Abellio keeps Liverpool Street trains despite complaints surgeComments Off on Abellio keeps Liverpool Street trains despite complaints surge
The Government today rejected two British firms’ bids for the East Anglia trains contract, handing a £1.4 billion deal back to the incumbent operator Abellio.
Abellio has overseen the biggest rise in passenger complaints in the UK over the past year.
The Dutch-state operator will run the route from Liverpool Street to Stansted airport, Cambridge and Norwich for the next nine years, after ministers rejected competing bids from London-listed rivals National Express and FirstGroup.
That’s despite Abellio’s Greater Anglia route attracting 57% more passenger complaints in 2015-16 compared with a year earlier.
Last year, Abellio was also ranked most-complained-about trains operator on Twitter, with 72,861 negative tweets, or one in six of train complaints registered on the social media site.
The operator has promised to cut journey times by 10%, with four daily 90-minute journeys between London and Norwich on weekdays and offer free Wi-fi.
It will also oversee a £1.4 billion investment to add 1040 carriages in trains manufactured by Bombardier’s plant in Derby, Britain’s last trains manufacturing plant, which employs about 1600 people.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling claimed: “We are making the biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian era.”
But the City pointed out the deal might be a poisoned chalice. Joe Spooner at Jefferies said: “Because the East Anglia franchise was bid for ahead of Brexit but [will] be operated in a potentially softer UK economy post the Brexit decision, bidding groups may now be happy to see this franchise awarded to competitors, despite the costs and effort to bid.”
Backing up that theory, NatEx and FirstGroup’s share prices slipped by a penny or less, while normally such contract losses would trigger a double-digit fall for NatEx and a little less for FirstGroup.
Nonetheless, First said it was “disappointed not to have been awarded the East Anglia rail franchise”.