A politician has criticised a rail operator for delays in responding to companies interested in taking over its franchise.

National Express East Anglia (NXEA) were stripped by the Government of running the Greater Anglia franchise from next year.

Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers confirmed 448 bidders have asked the company for more information.

Mrs Villiers said as of July 11, the company had responded to 405 and replied to 220 within the general target time of 14 days.

Witham MP Priti Patel, who wants a new operator to run the franchise and improved customer service, said: “Bidders need to have as much information given to them as soon as possible so they can work on their proposals to run an improved railway service from next year.”

But a NXEA spokesman said: “We are working with the Department for Transport in providing timely and accurate responses to bid clarification requests received in respect of the Greater Anglia franchise.

“The level of information required varies dependent on each request and we are fully focused in ensuring we provide appropriate and detailed responses.”