PASSENGERS in Essex have labelled the decision to keep Greater Anglia in charge “controversial”.

Many believe the £20million investment earmarked by the company will not go far enough to improve the train carriages and service.

Derek Monnery, chairman of the Essex Rail Users Federation, believes passengers are not getting value for money.

Mr Monnery said: “From what I can make out is they are going to bring in what they call “refreshed” trains, but we need something a lot better than that.

“Over the last five years fares for commuters on the line have gone up in real terms by 25 per cent but we have received absolutely nothing back.

“We are not even getting free Wi-fi on the trains which is something that is even becoming standard in services in the Scottish Highlands, so what this deal proposes is still giving us virtually nothing.”

Southend Rail Travellers Association chairman Peter Slattery feels rail bosses are only looking at quick fixes when longer term solutions are needed.

Mr Slattery said: “From what I hear from commuters locally who use Greater Anglia services, the trains are not well kept and this is extension is a bit controversial.

“The trains are pretty grotty and any investment should be welcomed, but another temporary fix is not the right answer.

“Whoever takes on the franchise in the long term after 2016 will have a big job on their hands as £20million will not be enough to sort the current issues.”

However, Michael Mowe who is a member of Basildon Council’s Rail Forum feels it is good the franchise will stay with Greater Anglia.

“I don’t think Greater Anglia have been too bad,” the ward councillor for Wickford North added.

“A lot of the delays are often down to weather or Network Rail so Greater Anglia cannot be blamed and I think continuity is good for the franchise as it will bring in more investment.

“I think what they do need to do is listen to local people about what they want with the service as I and others round here would like to see improvements made to Wickford station.”


MAJOR points within the £20million investment planned by Greater Anglia over the next two years as part of the franchise extension include:


• Improvements to power points, carpets, seat covers, lighting, toilets and painting in 119 carriages.

• Introduction of online compensation arrangements for season ticket holders during the franchise period.

• 1,600 extra seats on weekdays on intercity services created by converting seven onboard catering areas into seating.

• Installation of more than 400 bicycle parking spaces at stations.

• New toilets which will stop waste being flushed onto tracks.

• Continued commitment to working with the Government and Norwich in 90 Taskforce to get faster trains along the line.

• More schemes to improve train performance and reliability.

• A new heavy cleaning programme for trains and stations.

• Improvements to passenger accessibility on refurbished carriages.

• Extension of the company's employee customer service training programme.