RAIL customers on East Midlands Trains, Britain’s most punctual long-distance train operator, will benefit from around £13m of investment under a new agreement between Stagecoach Group and the Department for Transport (DfT) which will see a new franchise starting in October, to run until at least March 2018.
Customers will benefit from a wide range of improvements with a fares freeze on Anytime fares to London, a ticket sale offering 250,000 discounted tickets, cleaner stations, roll-out of a new “Cafe en route” to provide an enhanced on board service, new technology to help provide faster and better customer information when and where customers need it and a new automated refunds system.
Local communities will gain from the new deal, which will see an extra £250,000 invested in community rail, the introduction of a new schools education programme and continued investment in apprenticeships and graduate schemes.
Taxpayers will benefit from the agreement, with £150m of forecast premium payments to the Government between October 2015 and March 2018.
The new franchise starts on 18 October and run until 4 March 2018. The DfT has the option to extend the contract by up to one year.
East Midlands Trains operates services among others, Norwich to Liverpool and Nottingham to Skegness, both of which run through Grantham.
The package includes…
- New technology and easier travel – launch of new mobile app; upgraded 4G connectivity on trains and free 15 minutes WiFi on London trains in Standard Class; new smartphones for customer-facing employees; more ticket machines; and extra help-points at stations
- Cleaner stations and trains – extra cleaning staff on trains and cleaner stations
- Accessibility and security improvements – new in-house disability expert; improved passenger assistance system; £1m investment in station accessibility improvements; and extension of secure stations programme
- Improved on-board service – on-board shop available on many busy peak time services to/from London to offer an even wider range of drinks and snacks; catering trolley service extended to more stops on Liverpool to Norwich services; complimentary First Class breakfast extended to include selected Saturday morning services for the first time
- More seats and faster journeys – further improvements to the Nottingham-Newark-Lincoln timetable, with extra services and faster journey times on Saturdays; working with the Department for Transport to examine options for further improvements to services at weekends across other local routes
- Community engagement – extension of community rail programme, supported by extra £250,000 in funding and new Partnerships Manager; roll out of schools education and work experience initiatives; new Charity Committee; expansion of popular station adoption scheme; and further work to promote and support local small and medium-sized businesses
- Investment in people – more frontline staff to help customers; enhanced customer service training for employees; providing more opportunities for graduates and young people.
- Faster refunds – an improved online compensation system for delays, providing faster compensation to customers who make valid claims;
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, said: “This is a significant package of investment for customers travelling on East Midlands Trains, Britain’s most punctual long-distance train operator.
“It will build on what our team has achieved over the past eight years and deliver further valuable improvements for the millions of passengers and many communities who rely on the East Midlands Trains network.
“The new East Midlands Trains franchise will also deliver a multi-million-pound return to the taxpayer to help fund the Government’s ongoing investment programme for the UK rail network.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “This is a great deal for East Midlands Trains customers, and will mean significantly better journeys for passengers travelling around the region.”
Jake Kelly, Managing Director of East Midlands Trains, added: “This is great news for customers and taxpayers. Over the past eight years, we have demonstrated our commitment to providing the best possible service for our customers. “
Since the start of the East Midlands Trains franchise in November 2007, East Midlands Trains, which was named Passenger Operator of the Year last year, has delivered a major programme of improvements for customers with the following highlights:
- Most punctual long distance train operator over six consecutive years
- Worked successfully with Network Rail to complete a £100m re-signalling project at Nottingham
- Completed a major improvement scheme at Nottingham station to create a new world-class transport hub
- Opened new stations at East Midlands Parkway and Corby
- Introduced faster journey times to London and launched a second train an hour between Sheffield and London
- Secured additional trains to provide extra capacity on the Norwich-Liverpool route and extra services between Nottingham and Lincoln
- Launched free WiFi at 30 stations and opened a new 24/7 customer contact centre
- Completed a £30m refurbishment of every train in the fleet
- Customers and communities have benefited from more than £300m worth of station improvements.
Stagecoach Group has submitted its bid for a new Transpennine Express franchise and its joint venture with Abellio is shortlisted to bid for a new East Anglia franchise.
The successful bidder for Transpennine Express is expected to be announced in December 2015, with the franchise commencing in April 2016.
The winner of the new East Anglia franchise is expected to be announced in June 2016, with the franchise commencing in October 2016.