Stagecoach wins extension of East Midlands

Stagecoach subsidiary East Midlands Trains has won a deal to continue running services between London, the East Midlands and parts of the north of England until March 2018.

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) said on Wednesday that under the deal, East Midlands Trains will deliver a number of improvements for passengers backed by £13 million of investment.

Perth-based Stagecoach Group will pay the UK government £150 million to run the franchise from October 2015 to March 2018, and the DfT has the option to extend the contract by up to one year.

Roughly 26 million journeys are made on East Midlands Trains every year. The company operates services from London St Pancras International to Northamptonshire, the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, as well as local routes throughout Lincolnshire, the East Midlands and Staffordshire and trains between Liverpool and Norwich.

“This is a significant package of investment for customers traveling on East Midlands Trains, Britain’s most punctual long-distance train operator,” said Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Group chief executive.

“It will build on what our team has achieved over the past 8 years and deliver further valuable improvements for the millions of passengers and many communities who rely on the East Midlands Trains network.”

The improvements in the franchise will include 22 extra services between Nottingham and Newark Castle on Saturdays by December 2016, a freeze on all “Anytime” fares to London, with ticket prices remaining at their current level until 2017, and better customer information via a new mobile app which will also allow ticket purchases.

“This is another example of the work we’re doing to transform the UK’s railways as part of our long-term economic plan, with more than £38 billion being spent on the network between 2014 and 2019,” said Rail Minister Claire Perry.

East Midlands Trains is also planning to upgrade on-board Wi-Fi on its London services to 4G.

Stagecoach Group has also submitted a bid for a new Transpennine Express franchise and its joint venture with Abellio has been 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 starting in April 2016.

The winner of the new East Anglia franchise is expected to be announced in June 2016, with the franchise starting in October 2016.