More seats and services to arrive on East Midlands Railway
Passengers will benefit from an 80 per cent increase in the number of morning peak seats into Nottingham, Lincoln and St Pancras.
Abellio will oversee the introduction of brand-new trains; entirely replacing the existing intercity fleet with more reliable and comfortable trains.
Passengers will see more morning peak seats into Nottingham, Lincoln and St Pancras, faster journey times over long-distances, a new express service from Corby through Luton into London, the introduction of improved delay repay compensation, and flexipass tickets to provide better value fares.
The East Midlands Railway will also be at the forefront of the government’s commitment to deliver a cleaner, greener rail network. Hydrogen fuel cell trains will be trialled on the Midland Main Line and will run zero-carbon pilots at six stations along the route.
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “Improving the experience for passengers is at the heart of this new franchise. Abellio will deliver state-of-the-art new trains, upgraded ticketing systems and improvements to stations. Through zero-carbon pilot schemes, trialling hydrogen fuel cell trains and delivering more seats on modern, spacious trains, the new franchise will play a major role in building a railway fit for the future.”
Abellio will be responsible for monitoring the introduction of:
- More flexible and convenient smart ticketing options
- Free Wi-Fi and high quality mobile connectivity onboard services
- Improved delay repay compensation for all passengers
- A stations improvement fund of £16.8 million, including £6.9 million for accessibility improvements
- £9.4 million of investment to deliver commercial and customer service improvements at stations
- Ticket-buying facilities in place at all stations.
The government is investing nearly £48 billion over the next five years to modernise the railway, including more than £1.5 billion to upgrade the Midland Main Line, the biggest upgrade of the line since it was completed in 1870.
Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, said: “Abellio is proud to have been selected as the winning bidder for the East Midlands franchise. We look forward to this franchise driving economic growth and delivering significant benefits for passengers.
“Abellio will invest £600 million in improvements to trains and stations, maximising the effect of the government’s £1.5 billion upgrade of the Midland Main Line, to make journeys easier, more reliable and comfortable for our passengers.
“Closer collaboration between East Midlands Railway and Network Rail will ensure that track and train are aligned to deliver vital enhancements to infrastructure and to put the interests of passengers first.”
Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers across the East Midlands network told Transport Focus that their key priorities for improvement are frequent, punctual and reliable services, with more modern trains with free Wi-Fi and power sockets as standard along with better catering and toilet facilities on the train. It is good to see efforts to meet these aspirations at the heart of the new franchise with new trains, more seats and services, and actions to improve the passenger experience with free Wi-Fi on trains and at stations. It is good news that Delay Repay compensation will kick in at 15 minutes and that improved ticket deals will offer part-time workers better value for money services. Abellio East Midlands now has an unrivalled opportunity to provide outstanding journeys and customer service for rail passengers in the region.”
Midlands Connect Chairman Sir John Peace, said: “Midlands Connect met with all of the franchise bidders during the process, and Abellio’s vision shows a strong commitment to significantly improve passengers’ experience, with new and improved trains, more seats and more frequent services, upgraded stations and smart ticketing options. The 2019-2027 franchise period provides certainty during a momentous time for the Midlands rail network, and regional bodies have an important role in maximising the benefits for passengers and businesses. We are looking forward to working closely with Abellio as we develop our transformational Midlands Rail Hub plans to introduce up to 24 new train services every hour across the East and West Midlands, and prepare to integrate these upgrades with vital new High Speed Two services.”
Sir John Peace continued: “We fully support the move towards a cleaner, greener rail network and we welcome plans to trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line (MML). We will also continue to make the case for the electrification of the MML beyond Market Harborough, to support Midlands Connect’s ambition for direct conventional compatible HS2 services between Leicester and Leeds and Nottingham and Leeds, via the East Midlands Hub at Toton. With rail passenger numbers increasing year on year in the East Midlands, it is extremely encouraging to see investment in the region’s railways starting to match that demand.”