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The Department for Transport named Abellio as the winner of the next East Midlands passenger franchise on April 10. Formal award is subject to a regulatory standstill period. The contract is due to begin on August 18 2019 and run until at least August 21 2027, with DfT having an option for a two-year extension.
The franchisee is to be known as East Midlands Railway, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abellio Transport Holdings Ltd, which is in turn owned by the Netherlands’ national passenger train operator NS.
The East Midlands franchise covers inter-city services on the Midland Main Line between London St Pancras and Yorkshire, and regional services across central England. It has been operated by Stagecoach Group under the East Midlands Trains brand since 2007. Stagecoach, Abellio and Arriva were shortlisted to tender for the next contract.
Bimode and hydrogen trainsThe franchise will include the introduction of new bimode trains, including ‘entirely replacing the existing inter-city fleet with more reliable and comfortable trains’.
The decision to use electro-diesel trains follows the DfT’s scrapping of plans to electrify the Midland Main Line, which led to a delay in the refranchising process. Details of the new fleet will not be announced until the orders have been finalised, but the first new train is expected to enter service by April 2022.
Abellio will also trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line.
DfT said there would be ‘replacement of the entire regional train fleet’ with ‘faster, more modern and comfortable’ refurbished trains to provide a ‘higher speed, better connected’ regional timetable.
Enhancements plannedDfT and Abellio said other enhancements would include:
A railway ‘fit for the future’‘Improving the experience for passengers is at the heart of this new franchise’, said Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, adding that the zero-carbon pilot and fuel cell trials would ‘play a major role in building a railway fit for the future.’
Managing Director of Abellio UK Dominic Booth said he looked forward to the franchise ‘driving economic growth and delivering significant benefits for passengers’. He said Abellio would ‘invest £600m in improvements to trains and stations, maximising the effect of the government’s £1·5bn upgrade of the Midland Main Line, to make journeys easier, more reliable and comfortable for our passengers’.
Closer collaboration between the operator and infrastructure manager Network Rail would ‘ensure that track and train are aligned to deliver vital enhancements to infrastructure and to put the interests of passengers first.’
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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