National Express wins Essex line extension

National Express wins Essex line extension : Old, dirty trains and regular cancellations meant the Essex-to-Fenchurch Street route was once dubbed the “misery line”.

But after privatisation in 1996 saw it taken over by National Express, standards improved, the nickname was dropped and NatEx even claimed its c2c line represented “the first franchised train company ever to achieve Swiss standards” on Britain’s railways.

Today the Department for Transport backed National Express, extending its franchise to run the route for another 16 months, meaning it will operate the Essex Thameside line until September 2014.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the deal was the first contract agreed since the West Coast debacle that revealed mistakes in the franchising process last year — although it is only an extension before a long-term deal is struck.

McLoughlin said: “This is a vital step in getting our refranchising programme back on track. It gives the industry time to develop their long term plans for the future franchise and confidence to passengers that services will continue for the next 16 months.”


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