'New' East Midlands Railway trains will not be refurbished in time for electric 'Connect' service
The upgrade of the Midland Main Line has cost £1.5 billion
East Midlands Railway (EMR) will launch its new all-electric EMR Connect service between Corby and London St Pancras later this month but the previously promised 'new' trains will be rebranded old stock.
A new timetable is to be introduced after a £1.5 billion Midland Main Line upgrade by Network Rail to install new overhead line equipment between Bedford and Corby, as well as an additional track between Kettering and Corby.
Those wanting to travel first class will be disappointed as the EMR Connect will only run as standard class only and until the refurbishment of the rolling stock, Class 360 trains will also be unable to carry bikes apart from fold-up designs, and units will carry temporary livery pending a full re-paint.
A spokesman for EMR said: "EMR had hoped to refurbish a number of these trains before they entered service.
"However, as a result of delays caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, that has unfortunately not been possible.
"EMR is fully committed to refurbish these trains as swiftly as possible and will share more information on this programme soon."
First class will be declassified from May for the short-term, with a decision still to be made about whether first class is included in the Class 360 refurbishment plan.
EMR Connect will comprise eight carriage electric trains, known as Class 360’s, serving Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton & Luton Airport Parkway every 30 minutes on weekdays from 6am.
The company has promised that the services on Sunday afternoons will be 'significantly improved', with a full weekday timetable running after 2pm – providing better access to and from London and the East Midlands.
Reintroduction of peak services between Wellingborough and Bedford will also take place, meaning passengers will not need to use the replacement coach service but passengers wanting an intercity service from Wellingborough will have to travel to an interchange station - the nearest being Kettering.
EMR Connect is the company’s first electric route, reducing carbon emissions by 77 per cent and lowering noise levels for lineside neighbours.
Will Rogers, managing director of East Midlands Railway, said: “We are delighted to be able to introduce our new all-electric EMR Connect service for our passengers travelling between Corby and London St Pancras.
“Not only will EMR Connect enable a significant reduction in carbon emissions and noise levels, it will also provide more seats, later services and more frequent journeys helping to support the communities and businesses of the region.”
Between November 2019 and February 2020, EMR carried out a public consultation ahead of the major timetable change
These changes were due to be introduced in December 2020 - however the Covid pandemic meant they were delayed until this May.
EMR was also required to submit new timetable proposals to Network Rail.