The introduction of two 90-minute services in each direction between Norwich and London is at the heart of a new franchise deal drawn up for the East Anglia region.
On September 17, the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has issued the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the East Anglia franchise which will impose financial penalties on operators unable to maintain customer service targets.
The future operator will be required to introduce 180 new weekly services, a fleet of new trains and free Wi-Fi for all passengers on its network.
Proposals for at least one new 60-minute service in each direction between Ipswich and London have been specified by the DfT, and extra points will be awarded for proposals to trial new rolling stock technologies.
From October 2016, the nine-year franchise also requires any future operator to install controlled emission toilets on all its trains.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “For too long, passengers in East Anglia have not had the high-quality rail services that they deserve. Our ambitious requirements will change that by making journeys significantly better than they are now. These plans will also ensure that East Anglia finally has a rail network that supports its growing economy.
“We have set out what we want to see bidders deliver as a minimum, but we are looking for bids that exceed our expectations wherever possible. It is now for the industry to step up to the challenge and tell us how they will make this happen.”
An Abellio/Stagecoach joint venture, FirstGroup and National Express have all been shortlist for the new franchise.
The winning bidder will be announced next summer.