich – Colchester – London and Southend – London routes.

We had worked closely with Network Rail on the planning for this blockade and on contingencies in the event of problems. When some complications emerged last week we coordinated with them to enable a revised engineering work plan to be implemented which was meant to have ensured the lines would have been re-opened as planned this morning. As late as 23.00 last night we were still being assured that a punctual restoration of the lines - and thus a smooth “start-up” for services this morning - was fully on course.

Unfortunately we were advised between 03.30 and 04.00 that this was not going to be the case. As soon as we were aware we put information on our website, advised the local media and provided information at stations and on trains where services were affected. In the end it was 07.45 before all the lines were open, which resulted in major delays for passengers due to arrive in London before 10.00. Those passengers who were delayed will be able to claim compensation in the normal way.

We are seeking a full explanation from Network Rail about the cause of the problems, why the contingency plans proved unsuccessful and why we only knew that the work would over-run in the early hours of this morning. We will also be seeking assurances from Network Rail that they are putting in place more robust and effective engineering work planning, particularly for major projects, as we have suffered in the past from damaging over-runs which have been extremely disruptive and frustrating for our customers and our company....

It is the view of the Essex Rail Users Federation that NXEA's own contingency plans should have been implemented on Sunday rather than wait until the last possible moment to take action. This would have given passengers the opportunity to make alternative arrangements and it is hoped that such action will be taken in future.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Overrunning Engineering Works Again

In what seems to be a Christmas tradition engineering works at Liverpool Street have overrun and are threatening to cause chaos again as commuters return to work after the break. At the time of writing services are terminating at Stratford until 9:30. Stratford barely coped as an alternate terminus during the period between Christmas and New Year when fewer people travel, so this morning's rush hour may well be chaotic.

Passengers are strongly advised to check for updates from National Express East Anglia before travelling.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

NXEA To Be Investigated After Train Mayhem

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) is to be investigated by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). This follows an incident at Stratford station during the recent disruption caused by the planned maintenance work over the Christmas break. There have been numerous reports of overcrowding and lack of information given to passengers at Stratford where trains were terminating due to the closure of Liverpool Street.

An ORR spokesman has said that they are investigating an incident that occurred at Stratford on the 29th December.

Fare Changes - Reminder

A quick reminder that regulated fares such as season tickets on National Express East Anglia have gone down in price by 0.4%. Unregulated fares remain unchanged.