A JOINT bidder for the new Greater Anglia rail franchise has withdrawn from the running for the line.

Stagecoach Group had submitted a bid alongside Abellio, which runs the current franchise, which will expire in October 2016.

National Express, which runs the c2c line in Essex, and First Group are the other two bidders for the franchise, which will initially run for nine years.

A Stagecoach Group spokesman said: "We have been unable to reach an agreement with Abellio on elements of the proposed bid.

"As a result of that, and taking account of the other rail bidding opportunities that we anticipate over the next two years, we have decided not to proceed with an equity participation in the bid for the new East Anglia franchise.

"We have confirmed to Abellio our commitment to provide support and advice to the franchise if Abellio’s bid is successful."

The Department for Transport published the results of a three-month consultation about the future of the line last week.

It has urged bidders for the new line to make plans to solve capacity problems on the line, make services more punctual and introduce a “smart ticketing” system.

Stagecoach had been due to take a 40 per cent stake in the Abellio bid.

An Abellio spokesman said: “We have made the Department of Transport aware of the decision taken by Stagecoach Group.

“Stagecoach Group have confirmed their commitment to provide support and ongoing advice should we win the next franchise.

“Abellio UK will now continue to finalise its bid and feel it represents a compelling proposal for the people of East Anglia.”