HS2

08.06.18

DfT publishes ITT for East Midlands franchise bidders

Bidders for the next East Midlands franchise are being urged to demonstrate how they will deliver on an “ambitious” upgrade programme as the DfT published the invitation to tender (ITT).

The current franchise has been operated by Stagecoach for over a decade, but the operator is now being challenged by Arriva after a FirstGroup/Trenitalia JV pulled out of the race in April.

Improvements set out in the ITT for the franchise include a brand-new fleet of trains, more seats, reduced peak journey times between Nottingham, Sheffield and London, and a dedicated express service between Corby and London.

Rail minister Jo Johnson said that the next operator will be required to deliver a wide range of improvements, including improved compensation for delays, smart ticketing and high-quality wi-fi.

Speaking to Parliament, the minister explained that the operational divide between track and train is being fixed, as set out in the transport secretary’s Strategic Vision for Rail in November 2017, with both Network Rail and train companies sharing the drive to put the passenger first.

“Better performance and reliability on the East Midlands franchise will be delivered through a new collaborative partnership between the next operator and Network Rail,” he added.

David Sidebottom, passenger director for Transport Focus, who wrote about the next franchise for RTM last year, said: “East Midlands Trains passengers have a dependable service that delivers the basics well.

“Passengers have seen what other train companies provide, which has raised their expectations. They want more modern trains, with free wi-fi and power sockets as standard, and improvements to catering and toilet facilities on the train.

“The competition for the next franchise must seize the opportunity to provide an outstanding journey for rail passengers in the East Midlands.”

The next operator, who will be taking over in August 2019, is expected to work closely with Network Rail to make all these changes happen.

Top image c. Jaroslaw Kilian

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