It’s “All change!” as Abellio has replaced Stagecoach in the running of the East Midlands rail franchise between Sheffield and London St Pancras from 18 August, with the new operator launching its services on 19 August.
The service, now know as East Midlands Railway, will be operated by Dutch firm Abellio who has promised to replace the entire existing EMR fleet with new and cascaded trains, doubling the capacity into St Pancras International. Abellio has ordered 33 bi-mode (diesel/electric) trains from Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe plant, in County Durham, with hydrogen trains also forming part of the long-term plan.
“Abellio is delighted to have been entrusted to operate East Midlands Railway,” said Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, “and we’ve already started on our £600 million investment package to transform rail services across the East Midlands.”
“Today is a new era for rail services across the East Midlands,” added Julian Edwards, Managing Director of East Midlands Railway. “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.”
Andrew Meadows, Abellio’s UK Director of Human Resources director in the UK, said it was an exciting day for the East Midlands, outlining improvements to services: “We are very pleased that we have inherited a well-run railway but we feel that we can improve that railway further and as part of that we will be investing £600 million and replacing all of the existing rolling stock.
“By 2022, we will have a full new fleet of high-speed Hitachi rail trains running on our inter city services. We’re also hoping to speed up services and improve timetables. £400 million will be spent on 33 five-carriage trains, all of which will include air conditioning, wi-fi and plug sockets for passengers.”
The new service will feature the logo ‘EMR Intercity’
EMR will extend smart and mobile ticketing and introduce a flexible season ticket next year. Abellio have also announced an improved compensation scheme for passengers whose train has been delayed more than 15 minutes.
The East Midlands Trains rail franchise had been operated by Stagecoach since 2007 connecting Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester with the capital. The Government awarded the franchise to Abellio in April after Stagecoach was disqualified from the bidding process for refusing to take on pension liabilities. Abellio already has a strong presence in the UK rail network including operating Greater Anglia services, between Norwich and London, West Midlands Rail and Scotrail.
Edward Funnell, Abellio’s Communications Advisor agreed that the Stagecoach service was a big act to follow. “We take over from the East Midlands Trains franchise that was well run, a competent operator, and we intend to build on that for the future. It is time, now, for a step change and we are really pleased to be able to start operating the East Midlands Railway with improved benefits for passengers across the East Midlands.
“We have £20million for station improvements, including Derby, which will have better waiting facilities, refurbished public areas, improved parking to make the station fit for the city.“
The existing fleet will, for now, bear the new logo on the previous livery
The first train has been demonstrating in the new purple East Midlands Railway livery, bearing the logo ‘EMR Intercity’ although the existing fleet will, for now, continue to run in the old East Midlands Trains’ livery whilst bearing the new logo.
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.”
Link: Northern Life