The UK Department of Transport selected Abellio as the successful bidder to operate the East Midlands Railway franchise, from August 2019 until 2027.
Abellio will oversee the introduction of brand-new trains, entirely replacing the existing intercity fleet with more reliable and comfortable trains. In addition, the operator will trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line and will run zero-carbon pilots at 6 stations along the route.
Passengers will benefit from an 80% increase in the number of morning peak seats into Nottingham, Lincoln and St Pancras and will see faster journey times over long-distances, a new express service from Corby through Luton into London, the introduction of improved delay repay compensation and flexipass tickets to provide better value fares.
Abellio will invest GBP 600 million (EUR 696 million) in improvements to trains and stations, with a GBP 16.8 million (EUR 19.5 million) stations improvement fund, including GBP 6.9 million (EUR 8 million) for accessibility improvements and GBP 9.4 million (EUR 10.1 million) of investment to deliver commercial and customer service improvements at stations.
Under the franchise, the Abellio will introduce more flexible and convenient smart ticketing options, free Wi-Fi, improved delay repay compensation for all passengers, 916 extra car park spaces and 1,050 cycle spaces and ticket buying facilities in place at all stations.
“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, trialling 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,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said.