Essex Thameside franchise decision delayed

Following hard on the award of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway last week, the Department for Transport has announced a short delay on the next one.

The Essex Thameside franchise, which is basically the old London, Tilbury and Southend route from Fenchurch Street, was expected to have been awarded in May. That decision has now gone back two months to July, with a corresponding delay in the commencement of operations from September to November 2014.

As a result, the existing franchise with C2C has been extended by two months.

The extra time is to further examine the bids from four separate potential operators – Abellio, First, MTR and National Express. A spokesman said that the delay was particular to this franchise agreement and would not impact on any other route currently being evaluated.

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin stated that the Essex Thameside franchise was an important part of the Government’s economic plan.

“I am determined that the next phase of this franchise will build on that success. By extending this contract, we are making sure that the best decision is made so that we can secure the best possible service for passengers in the future,” he added.

Report by Nigel Wordsworth