National Express gets extension for rail franchise

This agreement suggests that the relationship with the goverenment has been repaired.

UK Rail and bus operator, National Express, has won a six-month extension to its East Anglia rail franchise from the Department for Transport (DfT).
The company will now continue its services for 28 weeks after its contract runs out on 31 March 2011.

Last year, Lord Adonis - the then transport secretary - had barred the company from the British railways and decided against the renewal of its East Anglia and C2C franchises, for backtracking on a £1.4bn contract to run the East Coast Main Line.

But the extension given by the Coalition government seems to indicate that ties with National Express have been mended.

"Clearly this would not have happened six months ago. East Anglia would have been run by DOR [Directly Operated Railways]," said the company's chief executive Dean Finch.

The company is also hoping to get a two-year extension for its C2C commuter service due to expire next May.

Most UK rail franchises are likely to get an extension. Meanwhile, further franchise bids have been stopped, as the DfT reviews the rail model.
"The Government is conducting a consultation on changes to the franchising system," said a DfT spokesperson.