New rail franchise for commuters from Havering and Brentwood
Eagle-eyed commuters and train passengers will have noticed new Greater Anglia branding on their daily Liverpool Street to Shenfield route today (Monday).
That was only the most superficial indication though of company Abellio taking over the Greater Anglia services – including those through Romford, Harold Wood, Gidea Park and Brentwood, from National Express on the same day.
The international arm of Netherlands Railways now has responsibility for 3,000 employees and 43,000 services per month, carrying two million passengers.
The 29-month contract includes routes from Liverpool Street to Chingford and Enfield Town and the Stansted Express line.
Speaking to the Recorder, the franchise’s managing director, Ruud Haket, outlined his priorities for the network.
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He said: “The most important thing will be what customers think.
“To deliver better customer service and more security and to be able to tackle fare evasion, we will add a high number of people in stations and trains to target these issues - where there is a hot spot of anti-social behaviour or fare evasion to make sure that’s addressed.”
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On Monday, 68 extra customer service staff started work and all frontline staff are being given BlackBerrys so they can provide passengers with up-to-date travel information, according to Ruud.
And the public will be able to hold the company to account through punctuality performance figures for each route rather than for the whole franchise.
Ruud said: “It’s a matter of transparency.
“If you are using the best or worst performing route you should be able to know that.
“It helps to establish where our best practice is as well.”
Problems with the overhead lines or signal theft can cause delays on the Shenfield line but Abellio, who will run the franchise’s trains and stations, is promising to work closely with Network Rail, who retain responsibility for the rail infrastructure.
Station-by-station investments are still to be finalised but the managing director said a deep clean would be a minimum requirement for all.