New train company to run services from Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Harborough
Dutch train company Abellio will take over the running of the East Midlands train line from August.
Services for stations including Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Market Harborough are currently run by Stagecoach subsidiary East Midlands Trains.
A Department for Transport statement this morning said Abellio will oversee the introduction of brand-new trains, entirely replacing the existing intercity fleet with more reliable and comfortable trains.
It also said passengers will benefit from an 80 per cent increase in the number of morning peak seats into Nottingham, Lincoln and St Pancras.
Abellio already runs a number of train services in the UK, including West Midlands Trains and Greater Anglia.
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 service will be renamed East Midlands Railway and will see the trial of hydrogen fuel cell trains and zero-carbon pilots at six stations along the route.
The contract is due to begin on August 18, 2019, and will run for at least eight years.
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.”
Managing director of Abellio UK Dominic Booth 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 £600m in improvements to trains and stations, maximising the effect of the government’s £1.5bn 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.”
A Transport for East Midlands spokesman said: “We very much welcome today’s decision which paves the way for transformational improvements to our region’s rail services and which vindicates the TfEM Board’s approach to
working in partnership with the Department for Transport on the franchise competition.
“The TfEM Board is keen to continue and develop this partnership over the coming years to ensure the new franchise delivers.
“Abellio and the Department for Transport have listened to the region’s needs and through today’s announcement have committed to act.
“The TfEM Board looks forward to seeing much needed investment in rolling stock and investment in and around local stations.”
Abellio will also oversee the introduction of:
more flexible and convenient smart ticketing options
free wifi and high quality mobile connectivity on board services
improved delay repay compensation for all passengers
a stations improvement fund of £16.8m, including £6.9m for accessibility improvements
£9.4m of investment to deliver commercial and customer service improvements at stations
916 extra car park spaces and 1,050 cycle spaces
ticket buying facilities in place at all stations.