I welcome the publication of the invitation to tender (ITT) for the 2016 East Anglia franchise by the Department for Transport which has listed the proposed re-opening of the Wisbech to Cambridge line as a ‘specified project’. This document invites three shortlisted rail operators, Abellio East Anglia Limited (a joint venture between Abellio and Stagecoach), First East Anglia Ltd and National Express East Anglia Trains Ltd to submit their bids for the franchise by December.
The ITT also included plans to increase 180 additional weekly services, many of which will be to link stations in Cambridgeshire.
This is really good news. It is something I have been working hard on behind the scenes with Ministers over the summer to ensure that Wisbech was included by name in the Invitation to Tender, which is the document which the three short bidders will now have to respond to.
I met with the bidders in the summer and will look to have further meetings with them now the document has been issued.
I secured a commitment from the Rail Minister last Wednesday at a dinner organised with Anglian Water at the House of Commons to include Wisbech within the ITT, and this document is written confirmation of that commitment.
As ever, there remains much to do but it is another significant step forward, not least as this is the key document for the long term rail franchise for our region.
In parallel, I am also lobbying hard on the issue of an early and late night service from the Fenland stations, especially March and Whittlesey, to Cambridge and Stansted.