Latest Rail News

01.03.17

Three bidders shortlisted for 2019 East Midlands franchise

The DfT has today announced a shortlist of three operators who will compete for the East Midlands franchise.

The companies who are in the running for the franchise’s contract are Arriva Rail East Midlands, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains; First Trenitalia East Midlands Rail, the partnership between FirstGroup and Trenitalia UK; and Stagecoach East Midlands Trains, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Transport Holdings.

The franchise is currently operated by Stagecoach's East Midlands Trains and is due to end on 4 March 2018, although the transport secretary has extended this deadline by up to a year to ensure smooth transition when the franchise changes hands.

Commenting on the news, rail minister Paul Maynard said: “I am delighted that all these first-class companies have demonstrated their confidence in our vision for the future of the rail industry in Great Britain by bidding for this key franchise.

“A flourishing rail network brings real growth and prosperity to the region it serves. That is why we are making the biggest investment in the national rail network in more than 100 years to deliver the safer, faster and more comfortable journeys that passengers want.

“At the same time, Network Rail is working on improvements which by 2019 will enable the next East Midlands franchise to deliver more carriages and faster journeys over the whole route, including almost twice as many seats into London St Pancras in the peak hours.”

The winner of the bid will be crucial to supporting the government’s ambition to turn the East Midlands into an “engine for growth” by improving connections in and out of the region whilst supporting the regional economy.

The franchisee will also have to satisfy predicted growth in demand, in particular into London St Pancras, but also for “local crowded services” like Derby to Crewe. There will be a particularly intense focus on quality, frequency and timings of journeys on the east of the franchise network.

Company reactions

Speaking about being shortlisted for the franchise, First Rail managing director Steve Montgomery argued both his company and Trenitalia have “extensive expertise of running commuter, regional and long distance services such as those that make up the East Midlands franchise”.

“We have a strong track record in delivering continued modernisation and investment, alongside industry partners, through our rail operating companies Great Western Railway, TransPennine Express and Rail Operator of the Year, Hull Trains,” he added.

“Trenitalia’s knowledge will add further depth and understanding as we develop our proposals to deliver passenger benefits that take full advantage of the significant investment that government and the industry are making in the region’s rail infrastructure.

“We look forward to reviewing the franchise contract details and submitting an innovative and value for money bid which will keep people moving and communities prospering across the East Midlands.”

Barbara Morgante, CEO of Trenitalia also added made the case for the partnership’s collective experienced, which has been enhanced in international markets and represents “a perfect mix” to run the upcoming franchise.

“In addition to the recent c2c acquisition, our participation in the East Midlands bid confirms our strong commitment to the UK market,” she added. “We look forward to passengers benefiting from our track record and ability to innovate and invest across all the rail transport value chain.”

Stagecoach Group CEO Martin Griffiths also spoke of his excitement to be shortlisted, noting that he is proud of the company’s track record of investment and working alongside Network Rail, councils and other stakeholders to become “the most punctual long-distance train operator in the country”.

“The railway in the East Midlands is crucial to the regional economy. There is a huge opportunity to build on the network's success to create new jobs, build the skills of our people and improve connectivity across the region,” added Griffiths.

“We can also leverage our experience of bringing train and track closer together to develop plans that deliver a better customer experience to today's passengers and those we attract in the future.

“We look forward to working with local stakeholders on shaping our plans which will also deliver significant value to the taxpayer to reinvest in public services.”

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Comments

J, Leicester   01/03/2017 at 15:08

Stagecoach are doing a good job with the EM franchise. I hope they can retain it. In an ideal world I wouldn't touch FirstGroup with a bargepole given their previous track record with TOC contracts, even if they do have a national operator on-board - those familiar with the previous Northern contract will know it too was a joint venture, and was far from a success story. One other thing - any news on moving towards DOO being included within tender requirements?

Andrew Gwilt   01/03/2017 at 16:41

I think that Stagecoach should keep the East Midlands rail franchise and to extend it to 15 years or 20 years. Because Stagecoach extended the South West rail franchise to August 2017 which Stagecoach took over in February 1996 but are soon to lose Stagecoach and properly Arriva UK Trains or First Trenitalia could take over the South West rail franchise if Stagecoach keeps the East Midlands rail franchise until November 2018 and possibly extend it to October 2024.

Andrew JG   02/03/2017 at 01:26

What about National Express Group! Why can't National Express may bid to take over the East Midlands rail franchise if Stagecoach loses the East Midlands Trains franchise and could also bid to take over South West Trains if Stagecoach could also loses the South West rail franchise. National Express could make a come back to take over the East Midlands and South West franchises.

Pdeaves   02/03/2017 at 10:00

Andrew, if you follow the UK rail scene you will know that National Express left of its own accord and has no desire to make 'a come back' under its current business plan. Why do you say Stagecoach is soon to lose the South Western franchise? They are in the competition the same as others and the winner is not known yet.

Andrew G   02/03/2017 at 20:32

Well National Express will still keep its UK coach services and trams including Sheffield Supertram and West Midlands buses but not the rail franchises since they lost the Essex Thameside Franchise to Trenitalia as the c2c brand will be kept until 2029.

David   04/03/2017 at 09:44

Andrew, National Express do not own Supertram. They operate coach services and a select number of trams, along with rail operations abroad.

Jim   05/03/2017 at 10:39

Andrew - National Express did not 'lose' the Essex Thameside franchise, they sold it to Trenitalia and as such have left the UK rail market.

Andrew G   05/03/2017 at 11:14

Well I guess I tried to make sense but no it all failed.

Boris   05/03/2017 at 13:22

See, we're not having a go at you. Our remarks are meant to be constructive and people do try to help you out.

Andrew G   05/03/2017 at 19:35

Fair point Boris.

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