New bi-mode fleet a requirement for East Midlands as consultation opens

The DfT has this week launched its public consultation on the new East Midlands franchise, including specifications for a new bi-mode fleet of intercity trains, whilst at the same time revealing that plans to electrify the Midland Main Line north of Kettering have been abandoned.

Speaking in the Commons to make a number of key announcements, including that a number of key electrification projects were to be scrapped, transport secretary Chris Grayling yesterday said that the consultation aimed to gather the views of passengers, businesses and communities in the area to find out what the priorities were for the new franchise. 

The franchise services have been delivered by East Midlands Trains since 2007. This is due to continue until 4 March 2018 with an option to extend it for a further year. The transport secretary has decided to use the full extension period. Therefore, the East Midlands franchise is due to be awarded in April 2019 and the franchise begins its new schedule in August 2019. The consultation itself will run for 12 weeks until 11 October.

It follows DfT announcing its shortlist for the franchise back in March, saying that First Trenitalia East Midlands Rail, Stagecoach East Midlands Trains and Arriva Rail East would compete for the contract.

Grayling added that the consultation would also explain the planned process and timescales for awarding the franchise and also provide information about services on the current franchise. The document will also be supported by a number of public events for passengers in the region to share their views on the franchise.

“Our goals for the next East Midlands franchise are to improve journeys for passengers, drive even stronger economic growth and support investment across the whole region,” Grayling told MPs in the Commons.

“The next East Midlands franchise will help drive the Midlands Engine and improve passenger journeys by maximising the passenger benefits of the significant upgrade of the Midland Main Line, the biggest investment in the route since it was completed in 1870.”

The transport secretary also stated that the upgrade will enable reduced journey times and more seats for long distance passengers during peak hours from 2020, when the upgrade is due to be completed.

The consultation noted that there are a number of options for improvement, and it stated that there are distinct intercity and London commuter markets on the Midland Main Line and the DfT wants to improve the overall service offered to both.

An option being considered to improve intercity journey times between Sheffield (via Derby), Nottingham and London St Pancras is to not stop as often at stations used by commuters, such as Luton, Bedford, Wellingborough and Kettering. Passengers at these stations would instead be served by dedicated high quality commuter trains operating on the Corby – London route.

In sum, it added that the proposals will enable the next franchise to reduce journey times on the peak-time intercity long-distance services by up to 20 minutes; relieve overcrowding on all East Midlands services to and from London; introduce higher capacity trains, up to 12 carriages long, on dedicated commuter services; and deliver over 1,000 additional seats an hour in the peak into London, an increase of more than 50%.

“The next operator will be required to deliver modern, fast and efficient trains,” Grayling also said. “This includes a brand-new fleet of bi-mode intercity trains from 2022, delivering more seats and comfort for long-distance passengers.”

The transport secretary also discretely revealed that electrification plans for the area were to be scrapped, as he said the provision of the bi-mode trains meant that these old plans could be scrapped, as journeys could be improved, “without the need for wires and masts on the whole route”.

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Pdeaves   21/07/2017 at 13:57

"Stage Coach Ease Midlands", eh? An accidentally appropriate mistake!

Huguenot   21/07/2017 at 15:05

The Class 222 Meridians are only about halfway through their life. What is the point of new bi-mode trains if they can only use 25KV between London and Kettering (a mere 72 miles)? At present, the OHLE between London and Bedford can only take 100mph and so would need upgrading for up to 125mph. Better to keep the Meridians for another 10 years or so and then replace.

Graham   21/07/2017 at 18:24

The cons keep telling us how much they are investing in our railways more than Victorian times so is there plan to bring back steam trains as well cons is the right title for this government

Andrew Gwilt   21/07/2017 at 18:25

As Hitachi are currently building the Class 800's, Class 801's and Class 802's EMU and Bi-Mode IET's. Hitachi may also plan to build more Bi-Mode trains along with Bombardier, Siemens, CAF, Alstom and Stadler to build new Bi-Mode trains whilst Stadler are to build the Class 755's Bi-Mode units for Greater Anglia. I think Bi-Mode multiple unit trains is a better option if electrification has been postponed or is cancelled on certain lines that the cost of railway electrification is very expensive but is a better solution to help the environment and to replace diesel trains with Bi-Mode and Electric multiple unit trains. With the Gospel Oak-Barking Line electrification still getting the go ahead with new Class 710's EMU's on order to replace the Class 172's DMU's to operate elsewhere. But it's a shame that the Midland Main Line electrification has been cancelled and there has been plans to electrify the MML north of Bedford to Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Kettering, Corby and Sheffield.

