The number of trains to and from Corby to London will double from 2020, the Government has confirmed today.
Plans for there to be two trains per hour from the station had been afoot for several years alongside the electrification of the Midland Mainline.
But today, the Government has confirmed that bidders for the East Midlands franchise must be prepared to offer an extra train every hour from Corby to and from the capital.
The Cross Country franchise ends in August 2019 and the Department for Transport has today release the tender document which includes details of the vital services that the new franchisee must be willing to operate.
They include the twice-hourly service to Corby which will attract inward investment and encourage population growth in the town which is the fastest growing outside of London.
Rail Minister Jo Johnson said: “We are investing in the biggest upgrade to the Midland Main Line since it was completed in 1870.
“We have listened carefully to what thousands of passengers and stakeholders have said they want to see in the next East Midlands franchise.
“We expect the next operator to unlock the unrealised potential while building on its stable foundations.
“The new East Midlands operator will also need to: increase the frequency of services across the franchise, including an additional train every hour between Corby to London.”
The government consulted with rail users from across the region to find out what was important to them.
Their consultation document found support for a further service in Corby. Their report says: “In December 2020 the timetable will be adapted, through the electrification of the railway to Corby, to allow two dedicated commuter trains per hour to Corby, providing capacity to prevent passengers from having to travel on busy intercity trains. At least one intercity service per hour will call at Kettering to retain connections with stations served by the Corby services.”
Railfuture campaigner David Fursdon, who was instrumental in the opening of Corby Railway Station 10 years ago, said it was great that the Government had included the new Corby service in its blueprint for the future. He added: “It’s going to increase the service by 50 per cent and will also improve the connectivity with Kettering which we have been struggling with since we opened ten years ago.
“I think it’s down to the success of the service that we’ve managed to get this extra train.
“We also hope that this will improve the case to get Thameslink up to Corby in the future and to have trains going as far south as Gatwick and Brighton.
“It’s also important that the ticket office is open for longer as it closes in the afternoon. That’s what people have told us is important to them. You can have as many ticket machines as you like but they don’t answer questions.”
The electrification of the mainline has meant that Cottingham Road bridge has been closed for several months while work has been going on. The electrification will be complete next year.