UK bidders prequalify
the Strategic Rail Authority announced on May 21 that nine groups had prequalified for the new Greater Anglia franchise, which will operate all services from London's Liverpool Street station. It will merge the existing Anglia Railways and Great Eastern franchises with the West Anglia portion of West Anglia Great Northern. All three are due to expire on March 31 2004.
The three incumbent operators have all prequalified: GB Railways (Anglia), First (GE) and National Express Group (WAGN). Other bidders are Arriva Trains, Connex Transport UK, Great North Eastern Railway, the GOVIA consortium of Go-Ahead and Keolis, Netherlands Railways, and Virgin Rail Group. SRA Chairman Richard Bowker said that the 'impressive field of bidders' demonstrates the importance of rail in East Anglia. Formal bidding is expected to start this summer, allowing the new franchise to be signed in mid-2003.
A week earlier, SRA and local passenger transport authority Merseytravel prequalified six bidders to run the Merseyrail Electrics 750 V DC suburban network in Liverpool. The present franchise expires in February 2003, and the government is due to lodge a Parliamentary Order this month transferring responsibility from SRA to local control. Present operator Arriva Trains is bidding against Connex, Serco, Transdev with RATP International of Paris, Netherlands Railways, and Keolis. Initial proposals are due by June 28, and Merseytravel expects to select a preferred bidder in the autumn.