Abellio replaced Stagecoach running the East Midlands franchise on August 18, with the launch for the new operator on August 19.
East Midlands Railway replaces East Midlands Trains following the Government decision to award the Dutch firm the franchise in April. Stagecoach had been bidding to retain the deal, but was excluded due to ‘non-compliant bids’.
As part of the new deal, Abellio promises to replace the entire existing EMR fleet with new and cascaded trains (a deal for 33 bi-mode trains from Hitachi has already been agreed), and double capacity into St Pancras International. It also aims to add 40% more peak-time capacity into Nottingham through more services and longer trains. Hydrogen trains also form part of the long-term plans.
EMR will also extend smart and mobile ticketing and introduce a flexible season ticket next year.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Abellio’s exciting plans for East Midlands Railway will make a real difference to passengers, delivering state-of-the-art trains with more seats, station improvements and trialling hydrogen fuel cell technology to ensure that East Midlands Railway becomes one of the most environmentally-friendly in the UK.”
Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, said: “Abellio is delighted to have been entrusted to operate East Midlands Railway and we’ve already started on our £600 million investment package to transform rail services across the East Midlands.”
Julian Edwards, Managing Director of East Midlands Railway, said: “Today is a new era for rail services across the East Midlands. We have already begun to deliver on our promises including new and better trains, improved stations and more services. I’ve been really impressed by the employees I have already met across the network and, working together, the railways of the East Midlands will begin to look and feel very different to today.”
EMR and Network Rail have signed an Alliance Agreement that will involve joint initiatives and a significant increase in collaborative working and co-location.
Network Rail Route Director, East Midlands Gary Walsh said: “Significant investment in trains, infrastructure, stations, and services will bring huge benefits for everyone using the route, ensuring we make the most out of the biggest upgrade to the Midland Main Line since the Victorian era.”
- For the FULL story, read RAIL 886, published on August 28, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from August 24.