The Department for Transport has extended the Essex Thameside franchise, locally known as the Fenchurch Street Line, and run by operator c2c. The contract will now run until September 2014, with the potential for a further extension of up to eight months.
c2c will introduce improvements to customer facilities, including better access for people with mobility impairments, additional cycle parking, an extra entrance to London Fenchurch Street station and a revamp for Stanford-le-Hope station.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This is a vital step in getting our refranchising programme back on track.
“It gives the industry time to develop their long term plans for the future franchise and confidence to passengers that services will continue for the next 16 months.
“I am determined to ensure that when we let the long term franchise the operator to delivers significant benefits to passengers and tax payers alike.”
c2c managing director Julian Drury said: “As Britain’s most punctual and most popular franchise, we’re delighted the c2c franchise has been extended. National Express has been operating in the local community for more than a decade, and our customers know how much this service has changed since the days of the Misery Line. Over the next 16 months we aim to maintain our excellent punctuality record while delivering real improvements for passengers at our stations.”