Norfolk

Abellio trains: Fears of ticket price rises after takeover

East Midlands Trains service Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The Stagecoach-owned firm is due to relinquish the East Midlands rail franchise in August

A potential monopoly over rail services could see commuters hit with rising train fares, it is claimed.

With Abellio set to be awarded the rail franchise for East Midlands Trains, it could mean the firm would have a stranglehold over the rails between Norwich and Ely.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating whether the deal could raise competition concerns.

Abellio said it would work with the CMA.

The Norwich to Ely service is currently provided by Greater Anglia, and Thetford to Ely by East Midlands Trains.

'Increased prices'

The CMA is concerned that with no other rail provider in the region, higher fares could be introduced by Abellio.

Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers at the CMA, said: "If the franchise is awarded to Abellio as currently planned, we're concerned passengers could face increased prices."

A spokesman from Abellio said: "We will now work with the CMA to address their concerns on the Norwich to Ely and Ely to Thetford routes."

'Value for money'

The Norwich to Ely route provides the city's main gateway to the Midlands via rail.

As the CMA investigation continues, Abellio has a limited time to demonstrate to the regulator how it will ensure passengers receive value for money.

In similar cases, where one organisation has held a monopoly over the route, concerns were resolved when operators agreed to introduce price-caps.

As it stands, the Dutch transport firm is due to take over the East Midlands franchise on Sunday, 18 August, after Stagecoach - the current holder - was disqualified from bidding.

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