East Anglia franchise

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East Anglia
Ipswich - Greater Anglia DVT 82136.JPG
Current operator Greater Anglia
Main Route(s) Great Eastern Main Line
West Anglia Main Line
Franchise dates 1 April 2004 – 4 February 2012
(National Express East Anglia)
5 February 2012 – 11 October 2025
(Greater Anglia)
Route map


The East Anglia franchise is a railway franchise for passenger trains on the Great Eastern Main Line and West Anglia Main Lines in England. It commenced operating in April 2004 when the Anglia and Great Eastern franchises, together with the West Anglia part of the West Anglia Great Northern franchise, were combined to form the Greater Anglia franchise.

Initially operated by National Express East Anglia, in February 2012 it was taken over by Greater Anglia. In May 2015 the Liverpool Street to Chingford/Cheshunt and Enfield Town and Romford to Upminster services transferred to London Overground, and the Liverpool Street to Shenfield services transferred to TfL Rail. Upon being re-tendered in 2016, it was retained by Abellio and rebranded Greater Anglia as specified by the Department for Transport.


In 2002 as part of a franchise reorganisation by the Strategic Rail Authority, it was announced the Anglia and Great Eastern franchises together with the West Anglia part of the West Anglia Great Northern franchise would be combined to form the Greater Anglia franchise.[1] This was part of a Strategic Rail Authority strategy to reduce the number of train operating companies providing services from a single London terminal. This was expected to improve efficiency and reliability.[2]

April 2004 to February 2012[edit]

In April 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority announced Arriva, GB Railways and National Express had been shortlisted to bid for the new franchise.[3]

In December 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the franchise to National Express.[4][5] with the services operated by Anglia Railways, First Great Eastern and West Anglia Great Northern transferred to One on 1 April 2004. The franchise was run until March 2011, with provision for a three-year extension to 2014 if performance targets were met. The franchise was originally branded as One before being rebranded as National Express East Anglia in February 2008 as part of a company wide rebranding programme.[6]

In November 2009, the Department for Transport announced National Express was to lose the Greater Anglia franchise in March 2011 rather than be granted an extension to operate it until March 2014. The decision followed National Express defaulting on the National Express East Coast franchise even though National Express East Anglia had met all of its targets required for the franchise to be extended.[7]

In June 2010 following the 2010 general election, the Department for Transport announced the replacement process for the franchise would be put on hold pending a review of the franchising process resulting in an extension until February 2012 being granted.[8]

February 2012 to October 2016[edit]

When tendering restarted, it was for a short-term franchise which would give the government time to plan changes in rail franchising policy based on Roy McNulty's Rail Value for Money Study. It also covered the period of the 2012 Olympic Games. The franchise was originally to run from 5 February 2012 until July 2014.[9]

In March 2011, the Department for Transport announced Abellio, Go Ahead and Stagecoach had been shortlised for the new franchise,[10] with the Invitation to Tender issued in April 2011.[11] In October 2011, the franchise was awarded to Abellio[12] with the services operated by National Express East Anglia transferred to Greater Anglia on 5 February 2012.

In March 2013, the Secretary of State for Transport announced the franchise would be extended until 15 October 2016.[13] However, on 31 May 2015 the Liverpool Street to Chingford/Cheshunt and Enfield Town and Romford to Upminster services transferred to London Overground[14][15] and the Liverpool Street to Shenfield services to TfL Rail.[16][17]

In late 2013, Greater Anglia was rebranded as Abellio Greater Anglia.

