East Midlands Trains

Competition watchdog worries over East Midlands franchise

East Midlands train

The Competition and Markets Authority, which is investigating Abellio's acquisition of the East Midlands rail franchise, has said it's worried about price hikes on two routes used by thousands of people.

One of the lines that the CMA is concerned about runs between Norwich and Ely. The other is from Ely to Thetford.

The watchdog is worried because Abellio would operate both East Midlands Trains and Greater Anglia, which would make it the only train operator on the line.

"Thousands of people rely on this route, so it’s crucial that passengers don’t suffer as a result of reduced competition," said the CMA's Joel Bamford.

'Real disaster'

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4


Richard Bowker, former head of the Strategic Rail Authority, has been speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today Programme following the decision by Stagecoach to take the government to court after it was barred from rebidding for East Midlands railway franchise.

It was because of a dispute over pensions and Mr Bowker said it illustrated that the public sector was not able to manage to risk.

"The real disaster is we've ended up in a position where two of the Britain's... best, most experienced and most innovative... train operators are excluded from a market at precisely the time when that is the worst possible outcome for the government," he said.

The other train operator he referred to was Virgin Trains which is 49% owned by Stagecoach, and had been bidding to renew the West Coast franchise.