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5 February 2012, 06:00
Dutch company Abellio will take over from National Express East Anglia today, to run our trains in Norfolk and Suffolk, after winning the 29-month contract.
Under the name of Greater Anglia, they are promising a more secure railway, as well as extra seats on some services. They have also frozen car parking charges in 2012.
Greater Anglia say they have already doubled the numbers of safety and security staff employed within its customer service team to ensure that customers feel assured of safe travel on its train services. They want a clear focus on customer service and hope that these additional team members will be able to provide help, assistance and information while travelling on Greater Anglia trains.
The additional Making Travel Safe Officers (MTSOs), or Enforcement Officers, who will be working across the region will be the largest ever single deployment of complementary policing resources in the history of UK rail. These officers will work in partnership with the Revenue Protection Officers (RPOs) and British Transport Police (BTP) to reduce fare evasion and tackle things like anti-social behaviour.
Greater Anglia also say that to ensure their frontline Enforcement staff are fully equipped with the training and tools to achieve the highest customer service standards they will be accredited under the Railway Safety Accreditation Scheme (RSAS).
Superintendent Gareth Williams, from British Transport Police, said: "The MTSOs will be a valuable addition to the existing policing presence and provide further reassurance for passengers across the network.
We already have officers who tackle crime and passenger safety issues on trains and at stations across Essex and East Anglia, but these additional teams will play a significant role in supporting our efforts, by patrolling the lines across the Greater Anglia route.
The team will be tasked on a daily basis to patrol hotspot locations where anti-social behaviour and low-level disorder is reported and they will work alongside police officers and specialist resources when required.
By having specific teams targeting dedicated lines of route, passengers can be assured of seeing a higher visibility presence across the Greater Anglia route, which we believe will make great inroads in further reducing crime."
Greater Anglia also say that as they originally promised, they have also increased the number of seats available on services to and from Liverpool Street by using the fleet available more effectively. These include the 0629 service Ipswich to Liverpool Street, 0811 Stowmarket to Liverpool Street and the 0800 Liverpool Street to Ipswich service. In the evening the 1702 Liverpool Street to Norwich and the 1932 to Harwich International now have more seats for passengers.
In addition a new marketing and advertising campaign launches today to raise awareness of the savings customers can make travelling by train compared with the car. Savings endorsed by Emmerson Hill, who calculate cost per mile for the Department for Transport and the AA, show that running a car is 56 pence per mile and this is reduced to 21 pence per mile by train if the customer travels on a monthly or longer season ticket.
Ruud Haket, Managing Director, Greater Anglia said:"We want to provide a great rail service and from today will start by ensuring those travelling in the peak see more seats on specific trains. I want customers to have complete peace of mind that they are travelling safely too, and the deployment of the MTSO and RPO team will certainly help. I also want to make it really clear that I believe all customers should travel on a valid ticket. We know that over 90 per cent of customers buy a ticket, however this still leaves 1 in 10 that don't and this minority are costing all rail users in the end.
Another promise we made from the outset was to raise awareness of the benefits of rail travel across the region. Our new marketing campaign starts today and has been designed to deliver a strong message to those travelling by car of the savings achieved by travelling by train. At 56 pence per mile for those customers travelling by car, compared to 21 pence per mile if they chose to travel by train could save people thousands of pounds over the year and our research tells us that many do not realise this.
For those that are already making the journey by train and using Greater Anglia car parks, there is the welcome news that we have frozen car parking charges for the rest of 2012, so there will be no car parking charge increase to passengers this year. Also all customers should take a look at our new website, www.greateranglia.co.uk and by simply registering on it they will be sent a unique pin code enabling them to save 25 per cent off their next ticket purchase made online.
We'll continue to deliver on the promises we have made to improve customer service through a whole suite of initiatives between now and the end of the franchise. Initially we will work towards delivering the successful Olympic programme but my commitment to existing and new customers is to make it easier to ensure staff are able to deliver customer service to you every day, no matter which part of the network you travel on."
MP for Norwich North, Chloe Smith, has welcomed the new initiatives from Abellio. She is one a group of MPs campaigning for improved rail services which calls for:
Chloe Smith said: "It is vital that the new operator takes passengers seriously. I welcome these first steps and look forward to working with Abellio to make sure that we get a good deal in Norwich."