Plans which could see a new train operator for the East Midlands will bring about significant improvements for passengers, according to a leading transport pressure group.
Financial incentives for the winning train company to improve journey times, and an opportunity to use newer trains could mean passengers get to London faster, according to Transport for the East Midlands.
The changes could move travel times towards the ‘Nottingham in 90’ goal of getting passengers to the capital in an hour and a half.
The government is in the process of selecting a new contractor to run trains from stations on the East Midland Rail Franchise, which includes the Nottingham to London route.
Today, the government released details of the invitation to tender, which the winning bidder will be obliged to meet.
The new contract is expected to come into effect from late 2019 and will last around eight years. It is currently run by Stagecoach under the name of East Midlands Trains.
Three companies, including Scotland-based Stagecoach, are in the running to win the franchise.
Abellio, which is a Dutch company, and Arriva, German-owned company, are also expected to bid for the contract.
A decision is expected from the government early next year.
Now, Transport for the East Midlands and East Midlands Councils have said the new deal will bring about a host of benefits, regardless of which firm wins.
They have worked with the Department for Transport for two years to draw up a list of priorities for East Midlands commuters, companies, and leisure passengers, and several of these have been included in the contract.
It means that whichever firm wins the bid, a list of improvements will be expected by the Government.
- A roll out of smart-tickets
- Incentives for faster and more efficient trains
- Improved early/late evening services
- Sunday service improvements throughout the network
- High-speed Wi-Fi on trains,
- £2.5m for improvements to accessibility at medium-sized stations
There will also be financial incentives to improve services to East Midlands Airport.
In addition, passengers who are delayed by 15 minutes or more will be entitled to compensation – compared to 30 minutes now.
Details of the new tender were released today by rail minister Jo Johnson.
The Conservative MP 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.”
Sir Peter Soulsby is the chairman of Transport for the East Midlands (TfEM), which works with East Midlands Councils.
He said: “Through TfEM, councils have been working in partnership with the DfT to ensure we get the best result for passengers, businesses and local communities out of the franchise process. The franchise invitation to tender provides a real opportunity to transform rail services across the East Midlands.
“We are a growing and prosperous region – and we need rail services comparable to the best elsewhere in England to fulfil our economic potential.”
“The invitation to tender also confirms that electrification of the Midland Mainline to 125 mph standard will extend as far as Market Harborough – which means that over 50 percent of MML will be electrified by 2023.
“This will rise to 62 percent once the section between Clay Cross and Sheffield is completed for HS2.
“As bi-mode trains are so much cheaper to run under electric wires, we think there is a good economic case for a program of ‘incremental electrification’ of the remaining line, providing that the capital costs can be properly controlled.”