Andrew JG   21/07/2017 at 18:34

I agree with Huguenot on what he said about the EMT Class 222's Meridian DMU's. Plus I have been on a Class 222 train and it's much quieter, smoother and very quick.

Simon Eames1990   21/07/2017 at 22:16

Well, bi-mode trains will still be better than pure diesels. scrapping the electrification north of Kettering is extremely disappointing. the only problem with bi-modal units is that in diesel mode the maximum speed is just 100 mph.

Bazzac   22/07/2017 at 00:45

If a fleet of 125mph capable bi-mode trains can be ordered, then there will be no problem. Was there not a plan to design and build a pantograph / electrical equipment coach that could be inserted into voyager / meridian trains?

Huguenot   22/07/2017 at 21:38

Bazzac, You're quite right. It was called "Project Thor" but found to be rather expensive because Bombardier had disposed of the jigs to make the Voyager/Meridian body frame. But hey! the extra (electric) power car doesn't have to be exactly the same shape as the Meridian as it won't tilt: any suitable power car capable of 125mph that can be inserted into the set would do. This would give extra seats too ...

Huguenot   23/07/2017 at 12:28

Sorry, it's me again. When I say "electric power car", I don't really mean that. All that is needed to electrify a Meridian is a pantograph/ transformer car as this would feed into the electric power supply system that the diesel engines already generate into.

Andrew Gwilt   23/07/2017 at 14:40

But where will the Class 222's Meridian DEMU's go to if Bi-Mode trains will be built for EMT replacing the EMT Class 43 HST's and Class 222's DEMU's. Could First MTR South Western Railway (SWR) use the Class 222's Meridians on London Waterloo-Exeter Central, Exeter St. David's, Axminster, Salisbury, Westbury, Stowbridge, Bath and Bristol Temple Meads and Cardiff Central-Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central routes (replacing the Class 159's). Or possibly the Class 222's could be used on EMT Norwich-Liverpool Lime St/Manchester Piccadilly & Crosscountry's Birmingham New St-Stansted Airport routes.

Frazer D   23/07/2017 at 18:05

Give Cross Country first option to the Meridians. At least then they would have sufficient capacity to carry the number of passengers which regularly try to travel on their trains including the Cardiff to East Anglia axis.

AJG   24/07/2017 at 02:31

As electrification has been postponed or cancelled in some areas that have been affected by the postponed electrification. There could be some good news for the new converted Class 769 Bi-Mode trains to operate on some lines in South Wales where electrification on some lines including the Valley lines have electrification has been stopped. And the Class 769's to operate in the North of England. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_769 http://www.railstaff.uk/2017/07/21/bi-mode-class-319s-lakes-line/

John N   24/07/2017 at 22:27

At present there is only one train an hour from Leicester which calls at main stations from Kettering to Luton Airport Parkway. If this no longer calls at any of these stations there will be no connectivity from these stations with the north, without going to London St Pancras first. What we need is better connectivity, not worse. Some of the new bi-mode trains at least need to call at Kettering to make connectivity possible

Luis A   25/07/2017 at 08:28

I need more info to put on wikipedia

Steve   21/08/2017 at 21:01

I predict 222's go to XC 221 de-commissioned XC go to VWC VWC to run 20 Tilting Voyagers coupled together with the XC Voyagers all tilting. No extra diagrams required but instant much needed seating capacity.

Steve   21/08/2017 at 21:03

I predict 222's go to XC 221 de-commissioned XC go to VWC VWC to run 20 Tilting Voyagers coupled together with the XC Voyagers all tilting. No extra diagrams required but instant much needed seating capacity.

Cliff Beeton   22/08/2017 at 07:45

Lets cancel Gospel Oak-Barking electrification, Crossrail 2 and and other "London Elite" projects and spend the money on other electrification projects around the rest of the country to benefit more people.Welsh Valleys,Midland Mainline,Transpennine.Let all the new trains go "Up North" let the "London Elite" have their 319s back plus they can have Merseyrail 507+508s ,old 323s even the Pacers for Gospel Oak-Barking! See how they like that!

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