04 September 2009

National Express East Anglia: towards competence? Tell 'em what you think

Previous mentions of the National Express East Anglia train company on this blog have ranged between pissed off and incendiary - but they may be about to turn over a new leaf in some ways. Their new consultation on train service capacity enhancements is a good read.

The big proposed improvements are:

  • additional train service capacity into London Liverpool St of 11,000 seats between 7am and 10am (unfortunately they don't say what percentage increase that is but the overall percentage increase in the size of the train fleet would be 17%)
  • additional peak hours stops at Stratford
  • half-hourly off-peak stops at Kelvedon in Essex. This would get the service back to the levels that the old British Rail were able to provide prior to 1995 - which doesn't sound that spectacular in itself, but in the context of privatisation, is something of a miracle.
  • a Harwich-Manningtree shuttle service to connect with intercity trains at Manningtree (not everyone will like this)
A lot of this would be facilitated by the replacement of the (in my view fairly daft) direct Peterborough-London and Lowestoft-London trains with services that connect with Intercity services at Ipswich.

It's the way the whole timetable should have been organised in the first place - it's taken these guys 5 years and a lot of pain inflicted on commuters to get there, but better late than never. (As British Rail might have said).

I will certainly be writing to NXEA to endorse these proposals - the first positive feedback I have ever given them (apart from when they introduced the 0815 morning service into Liverpool Street) and I recommend that you do the same if you live on this line or even if you don't live there but still occasionally use it. The more support there is for the proposals, the more likelihood there is that this thing will actually happen. The timetable changes are scheduled for the end of 2010 if they decide to go ahead, so you wouldn't have long to wait to experience the benefits.

The consultation ends 11 September so get your views in while you can.

And a final thought - this may just be a desperate move by NXEA to try to stop Andrew Adonis clawing back their franchise as collateral damage after the collapse of their East Coast franchise. Which would expose them as cynical bastards, but would also prove that, given the right regulatory framework, maybe even cynical bastards can be made to toe the line. Carry on Andrew...

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