NATIONAL Express is to keep running the c2c rail line linking south Essex with London, it has been announced.

Ministers revealed the company would continue to run the Fenchurch Street line, now called the Essex Thameside Franchise,.

National Express will continue to run the service from 9 November 2014 until 2029.

The company says under its stewardship, c2c has radically improved from the ‘Misery Line’ into the most punctual train operator in the UK.

In the new 15 year franchise c2c will be transformed again, with new trains, extra services and a ground-breaking Personal Performance Promise at the heart of a Passenger Charter that will put it at the forefront of international standards of customer service.

Dean Finch, National Express Group Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted that we will continue to serve the people of East London and South Essex for another 15 years. National Express is very proud of our record on c2c, transforming it from the ‘Misery Line’ into consistently the best performing railway in the country.

“We have listened to our customers and local stakeholders and we have challenged ourselves to be at the forefront of innovation. We have identified where to invest to enable c2c to be truly tailored to meet customers’ needs and to pioneer new levels of service not seen in UK rail.

“We believe our ambitious plans will transform the franchise again. We will introduce more services, new trains and a ground-breaking Personal Performance Promise. Our ambition is for c2c to stay at the forefront of reliability and punctuality but also set new standards for customer service. Today’s announcement is good news for passengers, taxpayers and shareholders alike.”

Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: "This deal is all about putting passengers at the heart of our railways. Brand new trains, thousands more seats and millions of pounds invested in stations will mean significantly improved journeys for those passengers who use these services every day.

"It's further proof that our long-term economic plan is on track, with the taxpayer getting more than £2 billion out of this deal."

He went on: "The rigorous new processes we have put in place means passengers can have every confidence we have got the right bid for the franchise. The operator is ready to deliver and build on the high standards that customers have rightly come to expect from these vital services."