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Friday 30 January, 2004

Strategic Rail Auth

Franchise Award

Strategic Rail Authority
30 January 2004

                                                                30 January 2004

                        First New-Style Rail Contract Signed

In November 2002 the SRA published its blueprint for a new-style passenger train
franchise.  Today the Strategic Rail Authority announced that it has signed the
first such franchise agreement - to operate the new Greater Anglia Franchise. 
The company chosen, after a vigorous tendering process, is National Express
Group PLC.

•        The new franchise will combine Anglia, Great Eastern, and West Anglia 
         rail services from April 2004.

•        A single operator at a major London Terminus working to deliver 
         demanding, contractualised targets and higher performance levels.

•        The franchise will run from April 2004 for seven years, with specified 
         performance targets and an additional three years if they are met.

•        This is the first franchise to be awarded under the SRA's new policy, 
         which sets clearer requirements for the services to be delivered to 
         passengers under new service quality standards.

Richard Bowker, SRA Chairman, said:

'This is a new era of train operator contracts.  They offer stability for
investors, clarity for operators and certainty for passengers.  Passengers and
their interests are at the heart of this new model.  The model demands that
clear and challenging quality targets are met by operators.

'Passengers can know that this deal secures a focus on the basics of
punctuality, information, cleanliness and security - alongside some significant
improvements including newer trains and improved stations.'

Nicola Shaw, SRA Managing Director, Operations said: 'We are maintaining
momentum in our franchising market with this announcement.  Yesterday we
launched the competition for the InterCity East Coast franchise and the final
phase of our consultation on the new Integrated Kent Franchise.  The move to
single operators at London Termini will deliver better service for passengers
and greater value for passengers.'

                             Franchise Highlights

•        Performance will improve with a single operator serving Liverpool St 
         Station in line with the SRA's new policy.  Higher levels of 
         performance are contractualised in the new franchise.

•        The SRA's new franchising policy incorporates rewards and penalties for 
         key indicators like train and station cleanliness, security and 
         passenger information.  It provides train companies with clear 
         guidelines and incentives on customer service and on business 
         priorities such as containing short and long-term costs;

•        Over 50 stations to receive improvements by the end of 2005: to include 
         CCTV, help points and new ticket machines;

•        More modern Norwich to London trains and carriages (Class 90s and Mark 
         III vehicles) to be refurbished by 31st December 2005 including 
         reliability improvements;

•        Refurbishment of inner and outer area trains on the Great Eastern and 
         West Anglia routes (class, 315  & 317/1) by 31st December 2006.  
         Class 321 and 322 trains to have electronic passenger information 
         displays fitted by 31st December 2006. Class 317/1 and 317/6 to have 
         CCTV installed by December 2007;

•        Longer trains on the Stansted Express - all trains to be eight coaches 
         long from December 2005 and four trains per hour all day as part of 
         new timetables to be introduced across the region in stages;

•        Rural routes business unit to be established to ensure local focus on 
         these vital routes;

•        New Service Quality Standards will be operational on this franchise - 
         making sure that the operator concentrates on what matters to 
         passengers at stations and on trains;

•        New services between Stansted Airport and Stratford, Hertford East and 
         Stratford and through services between Liverpool Street and both 
         Peterborough and Lowestoft via Ipswich.

•        Customer Service academy for Greater Anglia Franchise employees to be 
         established in the region.

Note to Editors

1.      The SRA announced on 22 December 2003 that it had selected National 
        Express Group PLC (NEG) as its Preferred Bidder for the franchise, 
        following a rigorous competition.

2.      The new franchise will commence on 1 April 2004.

3.      Future value of total franchise premium receipts to the Authority is in 
        excess of £0.5 billion in present value terms after taking account of 
        adjustments for the change to CP3 (Controlled Period 3) performance 
        rates of approximately £0.1 billion. Further adjustment will take place 
        to take account of the finalised track access elements of CP3 on which 
        the Regulator is still consulting.

For further details contact the SRA Press Office: 020 7654 6339/6862/6387/6234

Latest news and announcements from the SRA can be viewed on our website

                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange