Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA) took over the operation of the franchise in February 2012, and a further direct award deal with the DfT began in July 2014, extending its tenure until October 16 2016.

AGA currently operates around 1900 suburban, regional, and long-distance services per weekday in eastern England and carries 135.2 million passengers per year, serving 176 stations with a fleet of 1034 vehicles.

The three bidders shortlisted for the 15-year franchise are:

  • Abellio East Anglia (a joint venture between Abellio and Stagecoach)
  • First East Anglia, and
  • National Express East Anglia Trains.

The DfT says these groups will work with the government to develop their proposals before receiving the invitation to tender in August. Bids are due to be submitted in December.

Bidders will be expected to show how they can improve the operation of the network and how they might implement the recommendations of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, which includes reducing London – Norwich journey times to 1h 30min.