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Wednesday 27 March, 2002

Strategic Rail Auth

New Greater Anglian Franchise

Strategic Rail Authority
27 March 2002

                                                                 27th March 2002

         SRA Starts Process To Facilitate New Greater Anglia Franchise

The Strategic Rail Authority today launched the process for pre-qualifying for
its new Greater Anglia franchise (announced on 19 December 2001) which aims to
combine the Anglia Railways and First Great Eastern franchises, and the West
Anglia section of the WAGN franchise.

The SRA is currently producing a detailed specification for the new franchise,
which will be issued to pre-qualified bidders, and will consult key stakeholders
to ensure their views are taken into account.

Under the timetable published today, a series of consultation meetings with key
regional passenger groups, local authorities and other regional stakeholders
will start from 29 April.  In addition, the SRA is inviting parties to
pre-qualify for the Greater Anglia franchise, before the formal bidding process
begins in Summer 2002 of this year, with a view to letting the new franchise by
Summer 2003.  The SRA intends to consult pre-qualified parties on the scope of
certain enhancement options for the franchise.

SRA Chairman Richard Bowker said:

'Franchise consolidation, where there is close geographical proximity and a
single London terminus, was a main theme of the SRA new franchise policy
launched in December.  Given the capacity pressures on Liverpool Street's
approaches, having just one operator, as opposed to three, makes good sense in
operational and passenger service terms.'

'We want to provide as much clarity as possible to bidders about what we expect
the Greater Anglia franchise to deliver, and we want to ensure stakeholders have
the opportunity to contribute their views, which is why we are starting a
consultation process.  The new Greater Anglia franchise needs to provide
benefits both for passengers who use local and regional services and the many
thousands of commuters who travel daily to the capital'.

A seamless transfer to the new franchise will be facilitated by an agreement
reached today between the SRA and GB Railways to stabilise the financial
position of the existing Anglia Railways franchise following the protracted
losses suffered by the company since the Hatfield accident in October 2000.

Under the deal, the SRA has allocated £23.7 million of additional subsidy, which
includes an immediate payment of £3.2million to Anglia Railways until March 2004
to ensure that its services continue to operate at current levels, with a
provision for the SRA to share in any upside should the company perform better
than forecast.  In addition, the deal provides for the franchise to be
terminated early, on 6 months notice, to facilitate the creation of the Greater
Anglia franchise earlier than 2004.

Notes to Editors

1.      GB Railways were awarded the Anglia Railways franchise for seven years
        three months, commencing January 1997.

2.      The other two franchises that are intended to be incorporated in Greater
        Anglia are National Express Group (WAGN) and FirstGroup (Great Eastern).  
        Those franchises will continue to their natural expiry on 31 March 2004, 
        unless the successful bidder reaches a commercial agreement with the 

3.      Anglia Railways operates mainline train services between London,
        Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich and local trains across Norfolk, Suffolk 
        and parts of Cambridgeshire.

4.      Great Eastern operates predominantly commuter services form Ilford,
        Romford, Southend, Chelmsford, Clacton and Ipswich areas to London.

5.      WAGN serves the routes into London from Peterborough, Kings Lynn and
        Cambridgeshire and from Hertford, Enfield and Chingford, the last three 
        into London Liverpool Street along with the Stansted Express Airport link.

Media Enquiries: SRA Press Office 020 7654 6339/6387/6234

GB Railways: Jeremy Long (Chief Executive) 020 7983 5104

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

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