East Midlands rail franchise extended to March 2018
The DfT has extended the Stagecoach-owned East Midlands rail franchise to March 2018. The existing franchise expires in October, and the extension will be through direct award (which avoids the competitive re-tendering process).
East Midland Trains operates the Midland Main Line (MML) from St Pancras to Sheffield, and many regional services in the east Midlands and south Yorkshire. The new agreement provides £13m of investment – £8m from EMT, the rest from the government and the rail industry -for a wide package of improvements. These include 22 extra Saturday services between Nottingham and Newark Castle; a freeze on Anytime fares to London until 2017; the sale of 250,000 discounted tickets; and improved Wi-Fi aboard trains and better station accessibility.
East Midlands Trains (EMT) will be expected to pay £150m in premium payments between 18 October 2015 and 4 March 2018. The franchise was awarded to Stagecoach in November 2007, and EMT returned premiums in three of the last seven financial years between 2008 and 2015.
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, said: “This is a significant package of investment for customers travelling on East Midlands Trains, Britain’s most punctual long-distance train operator. It will build on what our team has achieved over the past eight years and deliver further valuable improvements for the millions of passengers and many communities who rely on the East Midlands Trains network.”