East Midlands Trains agree new rail contract and £13m investment
East Midlands Trains has agreed a new franchise to continue operating regional services to the North of England and London until March 2018.
Under the deal, the firm will pay the government £150m to put towards other rail network investments.
In return, the rail firm will also invest £13m in extra services and freezing some ticket prices.
Rail minister Claire Perry said the agreement would mean "significantly better journeys for passengers".
Chief executive of parent company Stagecoach Group, Martin Griffiths, said the new franchise would "deliver a multimillion-pound return to the taxpayer to help fund the Government's ongoing investment programme for the UK rail network".
Under East Midlands Trains' investment, 22 extra services will be added between Nottingham and Newark Castle on Saturdays by December next year.
They have also promised faster journeys and more services between Nottingham and Lincoln on Saturdays, as well as changes to information online and a new mobile phone app.
In addition to these improvements, the Department for Transport said the government would continue working on improving faster journeys and more services on the Midland Mainline and £6m has also been invested in a new railway station at Ilkeston, Derbyshire.
Minister Claire Perry added: "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 £38bn being spent on the network between 2014 and 2019."
Highlights for customers will include:
Better value fares
- freeze on all Anytime fares to London until 2017; and quarter of a
million discounted Advance Purchase tickets made available through our
biggest ever ticket sale
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
Faster refunds - an improved online compensation system for delays, providing faster compensation to customers who make valid claims;
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
- 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
Under the terms of the new franchise, Stagecoach will provide committed inter-company loan facilities of up to £41m to East Midlands Trains, and arrange a performance bond of £15m. It will also arrange a season ticket bond of around £8m. These will replace all loan facilities and bonds currently in place in relation to the present East Midlands Trains franchise.