The Government announced this week that they have awarded the East Midlands Railway franchise to Abellio from August 2019. The company will be responsible for delivering new trains, smart ticketing and more frequent services for passengers.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said “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.”
Commenting on the announcement North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt said “I welcome this announcement, which appears to offer many benefits for rail passengers. I have been in contact with the Department for Transport to press for when we might see the reintroduction of peak time stopping services for Bedford, and am advised that under the new franchise agreement, Bedford will continue to be served by the same number of East Midlands fast trains during peak hours as they were before May 2018, with a dedicated service starting and ending at Corby.
Once the Midland Main Line upgrade is complete at the end of 2020, passengers at Bedford will benefit from a new, dedicated service into London St Pancras and work is ongoing to develop the base timetable for December 2020 currently which includes seeking to reinstate peak calls at Bedford.
I have also been in touch with Abellio who, after the current 10 day ‘standstill’ period finishes, will share their plans for the station in greater detail.”
The government is investing nearly £48 billion over the next 5 years to modernise the railway, including more than £1.5 billion to upgrade the Midland Main Line, the biggest upgrade of the line since it was completed in 1870.
Alongside this, there is a root-and-branch review of the railway underway, independently chaired by Keith Williams. This will make ambitious recommendations before the end of the year to reform the structure of the whole rail industry to prioritise passengers’ and taxpayers’ interests.