East Midlands Railway will have its entire bi-mode fleet in traffic by December 2022, according to Baroness Vere, the Government’s transport spokesman in the House of Lords.
She said that thanks to modern technology, there is no longer a need to electrify every party of every line in order to deliver better journeys. And she claimed that the axing of Midland Main Line electrification north of Kettering in 2017 means passengers will benefit from new trains sooner with less disruption, rather than if they were waiting for the line to be electrified.
No details of the train orders have been released since Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling cancelled MML electrification north of Kettering in July 2017, and at the same time announced the bi-mode fleet.
It’s known that Bombardier and Hitachi are interested in the contract, but both will be supplying new designs, with the former offering a bi-mode Aventra while the latter will offer an AT300 (the Intercity Express Programme platform) but with shorter vehicles.
Vere was responding on July 11 to two questions asked by Lord Bradshaw, who had asked whether Government would publish an estimate of the costs of the decision not to electrify the MML to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield (and the basis for those estimates), and how many trains in the current East Midlands Trains fleet are more than 30 years old.
Abellio replaces current franchise operator Stagecoach on August 18, at which point East Midlands Trains will become East Midlands Railway.
Vere said: “When the decision not to proceed with electrification from Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham was taken in 2017, approximately £30 million had been spent on preliminary works north of Kettering.
“The majority of this was on bridge improvement works, which will deliver benefits such as improved asset condition irrespective of any electrification. The indicative circa £1 billion (in 2012-13 prices) cost estimate for electrifying the route from Kettering to Sheffield/Nottingham was developed by Network Rail in 2016, as part of the Midland Main Line enhancements programme.”
Discussing the trains, Vere said there were 12 sets on the MML that are more than 30 years old, and that these would be phased out during the next franchise. She said there would be a modern electric express fleet running between Corby and London by December 2020.
As it stands, the 12 High Speed Trains cannot operate in passenger traffic beyond December 31 2019 this year, as they will not meet new accessibility regulations.
When announcing the Abellio contract win in April, Government confirmed that four Class 180s would transfer from Hull Trains to EMR. There was also the possibility that the LNER HSTs could also transfer to the MML, although these do not meet the disability requirements either.