Britain awards 15-year Essex rail contract to National Expre

Britain said on Friday it had awarded a fifteen-year contract to run rail services in a part of south eastern England to incumbent operator National Express .

Under the terms of the deal, rail and coach group National Express will continue to operate the Essex Thameside contract, run under the name c2c, until 2029 and invest 160 million pounds ($272 million) to add new train services  and upgrade station facilities.

The franchise covers London and the surrounding commuter hubs of Barking, Basildon and Southend, to the east of the capital in Essex.

The British government has over the last month started to award rail contracts again after a two year break following a bungled process when flaws were found in the way it handled bids, prompting a review.

"The rigorous new processes we have put in place means passengers can have every confidence we have got the right bid for the franchise," Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said in a statement on Friday.

National Express said in its statement that the new contract was good news for passengers, taxpayers and its shareholders. ($1 = 0.5880 British Pounds) (Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton).