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Who will take over from rail operator?

PUBLISHED: 07:21 27 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:24 06 July 2010

Paul Hill, business editor

Three major rail operators said they would watch developments in East Anglia closely - and did not rule out bidding to take on the service from 2011.

Three major rail operators last night said they would watch developments in East Anglia closely - and did not rule out bidding to take on the service from 2011.

FirstGroup operates the King's Lynn to London King's Cross line, Scotrail and First Great Western in the West Country. It also ran London Liverpool Street to Ipswich services between 1996 and 2004 and bought the former Norwich to London operator Anglia in 2003.

"We are a big player in the rail industry in the UK and we will have a look at new opportunities as they come up," FirstGroup said.

"We'll look at the specification that the Department for Transport puts out and then take a view on whether or not to put in a bid.

"But we're definitely interested in looking at the opportunity.

"We have experience and a track record in that part of the world."

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Trains, which operates the West Coast Mainline, said: "We're always interested in growing our business, but we would always base a decision on what was in the invitation to tender."

Stagecoach operates the South West and East Midlands train franchises - including services from Norwich to the Midlands and north - and owns 49pc of Virgin's rail business.

Stagecoach said: "The action the Department for Transport has taken is a matter for the government. In terms of the DfT for the rail franchise in East Anglia, we're a major UK rail operator, we have a strong track record of investment, higher operational performance and increasing customer satisfaction. We would certainly consider any franchise opportunity on the basis of a detailed specification when it is announced at the appropriate time."


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