October 2016 to 2025[edit]

The process of tendering for the new franchise began on 19 February 2015 with the franchise renamed the East Anglia franchise.[18]

In June 2015, an Abellio (60%)/Stagecoach (40%) joint venture, FirstGroup and National Express were shortlisted to bid for the franchise.[19] On 9 December 2015 it was announced that Stagecoach had pulled out of the joint bid with Abellio, and that Abellio would continue the bid alone.[20]

In August 2016, it was announced that Abellio had successfully bid to operate the new franchise running from 16 October 2016 until 11 October 2025.[21] A franchise commitment is to replace the entire fleet with 1,043 new carriages with Bombardier Transportation's Derby Litchurch Lane Works to build 665 Class 720 Aventra electric multiple units vehicles[22] and the remainder being 378 Class 745 and Class 755 Stadler Flirt electric multiple unit carriages to work between London and Norwich and London and Stansted Airport.

The franchise was rebranded back to Greater Anglia on 16 October 2016 as specified in the franchise contract. In March 2017 Abellio sold a 40% stake in the business to Mitsui.[23][24]


The invitation to tender was published on 17 September 2015 and included the following requirements[25]

  • introduce 180 additional weekly services, running on Mondays to Sundays to stations including Cambridge, Norwich, Stansted Airport, Southend and London Liverpool Street
  • introduce two 90-minute services in each direction between Norwich and London
  • improve the quality of trains running on East Anglia's network, providing a modern service with state of the art trains - extra points will be awarded to bidders who include plans to trial new technologies in rolling stock
  • introduce free Wi-Fi for all passengers across the network
  • meet "challenging targets" to reduce crowding on the busiest services
  • introduce one 60-minute service in each direction between Ipswich and London


  1. ^ "SRA wants fewer London operators to improve capacity" Rail Magazine Issue 426 9 January 2002 page 4
  2. ^ "One terminus, one operator for London" Rail Magazine issue 448 13 November 2002 page 5
  3. ^ "Group shocked as rail bid fails". BBC News. 1 April 2003. 
  4. ^ National Express Group Announced as Preferred Bidder for new Greater Anglia Franchise Department for Transport 22 December 2013
  5. ^ "National Express wins rail franchise". The Daily Telegraph. London. 22 December 2003. 
  6. ^ New identity for National Express Group National Express 15 November 2007
  7. ^ "National Express loses East Anglia rail franchise". BBC News. 26 November 2009. 
  8. ^ "Franchise replacements put on hold by Department for Transport". RailNews. Stevenage. 18 June 2010. 
  9. ^ Pre-Qualification Process Document for the Greater Anglia Franchise Department for Transport 11 January 2011
  10. ^ "Shortlisted Bidders For Greater Anglia And Intercity West Coast Rail Franchises" (PDF). Department for Transport. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  11. ^ New operator sought for Greater Anglia rail services Department for Transport 26 April 2011
  12. ^ Greater Anglia rail franchise Department for Transport 20 October 2011
  13. ^ Railway plan puts new focus on passengers Secretary of State for Transport 26 March 2013
  14. ^ TFL appoints London Overground operator to run additional services Transport for London 28 May 2014
  15. ^ TfL count on LOROL for support Rail Professional 28 May 2014
  16. ^ MTR selected to operate Crossrail services Railway Gazette International 18 July 2014
  17. ^ Smith, Howard. "Crossrail – Moving to the Operating Railway Rail and Underground Panel 12 February 2015" (PDF). 12 February 2015. Transport for London. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  18. ^ "New East Anglia franchise competition begins". www.gov.uk. 
  19. ^ "Shortlist for East Anglia franchise announced". www.gov.uk. 
  20. ^ "Stagecoach pulls out of East Anglia rail franchise bid". BBC News. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  21. ^ "Stadler and Bombardier to supply trains for Abellio East Anglia franchise". Railway Gazette International. 10 August 2016. 
  22. ^ Better journeys for rail passengers and boost for Derby train industry as new East Anglia franchise announced Department for Transport 10 August 2016
  23. ^ Abellio to sell 40% stake in Greater Anglia to Mitsui Railway Gazette International 17 January 2017
  24. ^ Abellio deal: Japanese firm Mitsui completes 40% Greater Anglia sale BBC News
  25. ^ "East Anglia Franchise Invitiation to Tender September 2015" (PDF).