THREE bidders have been shortlisted for the next Greater Anglia franchise, the Department for Transport said.
One of the three is the present franchisee, Abellio Greater Anglia. Abellio is being challenged by FirstGroup and former Anglia operator National Express.
The bidders will be asked to show how they will improve the region’s railways, including providing shorter journeys to London, more reliable services and better connections. They will also be expected to show how they could achieve the recommendations of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, which includes reducing London to Norwich journey times by about a quarter to 90 minutes.
Rail minister Claire Perry said: "We have ambitious plans for East Anglia’s rail network, and the successful bidder will be central to making these plans a reality. We want to find a partner who will help us meet the increasing demand for transport in the region by providing faster, more reliable journeys and better connections across the region and beyond.
"We are investing record amounts in building a world-class railway as part of our long-term economic plan, and I am determined that passengers in East Anglia will benefit."
The formal Invitation to Tender is now expected in August, with bidders' responses due by December. The winner is due to start the new contract in October next year.