Abellio awarded East Midlands Railway franchise

East Midlands Trains to launch new business booking system
Credit: East Midlands Trains

Today, Abellio has been announced as the successful bidder to run the East Midlands Railway franchise for 8 years, from 18th August 2019 until 22nd August 2027.

Abellio East Midlands will oversee the introduction of brand new trains, replacing it’s aging intercity fleet in it’s entirety; as well as being responsible for delivering smart ticketing as well as a more frequent service for passengers.

Passengers are set to benefit from 80% more seats between Nottingham, Lincoln, and London St Pancras. Passengers will also see faster journey times over its long-distance routes, as well as the introduction of a new express service from Corby, through to Luton, and on to London, an improved delay repay scheme, and ‘flexipass’ tickets aimed at providing better value for money.

The East Midlands Railway franchise will also be at the forefront of the Government’s commitment to deliver a cleaner and greener rail network.

Abellio are set to trial new hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Mainline.

Other improvements will include:

  • free Wi-Fi onboard services,
  • a stations improvement fund of £16.8 million, including £6.9 million for accessibility improvements,
  • 916 extra car park spaces and 1,050 cycle spaces,
  • ticket buying facilities in place at all stations served by EMR

The news of Abellio being awarded the East Midlands franchise comes after news that both Stagecoach and Virgin Trains have been disqualified from the bidding processes of both the East Midlands and West Coast Partnership franchises.

What did the officials say?

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, trialing 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.”

Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK added

“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 £600 million in improvements to trains and stations, maximizing the effect of the government’s £1.5 billion 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.”

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  • Out goes East Midlands Trains. And in comes East Midlands Railway. Along with new Bi-mode trains possibly Bombardier to build the Bi-mode Aventra stocks to replace the Class 43 Mk3 HSTs and Class 222 Meridian DEMUs. Which Class 222s might be cascaded elsewhere (ie Crosscountry or cascaded to Scotland or Wales) or transferred to be stored when the new trains are being introduced in service from 2021 or mid 2020s.

  • Same old news new trains put not built in England something wrong with this why not have a British train built here and train companies from England

  • Probably it’s time to say goodbye to Stagecoach and become like what National Express are doing in the Netherlands and Germany.

    And move Virgin Trains to the USA and Canada.

  • Pie in the sky? Abellio’s track record on Greater Anglia has been quite abysmal to date, although the promise to replace all existing rolling stock with (predominantly foreign) trains does seem to have started. The politics behind the franchise award give me cause for concern, once again I despair at the machinations of the micro-managing of the DfT, and uncomfortable that any profits made by any of the operating companies is going straight out of the U.K.

  • How about using the 222 or HST sets on the Norwich to Liverpool route, the current 158 and occasional 156 units are two small, we could do with an extra carriage or two.

    • Not a bad idea. Was thinking about EMT/EMR to use the Class 222 4-Car & 5-Car units could be ideal for Liverpool Lime St/Nottingham-Norwich via Ely.