The government has announced Abellio as the new East Midlands rail franchise operator.
Abellio has today (April 10) been announced as the successful bidder to operate the East Midlands Railway franchise, responsible for delivering new trains, smart ticketing and more frequent services for passengers from August 2019.
Abellio will oversee the introduction of brand-new trains, entirely replacing the existing intercity fleet with more reliable and comfortable trains. Passengers will benefit from an 80% increase in the number of morning peak seats into Nottingham, Lincoln and St Pancras.
Passengers will also see 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. Abellio will trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line and will run zero-carbon pilots at 6 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 also play a major role in building a railway fit for the future.”
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.”
The introduction of this new operator will include services between Lincoln and Doncaster (serving Gainsborough and Saxilby) becoming hourly, alongside hourly services between Lincoln and Grimsby.
There are also improvements planned between Lincoln and Peterborough and improvements in services to provide an hourly Lincoln-London service.
Cllr Richard Davies, Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: “The county council has worked closely with Transport for the East Midlands and other EM local authorities to secure the best deal possible for the East Midlands as a whole
“There is a lot of good news for the county, and it looks like the new franchise will introduce a lot of the improvements we’ve been calling for.
“For example, the Lincoln to Doncaster services, which also serve Gainsborough and Saxilby, will become hourly. This is something we’ve been particularly pushing for since Doncaster offers a range of good connections across the north of the country.
“In addition, there is a requirement for the franchise to time the two-hourly Lincoln-Newark North Gate services in between the proposed direct two-hourly Lincoln-London services. That will effectively provide an hourly Lincoln-London service.
“Similarly, there will be an hourly service from Lincoln to Grimsby, which will help alleviate some of the overcrowding currently experienced at Market Rasen.
“There are also improvements planned for services between Lincoln and Peterborough, which will be of particular benefit for not only Sleaford and Spalding, but also the smaller stations on that route, such as Metheringham and Ruskington.
“Another welcome addition is the recognition that the franchise needs to do more for Skegness during the busy summer season and around major events, such as the Lincoln Christmas Market.
“And these are just the improvements that were required by the Department for Transport. We may find that Abellio have gone even further in their bid once the full details are released.
“There has been good growth in rail use across the county in recent years, and it’s important that rail services adapt to meet that increasing demand. Today’s announcement appears to be a step in the right direction.”