Trains and planes maker Bombardier has landed a £1 billion contract to build rolling stock for the newly awarded East Anglian rail franchise.
News of the deal came yesterday as the UK government announced its decision to award the franchise to ScotRail operator Abellio, owned by the Dutch national rail operator, until 2025.
Abellio has pledged to invest £1.4bn to improve services in the east of England, including between London Liverpool Street and Norwich, Stansted Airport and Cambridge.
Canadian-based Bombardier, which has its main UK centre in Derby, has won a £1bn contract to supply 660 carriages in a move that will secure some 1,000 jobs for a decade.
Abellio East Anglia, rebranded from current franchise-holder Abellio Greater Anglia, will start the new franchise in October.
The government picked its bid over those of rival shortlisted transport operators FirstGroup, which is headquartered in Aberdeen, and National Express.
Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, said: “This is great news not only for Abellio but for the whole of East Anglia. We are pleased to become preferred bidder to deliver a transformation in rail services across the region.”
A spokesman for FirstGroup said: “FirstGroup is disappointed not to have been awarded the East Anglia rail franchise after submitting a compelling, deliverable, and value for money bid.”
Abellio has pledged to deliver at least four 90-minute services – two in each direction – between London and Norwich each weekday and two 60-minute services a day between London and Ipswich.
By 2021, there will be more than 32,000 more seats on services arriving at London Liverpool Street in the morning peak, while the new franchise will introduce 1,144 additional weekday services – an increase of 13 per cent – to stations including Cambridge, Norwich, Stansted Airport, Lowestoft, Southend and London Liverpool Street.
Des McKeon, UK commercial director at Bombardier Transportation, said: “We’re delighted to be chosen, pending final contract signing, as the preferred supplier for new trains for the East Anglia franchise. We look forward to working with our customer, Abellio UK, to support them in transforming rail services throughout the region and delivering an enhanced customer experience through the provision of new trains.”
The government’s decision on the franchise award was greeted with criticism on social media from passengers unhappy with the current service provided by Abellio Greater Anglia. Anthony Smith, chief executive of the watchdog group Transport Focus, said: “Abellio will need to work hard during this new franchise to deliver on its bold promises. Passengers will welcome the much-needed new trains, automatic delay compensation and the strong emphasis on punctuality.”