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Rail Franchise: East Midlands

Volume 599: debated on Wednesday 16 September 2015

I am pleased to inform the House that my Department has reached agreement with Stagecoach to continue to operate train services on the East Midlands franchise. This new agreement means that passengers from London St Pancras International to Northamptonshire, the East Midlands, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire will continue to be served by East Midlands Trains for a period of two years and five months from 18 October 2015, with an optional extension period of 13 railway periods callable at my sole discretion.

East Midlands Trains have had a good track record of punctuality and passenger satisfaction since they began operating the franchise in 2007 and I expect this service to be the minimum provided throughout the period of this direct award.

In addition to retaining at least the same train services as today, this new agreement will see East Midlands Trains provide 22 additional trains between Newark and Nottingham, which will ensure that there is a half hourly service on Saturdays as well as week days. There are also further improvements to the Nottingham to Lincoln timetable that will provide for reduced journey times and more services on Saturdays. My Department is continuing to work with East Midlands Trains to examine further improvements to the weekend timetables for many passengers.

The agreement will also see a number of significant enhancements for passengers as a result of £13 million investment in the franchise. This will provide for improved passenger information; more ticket machines; a new mobile app that will provide up to the minute information as well as allowing tickets to be purchased; cleaner trains; and an extended catering service. Passengers to and from London will also benefit from improved wi-fi up to 4G standard.

This agreement not only provides benefits for passengers today but also ensures that this franchise is in the best position for the full franchise competition in 2018. By laying the groundwork for this now and in conjunction with the significant upgrade works already delivered, such as the transport hub in Nottingham, and those planned and underway for the railway in the area, such as the track doubling between Kettering and Corby, I am confident that we will see the East Midlands franchise continue to provide excellent service for passengers at good value for the taxpayer for many years to come.