Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
Abellio EMR – East Midlands Railway – was officially launched on Monday 19th August at an all-day launch event starting with a media reception at Leicester station. This was followed by presentations from numerous speakers at the Roundhouse conference centre in Derby, after which a newly re-liveried Meridian train was unveiled at Derby station. Invited guests, including Harborough Rail Users Chair Steve Jones (in his capacity as Railfuture East Midlands Branch Secretary) travelled on the train to Nottingham and then to St Pancras, at each of which were further media events and presentations. At St Pancras, partnership agreements were signed between Abellio and HS1 (whose London terminus is at St Pancras) and Luton Airport.
Many organisations from the East Midlands, including rail industry bodies, rail user representative groups, local authorities and other interested parties were present. The event gave a good opportunity to meet people from these organisations as well as senior Abellio and EMR management. It was all very well organised and sets the scene for the next stage in the development of our railway and the services on it.
In a press release, EMR promise 'More services with faster journey times on intercity routes and better regional and local services, especially including at peak times and weekends from St Pancras to Leicester and Market Harborough'. Harborough Rail Users will be seeking to meet EMR before too long, now they are in place as our train operator. We want to explore their plans for our station and train services, especially from 2020 as the HSTs are withdrawn and the Corby electrification comes into service.
EMR Interim Managing Director Julian Edwards with the newly branded EMR Meridian train at Derby shortly before its inaugural run to Nottingham and St Pancras.
Senior representatives of Abellio, HS1 Ltd and Luton Airport proclaim the partnerships signed at St Pancras during the EMR launch event on 19th August.
Abellio, who take over from East Midlands Trains on 18th August 2019, have released details of the new brand and livery for our rail service. It will be known as East Midlands Railway (EMR), with a deep purple livery and house-style. The new East Midlands Railway name has been designated as a long term and enduring brand for this and successive East Midlands railway franchises. In other words, it is intended to apply irrespective of any future operator, in much the same way as London buses are all red no matter which company is actually operating them.
According to Abellio:
The EMR brand has white lettering with a ‘lavender’ shadow as its primary logo colours. The colour scheme is contemporary but pays respect to the strong and proud railway heritage of the East Midlands. Each train carriage will have distinct markings to reflect three distinct market segments:
East Midlands Trains (EMT) continue to operate our trains until 17th August and the EMT name and brand remain unchanged until then.
Abellio has been confirmed by the Department for Transport as the new operator for the East Midlands franchise, starting on 18th August 2019. This follows the 'standstill' period after they were announced as the winning bidder. In a press statement issued on 9th May, Abellio said:
"Abellio will invest £600 million including: brand new bi-mode intercity trains between the East Midlands, the North and London; a high-quality, dedicated, electric train service between London, Luton Airport and Corby; and the introduction of faster, modern, refurbished trains across the whole network. This investment will also see transformed stations, improved ticketing and accessibility, enhanced training and benefits for employees, including 30 new apprenticeships each year for young people. There will be closer working with Network Rail to maximise the benefits of the ongoing £1.5 billion Midland Main Line upgrade."
We look forward to meeting Abellio at an early stage, and working with them as they replace the train fleet and participate in the upgrade of the Midland Main Line.
In an announcement that caught many by surprise, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced today that the next East Midlands franchise is to be awarded to Abellio, a subsidiary of Netherlands Railways. Trading as East Midlands Railway, the new franchise is due to start on 18th August 2019 and run for eight years, to 21st August 2027, with an option for a possible extension of a further two years. Various improvements and investments are promised, including a new fleet of trains for the main line, extra capacity in the morning peak on services into London, plus other innovations such as trials with trains powered by hydrogen fuel-cells. More day-to-day improvements include free wi-fi throughout the journey, something Harborough Rail Users have campaigned for, plus the increasingly standard compensation for delays of more than 15 minutes. We await the details of service changes and we hope to meet the new operator in the near future. We have had - and continue to have - a good working relationship with East Midlands Trains and we hope to have similarly constructive communication with Abellio once they have taken over.
Though the next franchise is not due to start until 19th August 2019, the previous East Midlands Trains (EMT) contract was due to expire on 2nd March! Accordingly, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Stagecoach Group have agreed a direct award extension for EMT to cover the interim period. The next franchise operator is due to be announced by the DfT in April. However, if there is any delay, the direct award has an option in it for further extension for up to six 'reporting periods' of four weeks each, i.e. 24 weeks, to February 2020. The direct award includes:
The East Midlands Trains branding as applied to the side of an HST.