THE Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a new public consultation for the next East Midlands’ franchise and pushed back a decision on the new operator until April 2019.
As a result, the franchise is now expected to change hands in August 2019, just four months before the current East Midlands Trains HSTs are due for replacement and new electric commuter trains start operation on the London St Pancras-Corby route.
The HSTs must be withdrawn or modified by the end of 2019 to meet new Persons of Restricted Mobility (PRM) regulations.
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Once the results of the consultation have been processed, from October onwards, an Invitation to Tender (ITT) will be issued to the shortlisted bidders in April 2018.
Under the terms of the franchise, the new operator will be required to deliver “modern, fast and efficient inter-city and commuter trains”, including a new fleet of bi-mode inter-city trains for London-Nottingham/Sheffield services from 2022.
The DfT expects these to reduce peak journey times by up to 20 minutes and deliver more than 1,000 extra seats per hour into London at peak times, an increase of more than 50%. Some of this time saving will come from cutting out stops at Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton and Luton Airport Parkway from the intercity services, passengers having to change at Kettering for electric trains that will serve these intermediate points.
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