Posted 1st March 2017 | 5 Comments

Three shortlisted for East Midlands franchise

A JOINT venture between FirstGroup and the Italian state railway operator Trenitalia is one of three bidders shortlisted for the next East Midlands franchise.

The others are Arriva and the incumbent Stagecoach, which has run the franchise since November 2007.

The new contract will start between July 2018 and March 2019, because flexibility has been built into nearly all future franchise dates after the franchising programme had to be replanned as a result of the collapse of the Intercity West competition in October 2012.

The Department for Transport said ministers 'want to improve the quality, frequency and timings of journeys on the east of the franchise network and to seek to develop new services and connections'.

The new operator will be expected to handle predicted growth in demand, in particular to St Pancras International, but also on local crowded services such as Derby-Crewe.

Rail minister Paul Maynard said: “A flourishing rail network brings real growth and prosperity to the region it serves.  That is why we are making the biggest investment in the national rail network in more than 100 years to deliver the safer, faster and more comfortable journeys that passengers want.

“At the same time, Network Rail is working on improvements which by 2019 will enable the next East Midlands franchise to deliver more carriages and faster journeys over the whole route, including almost twice as many seats into London St Pancras in the peak hours.

“I am delighted that all these first-class companies have demonstrated their confidence in our vision for the future of the rail industry in Great Britain by bidding for this key franchise.”

Stagecoach has produced a plan which involves introducing new bi-modal vehicles for main line services between Sheffield and London, although if the idea were to be agreed by the DfT any new trains might not arrive before the next franchise starts.

The main line will remain a diesel route north of Kettering, at least for the time being, although electrification between Bedford, Kettering and Corby is under way.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Andrew J. Gwilt, Southend-on-Sea, Essex

    I think that Trenitalia are likely to be favourites to take over the East Midlands franchise as Trenitalia took over the Essex Thameside franchise earlier this year as National Express Group lost the Essex Thameside franchise. In fact, Trenitalia are brand new to the UK's railway franchising industry and they could also take over other franchises such as West Midlands franchise, West Coast franchise, Welsh franchise and South Western franchise.
    [National Express Group did not ‘lose’ the Essex Thameside (c2c) franchise. It was an open sale, which NXG chose to make.--Editor]

  • Tim Price, Bestwood Village

    I hope the successful East Midlands bidder will follow Northern and Abellio Greater Anglia's example and introduce new rolling stock on the local side as the average age of the 153,156 and 158 fleet is currently 28.2 years and will be 30 years by the time the franchise starts. These units are getting rather long in the tooth these days.

  • Tim Price, Bestwood Village

    Let's hope that full electrification is still forthcoming. I really can't see the point of pressing on with the Corby line, that transports a lot of fresh air for much of the day, while the much busier Leicester, Nottingham and Derby stations, only a few miles further north, will remain as diesel routes for the foreseeable.
    Surely a better idea would have been to do as far as Derby and Nottingham first before getting on with Corby, for which a shuttle service to Kettering would suffice in the meantime.

  • Chrisr Jones-Bridger, Buckley

    As some familiar suspects turn up to this franchise competition let's see what they can bring to transform and enhance the East Midlands rail offer.

    So far as the inted city experience is concerned the future franchise holder has the challenge of maintaining & enhancing the current service against tne challenge of providing diability compliant rolling stock aginst an uncertain or unobtainable electrification future.

    Given the completion of the Thameslink investment on the London suburban end of the route is it not sensible that the commited electriication to Corby/Kettering be commited to that operato?

    Can the confirmed bidders be challenged to providd some imaginative development to the non intercity/London suburban psrts of the East Mids netork. Fof example since being confined to an operationally simple Crewe-Derby operation this ervice has ceased to be of strategic importance to cross country travel. As any user of the parallel A50 can see tnere is plenty of demand for east/west travel so what can the rail do to enhance it's market share?

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    Given the delays in electrification and the increasing length of journeys being made under wires perhaps it's time to bring back plans to add extra carriages to Maridian and Voyager trains equipped with pantograph in order that trains can run as electric trains where electrification has been completed.

    This would al so lend itself to sections of further electrification where complex and expensive Bridge or tunnel work is not required.

    This would also help to remove diesel trains from St Pancras International and Euston .